Recently I read a book called 'Pig' so hopefully I can be forgiven for expecting a book about a farm animal!....It is not about a farm animal!
'Pig' is one of the most unique books I have read in a while and I was totally blown away by it (Read My Review Here.) Today I would like to welcome to the page the author of that book sbr Martin.
Q:- Would you tell us a little bit about your first novel? 'In Wake of Water' as I haven't managed to read it yet.
sbr: Well, the jacket blurb reads: "Enter a world of sex, deception, ignorance, and guilt. Malformed metaphysical ideas and corrupt social mores intertwine against the backdrop of a small town where there are too many secrets and life is anything but ideal. When a girl gets lost in this world and decides to escape, what will happen in her wake?"
But you didn't really need me to tell you that, huh? I guess I would describe "In Wake of Water" as a contemporary psychological thriller where the two main characters explore different permutations of, and alternatives to, life and death. There are some pretty shocking plot twists, and the side stories of supporting characters are both disturbing and oddly amusing.
Comparing my two novels, I’d say that “In Wake of Water” was written somewhat differently than “pig.” “In Wake of Water” was written more like a throwback to classic literature, with some purple prose piercing through the pages. “Pig” is written more directly, with more storytelling and less writing for the sake of writing.
I largely attribute this difference in style to the fact that i was in law school when I wrote "In Wake of Water" and was working as a Journalist when I wrote "Pig" - the writing I was doing elsewhere in my life influenced my authorship of each book.
Q:- Your second book ‘Pig’ managed to get as far as second prize quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. Can you describe how you felt when you found out how well your work had done?
sbr: I was honored, tosay the least. Along with a novel's placement in the competition, the author is given feedback from Amazon Top Reviewers and from Publishers Weekly. The feedback is designed to highlight both the strengths and weaknesses of the author's work. In many ways, it is this that is the author's greatest prize (at last for authors who don't make it all the way!).
The Amazon reviewers weren't too shy to say what thy didn't like_and I wasn't too humble to take it to heart. For instance, one reviewer said that he didn't like how I used a lot of numbers in the book description. All you need to do is take a gander at the Amazon product page to see that I appreciated his advice and incorporated it into the presentation of my book.
The review from Publishers Weekly was absolutely incredible. There were no critical words in it, though I've seen other novels in the contest reviewed in a harsh light. Given the glowing Publishers Weekly review, I must admit that I'm not certain why "Pig" didn't make it any further than it did in the contest. I've fingered its dark content as the likely culprit. But, nonetheless, for it to get as far as it did is a huge accomplishment. It's the type of recognition that every fresh author craves, but so very few get.
Quick Fire Questions
a) What colour shoes are you wearing? sbr: Right now, I'm actually not wearing any shoes. Whenever possible, I like to go barefoot-and, seeing as how I'm just chilling at home right now, there is no need for me to wear shoes at the moment. But, typically my shoes are some shade of black,
b) Do you take sugar? sbr: I love sugar! I have a sweet tooth for cookies,candy,cake and the like. I especially love Sweedish Fish. As far as taking sugar in my coffee or tea, I take sugar substitutes with Splenda as my first choice. I eat enough sugar as it is, so I can't justify drinking it too.
c) Name of your first pet? sbr: The family pet I remember from my youngest days was a black poodle named Fifi. The first pet that was "mine" was a minnow named Minnie, who I brought ome from the Girl Scout camp in a Styrofaom cup.
Minnie lived for only one month in my house. I woke up on her one-month birthday and starting singing "Happy Birthday" as I made my way to her bowl in my bedroom. She was dead. We had a funeral and wake for her later that same day. To anyone who has read "Pig," the idea of having a funeral and a wake for a lost pet should sound vaguely familiar. Little bits of fact alwayd find their way into my fiction, though they're there spun out beyond recognition.
d) Night on the town or quiet night in? sbr: I must be getting old. Quiet night in. It's too costly to go out these days. Dinner and a movie, and gasoline for transport, are so expensive nowadays-and often not worth the investment of my time or money. I have to toddler daughters, so they occupy the majority of my resources.
Don't get me wrong. I do like to go out for a night on the town every now and then. It's just not my regular practice. That said, a quiet night is a rarity too-again, I remind you, I have two toddler daughters!
Jane: Believe me as they go from toddler to child, from child to teenager, and teenager to adult, a quiet night in is even more rare!!
e) McDonalds or Burger King? sbr: McDonalds. I'm not into that flame-broiled taste and I much prefer nuggets with the preface of Mc attached.
Q:- The story of Lily’s life in ‘Pig’ was so realistic that I felt like I was reading a biography. Did you work closely with abused women to gather your information or was it written purely from your imagination?
sbr: Neither. I don't think anyone writes anything purely from imagination-not even the most complicated stories or the most nonhuman, or inhumane, characters. At least I don't.
Did you ever see a couple get into a fight in public-maybe on the trolly or at the market? Did you ever think to yourself that the man took the argument too far? Did he call her a bad name? did he grab her arm and lead her away?
And, if you ever saw these things, did you ever wonder: if he does that to her in public, what does he do to her behind closed doors?
Or, here's another line of thought. Did you ever have a fight with a loved one? Did yoe ever call someone a mean name? were you called a mean name? Did you and/or he/she ever get physical? And, if you ever experienced these things, did you ever wonder: what would have happened if I, or the other person, took things even further? What would have happened if I hadn't quieted my own rage?
Now, this is all to show that there are little scenarios we all face every now and then, questions we ask ourselves from time to time, that can really get the imagination going. There are things we witness, or execute, in our own very real lives that can be fictionalized to a haunting extreme.
