Thursday, June 9, 2011
Author Interview: Victoria Martinez
Jennifer Walker: Where can we find out more about you and buy your book?
Victoria Martinez: I have a website dedicated to my writing, travels and other interests at http://www.victoriahill.com/. I also have a blog called Arbitrary History where I have fun randomly posting arbitrarily selected history gems and tidbits. I’m also all over the web posting guest blogs and articles here and there.
An Unusual Journey Through Royal History can be purchased at the following sites:
Barnes and Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/An-Unusual-Journey-through-Royal-History/Victoria-Martinez/e/2940012509307
Who Dares Wins Publishing: http://www.whodareswinspublishing.com/UnusualHistory.html
Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your book.
Victoria Martinez: An Unusual Journey Through Royal History is not your typical royal history book. The table of contents reads more like a menu at a good restaurant, where there’s something for everyone’s taste. Each of the 18 chapters tells a unique story about an overlooked or unusual aspect of royal history, spanning centuries and countries, but in no particular order. From first to last, they will take you on a journey through royal history you’ve probably never seen or thought of before. Chances are, even readers who usually find historic royalty boring and stuffy or modern royalty anachronistic and detached will find something to enjoy.
In few – if any – other books will you find the British Monarchy compared to London’s sewer system, or read of the challenges of finding a suitable husband for a 200-plus pound Victorian princess who was nonetheless a “remarkably light dancer.” Rarely are the lives of historic and modern royals from Queen Victoria and Catherine the Great to Prince Charles and Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark “illustrated” not by paintings but by tattoos. Even more intimate topics, like the practice of circumcision among royals – including Princes William and Harry – are explored for the sake of inquiring minds. In short (much like the Court dwarfs you’ll read about), this book will leave you with a sense that you not only know royal history – and enjoy it – but that you have also journeyed through it and know the royals personally, from who exterminates their palaces right down to their infamous last words.
Jennifer Walker: Where did you get the idea for the story?
Victoria Martinez: For two years, I wrote a weekly column for a website called Unofficial Royalty under the pseudonym “The Royal Scribe.” Each week, I wrote about what I felt were overlooked or ignored people or aspects of royal history. Soon, I began writing similar articles for magazines and journals, and I was really pleased with the feedback I was getting on what I wrote. A good friend of mine suggested that I should publish my articles as collections of themed essays in book format. I agreed with her that it was a great idea, but I never pursued it.
As the saying goes, life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans, and that is just what happened to me. Earlier this year, I was attending a writer’s conference to shop around another book idea to agents. Instead, I met a publisher. She and I hit it off immediately and she asked me not about my current book idea, but about what I had written in the past. She was interested enough to suggest the possibility of doing exactly what my friend had been suggesting for years – publishing collections of my writing from the past augmented with new works. After the conference, the publishers did their due diligence on me – and I on them – and we found we were a great match with the same vision, and my first book was born!
Jennifer Walker: What other projects do you have coming up?
Victoria Martinez: My second book, “The Royal W.E. – Unique Glimpses of The Duke and Duchess of Windsor,” is due out in June. Like my first, it is an anthology of articles, this time focused exclusively on this famous and infamous couple. Some of the articles have been previously published online and in magazines while others are brand new.
I’m currently working on a third book, a biography, which I hope to publish later this summer. Right now, I’m keeping the subject somewhat under wraps since it’s quite an unknown story and I’d hate to give too much away prematurely. At the same time, I’m already working on a second edition of “An Unusual Journey Through Royal History,” that will double the current length of the book and also make it available in print form as well as eBook. Of course, I have several other projects up my sleeve, but I don’t want to overwhelm myself or anyone else by detailing them all here.
Jennifer Walker: What was the hardest part: writing the book, getting it published, or marketing it? Why?
Victoria Martinez: It’s so funny that you ask this question because not long after “An Unusual Journey Through Royal History” was published, I suddenly realized just how much work goes into marketing the book. I told my husband that writing and publishing the book were easy compared to marketing it. And this coming from a public relations professional! Although my publisher, Who Dares Wins Publishing, provides great support and help in marketing the book, I now know that it is more than a full-time job to both market your published books and work on future books.
I just read a fascinating biography on Emily Post, and the author talked at great length about how hard Mrs. Post worked to keep relevant, stay in the public eye, and continue her prolific writing. It’s actually been very comforting to read this while beginning to face these challenges myself as a new author. It confirms something I already knew – that writers work very hard – and validates something I had never really thought of before – that what I’m doing now is not very different from what nearly every writer at any stage of their career must do. That said, I wouldn’t say that any of the elements – writing, publishing and marketing – are “easy,” but they are part of a life that gives me great personal satisfaction. Even though doing all of these things at once is a juggling act at times, I really enjoy it, and I know that it’s what I want to be doing.
