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Bethanne
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Steve Martini, July 13-17

Let's welcome acclaimed author Steve Martini to Center Stage; he's here to discuss all of his books, but particularly eager to talk about his new one, Guardian of Lies

 

Steve Martini was born in San Francisco and grewup in the Bay Area and Southern California. An honors graduate of theUniversity of California at Santa Cruz, Martini's first career was injournalism. He worked as a newspaper reporter in Los Angeles and as acorrespondent at the California State Capitol in Sacramento, specializing inlegal issues, before gaining his law degree from the University of thePacific's McGeorge School of Law.

 

In 1974 he entered private law practice inCalifornia where he appeared in both state and federal courts. During his lawcareer he worked as a legislative representative for the State Bar ofCalifornia, served as special counsel to the California Victims of ViolentCrimes Program, and was an administrative law judge and supervising hearingofficer.

 

In 1984, Martini turned his talents to fiction.COMPELLING EVIDENCE, the novel that introduced attorney Paul Madriani, waspublished by Putnam in 1992. A national bestseller, that novel earned Martini acritical and popular following.

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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17

[ Edited ]

Good morning, Center Stage visitors! Today we'll kick off Steve Martini's week here with a brief interview. Hope you enjoy! 

 

Center Stage: Tell us about how your new novel fits in with OR stands out from your body of work/previous work. 



 

Steve Martini: My latest novel "Guardian of Lies" is a significant departure from previous Paul Madriani series novels is that it is a flat-out thriller. That's not to say that the earlier books were not thrilling. But for the first time within the series I have used omniscient point of view and third person voice to craft cut-away scenes that heighten tension and ramp up the suspense to levels that are not possible in first person, active voice.  In addition the storyline of "Guardian" deals with global issues of  mass terrorism involving continuing and villainous characters developed through a three-book trilogy. Paul Madriani is about to expand his wings into a broader, more dangerous and wilder world.



 

CS: What's the most interesting thing a reader has ever asked you?  



 

SM: Whether I was really naked behind the sandwich board I was wearing.  But that was a long time ago, and as they say another story. More recently I have been asked about the genesis of Paul Madriani, where he came from and whetherthe character bears any significant resemblance to me? The name "Madriani"came to me one morning as I was shaving probably because it seemed to possess a certain lyrical quality.   Though some people have difficulty deciding how to pronounce it, whether "Mad" or "Maud" (it is properly pronounced MAUD-riani). The name "Paul" is my middle name.  Beyond that there is virtually no similarity between myprincipal character and myself though some of his life experiences seem to track my own, particularly a few of his more recent travels. In terms of temperament and demeanor I probably bear more similarity to Harry Hinds, Paul's law partner.



 

CS: What's the one thing no one has everasked you that you are dying to make known?



 

SM: I am really Ernest Hemingway and I found the fountain of youth under the floor boards in Sloppy Joe's at Key West. I will shoot anything that moves, stuff its head or hind-end (whichever looks best), and hang it on my wall. 


 

CS: Whose books would you like to have written if not your own? 



 

SM: Of all recent commercial authors the writer I most envy and admire is the late Michael Crichton. His ability to capture both the cutting edge of scientific technology (as in Jurassic Park) as well as to develop wonderful historic periods (as in The Great Train Robbery) gave him a breadth of subject matter not enjoyed by many writers today. Crichton was able to defy type-casting. He avoided being tied to a specific genre. This gave him the freedom to explore many different fields with the only common element usually being some involvement with science. It is the bane of modern commercial fiction to be confined by publishers for marketing purposes into an increasingly narrow set of identifiable, but highly rigid genres. This serves to constrict the imagination and limit the inventiveness of fiction. It is part of Michael Crichton's legacy that he managed to avoid this. 


 

CS: If you weren't a writer, you'd be?



 

SM: A secret agent, a great explorer, a big game hunter, a military mercenary,  a hit man, a professional dreamer, Walter Mitty.

Message Edited by Bethanne on 07-13-2009 11:13 AM
Message Edited by Bethanne on 07-14-2009 12:02 PM
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Hotpen
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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17

Oh, come on! What's the story with the sandwich board, Steve?

 

I can't wait for "Guardian" to come out tomorrow! Where do you get your inspiration and ideas?

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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17

We won't get into the sandwich board, but the ideas come from everywhere and anywhere; from things that have happened in my life, sometimes just bizarre little incidents that I expand upon in my mind and play the "what if" game -- what if this happened or what if that happened. Before you know if, if you have fertile imagination you have the seeds of a novel. Take a look at "Guardian of Lies" and see what some travel to a few exotic locals can give rise toTrust me, you won't be able to put it downIt is the most suspense filled story I have ever writte, a wild ride from beginning to end, with real characters, authentic locations each of which actually exists, and events which if they have not yet happened, unfortunately most probably will occur in the foreseeable future.