Q:- In recent years we have seen an influx of new authors. How difficult/easy has it been to market your work, make it stand out amongst the rest and encourage readers to buy it?
sbr: I've tried to keep my language clean in my responses to your questions, which hasn't been too hard-until now. Let's just say this: It's really <insert expletive of your choice here> difficult!!!!
There has been a huge influx of new authors in recent years, and many of them are terrific writers. It’s hard to get noticed and stand out. It’s hard to compete with big names, and even with smaller names who have more spare cash in their hands. It’s hard. It’s just hard.
The best I can do is create an impressive piece of work and hope that people hear about it. I’ve been pounding the e-pavement with “pig,” pitching it to reviewers left and right, taking part in a virtual blog tour, promoting on Facebook, offering giveaways—the list goes on and on, and I’m always open to new ideas.
I decided to do a lot of my own PR this time around, even though that’s verboten in the traditional literary world. But the traditional literary world is changing quite rapidly. eBooks are all the rage, self-publishing and print-on-demand are just as common as the big publisher names, and everyday people are taking to reviewing books. Self-promotion isn’t shameless when you’ve got a good product to push. And “pig” is a good product. It’s a different kind of book. People just need to know it exists.
Q:- Do you write thrillers because this is the genre you most enjoy to read?
sbr: I typically like to say that I don’t have a favorite genre, because I really do enjoy all different types of books. Some of my favorites have paranormal/horror elements in common—like Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, John Gardner’s “Grendel,” and Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked”—but I also love biographies and psychoanalytical works.
The theme that runs rampant through all of my desert island books is the element of surprise. Fiction or nonfiction, I like to be shocked. Perhaps the shock comes in a fictional plot twist, or after the suspense leading up to the reveal of a big secret; or, perhaps, it comes from learning about the childhood of Maya Angelou or the troubled life of rock icon Tommy Lee; perhaps it comes at learning how one scholar interprets the disturbing undercurrents of fairytales, if not at discovering the disturbing undercurrents themselves.
So it is that element of "the thrill" that is found in many different genres which I like to read, and to which I also like to write.
Q:- If ‘Pig’ was made into a film, who would you choose to play the characters Lilly and Bender? Personally I think Ray Liotta would make a great Ben and Barbra Alyn Woods would make the perfect Lily!
sbr: I haven't really thought about who'd play Lily and Bender, though I've thought about "Pig" being made into a film. Because the book spans nearly 30 years, it's hard for me to think of the ideal actors. Should I pick actors to portray young Lilly and Bender, or lder Lilly and Bender? Most of the story takes place when they are in their 30s/40s, but the backbone of the tale is set when they're older. Can one lady, and one fellow, portray both ages well?
While I haven't thought much about casting Lily and Bender,I have thought about casting Leo. I think Russell Brand would be perfect.
I do like your suggestions of Ray Liotta and Barbara Alyn Woods—both are great performers and could express the attributes, and flaws, of my characters quite well. So let’s you and I get a hold of these folks and pitch the flick to them!
Q:- If you could spend one week in any period of history, which period would you choose?
sbr: Oh my, I’ve been asked this question before, but not in an interview context. Every time someone asks me, I say a different period, not because I’m fickle but because, as I continue to learn and grow in life, my answer reflects what I’ve most recently learnt.
At 34 years old, I have only just come across “Classic Rock.” For years, I was all about bands like Nirvana, Radiohead, and The Eels. These are the types of bands with which I grew up, the soundtracks to college parties and long drives in my various cars over the years.
I used to dismiss Classic Rock, because I had Modern Rock. But I haven’t been pleased with what’s been calling itself “Rock” these days. I took to playing a classic rock radio station in my car and fell head over heels for Led Zeppelin. My appreciation for other bands of that era is also evolving. I’m giving Pink Floyd, Hendrix, CCR, and Cream a shot, as well as the Rolling Stones and Queen.
To answer your question… I’d like to spend a week in the era when Classic Rock was just rock. The late-1960s/early-1970s sound pretty fun. Plus, denim jeans from the era were skintight and wide-legged—fabulous!
Q:- Did you hire an editor and/or Cover designer for your book? If so how did you find people you trusted?
sbr: “Pig” features cover art by Jenn Wertz, a musician/artist best known as an original member of multi-platinum recording artists Rusted Root. I am fortunate enough to have her in my circle of friends, so acquiring her artwork was an easy and trustworthy transaction.
Another lady I’m pleased to have in my circle of friends is Lizzy Bittner, who did the author photography for both of my books, and the cover photography for “In Wake of Water.” I’ve known Lizzy since childhood, and she basically donated her services to my literary cause.
Q:- What question would you have liked me to ask in this interview but I didn’t?
sbr: Well, my dear, I'll take this as an opportunity to plug my work...
Below is my short bio and all of my favorite links, written in third person for effect.
SBR Martin is an author of contemporary psychological fiction. Her most recent release, Pig, was a Second Prize Quarterfinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest, where Publishers Weekly wrote of Martin’s work: “The ultimate resolution of the story makes for quite a surprise... (Martin) is able to build good characters, flawed and believable, yet familiar; so that at the end one is saddened, but also, in a strange way, enriched.”
Martin was bred, born, and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she continues to live and work as a writer, journalist, and mother. She holds a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, as well as a journalism portfolio replete with contributions to media outlets such as AOL's Patch Network and CBS Local Media Pittsburgh.
Pig is her second book, published less than one year after the Oct. 2011 release of her debut novel, In Wake of Water.
Books by SBR Martin:
In Wake of Water:
SBR Martin’s other online presences:
SBR can be found online in myriad places, including multiple stops along her virtual tour. Guest posts, interviews, and other visits are chronicled on her Goodreads blog. If you’d like SBR to make a special appearance on your blog/site, contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.