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Author Spotlight Saturday with Martin Felando

This week we would like to welcome Martin Felando author of Star Racers. This book sounds amazing and we can't wait to review it on Genuine Jenn. We do have some sneak peek images throughout this interview with Martin. They are AMAZING! Without further ado lets get to know Martin Felando.


Tell us a little bit about yourself and why/what inspired you to write? When did you start writing?

I liked to read, but I also watched a lot of TV. When I was around ten years old, I told my grandfather I wanted to be in the movie business. He worked for Technicolor for about 15 years and worked on over 100 movies. He was the one who helped with the technical aspects involved in the scene with Dorothy opening the door and walking into a Technicolor world. My grandfather shook his head no, and said he didn't want me to do that. He told me they would attack me from all sides, and blindside me, and I gave him a look and a reaction that changed his mind. He knew how serious I was, even at the young age, and so he nodded and said okay. I continued to watch a lot of movies, and still do to this day. I graduated from LMU with a focus on screenwriting. I've written over 30 full-length screenplays.

Star Racers is based on 3 screenplays. I've really enjoyed writing the novel. It is extremely challenging for me to write in a way that makes people want to read what's going to happen next.  

I think my love of movies helped me start to write, and reading Dune in my early 20s was also very important. I read it in San Diego before leaving for the east coast, where I've lived since '87.

I think a pivotal moment in my life was when I got Lyme disease in CT in '87. I took penicillin and stayed in bed for two weeks, and the place didn't have a TV so I looked at the library in the home and there found Mortimer Adler's How To Read A Book, and it became the most influential book of my life.

I side note for Spider-Man fans: when I got Lyme disease, it looked like a spiderweb on my left leg. And the home where I recuperated was owned by Lynn Britt, a silver-haired woman who looked like Rosemary Harris, the actress who played Aunt May in the first Spider-Man movie. Lynn Britt was the artistic director at the National Theater Institute, one of the programs of The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. I attended NTI because I played the lead in a couple LMU plays and did several supporting roles. I wanted to test my love of acting, and I knew it would also improve my writing.

Another side note for Blade fans: shortly before getting Lyme disease, I told Wesley Snipes he should play a good vampire who uses martial arts to defeat bad vampires. 

I worked for homeless women for two years on skid row in Los Angeles. I wrote a scene based on that experience, and it was performed at NTI, and received a standing ovation. 

So I learned that we're enriched by different points of view: I learned about writing from reading, watching movies and TV, studying screenwriting at LMU, living and working in unusual places like skid row, writing plays, acting for stage, TV, and film. 

One of the people visiting NTI was Academy Award winning writer/director Joseph Mankiewicz. I asked him if it was better to write for someone specific in mind, like an actress, and write a story just for her, or just write the best story possible, not thinking about actors. He spoke non-stop for 20 minutes and then turned to me and said, "I didn't answer your question, did I?" 

And I took his answer as an indication that is so important to understand that a writer must do what think is best given their situation and backstory. Sometimes I wrote with someone in mind, but most of the time I wrote in the hope of creating something unique and great.

When I finished working on skid row, I remember how emotional it was when the homeless women went into their new home. I worked there to help with fundraising. $2 million dollars was raised to build a new residence next door to the daycare center. So I learned that with a lot of effort people and places can improve. So in my early 20s, I developed a mission statement: write great screenplays that would improve myself and the world. 

Five years ago when I started the novel, I adjusted that mission statement to include: write great stories that would improve myself and the world.

There were indications along the way that I wanted to write. In my teens I found myself staying up most of the night watching movies. I remember reading a movie review and getting angry about it, because I thought the reviewer was wrong. I remember going to an empty baseball field with my typewriter and typing a few lines for a story. 
What was your inspiration for Star Racers'?
I thought about Star Racers for 7 years before starting the novel. 

In 2003, I wrote down a list of movie titles for my next screenplay. I didn't like any of them. 

I loved sci-fi and I wondered what I could write about. I thought about what movie I'd want to see based on the title.

The words popped up like toast - that's how I came up with Star Racers. 

My next thought was that they'd have to train, so I thought of what sort of school they'd go to.

Then I wondered how old the students would be, and whether or not they'd be students. 

And everything came from those two words: Star Racers. 

Other questions came to mind: why have the race? What are the stakes? Money or some other reason?

I came up with some characters and focused on just the pilots - the ones who would train. 

Then I focused on who would do the training. 

And since I had already written over twenty screenplays, I knew that I had to write an outline of what would happen.

That outline changed hundreds of times over the course of 12 years. 

The first Star Racers screenplay was written in about a year, and I invested several thousand dollars on a script consultant to improve that first screenplay. 

I considered the sequel, the second Star Racers screenplay, my best screenplay. I really liked it. 

I wrote a third Star Racers screenplay to complete the trilogy, and I knew that one of the special things about Star Racers is that the saga can go on forever. 

