Name Jonathan Winn
Where are you from
Born in Washington State
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
Raised in a very small town in Washington State, moved to LA after graduating high school and then, ten years later, picked up and left for NYC where I was for seventeen years. I now bounce back and forth between LA and Texas.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
The Prologue to my next book, “Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche”, the sequel to my award-winning debut novel “Martuk … the Holy”, will be published as a short story called “Amaranthine” in the April edition of Under the Bed magazine, with the book itself to follow in May. I’m also hoping to have ‘The Tall Priest”, the latest installment in The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of Short Fiction inspired by “Martuk … ” ready by the end of February.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began as a screenwriter in the summer of 2004. The fiction writing didn’t begin until March 2009. And why? I don’t know. Why not? I love writing, I have stories to tell, and writing, for me, is a great job. Why WOULDN’T I do it?
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When my first screenplay ended up on the desk of an Exec at DreamWorks. Although they didn’t run with it, that’s when I knew I could do this.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The story Martuk needed to be told. When you’re walking through Washington Square Park with your dogs and you suddenly find this man, this immortal, whispering in your ear, it becomes pretty obvious pretty quick that this is worth paying attention to.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m not sure what this means. We all have our own unique voice, of course. And I absolutely cannot write unless I have music blaring through my headphones. Does that answer the question? 🙂
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I didn’t. My Martuk gave it to me, including the ellipse. And how can you disagree with an immortal man whispering in your ear?
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Nope. I want them to take a ride, have them enjoy the read, and, hopefully, be intrigued enough to come back for more.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Well, the streets he walks in Paris are ones I’m very familiar with. And my research into the ancient city of Uruk and Jerusalem in the 1st century was pretty intense. So, although it’s certainly not an info-dump of historical accuracy, I did try to give as much a sense of life in those times, and in modern day Paris, as I could without derailing the narrative.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Ha! No, not really. I’m not immortal, nor is anyone I know. Or at least I don’t think they are. Now you’ve got me wondering.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Although my views have changed as I’ve gotten older, the first time I read Anne Rice’s “The Witching Hour” was like a thunderclap. It just stunned me that she was able to tell such a complicated story spanning several generations in such an apparently easy, off-hand way. It’s still a favorite of mine.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Yikes! I’ve never thought about this. Well, Rice is a great storyteller, for the most part. And Stephen King has become a bit more economical with his words since his earlier work, which is good for me to see as I do tend to go on a bit and, Lord knows, Martuk isn’t a perfect book.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m between books, kind of. I just finished Reza Aslan’s “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”, which was a very good read, and have sorta started Stephen King’s “The Shining”, but am finding it a bit slow. Again, it’s good to revisit a favorite author’s earlier work. Helps to remind you that even the best started somewhere.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Not really, though I’ve recently become more involved in Facebook and am finding myself intrigued by people like Mercedes M. Yardley, who just released her debut novel “Nameless: The Darkness Comes” and Shane McKenzie whose book “Stork” I downloaded when it was free. Looking forward to carving out some time to discover these two, and more.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m readying “Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche”, the sequel to “Martuk … the Holy”, for a May release. I’m also getting “The Tall Priest”, the fourth installment in The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of Short Fiction inspired by “Martuk … ” set up to see the light of day sometime in February. Add to that the various short stories I’m writing to submit to Shroud and Dark Regions Press and others, and I’m a pretty busy boy.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Mark Smith, a longtime friend of mine, has been wonderful and has a great pair of eyes when it comes to my work. And a newer friend, Chris Todd, has a constant interest in my work, how it’s going, what I’m writing, so on and so forth. It’s great to have people like that keeping you on your toes.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I see it as my life.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Of course. You grow as a writer, revisit your earlier work, and immediately see things you’d do differently. But it’s important to have those earlier efforts. It’s nice to applaud your progress as each book, hopefully, is better than the last.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Nope. I recall walking through the park with my dogs and suddenly having this tortured immortal with a three-book arc in my head.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure. Here’s an excerpt from “Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche”, the book I’m readying for release in May —
Words, symbols, signs, they littered her body, these silent prayers chiseled into her flesh. There was a time when they had bled, and her skin had wept. But now all was quiet. A maze of ridges and wounds. The never forgotten memory of the knife’s blade.
She bent forward, her hair covering her face as she gazed into the empty bowl, barely heard whispers on her lips.
I glanced into the wide, smooth wood and saw only the thin layer of dust and a remnant of a cobweb. This was not a bowl where fire burned or spices were ground to dust.
She then spoke, her voice a whisper, the word lost to me.
Bending low, her lips near the sanded wood, she spoke the word again.
Again, my ears couldn’t catch it.
Arching her back, she raised up, her head tilted skyward,
and, again, the word came.
I knew this word. It was an ancient word. A word crackling with magic and power.
Open, it meant. Be open. Open for me. I am open. Come forth. You are welcome.
