By the time evening fell, three things were certain: the gelatinous chunks of lamb were absolute shit, my beady-eyed client was hankering for more than the beasts in my possession, and someone was watching me.
Two out of the three were perfectly normal.
Sliding the meat to the side, I propped my elbows against the heavy plank table. My client lasted two seconds before his gaze roved to the book-shaped locket dangling in my cleavage. Wedging his thick fingers between the collar of his dress tunic and his neck, he tugged gently on the fabric.
“You have what I came for?” His heavy gold ring glinted in the candlelight. It bore the intricate etching of a scale: Wilheim’s symbol for the capital bank. A businessman. A rare visitor in Midnight Jester, my preferred black-market tavern. My pocket hummed with the possibility of money, and I fingered the bronze key hidden there.
“Maybe.” I nudged the metal dinner plate farther away. “How did you find me?” Dez, the bartender, sourced most of my clients, but brocade tunics and Midnight Jester didn’t mingle.
I shifted in the booth, the unseen pair of eyes burrowing further into the back of my head. Faint movement from the shadows flickered into my awareness. Movement that should have gone unnoticed, but I’d learned to be prepared for such things.
Interview with Maxym M. Martineau
Maxym M. Martineau’s debut fantasy romance novel is KINGDOM OF EXILES (The Beast Charmer). The novel will be published on June 25th 2019 by Sourcebooks.
Question - Please describe what the book is about.
Maxym M. Martineau - A fantasy romance novel with magic, beasts and assassins! Here’s the blurb:
Exiled Charmer Leena Edenfrell is running out of time. Empty pockets forced her to sell her beloved magical beasts—an offense punishable by death—and now there’s a price on her head. With the realm’s most talented murderer-for-hire nipping at her heels, Leena makes Noc an offer he can’t refuse: powerful mythical creatures in exchange for her life.
Plagued by a curse that kills everyone he loves, Noc agrees to Leena’s terms in hopes of finding a cure. Never mind that the dark magic binding the assassin’s oath will eventually force him to choose between Leena’s continued survival…and his own.
Q - Where did you get the idea?
MMM - Kingdom of Exiles started because of a dream I had about Noc, the main male character. I’ve always had particularly vivid dreams, so when he appeared all swathed in shadows, as he’s apt to do in the book, I just knew I had to write about him. In my dream, he told me about how he was physically incapable of being with the one he loved, and I wanted that to translate into a story, hence Noc’s curse.
Leena was born out of his descriptions of her, and the beasts were something I always dreamed about—creatures I’d see, worlds I’d get snippets of. It was really like pulling ideas together from several different dreams into one coherent story.
Q - What’s the story behind the title?
MMM - Actually, the title is something my publisher and I worked on together. Kingdom of Exiles was originally the Beast Charmer, which ended up becoming the series title. But the more and more we talked about Noc and Leena’s predicaments, and both of them being exiles in their own way, it was just the perfect fit.
Q - No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.
MMM - There is something like 25+ beasts referenced in some way, shape, or form in Kingdom of Exiles. I had no idea when I started exactly how many I’d include, and then it just sort of… exploded! I love all of them, and I’m so glad my publisher did, too, because this resulted in the creation of a bestiary appendix, which includes pronunciation guides, ranks, detailed descriptions and taming requirements for each and every one of them.
Q - Tell us about your favorite character.
MMM - This is like picking a favorite child! I can’t do it. Please, don’t make me. Gah… I suppose it’s a toss up between my main male character, Noc, and a secondary character, Kost. They’re both so angsty and brooding!
Q - If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?
MMM - Leena. Don’t get me wrong, I love my other characters, but I’d love to spend the day with her so I could play with all the magical beasts she’s tamed.
Q - Are your characters based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?
MMM - Imagination or dreams, really. Of course, there are some outside influences that always crop up. I’m a huge video game and anime nerd, so I’ll pay homage to certain quirks or traits of characters I love.
Q - How long did you take to write this book?
MMM - I’m a speed writer, I’ll admit it. I started concepting out the idea of this novel while I was in Pitch Wars with a different book, but truly didn’t start writing it until December or January of 2017, I believe. I made it a goal to finish it before my wedding in March, started editing after that, and then sent out a few queries but held off when I got into Query Kombat. Signed with my agent in September, went through revisions over the holidays, went on sub shortly thereafter, and had an offer relatively quickly. I ended up signing with Sourcebooks in July of 2018.
Q - What kind of research did you do for this book?
MMM - Not a whole lot. I do a lot of pre-writing, which I guess you could call research, but since it’s fantasy, I primarily rely on my imagination. Sometimes, I’d look up weapon terminology, clothing, etc.
Q - What did you remove from this book during the editing process?
MMM - I actually ended up adding about 20,000 words. O_O
Q - Are you a plotter or a pantser?