Another aspect that I loved about Star Racers is that the scope cannot get any larger - this story doesn't involve just one or two planets, or one or two galaxies. It involves the entire universe, and the second novel will explore that larger arena.

I couldn't sell the screenplays, but I loved the idea so much that I had to keep going, so in 2010 I decided that my first novel would be Star Racers. 

I knew I had to develop new habits - I'm a big believer in the idea that the better you read, the better you'll write. So I changed how I spent my time: I bought a lot of books over the last five years, and I bought two Kindles and listened to a lot of audiobooks. I read at night, in the morning, and during the day. 

I read the first Harry Potter book four times. I read the other HP books at least once. 

I read Dune twice. I read other sci-fi books and also read fantasy books. I really like the Game of Thrones books. I've read several GOT books three times.

I have watched a lot of movies over the years, and often created characters from a number of actors and actresses. 

What three words would you use to best describe Star Racers?
Exciting, romantic, fun.

Can you tell us if you’re working on anything else at the moment?

I'm working the sequel to Star Racers. It's a saga. It won't end after three novels. That's one of the wonderful things about Star Racers: it can keep going. I have over ten story ideas for the novels. Maybe other writers will write them. 
What was your very first book that you wrote?

Star Racers is my debut novel. The 30 screenplays were very helpful in giving me confidence I could write a novel. I owe a lot to those readers who helped me with their feedback. I had over 100 beta readers on Star Racers.

Other than your own, what are your favourite books?

I really like Dune, We, 1984, Animal Farm, Stranger In A Strange Land, Game of Thrones - I've enjoyed all of them, Old Man's War, Doc Savage, The Little Engine That Could, The Stand, From Russia With Love, The Fold.  

Non-Fiction: Aristotle's Ethics and Poetics. Plato's Republic, Symposium, Theaetetus, The 5 Love Languages
When you are writing do you like to listen to music? What is on your playlist?

I prefer absolute quiet while writing. I prefer to read, use Lumosity to get my brain going, visualize certain concepts and ideas before I write, and then wear earplugs and sometimes headphones. I live in NYC, and sounds coming from neighbors and street traffic need to be managed. 

I listen to tons of music day and night. I like Pretty Lights: High School Art Class and Let's Get Busy, Nortec Collective: BabyRock Rock, Stars: My Radio (FM Mix), Goldfrapp: Drew, Shout Out Louds: Illusions, Foo Fighters: My Hero, The National: Bloodbuzz Ohio, Andrew Bayer: A Brief Interlude, Future Islands: Before the Bridge, Jeanette Harris: Chillin', Blossom Dearie: Tea For Two, Emancipator: The Way.
Who is your favorite character in your books?

I love Pinky and Dux. I like Little Blue. I like TST. TST is a smartball - he's about the size of a tennis ball and he's like a smartphone only much more advanced. The year is 3834 for TST is like a best friend and protector. TST is my favorite because he's always there for Rev. He's creative, he's knowledgeable. He wants to keep giving Rev hope and broaden his understanding. He makes Rev feel like he has a friend. TST is there when Rev needs him most. TST is willing to fight to help Rev. TST stands for Tech Support Tool. 

TST does a lot of unexpected things, like direct a music video for Rev - he makes the mundane entertaining. He chooses Mozart and creates a baby angel orchestra hologram to create a romantic setting to help Rev and Sashi fall in love.

During the battlejet race, TST helps Rev stay in the race.

Do you ever take characteristics or nuances from close friends or family when working on character development and if so has that friend or family member noticed and what was their response to it?
Good question. My family and I aren't close - they don't read my stories. I prefer to write about people who I've met outside the friends and family circle. I've seen a lot of movies and read a lot of books, and a lot of my characters are based on my imagination and knowledge of storytelling.

What’s your favorite treat?

I'll always love a tangy slice of blueberry pie. When I was a teen, I asked my mom for blueberry pie instead of cake.
What’s your Favorite place to read/write?

In 1985 I bought a draft table and a chair. I've nearly always written my stories using my draft table. 

I also love to walk in NYC. I do a lot of imaging during these walks and some key ideas comduring an energetic walk.

I also have ideas when I'm taking a bath. 

I have kept a journal for over 20 years, I write in it nearly every day.

I have kept a Star Racers journal just for the novel, and over the course of 5 years I've gone through about 20 journals. A lot of key dialogue and outlines are in these journals. Also inside these journals are names and ideas for the next novels.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Paris comes to mind, London, Seattle, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, New Orleans, Miami, and the Hawaiian islands.

I'd also like to travel all over Europe, India, and the South Pacific. I'd love to hike all around New Zealand.

Thank you Martin for taking the time to share with us on Genuine Jenn! 

~*Disclaimer: This post was written by Genuine Jenn. All opinions are honest and my own.*~

1 comment:

  1. Hello,

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    ReplyDelete

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