By E.M. Powell
“When I started writing, I was determined to be successful.” A quote, I’m sure, that you will heard from many authors and may well have uttered yourself. But this time it’s from Kat Martin and “successful” hardly seems adequate to describe her career—a New York Times bestseller, with more than 65 novels published and 16 million copies of her books in print
For those looking for a magic formula, Martin, who admits to being “a goal-oriented person, starting even before high school and all through college,” is far more practical in her approach. “Never give up” is her straightforward advice. “Just keep going, work hard and keep learning, and eventually you will succeed.”
Martin’s first step on that ladder to success was in 1988, with the publication of Magnificent Passage, a historical romance. She acknowledges that her love of suspense found its way into that genre early on. “I wrote lots of action and intrigue into the historicals. But after forty or more novels, I was ready for a change.” In an industry that is ever-evolving, many would hold the view that there’s enough change going on and perhaps one should stick with an established, successful genre. Yet Martin decided to take “some risks, adding contemporary romantic suspense to the historicals I was writing. Fortunately, the risk paid off. Readers liked the idea of mixing danger and romance, and the genre has continued to grow stronger and stronger.”
Crucially, the move to romantic suspense was what Martin really wanted to do. “One thing I believe is all important–a writer must be true to him or her self. Write what calls to you, what you want to write. Readers will feel the authenticity and if you are lucky, as I have been, they will follow where you lead. My passion is contemporary. So the fit is perfect for me and romantic suspense is where I plan to stay.”
It’s easy to see why. Her latest release, INTO THE WHIRLWIND (Book #2 in her BOSS Inc. series), opens with a bang. Megan O’Brien, model and mother to toddler Charlie, discovers her child has been abducted. The huge ransom demand stipulates no police involvement. Meg has no choice but to turn to Brodie Operations Security Services (BOSS), Inc. The men of BOSS, Inc. featured in Martin’s previous release, Into the Fury. This new novel features P.I. Dirk Reynolds and bounty hunter Luke Brodie. Meg and Dirk have had a brief relationship that didn’t work out, though both still have feelings for each other. In Martin’s hands, that means sparks from the beginning and the sexual tension builds as surely and as relentlessly as the suspenseful and fast-moving plot.
As with all successful romantic suspense, getting the hero-heroine dynamic right is key. Martin has seen a shift over her long career. “In the early days of romance novels, women were often in the sort of peril that required a man to save her. Today that isn’t a necessity. In my books, the hero and heroine work together to save each other. The man is more approachable, more respectful of a woman’s independence. That is a very big change from the eighties or even earlier.”
Speaking of heroes, Martin’s husband is also a successful writer— author of Western, nonfiction, and suspense novels, L. J. Martin. Many spouses of authors would contend that it’s tough enough to have one scribe under a roof without adding a second. Martin’s view of how they do it is both refreshing and touching. “To be honest, we aren’t the perfect match–but then who is? We fight, but we laugh a lot, too. Perhaps that is the secret. And our schedules are compatible because both of us are writing all day. We break at five or six o’clock and meet for a glass of wine in the living room, then have supper a little later. It’s worked for over thirty years.”
What is even more refreshing is to hear from Martin that, despite her three decades of experience, she still faces the dreaded blank page. “Writer’s block is torture! Of course I have faced it, at some point I face it in nearly every book.” She has her own mechanisms for dealing with it. “Taking a short break helps, going somewhere out of your office, your house, out of the area, if possible. Researching helps if you are immersed in the story and find yourself blocked. Author friends can be a huge help if you can get them cornered and run some ideas past them. Hopefully they will have some suggestions that might point you in a new direction.” And most importantly, “Just do whatever it takes and keep writing.’
And “keep writing” she has and does. Into the Firestorm, Book #3 of the BOSS, Inc. series is out January 2017, and Martin describes it as “one of my personal favs. Luke Brodie is Ethan’s brother, the hero of Book #1, Into the Fury. Luke comes up against a lady bounty hunter and believe me, the man has met his match. It’s a fun story I really enjoyed writing.”
Martin, being Martin, there’s more. “After that, I start my Texas trilogy. Multi-millionaire Lincoln Cain tangles with Carly Drake, a woman determined to make it in a man’s world. So lots going on for me. I holding high hopes for all of them and really hope readers enjoy INTO THE WHIRLWIND.”
I have no doubt they will. And while summer is travel season to writers’ conferences, Martin is clear about what’s next. “Our butts back in our chairs–once more busy writing.” So for those seeking that magic formula? You may well have found it. Martin’s mind set in 2016 is exactly as it was in 1988. “It never crossed my mind to quit.”
New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. She is married to L.J. Martin, author of western, non-fiction, and suspense novels. Kat has written more than sixty-five novels. Sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries, including Japan, France, Germany, Argentina, Greece, China, Russia, and Spain.
Born in Bakersfield, California, Kat currently resides in Missoula, Montana, on a small ranch in the beautiful Sapphire mountains. Her last 10 books have hit the prestigious New York Times bestseller list. AGAINST THE WILD, AGAINST THE SKY, AGAINST THE TIDE and INTO THE FURY her latest release, took top ten spots.
To learn more, please visit her website.