Book Country Member Q&A
“If I go several days without creating something, I feel incomplete.” –Angela Martello
Angela Martello is a science fiction writer from Philadelphia who’s been working in the science and medical publishing sphere for more than twenty years. The name of her dog, Ben, is also the name of the protagonist from her Kaliphian Matter trilogy, the first and second of which you can read and review on Book Country. I’ve come to know Angela as a voice of reason, and I’m really excited to welcome her to the spotlight.
Nevena: Thanks for joining me, Angela. When did you start writing?
Angela: I wrote a children’s book, complete with illustrations, when I was in high school for my sophomore year English class (even tried to get it published). That’s the earliest project I can remember, but I think I was writing as far back as grade school.
Nevena: How do you fit writing into your life?
Angela: Some aspect of writing is a part of almost every day. If I’m not actively writing or editing, I’m working out dialog or scenes in my head (or out loud if nobody is around—or at least when I think nobody is around). Before my first laptop, I carried around a notebook and wrote a few lines whenever I could, then would have marathon typing sessions on my PC. Now, I power up my laptop every evening, and even some mornings before I go to work, and spend some time writing/editing. I don’t have to work at fitting it into my life; writing is a natural part of my routine. If I go several days without creating something, I feel incomplete.
Nevena: You work for a scientific and medical publisher. Does your job inform your writing?
Angela: Well, I hope the tone of the material I work on in my professional life isn’t popping up in my creative writing! Evidence-based medicine used at the point of care and presented in bulleted and sub-bulleted format isn’t exactly riveting reading! My work requires a certain degree of discipline to take a document written by a physician and edit it for format, style, grammar, and clarity without compromising its clinical accuracy. I’d like to think that discipline is evident in my creative writing. Plus, my years in scientific and medical publishing combined with my science background help me (or at least I hope they do!) get whatever science and medicine I include in my books right.
Nevena: It seems handy, for sure! You write in the sci-fi subgenre space opera. What draws you to it?
Angela: To tell you the truth, I really don’t like the term space opera—it sounds cheesy. And some definitions of space opera I’ve read emphasize melodrama and romance—two things my works really don’t have. The Book Country definition lists interplanetary politics, family conflict, and stories that unfold over several books—things, I hope, my works do have. I’ve always been drawn to book series, both in science fiction and fantasy. Once I find a world (or worlds) and characters I love (or love to hate), I want to spend as much time as I can on those worlds and with those characters.
Nevena: That sounds wonderful. Tell us more about the project you’re working on.
Angela: The Kaliphian Matter trilogy started out as a true fantasy within a science fiction shell. Basically, it had an identity crisis. As I dove into the revision process, I decided to explain the fantasy elements with science (mineralogy and biology) and language and cultural differences. The story explores the relationships among three major planets as well as those among the main characters. There are many challenges the main character has to rise up to—in many ways, he’s his own worst enemy—and he has to face them against a backdrop of interplanetary intrigue, exploitation, and betrayal.
Nevena: I’m sold! Where do you get ideas for your books?
Angela: Honestly, I have no idea. They’re always buzzing around in my head. Sometimes, a common object, or the way the sunlight plays with glass or lace, a piece of music, or something someone says could trigger a visual of a place or scene or set up the cadence of a few lines of dialog.
Nevena: That’s beautiful. What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
Angela: Can I be a nerd and say all of it? Jotting down notes, writing the first draft, revising, rewriting, copyediting, watching the story unfold and the characters react and grow, and having an “a-ha!” moment when something finally clicks into place.
Nevena: So why are you a Book Country member? How has it helped you grow as a writer?
Angela: A few months before I joined Book Country, I sent my work to a published author for some feedback. I also coerced one of my sisters to read all three volumes. I got some good advice and criticisms, did some editing, and then decided to do some querying. Ouch! One day, a colleague showed me a tiny article on Book Country in the free daily commuters’ newspaper. I checked out the site, decided to conquer my fear of having complete strangers read and critique my work, and signed up. It’s been a wonderful experience ever since. Fantastic members, thought-provoking (and sometimes laughter-inducing) discussions, challenging reviews and reviewers, and tons of books to sample. Being a member has taught me to read my own work with a far more critical eye.
Nevena: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received—on Book Country or elsewhere?
Angela: When I was writing for a scientific newspaper, where column inches ruled, I quickly learned that NOTHING I wrote was etched in stone. On Book Country, the best advice came from Mr. Carl Reed when he was channeling Winston Churchill: “Never give in—never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense.”
Nevena: Mr. Carl Reed knows what he’s talking about… What should the community know about you that they don’t already?
Angela: I can’t dance. 🙂
Nevena: Thanks for being part of the spotlight series, Angela! We’re stoked that you could join us.
Connect with Angela on Book Country and say hi to her on the discussion forums.
Next week on the spotlight: historical romance writer Tabetha Waite!