Monique Martin is my special guest this month, as part of the Time Travel theme for the month, and to celebrate the release of the time travel novel Celtic Crossing that will be out in a few days.
Monique is an Amazon #1 Best Seller in Time Travel Romances – not just once, but several times. Her Out of Time series is constantly in the Top 20 and recently, she started a spin-off series. Her book covers are iconic—once you have seen them, you never forget them.
It is fantastic to have her here!
It is fair to say that Monique is a “name” in time travel romances. Settle in and get to know her and her stories.
Thanks so much for visiting today, Monique.
Thank you for having me.
You have a BFA in Film Writing and you did work in television for a while…why did you switch to novel writing?
At the time I was working in television the family business needed help and I went to work there. Fast forward 10 years and I was a pretty sad panda. I wasn’t being creative and work was, well, work. Very worky. I needed some sort of outlet and so I started writing Out of Time late at night after work. It was really just for me. To keep me sane. I ended up taking a course at UCLA at night as well to help me along. I’d never written a novel and the last short story I wrote was “The Case of the Missing Underwear” when I was seven. I found a few people in that class in the same position–day jobs and a need to do more. We formed a writers group and, with their encouragement and help, I wrote a book!
Are you still writing for film?
I am working on a screenplay or two, but my main focus is novels now. I never thought I’d be a novelist. Always thought I’d write for film and/or TV. I think in some ways I still am, I’m just doing it in prose.
Your primary series is the time travel series, Out of Time, which currently stands at ten books. Recently, you began a spin off series, Saving Time, with book 1, Jacks Are Wild. Why did you create the spin off? Was it reader pressure, your own interest, or something else?
A little of both. I loved the character of Jack and readers seemed to feel the same way. He’s funny and charming and not bad to look at it. Writing a really long series is hard. Not just coming up with fresh ideas but getting new readers to dive in. I know as a reader, I love long series, but for some it’s intimidating. Branching out gave me a way to explore Jack and the world I’d created and, hopefully, get some new people to try the world of Out of Time.
Will you be adding to the series?
I’m working on Jack’s second book right now with plans for a third later this year. I haven’t finished with Simon & Elizabeth (the OoT h/H) yet either, but they’ve made things complicated for me. 🙂 Spoiler: they’re two becoming three and that makes sending them back in time more difficult.
It’s a fence-straddler, genre-wise. I’ve always loved lots of different types of books and Out of Time reflects that, I think. While it’s definitely a romance, the mystery/adventure plot is nearly as important. And I think it sets up a world where the romance can coexist well with mystery/adventure.
Since I have the same couple in all of them, their relationship is a crucial part of each, but you’ve got have something else to hang your hat on. For me, that’s the mystery and adventure. And the history. LOVE history. The books will always have that romantic aspect– Simon and Elizabeth are desperately in love–but it’s the mystery and adventure that makes each unique, I think. A different time period, a different mystery. I think those are lures for people who might not otherwise read something with so much romance in it.
What made you choose the 1920s in New York as your time travel destination?
I had a simple idea while watching a documentary. I think it was about Al Capone. And I started to wonder – what if the underworld of crime was ruled by the Underworld? It just blossomed from there.
The period just before the Depression is a fun, fast-paced and sexy world spinning madly toward disaster. It’s dark and mysterious. Gin joints and Prohibition. Gangsters and Jazz. What’s not love?
Your hero, Simon and your heroine, Elizabeth, have a large age gap between them. Was that a conscious choice? Do you like May-December romances?
It was. I think it reflects my affection for older men. Although, now that I’m older, older men are nearly dead so… . 🙂
I liked the contrast between them. Not just the age, but upbringing. He’s a wealthy Brit and she’s a poor Texan. He’s closed; she’s open. So the age difference was just one more contrast to explore.
Beside your own time travel novels, what are your favourite time travel authors?
Gabaldon set the gold standard for time travel romance. But I was really attracted to the more scifi/fantasy time travel – HG Wells, Matheson, Madeleine L’Engle. All very different. Once you get your characters back in time, you can do anything with them – romance, mystery, adventure, horror. Your imagination is the limit.
Did your reading habits change when you became a professional writer? Who are your major influences these days?
Sadly, yes. I grew up like so many of your readers, I’d imagine, under the covers reading by flashlight until I was forced to go to bed. I read and I read and then I read some more. When I started to writing novels, my reading time dried up. I don’t read nearly as much as I want to (or should). It’s one my new year’s resolutions: to read more fiction. That and eat fewer cookies which has already gone the way of all things. I love reading (and cookies, apparently). I love being transported.
Most of my reading time is spent in research. Because I made the not-so-wise choice to have each book set in a different time and location, I spend a lot of time in research. Pleasure reading these days is rare.
And what is your guilty pleasure, reading-wise? Why?
Comics. I’m a Marvelite. I loves me some comics. They’re short, that helps with the time crunch. But more than that, they’re classic storytelling. They have to be concise, no wasted words or images. It’s like that famous non-verbal sequence in the movie Up. Some of the best storytelling I’ve seen. It conveyed so much and did it in such a pure way. It’s inspiring. A good comic book can be like that. It might even just be a few panels.
Also, comics are a kick! I love reading Silver and Bronze Age comics especially. I’m a huge fan Dr. Strange and all things Marvel. Excelsior!
Do you read either print or ebooks exclusively? How do you keep your personal library under control and organized?
It’s funny. For fiction, I’m very content with ebooks. But for non-fiction, I really prefer print. My personal library is completely out of control. I have stacks of books everywhere! I gave away tons of books recently, but I still have far too many. I’m trying to cull the heard, but it’s so hard. I love them! Each is a memory. One of the lives I’ve lived.
As to how I keep it organized – My theory of organizing is simple: Everything is where I last put it.
This theory needs work.
If someone offered you immortality, but you could never write again…would you take the offer?
Yes. And I wouldn’t be one of those mopey eternals (I’m looking at you, oodles of vampires in fiction!) Think how smart you’d be. How many people you could help. It would stink to lose everyone you ever loved and to see civilizations rise and fall to the point where it all seems pointless… okay, I’m starting to feel you, vampires. But I think I’d still take the deal. My curiosity wouldn’t let me say no.
The Desiree Staccato
In honour of Desiree Holt who started this Saturday Night Live style tradition:
Favourite colour? Blue
Favourite drink? Right now, a good manhattan or sidecar. I usually drink whatever my characters are drinking in the book I’m working on. PS – Beware of scrumpy!
Favourite writing outfit? PJs, of course, cuz I can.
Favourite food(s)? Bagel with lox, cream cheese and capers and maybe a little onion if I’m feeling adventurous.
Favourite music? Tough one. It changes (as do most of the above), right now Big Band
Favourite sport? Football. Go Cowboys!
Favourite body part? LOL. Um, on someone else? Hands. On me? A little spot on my left ribcage. When I scratch it, I can feel it on my elbow! Seriously.
Favourite spot in the world? A dark booth in a nice restaurant with good company
Favourite movie? Another tough one. Maybe To Kill a Mockingbird. Also one of my favorite books.
Favourite TV show? I’m a TV junkie so this is especially tough. Right now, Sherlock. Although The Crown was sooooooo good. If you haven’t seen it, stop reading this and stream it. Favorite show of all time? Maybe Parks and Rec or Gunsmoke. Or M*A*S*H or Mad Men or Dr. Who. You see the problem.
Favourite flower? Honeysuckle. Does that count? It reminds me of walking home from school as a kid.
Favourite thing to do at knock-off time? Surf Facebook and not post what I’m really thinking.
Tell us about your most recent book.
I just published a Christmas story called In Time for Christmas based on A Christmas Carol. I’ll bet you never thought of that as time travel, but it is! Here’s the scoop:
At a time when interest in the Christmas holiday was waning, Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol and inspired the world. But now, history is changing, and the book is never written. When the Council for Temporal Studies asks time travelers Simon and Elizabeth Cross to “save Christmas,” they think he’s joking.
But it’s anything but a laughing matter. Simon and Elizabeth must go back to 1843 London and convince Dickens to write his endearing story, or the Christmas holiday we all know and love will cease to be–forever.
I’m currently working on book two in the Jack Wells Saving Time series — Aloha, Jack — that takes Jack to Pearl Harbor just days before the attack. Jack goes back in time and undercover (as himself! He’s originally from the 40s) to save a codebreaker before he’s murdered. I’m hoping fans of the main series will give Jack’s books a try. You never know who might show up.