MMM - If you twist my arm, I’ll side with the pantsers. I typically only start with a vague notion of where I want my characters to end up, but as they start to develop on the page and make choices that surprise me, I’ll alter along the way. Which makes me want to say I’m a plantser? Is that a thing? I’m making it a thing. It’s a bit hard to not plot to some degree when writing a trilogy, even if it’s only, “I know he’ll get to Point A by midway and Point Z by the end of it all.” But I have never been a hardcore synopsis writer, sticky note gal, or outline type of person.
Q - What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?
MMM - Pre-writing. In this stage, I do a lot of dreaming, build a lot of boards, fill out character sheets and design maps (I love to design maps!). I feel like this is when I truly get to build out characters and worlds that are three dimensional. That way, when they’re on the page progressing through the plot, their actions and quirks come naturally to me.
Q - What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?
MMM - This is a hard question for me to answer. I find all parts of the writing process validating and invigorating in different ways. Though I end up pulling my hair out the most during editing, so if I had to pick, that one.
Q - Can you share your writing routine?
MMM - Writing time? What’s that? I’m kidding, mostly. I work a full-time job and am the co-founder of a not-for-profit romance site on the side (All The Kissing), so I don’t have a lot of hours in my day. I will say, though, that I thrive under deadlines. Need edits in a week? I’m game. A rework of that chapter before it gets released? Done.
Q - Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?
MMM - Absolutely. I usually have to walk away for at least a day, if not more. I’m the type of person who can write 5,000+ words in a sitting, so when I can’t get more than 100, I really flail. I end up calling my critique partners so I can talk through options and pain points, and that usually solves the problem. Sometimes I just know the section is going to be rough, and I push through just to make it to the next passage. When I come back for edits, it’s much easier to see what I missed or could do better.
Q - If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
MMM - Be active in your writing community! I feel like I made a ton of newbie mistakes early on because I simply had no idea what I was doing (heck, I still don’t). The difference between then and now is that I’ve got a support system of writers who are always there for me. My biggest frustration with my earlier self is that I fought getting on Twitter for so long. I had no idea what kind of community I was passing up.
Q - How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
MMM - Let’s see… three unpublished books and I dunno how many half-finished ones. Some I won’t go back to, some are ideas I’m waiting on until after I’m finished with this series.
Q - Do you have any writing quirks?
MMM - I don’t know if you’d call it a quirk, but I write best with music and coffee. Particularly moody music, and I love to come up with playlists for my books.
Q - Tell us about yourself.
MMM - I work as a social media and ad writer for a large tech company. I’m married with a baby on the way (yay!), and I will always have fur babies in my life. I’ve got two pups right now, and they’re my whole world. My husband is pretty cool, too.
Q - How did you get into writing?
MMM - My mother, actually. I used to have terrible nightmares as a child, and she taught me how to exercise that negative energy by writing down my experiences in a journal. As I learned more about myself and my dreams, they became less frightening and I ended up looking forward to sleeping just so I could come up with new story ideas.
Q - What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
MMM - Really, my interests vary. I used to be a competitive swimmer, then I got into rock climbing, then ballroom dancing, then fitness competitions… Basically, I love all sports. Reading, video games and anime have always been a constant, too.
Q - Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?
MMM - I do a lot of article writing for All The Kissing, as well as work on paid and organic social media outreach campaigns for my day job. It’s interesting to see how many different ways I can use my skill set.
Q - Share something about you most people probably don’t know.
MMM - I’m absolutely terrified of moths. I don’t know what it is about them, but I’m convinced that if they land on me, they will eat the clothes right off my body in a matter of moments and leave me covered in dust.
Q - Which book influenced you the most?
MMM - Hands down, Harry Potter. JK Rowling is my idol.
Q - What are you working on right now?
MMM - I just turned in edits for book two of the Beast Charmer series, so I’ll begin work on book three here shortly. Then after that, it’s editing again, and drafting for books four, five and six.
Q - What’s your favorite writing advice?
MMM - I don’t know if it’s advice from a specific person or rather just a sentiment, but embrace your own journey. There’s no one straight path to publication, and you can learn so much from simply being completely and totally invested in your own experience.
Maxym M. Martineua’s Biography
Maxym M. Martineau is a staff writer and editor by day, and a fantasy romance author by night. When she’s not getting heated over broken hearts, she enjoys playing video games, sipping a well-made margarita, binge-watching television shows, competing in just about any sport, and of course, reading.
Following her passion, Maxym earned her bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. From that point on, it was all words, all the time. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America, and currently lives in Arizona with her husband and their dogs. She is represented by Cate Hart of Corvisiero Literary Agency.
Links to Maxym M. Martineau
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/bnKoE
Books A Million: http://bit.ly/BAM-KoE
Changing Hands: http://bit.ly/CH-KoE