Monday, January 7, 2019

Interview with novelist Leonide Martin

Novelist Leonide Martin is here today to chat with me a bit about her new historical romance, The Prophetic Mayan Queen: K'inuuw Mat of Palenque.

During her virtual book tour, Leonide will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too.

Welcome, Leonide. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Leonide (Lennie) Martin: Retired California State University professor, former Family Nurse Practitioner, Author and Maya researcher, Research Member Maya Exploration Center.

My books bring ancient Maya culture and civilization to life in stories about both actual historical Mayans and fictional characters. I've studied Maya archeology, anthropology, and history from the scientific and indigenous viewpoints. While living for five years in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, I apprenticed with Maya Elder Hunbatz Men, becoming a Solar Initiate and Maya Fire Women in the Itzá Maya tradition. I've studied with other indigenous teachers in Guatemala, including Maya Priestess-Daykeeper Aum Rak Sapper and Maya elder Tata Pedro. The ancient Mayas created the most highly advanced civilization in the Western hemisphere, and my work is dedicated to their wisdom, spirituality, scientific, and cultural accomplishments through compelling historical novels.

My interest in ancient Mayan women led to writing the Mayan Queens' series called Mists of Palenque. This 4-book series tells the stories of powerful women who shaped the destinies of their people as rulers themselves, or wives of rulers. These remarkable Mayan women are unknown to most people. Using extensive research and field study, I aspire to depict ancient Palenque authentically and make these amazing Mayan Queens accessible to a wide readership.

My writing has won awards from Writer's Digest for short fiction, and The Visionary Mayan Queen: Yohl Ik'nal of Palenque (Mists of Palenque Series Book 1) received the Writer's Digest 2nd Annual Self-Published eBook award in 2015. The Controversial Mayan Queen: Sak K'uk of Palenque (Book 2) published in 2015. The Mayan Red Queen: Tz'aakb'u Ahau of Palenque (Book 3) received a Silver Medal in Dan Poynter's Global eBook Awards for 2016. The Prophetic Mayan Queen: K'inuuw Mat of Palenque (Book 4) is the final in the series, published in November 2018.

I live with my husband David Gortner and two white cats in Oregon's Willamette Valley wine country, where I enjoy gardening, hiking, and wine tasting.

Please share a little bit about your current release.
Journey back 1300 years to the splendor and intrigue of Mayan civilization, the most advanced in the Western World. K'inuuw Mat, a royal girl who wants to dedicate her life to serving Mother Goddess Ix Chel, instead finds her destiny is marriage into the Palenque royal family, overlords of her region. With her skills in scrying and prophecy, she seeks a vision of her future husband, but upon arriving at his city she realizes the face she saw is his older brother, Kan Bahlam. They are immediately attracted, though she resists and marries the younger brother. As family conflicts, regional politics, and high court dramas play out, K'inuuw Mat shares intellectual and astronomical interests with Kan Bahlam while keeping her distance. He schemes to fulfill his passion for her, assisted by fateful events that bring them together in most unexpected ways.

What inspired you to write this book?
Several years ago when living in Yucatan, Mexico to study the Mayas, I became fascinated by the prominent roles of ancient Mayan women. At the world famous archeological site of Palenque (in Chiapas, MX), after visiting the tomb of "The Red Queen" I wanted to know about her. Studying her history led to learning about the royal women in the Palenque dynasty. Two of these women ruled in their own right, and two others including the Red Queen and K'inuuw Mat were influential wives of rulers. Other ancient Maya cities had "warrior queens" who led forces in battle. I wanted to bring the stories of these powerful women to a wider public, who know nothing about them. Since I knew the most about the Palenque royal women, I developed a historical fiction series about them. All four women married and had children, so the stories of their personal lives were as important as their official positions. This quite naturally leads to their romantic involvements and childbearing experiences. K'inuuw Mat is the fourth queen in the "Mists of Palenque Series" and her story is the final one. Each book in the series stands alone, a complete story in itself, so you can read them in any sequence.

Excerpt from The Prophetic Mayan Queen: K'inuuw Mat of Palenque:
After several rounds of dancing, Tiwol took K'inuuw Mat's hand and they returned to their mat. Her fingers entwined with his; she liked the warmth of his grasp. She felt happy and content, thinking that the Goddess' intentions were surely coming to pass. Tiwol turned to talk with two young men who stood by the mat. Still standing, K'inuuw Mat looked across the patio to watch the more vigorous dancing that had started. She patted one foot in rhythm to the music, until suddenly she caught view of the man who had just entered from the far veranda.

Her heart did a flip-flop and began pounding, while her stomach clenched into a tight knot. Eyes wide in disbelief, she stared at the tall man slowly weaving his way between dancers. Torchlight caught his face and brought his features into sharp focus—the face she had seen in her scrying bowl.

