Thursday, December 26, 2013

Interview with Author Martin Skate

Martin Skate
London, UK 

Good morning, Martin.  Welcome to Vision and Verse, the Place for Art and Authors.  Tell us, what have you written?
The Spike Collection: Ten random short stories. It is my first published book, released in October 2013. I honestly don’t know why it has taken me this long to get something published! I gave myself a project of writing ten short stories, challenging myself to write a few varied tales, and this is the result. I began writing them in May, and was utterly thrilled to not only be published, but to learn how to publish, and experience the challenging world of ‘marketing’. 

I am so completely overwhelmed and excited by this publication that I am now in the mindset of writing a whole bunch more. I have begun writing a novel and hope to have it published in February 2014. 

Also I am thankful for being so widely embraced in the independent author’s circle, there are so many benefits, so much love, and so much learning. Plus of course, the great reviews, the feedback, the friendships, wow, it is immense, writing has suddenly become incredibly addictive!

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The Spike collection: Ten random short stories[Kindle Edition]

Martin Skate 

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What is your favorite genre to write?
Humour.  It is that simple! I tried to write different genres, but my characters always return to being slightly mischievous, a little bit sarcastic, and always leaning to have one of those eyebrow raised looks of disdain on them, they’re always a bit self -deprecating.  I like science fiction, surrealism, anything a bit different, I got this (I think) from Catch-22, and from Douglas Adams’s Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy (they’re both big influences). 

Favorite food.
Apart from onions? Well I am concerned that my love for gammon could one day mean that that is all I eat. Fortunately that eventuality hasn’t occurred yet. I feel like I could eat tubs of egg mayo, prawn mayo, or maybe just even coleslaw until I literally exploded, they are the ‘yum’ foods for me. I have never really been fussy with food, I’ll eat anything, but if I like it, I will eat it in large quantities and forever. The wife will say my favourite meal is ‘Toad in the hole’ (Sausages cooked in a giant Yorkshire Pudding, with peas (though the peas is my own adage to this masterpiece)). I am not a massive dessert fan although my favourite chocolate bar is plainly a KitKat (normal, chunky, flavoured, anything you like, KitKats are the true Daddy of the chocolate bar world). 

Tea or coffee?
From around 16-25 I was a tea drinker. Loved it. Then I had my first cup of coffee and could never have a cup of tea ever again, yuck. Coffee, Americano, no sugar, it is really the only drink necessary (apart from wine, and the occasion G&T obviously). 

Pizza or ice cream?
Ummmmm, pizza, but only good pizza, and only really because am not a fan of ice-cream any more, except for in the summer (i.e roughly about 4 days in a year in London), and then it will be a Feast, Magnum, Cornetto, something like that, and chocolate, always chocolate, everything else is sheer nonsense. 

What’s good pizza? You knowwww, the thin crust, probably with onion, sweetcorn, some kind of chicken, good tomato saucey type deal all over it, nothing fancy, must have onions (that’s a deal-breaker, no onion no pizza). 

Where would you like to visit?
I am well-travelled I am pleased, proud to say, no wait, how do I sound humble here? I’ve been around. I have never been to Alaska. There’s nothing I particularly want to see there but I recall watching a tv programme called ‘Northern Exposure’ it made me want to go and live there for a while, it was remote, cosy, relaxed, reallllllly relaxed, I reckon decades could pass without people noticing there. I guess I am saying I would like to visit the more remote & country-type places, somewhere where there is fishing… I’ve never been fishing, lots of invitations to do so, just haven’t yet, there you go, I’d like to go to Fishing please. 

Favorite musical artist.  Do you listen to music when you write?  What?
I grew up on a diet of Elvis & Elton John, and still love both. My current favourites are Bruno Mars, and a band called Fun, so the pop world has never left me. I do a lot of long distance running so for that I listen to a whole menagerie of dance music, most of which I don’t even know who the artists are, I just love the sounds. Prince, Stevie Wonder, Amy Winehouse, Aretha Franklin, Eva Cassidy, Daft Punk, they’re all on my current playlist. When I write I need complete silence, but if I have to have the headphones on (to drown out the noise in the background) it is something mellow, Ray Lamontagne is a good one for this, love the Ray! 

What makes you laugh?
A lot, my sense of humour stuck at around 12 years old and has never really progressed from there. More specifically… George from Seinfeld, good puns, my kids (they’re comedy legends unbeknownst to them), Tony Hancock, Kenneth Williams, Family guy (particularly when it’s late and the wine glasses are large ones), in fact so many things. I laugh at my own jokes too, I don’t see this as a bad thing (although others frown, or stifle laughs, or both).  

How old were you when you started writing?
I used to write my own comics at school does that count? When I was a teenager I would write about what happened when my friends grew up. I blogged (but was awful) a while back, and I think I began writing short stories around eight years ago, it took me until now to publish. 

Describe your perfect evening.
Hmmm, this is the hardest question so far. There would be wine, there would be great conversation, which would then progress to a comfy lounge and further deep conversation, and then of course, there would either be a piano or a guitar and we would sing until we were hoarse or there was sunrise, or (usually) both. 

Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere, even a train journey that I’ve made a thousand times can give me something. The bigger impact is with new experiences, anything new anything different, that is inspiration in itself. 

What do you do when you get a writer's block?
Well, I haven’t been a writer that long to find out, and I have so many ideas literally bursting to get out that I think I am a bit away from this yet, however, sometimes yes, a blank page is a blank page, this is what my blog is for. I find that I give myself a topic and I can ramble on for a while before the words stop coming (however, ummm, no one is saying the writing is of any quality, but, I do completely adhere to the philosophy that writing is like a muscle, it needs to be exercised, this is so so true, the more you (or I) write the easier it becomes. Practice practice practice, it is the same with running, the more you run, the easier it is, trust me (I went from never running at all, to running 2 minutes a day, to running a marathon ☺). 

Who is your favorite author?
Tom Sharpe. A wonderful style, this is the definitive ‘laugh aloud whilst reading’ example. I have read and re-read Sharpe’s books many times and they never get dull, if anything they improve and I always think upon parts that I missed the first time around, highly recommend. 

Best book you ever read.
Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. The troubles that Yossarian encounters, the irreversible circles that he is bound by, and his incredulity, it all just makes me incredulous with him. I truly feel the senselessness, the madness, the craziness of it all, I am right there with Yossarian, I feel his pain, his frustration, wow. It is a book I will never tire of and am consistently motivated and inspired by. It is not just a book, it is magic, how Heller articulated the craziness of it all I will never know. 

Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
Oooh, a personal question, crikey. There is someone. He made me realise you could do anything you wanted to and that there was no reason to feel bound to do anything. Errr, next!? ☺  

If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
Elvis Presley. I would love to have discussed his impact on the world and how he perceived it.  I would like to discuss with him how he could have gone further to improve the world via music, and asked what his thoughts were on why music was so enriching and powerful. 

What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
Just write! Practice all the time, write a little each week, get feedback, and make the time to really do it. It’s that simple, you can do it, if I can, anyone can. 

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  1. Great interview, loved the questions and loved the answers! Good luck Martin

  2. Thank you, Martin, for taking time out of your busy schedule at this time of the year to be with us this morning. Please come back and see us again!

  3. Thanks Jessica, glad you enjoyed, and of course huge thanks Carol, that is so so soooo appreciated, much love & happy 2014.

  4. Terrific interview Carol. Martin, you are delightful....can't wait to get your book.

    1. Thank you, Giavanna. And, yes, Martin is a delight. I am reading his book, The Spike Collection, now. Expect a book review on Vision and Verse soon.