Interview with Author Joni Martins

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Would you please introduce yourself to my readers and share something about your life.

Hi, I’m Joni Martins and I’m a multi-genre author in my early fifties. I have so far published four books, both in English and in Dutch and the second in the series has two versions, an 18+ version and a censored version.

Throughout my life I loved to write, but other than in my youth and since my recent early retirement, I only wrote as part of my previous career. It was a hobby which I picked up again in December 2017 and which is now my full-time occupation.

What is something unique/quirky about you?

I possess a neurotic streak/OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), although it is not something I was ever officially diagnosed with. Not that I’ve ever given anyone a chance to do so. Instead of allowing this to rule my life, I use it to my advantage. It allows me to organise my life a little better and to stick with what I’m doing rather than give up when the going gets tough. I’m also a perfectionist, but realise that there is no such thing as being perfect. That doesn’t mean you can’t continue to strive to achieve perfectionism.

Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!

When I was in my twenties, I drove home from work one day in a horrible January storm. Trees and branches were flying around me and also some other lighter weight items. I got home safely with no problems and sat down with a cup of tea to relax. Looking out of the window five minutes later, I noticed a tree had fallen on top of my car parked next to our home. The damage was substantial, but it would have been worse if the tree wasn’t leaning on the roof of the utility room as well. I hadn’t quite gotten away with the horrible weather after all.

What are some of your pet peeves?

I hate it when my computer is slow and can’t keep up with my fingers or thoughts. I also find it very annoying when the internet connection keeps fading in and out of existence, especially when I’m desperate for it to work at its best capacity.

Other than that I can’t stand people being put down or bullied. Live and let live and treat everyone equally and with respect.

What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?

My favourite authors are (in no particular order):

Kathy Reichs

Karen Rose

J K Rowling

Stephen King

Agatha Christie

Karin Slaughter

Lee Child

Tess Gerritsen

James Patterson

Robin Cook

John Grisham

(oops, that’s eleven)

What inspired you to write this book?  (If you have more than one book, please choose one.)

I do not know what inspired me to write my current series (‘Friends, family and love 1-4 and book 5 is due out 31st of August 2018). The idea came while driving to work one day and developed from there. There are more books in the series in the pipeline and I already have a vague outline of what they will entail. What inspired me to pick up writing as a full-time career was a mixture of things. My husband had encouraged me to write some of my dreams, fantasies and thoughts down in a book and I unexpectedly retired early and therefore had time to act on it. Even while I still worked, I continued to dream of writing a book.

What can we expect from you in the future?

My fifth novel ‘Holiday Love’ is due to be published on the 31st of August 2018 and I am outlining and writing the sixth in the series.

Further ideas in the pipeline are 2 semi-autobiographies, a cookbook and some other ideas are floating about. I have a rather active imagination and know there will be several other books in the current series as well. I would love to write a mystery or detective novel in the future.

Where were you born/grew up at?

I was born in the Netherlands and lived there until I was thirty. When my place of work closed down, I applied for a training position in Somerset, England and gained employment there. My husband (then boyfriend) followed me to England a few months later and we now live in Yorkshire.

If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?

That is a very difficult question to answer. Does anyone really know what they will do if that happens to them? And is what we think now ever what we would do if it really happened? I suspect most people would be that shocked they lived out the rest of the day in a haze unable to get to grips with it before their last day had finished.

However, I would want to enjoy the time I had left as best I could and spend it with those I love most, my family. I would want to make as many happy memories as possible in that time to leave my loved ones with, but I would not want to force them to sit with me if they would prefer to play on their computers or games. As long as we would make happy memories, I would be happy. I would probably also try to write them a letter to thank them for the great times we shared and to remember me by when I had gone.

It’s strange how such a question focuses our minds, it makes me a little emotional to even reflect on it.

Who is your hero and why?

My husband, because he made my life a much better place with him in it. He also brought me our kids and is a pillar of strength whenever I need it. He believes in me unconditionally and encourages me at every point and motivates me to believe in myself.

What book do you think everyone should read?

I’m not sure. I could, of course, say any of mine and please do, but I don’t think that is what you meant.

However, a book which has helped me to gain self-confidence is ‘Changing Your Life in 7 Days’ by Paul McKenna. I have to admit his photo gave me an uncomfortable sensation and I was rather suspicious of what would be on the CD included with the book. To ensure there were no undesired suggestions, the first time I listened to it was while doing the ironing. It has, however, improved my self-confidence a lot and I’m grateful for that. There is one suggestion in there, which reminds me of the ‘Riddikulus’ spell in the Harry Potter books. The suggestion to imagine a person who makes you feel uncomfortable in a silly situation.

