My Monday guest – Alex Martin

My guest for today is the lovely Alex Martin. She and I met a couple of years ago on the writers’ peer review site YouWriteOn and have kept in touch ever since. I’m hugely proud of Alex and of her success as an indie author. Welcome!

“Hi! Firstly, thanks to Siobhan Daiko for letting me chat to all her followers. Nice to meet everybody!

My name is Alex Martin and I’m happy to call myself an indie writer. I’ve written three novels to date, something I’d never thought I’d achieve. Writing books has been a life-long dream and self-publishing has given me the opportunity to get my work out there and even be paid for it. I’m wrapping up my fourth book at the moment, which should be out soon. I write in my ‘Plotting Shed’ at the bottom of my garden on the Gower Peninsula  in South Wales, UK.

Alex shed

My other half and I built my beautiful den from a kit. It’s fully insulated, so it’s cosy in winter and cool in summer (not that it gets THAT hot in Wales – unlike Siobhan’s idyllic house in Italy).

Alex shed 2The double-glazing – which nearly broke our backs when we carried it up the garden – is a welcome level of sophistication. If I’m on a roll and need to write into the night, lights are provided by solar panels. The lack of electricity doesn’t bother me, I quite like it, unless I’m on a marathon run and my laptop battery runs out. Neither do I mind not having internet  access. For such an easily distracted writer, it’s a boon to have nothing but work to focus on. I can see the Brecon Beacon mountains from the back window and the distant view is perfect for wool gathering when figuring out a plot twist or searching for that elusive word.herbal pathway

I’ve learned that writing isn’t about playing God, standing back and orchestrating the characters. No, it’s about living the story, being there submersed in that world and becoming those fictitious people. So, believe me, I feel their pain, their anger, and their hopes and dreams become very real. To achieve this surreal state, I need a few rituals. I trudge up the garden path, laptop in hand, dog at my heels, and unlock my den. Inside smells creative. I light the gas fire if I need to, and a candle always, and do a little meditation. I get rid of any personal angst in my journal and clear my mind. Then, comes the moment of truth, the delicious few seconds of the blank page, willing me to cover it in potential. Hours can fly by without me noticing from this point onwards, until my canine muse gets bored, or we both get hungry and mundane matters puncture the bubble.

Here’s a picture of the finished article, complete with dog bed for my four legged muse, Sky.

Alex shed 3

My first book, The Twisted Vine Amazon UK  and  Amazon USA is set deep in rural France and is based on my own adventure of picking grapes back in the 1980s, before mobile phones and the internet were even invented, hard to imagine now! 

The Twisted VineLike the narrator of the story, Roxanne Rudge, I was escaping a relationship that had gone disastrously wrong. Like her, I was trying to rediscover who I was while getting a suntan and deepening my love of this beautiful country. I too drove all over the French countryside, often lost (in more ways than one), bruised my knees and grazed my hands toiling away on steeply sloping vineyards. Luckily for me, I did not meet a sinister man like Armand le Clair or uncover the dark secret within the elegant walls of a Burgundian Chateau, though I did drink plenty of the resulting wine!

My second book, Daffodils, Amazon UK and Amazon USA is quite a different tale. When my two children were born, we lived in a tiny village in Wiltshire which retained an almost feudal link to the past. This fascinated me and I decided to write a story about it. What I hadn’t reckoned on was that setting it just at the time when the old order was disintegrating meant that I was dragged into researching and writing about the First World War, which took ten years, off and on. I hadn’t set out to write about this era but, like the naive inhabitants of those villages, I was drawn into its all-encompassing conflict. The research humbled and saddened me and I was appalled at some of the facts I discovered.

DaffodilsFor fans of historical fiction, Daffodils is part one of a soon to be trilogy. It starts slowly. Life changes little in Cheadle. Petty scandals, gossip and the huge gap between the haves and those who serve them continue to dominate their small world. Daffodils drags Katy and Jem out of their narrow lives and catapults them into the wider arena of a global conflict. Most books follow what happened to the soldiers and so does Daffodils, in part. It also follows the gallant women who provided the backbone for the army, not just the nurses, but the gender defying mechanics and drivers who managed the vehicles and ambulances. It was fascinating to discover just how much women took on and how it shook up the world they returned to, once the world-wide fight was over. But in essence, Daffodils is a love story, whose tender heart is almost torn apart through this tumultuous time. Daffodils now has 51 reviews in the UK and 46 in the US averaging 4.7*s overall. 

Peace LilyI found I couldn’t leave the characters where I had left them and Peace Lily Amazon UK and Amazon USA takes up their story in 1919, in the aftermath of the war, when they return to their lives to find that peace is elusive and presents new challenges they had never expected. They even cross the Atlantic to try and resolve them. A third book will complete the trilogy, for now…called Speedwell, which follows the thread into the 1920s and into the rapid changes of the modern age.

Finally, I have a little collection of 3 short stories, as a taster of my work. It’s called Trio and is also available from Amazon UK and Amazon USA. 

Trio_EBOOK LARGE (3)

I have many more stories and projects stacked up begging to be given life in the back of my clogged up head and I can’t wait to start each and every one. Hopefully I’ll keep writing until the marbles stop rolling. You can keep up to date with my work on my blog at Alex Martin, Author@The Plotting Shed wIhere I chat about what I’m up to and post about upcoming new stories and ideas. Comments and reviews always welcome.

Thank you so much, Alex, for being my guest today. It’s been great to learn more about you and your writing. Your “plotting shed” looks like the ideal place to hide away from the world and immerse yourself in creativity. I’m envious of the gorgeous location. And your book covers are absolutely stunning. (Dear reader, Alex and I share a cover designer, Jane Dixon Smith.) I wish you continued success with your writing, Alex. I read Daffodils and loved it. Can’t wait to read the rest of the series. 

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