No-nooo! Her mind screamed silently. This could not be happening. The exact face, every feature she had so carefully memorized, of the man who would be her husband. Just when she accepted that her scrying was inaccurate, he appeared precisely as she had been shown. A wave of nausea swept over her and she clutched her stomach, dropping her gaze and collapsing onto the mat.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I'm an admirer of historical mysteries, such as Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody series set in early 1900's Egyptian archeological digs. Now I'm thinking about trying my hand at similar mysteries in the Maya regions in the 1920's. During this time women had major breakthroughs and opportunities for adventures. It was rampant with juicy archeological happenings such as tomb robbery and artifacts pilfering. My protagonists would be young women cutting loose and exploring different worlds, with an older female archeologist mentor. Writing mysteries (not involving murders) is branching into a new genre for me, and I've got lots to learn. I'm still in the conceptual and information gathering phase, and not yet writing the stories.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
My earliest memories of writing are during the pre-teen years. I penned (literally) short stories in a spiral notebook, mostly set in the Wild West. At that time I really enjoyed Zane Gray and science fiction. In high school and college I took writing and literature courses, and have always been an avid reader. I loved writing term papers and found it a creative process. Once I'd attained advanced degrees and became a university professor, writing became part of my job, my daily activities. Publishing was required, so I authored numerous journal articles, major textbooks, and popular non-fiction about health. Writing has always been integral to my professional work.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I've never written full-time, though writing was part of my academic career. After retiring, I expanded my interests in ancient cultures, especially the Mayas. Although writing non-fiction was natural for me, I thought that more people could be reached through fiction. I'd spent years studying archeology and anthropology textbooks, and only a seriously dedicated "Mayanist" would plow through such complex details. Although daunting at first, I decided to write historical fiction about the Mayas. When I started this, I was still working in the university and at a medical clinic, where I was a Family Nurse Practitioner. Now I've been retired for over a decade, still continuing to write.

My work day is really variable. I can go weeks without working on a book and then return to the project dedicating hours a day to writing. I'm intensely involved then, virtually ignoring the outside world (much to my husband and cats' annoyance). I write from a detailed outline and set up timelines for myself that drive my writing. Meeting deadlines for editing and publication also keep me on track. Usually I don't write at night; I get tired and feel my concentration isn't good. Mornings are best for creative writing. For editing and cross-checking, most any time works except night.

When not engaged in research, planning, outlining, fact checking, writing, editing, and marketing for my books, I enjoy a number of activities: taking walks, cooking and putting up food, dinners with friends, going to concerts, wine tasting, petting the cats, and various volunteer groups (bane of the retired existence). Evenings I usually read, or watch very selected TV programs with my husband, such as PBS, movies, and football/baseball.

I don't find time to write, I make time as needed.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Editing and re-editing as I write is an interesting quirk. Many writers just let the writing flow and return later to clean up the grammar, language, and word use. Not so for me. If I don't like the sentence when it's finished, I go back at once and re-work it. However, I don't spend too long at that, because I know I'll re-read my work again and again. I'm quite a rapid writer and touch typist, creating on my computer.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be some type of scientist, maybe related to space travel. Then I found I could draw pretty well, but being practical thought I'd be a commercial artist. The one thing I did not want to be was a teacher, so what happened? I had a teaching career, at the university level in health sciences, after nursing education and several advanced degrees.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Be open to branching out in your reading. We all have preferred genres, but exploring new ones can be rewarding in surprising ways. Many books cross genres, as mine do. Be open-minded to cultures and ways of communicating that are different. Be respectful of other cultures, especially when names are strange and hard to pronounce. Mayan names are difficult, you can't tell sex from the name, but they have linguistic beauty and cadence. I provide pronunciation guides in all my books. I've read books using Aztec names, which are even more difficult than Mayan ones. Just read books using full, authentic Hawaiian names if you really want a challenge.

But finally, keep on reading!


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
You're most welcome, Lisa! Thank you so much for hosting me. I'm excited to be part of my first Virtual Blog Tour. Your blog is so helpful to readers in finding stories that interest them, and gives great exposure for indie/small press authors. For your readers who take the leap into K'inuuw Mat's exotic world, my deepest gratitude. May your reading discoveries continue to inspire and fulfill you.

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

James Robert said...

Great post and I appreciate getting to find out about another great book. Thanks for all you do and for the hard work you put into this. Greatly appreciated!

Victoria Alexander said...

I'll definitely be reading this one!

Leonide Martin said...

It's really a pleasure to have my book and interview featured by Lisa Haselton. Your comments are most appreciated, thanks for your good words. You can only imagine how it bolsters an author when people say they'll definitely be reading the book!

Leonide Martin said...

Here's an update on publication: Ebook should be available on Amazon January 13 and print book by January 22, 2019. My apologies for this delay, there were some difficulties in the manuscript editing and creating the layout. My publisher kept pushing the date forward . . . you can pre-order the paperback right now!

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David Gortner said...

I read an advanced review copy of the book at it was wonderful.

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Bridgett Wilbur said...

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