Title: The Advance Guard
Series: Phantom Squadron #1
Author: Don A. Martinez
Descriptoin: Over the course of history, a team of four supernatural agents has been assembled for a Black Ops team unlike any other. The Guardsman : ageless paladin knight. Cyrus Salem: immortal shrinking wizard. Kitty Lazarus: woman warrior in a cat's body. Ariel Vibria: modern dragon with a tortured soul. Both separately and together, these agents will face down an enemy of immense evil, with the fate of the world itself possibly in the balance, rising above their differences and individual traumas and coming together to face Sheol, a demonic matriarch hiding within one of the holiest sites in Europe. Each agent has his own concerns. Is being the Guardsman worth the sacrifice of childhood Ken Sharpe made to be the paladin? Will Cyrus continue to shrink throughout history? What purpose does the Hindu god Durga have for Kitty? What will happen if the secretive government project that produced Ariel comes to search for their missing experiment? Do they have a chance against Sheol?
Q & A with Don A. Martinez
Q. Tell us a little bit about your main characters.
A. My characters are based on typical fantasy literature or gaming archetypes, but they're placed in a modern military setting, which gives me the ability to write them as real as possible while still playing around with the tropes of each character type. Some of them are more traditional ... the paladin knight (Ken Sharpe/The Guardsman, and going forward in the series Sharpe descendants Cole and Alanna), the nigh-immortal wizard (Cyrus Salem) ... while the role of the dragon (Ariel Vibria) has been shifted drastically so that she's now an ally of the knight, and one archetype comes straight from our modern era, that being my cat-girl Kitty Lazarus.
Q. What was your favorite scene to write?
A. It's hard to pin down a single scene in The Advance Guard, because I enjoyed writing the whole thing. I have two choices, for different reasons: the Kitty chapters were just a hoot to write because Kitty is a fun character, a fast-talking, hard-fighting kind of gal; the Ariel chapters are a favorite because they wound up being a springboard for more writing later, in particular the book's direct sequel, Dinetah Dragon.
Q. How would you describe your writing style?
A. Imagine if you will a single work of fiction written cooperatively by Tom Clancy, Gary Gygax, and Hayao Miyazaki, and that pretty much sums up the entire Phantom Squadron series. Particularly The Advance Guard, with the attention paid to military protocol, this description fits that book best.
Q. What do you see as influences on your writing?
A. Much of my writing is influenced by what goes on around me, such as current events. Some inspiration comes from particular favorite authors, such as Harry Turtledove and Anne McCaffrey. Others come from odd places, like anime, or role-playing games.
Q. If you could be any character from your book, who would you be and why?
A. Wow, this is hard to answer because my characters each have a small individual part of my personality. The Guardsman is my sense of patriotism, Kitty is my natural violent tendencies which I don't act on, Cyrus is my knowledge, and Ariel is my childhood.
Q. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A. My career desires shifted many times, and at varying parts of my upbringing I wanted to be a doctor, an athlete, a veterinarian, and a music teacher. Writing, though, was the constant throughout, and this eventually led to my actual career, both as a writer and as an academic.
Q. Do you have any hidden talents?
A. I like to think that I'm making an attempt to become a modern Renaissance man, well-skilled in many different talents. I still do music every once in a while. During a ten-year hiatus from my academic life I became proficient in auto repair; that's expanded to home repair in my married life. I do most of the cooking in our household. The physical stuff I don't quite have down yet, but I've got plenty of life ahead, so there's time.
Q. What book are you reading now?
A. After a failed attempt at reading "A Confederacy of Dunces," I'm now reading an e-book series entitled Murder Girls by Christine Morgan, a very old and dear writer friend. Picture the Dexter series, except replace Dexter with five college co-eds who take up murder as a new hobby, and you have Murder Girls. I just finished up the first volume, "Disorganized," and am now on the second, fittingly titled "Organized."
About the Author
He has been writing all of his life, getting his start in elementary school as a two-time Young Authors selection in Oak Harbor, Washington.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and a Master of Arts degree in English from Buffalo State College (SUNY-College at Buffalo), where he wrote his thesis on application of mythic storytelling techniques to the modern media.
Currently, he lives with his wife, daughter, and four cats in Texas, where he is a college English instructor.