 

Steve Martini

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Bethanne
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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17

Good morning, Center Stage visitors; good morning, Steve Martini! I'm delighted to announce that Steve will be with us live for an hour today, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. Eastern. Stop by and take advantage of this great opportunity to learn more about the author and his new "all-out thriller," GUARDIAN OF LIES

 

See you all soon, I hope.

 

Bethanne 

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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17

Hello Center Stage visitors -- and I hope, hello, Steve Martini! 

 

Steve, let me know when you are signed in and can start to chat.

 

Bethanne 

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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17

Hello:

 

I am on line I think.

 

Testing Testing Testing.

 

Steve Martini

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Bethanne
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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17

You're live and "on" Center Stage. Hi there, Steve Martini -- thanks for joining us today. How's the weather in the Pacific Northwest?

 

That would lead into my first question for you today: What role does setting play in your Madriani novels?

 

Bethanne 

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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17

Hello Bethanne:

 

Actually I am on tour at the moment and responding from downtown San Francisco in a hotel.  The weather here is great.  It's a beautiful day.  

 

Setting and location can be huge items for my novels.  In fact the locations in "Guardian of Lies" helps to take this book to a whole new level, outside the courtroom and into the realm of terror as it meanders through the back streets and alleys of Central America.  The locals in Costa Rica, Colombia and Cuba set the stage for a wild ride unlike anything I have written before.

 

Steve Martini

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Bethanne
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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17

Hello Steve! Ah, San Francisco...you're a lucky man to be there on a beautiful day.

 

Glad you mentioned Costa Rica, Katia's home. Was there a political or economic aspect that made you want to use it as part of this new novel's setting -- or was it something else entirely? 

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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17

Actually I had taken some time off from writing to recharge the creative juices and in that time I undertook some travel and met some people, ex-pats who were living in Latin America, Costa Rican citizens and others who have now become friends.  Many of these people became composite characters and came to walk through the pages of "Guardian of Lies". 

 

Beyond this it is my belief that we in this country have for far too long ignored the countries to our south.  Those countries are filled with foreign intrigue, adventure and suspense from the tip of Argentina to the U.S. border with Mexico.  It is like going back in time to the old films of the 40's with Bogart in "Across the Pacific" which never made it any further than the Panama Canal.

 

Steve Martini

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Bethanne
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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17

Thank you for such a great answer; it explains the noir-ish feel of "Guardian of Lies." To go back to something you said in your previous answer: You've said this book is a departure for you. Was that a deliberate choice, or was it something that evolved as you wrote? 

 

Also: This novel is the first of a trilogy. Can you tell us anything about how the three books will connect? (If not, I completely understand.) 

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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17

No I made a deliberate decision that I wanted to take Paul Madriani (my protagonist) at least partially out of the courtroom and I wanted to change the form in which I had been writing the series since its inception. I had always crafted the stories in the first person, active voice with Paul as a kind of camera lens through which the reader saw everything.  If Paul was not on stage the reader could not see what was happening.

 

In "Guardian of Lies" I opted to mix the scenes so that when Paul was on stage I used first person active voice, but when he was off stage the story went on using third person and narative voices.  In this way I was able to rachet up the tension and suspense that I believe readers of my series have never seen before. Not that they earlier books were not suspensful, but this adds a whole new dimension.  

 

The following books in the trilogy will be tied together with the addition of a dark killer, 

Muerte Liquida, who I believe may be one of the best ingredients to modern thrillers in years.

 

 

Steve Martini

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Bethanne
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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17

This departure really works; I was hooked by "Muerte Liquida," the professional killer who wears a neoprene suit because it's easier for the blood to be washed off of it. 
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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17

Liquida will grow by dimensions as the trilogy progresses.  He is one of the driving forces of these stories -- he and his evolving battle with Madriani.

 

 

Steve Martini

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Bethanne
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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17

Steve,

 

A little turn in the road; since you're talking about ratcheting up the pace in your new books, tell me what you've seen change in the years since you first began publishing legal thrillers

 

Bethanne 

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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17

It is a whole new world out there in terms of publishing.  Probably one of the biggest elements of change is what we are doing right now.  The introduction of computers to the process and the evolution of the internet has changed marketing, and communication with the reader and dropped the barrier that once existed in the field.  When I wrote my first novel "The Simeon Chamber" back in the mid 1980's my first effort to gain attention was the preparation of hundreds of letters with color copies of the cover sent to bookstores around the country. Today that looks like fashioning weapons by chipping the edges of a stone with another rock. 