Jennifer Walker: Tell us a little about your non-writing life. Family? Pets? Hobbies?
Victoria Martinez: At the moment, my husband David and I live not far from my parents in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas-area with our two cats. It’s actually a little bit ironic that we live so close to where I lived starting at the age of 11 because David, a Spaniard, and I met when we were both living as ex-pats in England. We were both travelers, so it’s appropriate that we spent the early years of our relationship traveling and living around Europe. After we were married, we ended up spending two years in Chicago before deciding we wanted to live in the DFW-area. David is a freelance translator and interpreter with knowledge of seven languages, and we both work from home, which allows us to travel frequently.
We love living in the U.S., but the time is coming for us to move back to Europe, and we expect to be living in London by fall 2012. For now, however, we are sort of your typical American suburban DINKs. Well, maybe not so typical, but we do enjoy working on our house and garden, spending time with friends and family, and all the usual things. David has even become something of a master at Texas barbeque. For the past year, I’ve been taking belly dancing lessons to try to counteract what I like to call “writer’s butt” and it seems to be working well so far.
Jennifer Walker: Is your family supportive of your writing?
Victoria Martinez: I have an amazing family who have always supported my writing and encouraged my ambitions. My Dad is a wonderful writer and has been a great editor over the years, while my Mom is a voracious reader and is always there to give constructive criticism. Both my parents are great promoters of my writing, although sometimes they get things a little bit wrong. Recently, when I told my Dad that my book was a best-seller in several categories on Amazon, he clearly misunderstood and immediately emailed his friends to tell them that his daughter was “a New York Times best-selling author!” Bless him.
Like my own parents, my in-laws in Spain are fantastic and think I’m pretty special no matter what I do. Obviously, my husband inherited this generous nature because he has always told me that he doesn’t care if my books sell 1 copy or 1 million; as long as I’m doing what I love, he’ll be happy. As if that weren’t good enough, David has become an excellent research assistant, helping me in my historical research both home and away, especially when foreign languages come into play. Right now, in his “spare” time, he’s translating An Unusual Journey Through Royal History into Spanish.
Jennifer Walker: When and why did you decide to become a writer?
Victoria Martinez: It probably sounds a bit cliché, but I loved writing even as a young girl. I think it was a natural extension of my passionate interest in and vivid imagination for history. I also felt a strong desire to understand and explain aspects of history I didn’t feel were being sufficiently addressed. Although I knew I wanted to write, I also knew that I didn’t want to be a starving writer, so I took my undergraduate degree in mass communications and decided to go into public relations even though I had loved working in journalism in college.
I earned my master’s degree and continued working as a public relations professional until I gradually realized that the writing I was doing for others didn’t give me the satisfaction that my personal writing did. The result was I left the corporate world to do freelance public relations, which allowed me to sell off all my belongings and move to Europe where I could research and write. As I mentioned earlier, I’m back in the U.S. now, but I find myself doing increasingly less public relations work for others and focusing more and more on my writing. Eventually, I hope my public relations experience will serve primarily as a tool to help me market my writing and other interests.
Jennifer Walker: What is your favorite genre to read? To write?
Victoria Martinez: As a writer of primarily historical nonfiction, I think it comes as little surprise that it is my favorite genre both in terms of reading and writing. That said, I do admire high-quality historical fiction and occasionally indulge in a good suspense novel. Not surprisingly, I am most fond of authors who are now regarded as historical in the genres I prefer. For instance, with suspense, my favorites are Agatha Christie and Daphne du Maurier. As for historical fiction, I can usually tell right away whether I will love or hate something in that genre, and I am passionate about expressing my opinions, which is why my husband tells me I should never be a reviewer for historical fiction. As someone who is passionate about history, I am merciless when it is badly mishandled in fiction because – unfortunately – that is sometimes the only way people ever really learn about history! When I do find great historical fiction, however, I am devoted to the author and generally treasure the book as a masterpiece.
Perhaps surprisingly, I actually started out my serious historical writing career with an attempt at a book of historical fiction. I don’t think it was half-bad, and I’m not ruling out the idea of ever writing historical fiction, but I learned early that my passion for research and my style of writing is well-suited for nonfiction. My goal is to always write history in a way that is as enjoyable to the reader as any good historical fiction would be.
Jennifer Walker: If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be, and with whom?
Victoria Martinez: Together and individually, David and I have seen a lot of the world, but nowhere close to as much of it as we’d like. My dream would be to take at least a year and literally travel the world with David. I don’t mean stopping in all the major cities for a couple of days; nor do I mean seeing every country in the world. What I imagine is plotting out an itinerary of all the places – large and small – we want to go, and then staying in those places for as much or as little time as we decide once we’re there. Okay, maybe that would take at least two years…
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