He has been writing all of his life, getting his start in elementary school as a two-time Young Authors selection in Oak Harbor, Washington.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and a Master of Arts degree in English from Buffalo State College (SUNY-College at Buffalo), where he wrote his thesis on application of mythic storytelling techniques to the modern media.
Currently, he lives with his wife Stacey, new daughter Kahlan, and four cats in Texas; where he is a college English instructor.
Professor, author of 4 novels, publisher of Desert Coyote Productions, new father - welcome!
LYNN - Don, you are a busy man! After writing 4 novels, what advice do you give other authors who may consider writing a series?
DON - Before you even think about starting to write, have at least an idea of where you want the series to go, and a general path of how to get there. Also, be prepared to spend a lot of time...and I mean A LOT of time...keeping your continuity straight, because one historical hiccup where you misinterpret a past event from one of your previous books will be jumped on quicker than you can imagine. You need to be prepared to face all of that before starting your own series.
LYNN - Your characters have various super natural powers that are helpful to them, and they also show emotions. What traits do they have that readers can relate to?
DON - It seems to be the human side of the characters that appeals to the people the most. These aren't just comic-book or role-playing-game archetype characters...they have distinct personalities, flaws, problems, and unique solutions to those problems. As an example, a recent review of Dinetah Dragon said that Ariel is the "soul" of the team because she feels her emotions the deepest, which appealed to the reviewer a great deal, mainly because she could relate to the human side of the character, as opposed to stopping at the dragon side. Responses like that, to me as a creative individual, are the most rewarding.
LYNN - As a college professor, you must have an amusing story to share. What funny incident have you experienced?
DON - Many times, the stories that seem funny in one context just seem depressing in another. I can say that I've had some unique things happen in my classes. For instance, a student one time lost credit on a paper because they plagiarized their own paper from the previous semester, simply changing minor details, but keeping the structure and much of the language identical. Another time, during a midterm exam a student veered way off the beaten path with their response to a question about Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, taking the time to write their own little story about a woman looking at a bird in a cage while they're imprisoned in their room, which was basically taking the Angelou title as a writing prompt.
LYNN - Your thesis on applying mythic storytelling techniques to the modern world is intriguing. Tell us about it.
DON - It's pretty much as simple as that. I took several pop culture properties from 1992 forward and compared them to mythic patterns presented by Joseph Campbell (the ever-popular monomyth) and Robert Jewitt and John Shelton Lawrence )the "American monomyth" common to superhero comics). You'd be surprised how much these patterns appear in varied media; over the course of the thesis I looked at such diverse sources as children's literature (His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman), sci-fi movies (District 9), and Japanese anime television series (One Piece), finding the mythic pattern in all of them. An unintended side effect, though, is now I can't watch a movie without looking for the benchmarks of the monomyths.
LYNN - What stands out in your mind that a reader has said about one of your books?
DON - I think the things that stand out are the words used to describe Dinetah Dragon, probably because it's more intimate and heartfelt than what people expect from fantasy. I found the quote from the aforementioned review...she described Ariel as "The one who seems to feel the deepest, empathizes the most, and brings emotions (good and bad ones) deepest into her." I've also heard from at least two readers who list Gabe Francis among their favorite characters in the series, which is quite an accomplishment since Gabe is kind of designed to be deeply mysterious and stay out of the way of the action at all costs. I found that interesting, actually, that folks like the character who intentionally avoids action in a fantasy novel.
LYNN - As a recent father, what tasks have you mastered in caring for your new baby?
DON - We figured out the diapering thing right off the bat, and the sleep patterns eventually came once we discovered the wondrous invention that is Velcro swaddle blankets. It also helps that Kahlan is turning into a really cool little girl, and showing a personality that tends to have "fearlessness" as its hallmark. That's troublesome for us, since she has a tendency to knock herself around trying new things ("Oh don't worry, it's just my head, nothing important!"), but I'd rather she be a courageous kid than a coward like I tended to be as a child.
LYNN - Your workload is tremendous, Don. What do you enjoy in your role as publisher?
DON - There's a certain satisfaction to the happiness authors show when they receive their proof copies, and realize their words are going to be in an honest-to-God book. That I can brighten my authors' day by making up their books to their specifications, getting word out on the releases, posting giveaways, and just all in all giving a helping hand is extremely satisfying.
LYNN - I am an animal lover, myself. What are the names of your cats? Do you have a favorite cat? If so, why?
DON - Our cats' names are themed. The two we brought to Texas from our previous home in New York came from the shelter with the names Lilo and Stitch; when we took two more black cats into our household that adopted us when we moved into tour home, we named them Leroy and Cobra Bubbles. As it happens, recently a fifth cat (orange tabby) has started hanging around our back deck and looking in our windows, and we've taken to calling him Reuben. (You kind of have to be a Disney buff to get the connection in the names.) As far as a favorite cat, they're all like children to us, but probably it would have to be Lilo because she's the one who's taken to being almost a "third parent" to Kahlan, and gets along with her the best.
LYNN - 2013 is still new. What are your goals for this year?
DON - To help as many students pass as I can, successfully release Phantom Squadron #4, maybe get into grad school, and be the best daddy to Kahlan and husband to Stacey I can possibly be.
LYNN - Please list your website and links for everyone to locate you, your books, and your publishing company. I have thoroughly enjoyed our interview!
DON - Thank you, too, Lynn!!
Don's books are available here at Desert Coyote Productions, at the Official Phantom Squadron Site, and on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.
Connect with Don on Twitter (@Desert_Coyote13), at Facebook (Don A. Martinez, Fantasy Author), and on Goodreads.