Tell us about a favorite character from a book.

From my own books so far, I would say Theo. He is a lovely guy who suffers with his self-confidence and when his sister and mother convince him, he should not be in a relationship with Krista, he takes his sister’s criticism to heart. When she tells him he is not good enough for her friend, he believes her and internalises this. This leads to his depression, and he even suffers with suicidal ideation. It is difficult to not love the guy and want to envelop him in your arms to make him feel better or at other times to shake him and tell him to stop being stupid because he is an amazing guy.

From other author’s books: Temperance Brennan (Kathy Reichs), Harry Potter (J K Rowling), Miss Marple (Agatha Christie).

Describe your writing style.

The books I’ve written so far are in the first person, although seen from different characters’ standpoints. I just write as thoughts spring into mind although I outline the books first. Sometimes the story takes a turn in a different direction than the one that the outline suggested. The style is narrative in nature.

What makes a good story?

A good story is captivating and always makes you want to continue reading. You are hungry to experience what happens next and what happens after. There are enough twists and turns to keep your interest, but not that many that your head is spinning and you can no longer follow the story. It hooks you from the start and changes pace often enough not to get boring. The characters should be interesting and we should either be able to love them or hate them or maybe both. The plot should interest us, surprise and be unexpected. You know it’s a good story if you can’t put down the book and when you next look at the time you notice you have to get up in half an hour, oops, you really shouldn’t have read that ‘one more chapter’ last night.

What are you passionate about these days?

I’m passionate about equality, tolerance and respect for all. We are all different, but the same. No one is more worthy, and no one is worthless. My family is my main love and I wish them to have the best they can. I’m passionate about writing, crafting and helping others to be the best they can be. I can’t stand bullies or people who think it is okay to put others down. We are all worthy.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

I love making cards and also run a crafting challenge blog. I love reading, gardening and have too many hobbies to count. Writing is also a hobby and while I took a break from writing my current series, I wrote a short erotic adventure story. So far, I did not publish this one, but I am considering doing that in the future.

How to find time to write as a parent?

My children are teenagers and young adults now. The eldest recently had his 22nd birthday and the youngest will be 16 next month. We have four kids, who are close in age. (22, 20, 19 and 15)

As I only started writing seriously a few months ago, I found no problems with writing as a parent. It is a difficulty I can relate to though; I had a career before my retirement and finding a happy medium between being a parent and a career woman was challenging. I also wanted to find time to make cards and I would ask my daughter and sons if they would want to join in with me. It would probably be no different with writing and being a parent. Why not ask them to invent stories and tell stories to each other at bedtime? It was what I did as a child after all.

What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?

I always enjoyed writing. When I unexpectedly retired early a few months ago, I took it up as a career in my retirement. I love making up stories and feel it is the right decision. I love writing and inventing stories. If others also love my stories, this would be an added bonus, but even if they don’t, I still find enjoyment in this hobby. I hope people love my stories and find as much pleasure in reading them as I have in writing them down.

Describe a day in your life as an author?

Are you ready for this?

My typical weekday starts at 4.30 am. I get up and bake fresh bread for the family before cleaning the bathrooms and doing any other housework related jobs needed. Once I finish this around 8 am, I either work in the garden for about an hour, or I look at my e-mails and catch up with anything important on social media and deal with financial matters.

At around 10 am I start with my writing, editing and other writing-related things and I continue with this until 5.30 pm when it is time to make preparations for tea. Sometimes I will be so absorbed in my writing I lose track of the time and forget my lunch. Even with setting an alarm, I can still miss out.

After tea, I read for a while until it’s time for bed at around 8.30 pm. The same repeats the next day.

If the weather is great, I will spend longer in the garden. If I get distracted by social media too much, I will sometimes forget my writing for hours on end. I will then catch up the next day by not checking social media at all or by putting my OCD to good use and set certain restrictions for myself.

Advice you would give new authors?

Never, ever give up on your dreams. Realise not everyone will love your work as much as you do and take any negative criticism with a pinch of salt. Even if you receive negative feedback, try to phrase it in a way which is positive for you and use the criticism to improve your work. Never take it to heart in such a way it makes you want to give up on your dreams! No one has the right to take your dreams away from you!

You may wish to look into using programmes like Grammarly and ProWritingAid to improve your writing and I have found yWriter also very helpful. They are all available free and for a subscription fee, so you can keep your start-up costs low.

What are you currently reading?

Whatever book is next on my Kindle. My husband and I downloaded so many books on there that I promised myself not to buy any new ones until I have caught up and read them all. I have just ordered them by author’s name and read them one after the other, sometimes several books in one week or even day. Currently, it is a mystery with a possible love twist although I’m not far enough in the book to be certain of that.