 

The author who doesn't have an up to date website, and access to digital communications is hobbling him or herself.

 

There are also stresses in publishing that did not exist years ago.  We are in one of those techological vortices on the edge of digital publishing that is causing some dislocations at present, but I am one of the optimists who believe that digital publishing and traditional paper publishing will co-exist and in the end actually feed each other in a kind of simbotic relationship.  Paper books aren't going away. They or theie successors will be here a hundred years from now.

 

 

Steve Martini 

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Bethanne
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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17


Steve-Martini wrote:

It is a whole new world out there in terms of publishing.  Probably one of the biggest elements of change is what we are doing right now.  The introduction of computers to the process and the evolution of the internet has changed marketing, and communication with the reader and dropped the barrier that once existed in the field.  When I wrote my first novel "The Simeon Chamber" back in the mid 1980's my first effort to gain attention was the preparation of hundreds of letters with color copies of the cover sent to bookstores around the country. Today that looks like fashioning weapons by chipping the edges of a stone with another rock. 

 

The author who doesn't have an up to date website, and access to digital communications is hobbling him or herself.

 

There are also stresses in publishing that did not exist years ago.  We are in one of those techological vortices on the edge of digital publishing that is causing some dislocations at present, but I am one of the optimists who believe that digital publishing and traditional paper publishing will co-exist and in the end actually feed each other in a kind of simbotic relationship.  Paper books aren't going away. They or theie successors will be here a hundred years from now.

 

 

Steve Martini 


These are all excellent points -- I'm only sorry that it's so slow conducting this chat via message board, because I'm eager to ask many different questions, but we only have ten minutes or so more with you today.
Like you, I'm an optimist about the future of books and publishing. I think many avid readers are, because we can't imagine a world without stories. So let me ask you something that I know you're concerned with in writing legal thrillers. How do we get more men to read fiction? It's not that there isn't any fiction out there that they'd like. You, Lee Child, Joseph Finder, Elmore Leonard, Bernard Cornwell...there are so many men writing fiction that has "masculine" themes. What keeps men away from novels?
You may not have any firm answers...but I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Bethanne 

 

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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17

I hate to say it but I think it has a little bit to do with Machismo -- men like to read the real thing.  They are a bit afraid of fiction.  I will give you an example.  "The Search for Red October"  the book by Clancy that launched the techno-thriller genre was originally published by the Naval Institute Press, a small publisher and was probably destined never to be heard of until Ronald Reagan was seen with a hard cover copy under his arm.  One of his advisors had read it and given it to him.  When he was asked what it was, he told the press while holding the book up, that if World War III started this was probably how it would begin.  That's all it took.  The real guy had given a edge of reality to piece of fiction and every man in America picked it up and read it. 

 

Similarly the Techno Thrill died with the first Gulf War when the instruments of war that Clancy and others had woven into their stories became over-exposed in the press.  Why read fiction when you get your fill on television and in the newspapers each day.  

 

To capture the male audience it is going to be necessary to write with an edge of reality that cuts to the bone.  He has to touch the blood and smell the sweat before he will buy into the story.

 

Steve Martini

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Bethanne
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Re: Steve Martini, July 13-17


Steve-Martini wrote:

I hate to say it but I think it has a little bit to do with Machismo -- men like to read the real thing.  They are a bit afraid of fiction.  I will give you an example.  "The Search for Red October"  the book by Clancy that launched the techno-thriller genre was originally published by the Naval Institute Press, a small publisher and was probably destined never to be heard of until Ronald Reagan was seen with a hard cover copy under his arm.  One of his advisors had read it and given it to him.  When he was asked what it was, he told the press while holding the book up, that if World War III started this was probably how it would begin.  That's all it took.  The real guy had given a edge of reality to piece of fiction and every man in America picked it up and read it. 

 

Similarly the Techno Thrill died with the first Gulf War when the instruments of war that Clancy and others had woven into their stories became over-exposed in the press.  Why read fiction when you get your fill on television and in the newspapers each day.  

 

To capture the male audience it is going to be necessary to write with an edge of reality that cuts to the bone.  He has to touch the blood and smell the sweat before he will buy into the story.

 

Steve Martini


A very, very honest and intriguing response; perhaps President Obama's recent reading of Joseph O'Neill's "Netherland" will win some new male readers to fiction. That novel, too, has a deep connection to reality. This is definitely something for publishers to ponder.
Our official hour is up; Steve Martini, thank you so much for chatting with me! I look forward to the rest of your week here on Center Stage -- and I'm also looking forward to the next title in this trilogy.
Enjoy San Francisco!
Bethanne 

 

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