Monday, 30 January 2012

Interview with Martha Bourke

Happy Monday, everyone. Bitter-cold January is almost over. Does that mean there's only 11 more months until the end of the world? I don't believe so, but let's delve into an interview that has something to do with that Mayan legend. Let's welcome author Martha Bourke.

Hi, Martha! Tell us a bit about yourself.

Up until about a year ago, I was a teacher. I started Spanish programs for the elementary grades for fifteen years. The last one I started here in Massachusetts was a Spanish Immersion program for English-speaking students. They learned all day in Spanish and learned about Spanish culture. It’s still running. I’m very proud of it. There are only 260 other programs like it in the U.S. The oldest kids are in high school now. (Man, do I feel old!) Last year I decided to take a sabbatical to focus on writing. My husband and I live in rural Massachusetts. It’s quiet and lovely. Just perfect for writing. But, fifty minutes from three major cities, in case you need that jolt, you know?

How long have you been writing?

I started with poetry in third grade. That went on for a few years and by high school I was also writing short stories. I also wrote an earlier novel, before JAGUAR SUN. It was about five years ago. It’s a middle grade fantasy that will probably never see the light of day. It was a great learning experience though.

Tell us about JAGUAR SUN. What’s the story about?

JAGUAR SUN is a YA Paranormal Romance. It is the story of Maya Delaney, a typical sixteen-year-old high school junior of Mayan descent. As Maya discovers more about her heritage, she realizes that she is at the very center of worldwide plot over the transition to take place when the Mayan Calendar ends on December 21, 2012. And on top of that, she and her friends are beginning to develop strange powers. Faced with learning to harness her new abilities in time to bring the world to a positive transition, Maya must reevaluate her relationships, herself, her place in the world.

Very interesting! How did the idea of the story come to you?

Usually my stories come to me from a combination of personal interest and research. All my life I’ve been intrigued by other cultures and mythology. That kind of had a head-on collision with my knowledge as a Spanish teacher and JAGUAR SUN was born.

Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

I definitely revise and self-edit, as any good writer should. I also have a critique group, but they are mostly looking into the story itself. The main thing is that I work incredibly well with my editor. Our styles complement each other so well. (All writers out there who are reading this: Hire an editor!) I mean that very sincerely. A good editor will tighten up you work, find inconsistencies, correct grammar and let you know when to cut things out. That last part is very important. As writers we are very close to our work. We think it’s all important. But a good editor will do all of the above without changing plot or characterization.

Are you a planner or a pantser?

I’m actually a little of both. I have the general idea of the book down and I make tons of notes on post-its and stick them on my wall in my writing studio. But I don’t sit down and outline per se. I write a lot on inspiration and on what the characters are telling me. Important scenes often come to me, kind of like from a movie. And then I fill in the blanks around them. Writing to me is an adventure and I wouldn’t want to take away from that.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

Honestly, I thoroughly enjoy the process itself. My grammar’s terrible and sometimes I can get frustrated with it. Also, when you write on inspiration, you can get a little nuts when you’re waiting for more of the story to come to you. But I think the hardest part for me comes after the book is ready, which is marketing it. Ugh!

What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

I always need a bottle of water and quite possibly a lollipop for that oral fixation factor. Maybe some tea. My pets also keep me company.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

This is probably going to seem lame, but I guess I would choose the power to heal.

Doesn't sound lame at all! What's the weirdest thing you've googled?

Oh, man. I don’t know. I’ve googled so many crazy things. And I google so often, especially for research. When you write Paranormal, you tend to look up some pretty bizarre stuff, like shape-shifting mythology.

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: armadillo, hindsight, and conversation.

In hindsight, I never would have started a conversation with the armadillo in the first place.

Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

Okay, first to my husband and family for all of their love and support, and for believing in my writing. I’d also like to thank my two fabulous Barbaras – Barbara Ardinger, my editor. Also, Barbara Rainess at Pedernales Publishing along with her partner, Jose Ramirez. I know this book would never have been published if it weren’t for all of them.

And finally, where can people find you and your books online?

JAGUAR SUN (Jaguar Sun Series Book 1) is available at Amazon and Barnes and in Kindle, Nook and Paperback formats. Look for Book 2, JAGUAR MOON this fall!

You can find me at:

Martha, thank you so much for chatting with us. It was great getting to know you and learn about your book. I wish you lots of success, and be sure to let us know when book two is released!

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