I also read and review books for fellow Indie Authors. A positive way to support each other, I believe. I publish the reviews at the sites I bought the books, on Goodreads, on my website and blog and on my Facebook Page, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn. By helping each other we help ourselves is my motto.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing when I was very young, around  6 or 7 years old. When I started my career, I had no more time to spend on writing as I also needed to take care of my family. My job did, however, involve writing a lot of letters and protocols and I always ‘wrote’ in my head. I have only seriously written since December 2017.

What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?

My initial outline is mental. I throw an idea around in my head and once I am happy with where I want with the story to lead; I put it down on paper (okay, my laptop). Once I’m ready to work on the story concerned, I outline it (I have recently used yWriter 6 and find this very helpful) and write once this has finished. The outline is just a rough guide, and the story develops as I write. I will often just sit down behind my laptop and let the story flow out through my fingers on the keyboard. Fortunately, I have learned to touch type, which makes this relatively fast.

It can be quite annoying when you wake up in the middle of the night and a new idea pops into your head and keeps you from falling asleep again. The best ideas come to us when we are relaxed which is why we find them most at those times (2 am).

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?

Some characters are there from the start of the idea, others come while I’m writing. I will try to decide the characters and their specifics before starting the story, but this does not exclude new ones making an entry somewhere in the story. These will then possibly have a lead role in a later book in the series.

What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?

As most of what I have written so far is fiction, I did little research other than checking that my thoughts and any specific places are accurate. For instance, I researched how to apply for nurse training and I also double checked the holiday locations in my fifth book. Although I had visited these places myself, I still wanted to make sure my memories were accurate.

Describe yourself in 5 words or less!

I am an imperfect perfectionist.

How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book? (Pick one of your books if you have books.)

An active imagination coupled with previous dreams, stories in the news and on the radio, and books from fellow authors sometimes spark an idea. Sometimes I read a book and think of an alternative route that book could have taken or a slightly different twist that might work. Often the ideas will surface during housework or driving and they can keep me awake at night. Once an idea enters my mind, it is difficult to stop the machinations from taking over and sleep is no longer achievable.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I love this series so far. There is a mixture of love, psychology, friendship, suspense and a little of mystery and they deal with very real issues like mental health problems and unreasonable expectations from patients. Delusions were rife in the first book and depression and suicidal ideation in another. The series has also dealt with insecurity, lack of self-confidence and self-worth. Some depressive scenes even moved me to tears as I wrote them and I had to take a break from writing as I felt too emotional.

Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?

Lydia: a GP receptionist wanting to become a nurse. Nice girl, has limp from a childhood accident. (Book 1 and 2 and a minor character in the other books)

Sam: Had a horrible youth. Obsessed by his love for Lydia. Convinced they belong together, and he takes this to extreme lengths. Emotionally labile. (Book 1 and 2)

Rob: A+E nurse, lives with Lydia and her boyfriend in later books. Great guy. (Book 1 and 2 and a minor character in the other books)

Krista: Physiotherapist (in training, qualified in later books). Sister of Rob and best friend to Lydia. Friendly and supportive. (Book 1, 2, 3 and 4 and a minor character in the other books)

Theo: Car mechanic and owner of a garage with his friends Ronald and Joshua. In love with Krista, but has a very low self-esteem and feels he’s not good enough for her. Depressed. Great guy. Best friend to Rob. (Book 2, 3 and 4 and a minor character in the other books)

Josie: Hotel receptionist who wants to become the hotel manager. Sister to Theo. She is very outspoken and convinces her brother he is not good enough for Krista. (Book 3, 4 and a minor character in the other books)

Ronald: Car mechanic and co-owner of a garage. Nice guy who supports Josie in telling Theo he shouldn’t be in a relationship with Krista. (Book 3, 4 and a minor character in the other books)

Freya: Hairdresser with own salon. Sister to Ronald and best friend to Josie. Loves gossip and camping. (Book 5 and a minor character in other books)

Joshua: Car mechanic and co-owner of a garage. Best friend to Ronald. Loves camping. (Book 5 and a minor character in the other books)

Book 6 will have Ronald and Freya as the main characters again and in following books more characters will emerge as main characters. The series revolves around a group of friends and their families.

Do you have any advice to give aspiring writers?

Just keep going. Never give up. I’m still fairly new at this myself, but I won’t give up. Do one thing at a time, or your book won’t get finished easily. However, if a book does not seem to work, put it aside for a bit and get back to it later. A fresh look may make all the difference.

Author Joni Martins Goodreads profile…

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