Cecilia remained seated, her legs crossed, her eyes closed, her scarred flesh naked, the wild tumble of her dark hair falling past her shoulders to land on her breasts. She was quiet, no other long-forgotten words passing her lips.
She needed only one.
And that one she had spoken.
She looked at me now, her eyes giving nothing but the glazed look of one on the verge of surrender. And then she looked to the bowl.
I, too, looked.
Water lapped the edges.
I closed my eyes, and then opened them again, sure that what I was seeing was a trick of the light. Or a mistake.
But no. Clear water now lapped the edges of the bowl. Where only a layer of dust and the forgotten memory of a cobweb had been, there was water. Deep, clear water. Water that threatened to rise over the wood and slap our legs or spill onto the floor.
She lifted her hand and stretched her fingers wide. And then, placing her palm on the surface, her flesh just grazing the liquid, she made a circle once, twice, and then a third time, this witch again whispering words I couldn’t hear.
It became hypnotic. The flickering candles. Cecilia, naked and powerful. Her hand oh so gentle as she caressed the sudden water. The whispers. These words of magic, of an ancient and dark and ominous magic, passing her lips, but not gracing my ears.
From somewhere, there was a low, insistent buzz. A ringing, perhaps, in my ears. But more than that. It was a something I could feel on my skin and in my bones. Vibrating against my teeth and stinging my eyes. It was the sound of something living and breathing and waiting in the shadows.
I wanted to look around, to peer into the dark that surrounded us outside the safety of the candlelight, but I couldn’t turn my head. My body felt light, my mind thick, my mouth dry. I swallowed, my stomach turning and churning. And then I swallowed again, my hand, awkward and slow, wiping sweat from my brow.
She was now bending forward, her hand still moving, the water spreading in one small ripple after another. And then she bent back, her body arched, the water still on her palm. Forward again, her shoulders hunching, her face moving near the bowl, her lips mouthing words I couldn’t hear. Rocking back and forth, the water living now, gathering to wrap around her hand, reach up her arm and caress the scarred flesh as it wormed into the ridges of those words and symbols and signs.
I wanted to lie down. Needed to rest my head, my stomach still turning in dangerous heaves and belches. But I couldn’t, whatever movement I would need to make seeming too difficult or complicated or slow.
As if reading the chaos in my heart, Cecilia lifted her head.
From beneath the wild mane of her hair, her eyes caught mine. They drew me downward, my gaze following hers into the water.
In the clear liquid in the bowl, a fire burned.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
It changes from book to book. With the full-length novels, there’s a battle between spreading your literary wing and keeping your narrative on-track and somewhat streamlined. I still wrestle with that. With the short fiction, it’s more a matter of boiling the story down to its essence so that it fits in the 13K to 15K word limit I’ve set for myself. Needless to say, those short fiction books are jam packed with action and move like lightning.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Honest to god, I love the work of Susan Wise Bauer. The way this woman, who doesn’t write in my genre, by the way, brings ancient history to life is too impressive for words. Her books are fantastic, brilliantly paced reads driven by fact-based events and people and decisions and mistakes that happened centuries ago.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
No, not yet. But I know some authors who travel all the time. But I’m not in demand, so it’s not an issue. Besides, I’d miss my dogs too much.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Timothy Burch, an incredibly talented artist and good friend.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Taking my hands off the wheel and just letting the story tell itself. It’s good to have that “map”, so to speak, as long as you accept you’ll be tossing it out the window at some point and just giving in to the twin devils of Inspiration and Creation.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Yes, I learned books are incredibly difficult to write and anyone, ANYONE, who has the fortitude and determination and stamina to follow it through to THE END deserves our applause and respect and support.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
If you’re not writing, write. If you’re writing and you feel like it sucks, keep going. I promise you, the only way to find your voice on the page will be to write through the crap until you get to the good stuff. Don’t worry, it’s there.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you. For supporting my insanity, for applauding my imagination, for sticking with me through all those annoying descriptives, for insisting I write more and do more, for assuring me that what I do is worth your attention and, of course, for buying my books, I thank you. A million kajillion bazillion times, I thank you.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Nope, but I’m sure it had a lot of pictures and very small words. 🙂
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I play tennis, so that’s a nice break in the writing day. I also cook, often ignoring the recipes so it turns out better. Other than that, I spend my days, weekends included, writing. It’s what I do. It’s my life, day in, day out.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Not to sound too boring, but I don’t watch TV that much and rarely have the patience for a film, though I write them. Hard to choose a favorite, though, so I won’t even try.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Foods — anything that tastes good. I’m not picky and will try anything. Colors — red and blue and yellow and, okay, probably all of them. Again, not picky. Music — write to hard-driving remixes done by people no one has ever heard of that I discover on YouTube. Also have an affinity for classical and anything else that doesn’t make my ears bleed.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’m also an actor, so I’m doing the two things I’ve wanted to do. Lucky me!
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Martuk … the Holy:
The Wounded King, Book One, The Martuk Series:
The Elder, Book Two, The Martuk Series:
Red and Gold, Book Three, The Martuk Series: