Sunday, 28 April 2013

Q & A with Martyn V. Halm

Author:  Martyn V. Halm

Genre:  Thriller

Page Count:  430 

Book Description:  Blessed with an almost non-existent conscience, Katla Sieltjes, expert in disguising homicide, views assassination as an intricate and rewarding occupation. Hidden behind her male alter ego Loki, Katla receives anonymous assignments, negotiates the terms with clients through electronic means, all to protect her identity. Her solitary existence satisfies her until she meets a blind musician whose failure to notice a ‘closed’ sign causes him to wander in on Katla’s crime scene. And Katla breaks one of her most important rules - never leave a living witness.

Recovering alcoholic Deborah Stern reluctantly re-enlists with the DEA as a liaison in The Hague, where her language skills are valued to counter suspected sabotage by Dutch law enforcement officials. After a U.S. Army officer dies on a German NATO base from a heroin/cocaine overdose, the trail leads to Amsterdam. The DEA and the Dutch IPOL launch a joint undercover operation, but not everyone is playing by the same rules.

Reprobate is the first novel in the Amsterdam Assassin Series. With authentic details and fast-paced action, featuring an uncompromising heroine and a supporting cast of unusual characters, Reprobate gives a rare glimpse in the local Dutch culture, information on the famous Dutch capital, the narcotics trade, computer hacking, motorcycle gangs, mehndi bridal tattoos, martial arts, and the brutal effectiveness of disciplined violence.
Buy Links:  Amazon  B & N 
About the Author:

Martyn V. Halm lives in Amsterdam, with his wife Maaike, two children, two cats, and countless imaginary characters vying for attention.

Writing realistic crime fiction is hard work. Martyn is a stickler for verisimilitude in fiction, even if that requires learning new skills. When your protagonist is a seasoned killer, research can take you right up to Nietzsche’s abyss. Luckily, things get easier after the first kill. And, apart from being an accomplished prevaricator, Martyn already possessed several skills that qualified him to write the Amsterdam Assassin Series.

Martyn always enjoyed stories about assassins, but his opinion on assassins differed from the books he read. Since most fictional assassins are antagonists, they are often warped individuals, with freaky childhoods. However, Martyn has come across mercenaries (basically the same field), who are pretty regular people. Sure their view of the world differs from ordinary citizens, but they’re not ‘warped’. This made him want to write about an assassin who has no deep-seated frustration or
abused childhood, but who just realised that killing was what she was good at and who had the appropriate world view and lack of conscience to pull it off.
Q & A with Martyn V. Halm
Q:  Tell us a little bit about your main character, Katla.
A:  Katla Sieltjes is a young woman who works as a freelance assassin and corporate troubleshooter. To protect her identity she never meets in person and uses a male alter ego, Loki/Low Key Enterprises, when she discusses contracts with clients. Katla specialises in disguising homicide, using a variety of killing methods and her knowledge of forensic sciences to thwart police investigations. She's an 'Einzelganger', someone who prefers to be alone, convinced that an intimate relationship would require her to deceive her partner, and anyone she can deceive would not be worthy. On the other hand, anyone who'd figure her out would become a liability.

 Her intention is to make enough money to retire, and then simply disappear and reinvent herself. Her life changes when she breaks one of her cardinal rules and leaves a blind witness alive. In the downtime between contracts, when she's exercising, Katla sees the blind man again and wonders about the person whose life she spared. She shadows the blind man like she would a potential target and gets more and more interested in his personality and way of life, so different from her own. When an opportunity arises where Katla can reintroduce herself, he doesn't seem to recognise her. Taking her chances, Katla gets closer to the blind man to satisfy her curiosity, but the consequences are unexpected.

Q:  Do you have anyone in mind who would be perfect to play Katla in a movie?
 A:  One of Katla's main traits is her ability to go unnoticed, and she regularly changes appearance to enhance that feature. I've seen quite a few movies with female assassins as protagonists (La Femme Nikita, The Assassin, SALT, Haywire, Smokin' Aces, etcetera), but in every case, their faces are memorable, which is a flaw common in fiction. In reality, the best spies and assassins are people who don't look like spies or assassins. The ability to blend in makes it difficult to find an actress willing to become so unobtrusive that she could portray Katla adequately.

 In addition, Reprobate is a 113,000 words (the average paperback is 80,000), and to condense a complex multi-layered story into a two-hour movie would mean that only the most obvious suspense elements would survive. I don't think I'd want to see such a barebones version of Reprobate.
I hope that answers the question. I think it's in everybody's best interest if Katla is never portrayed by anyone, so that readers can form their own picture in their mind and not be disappointed by another person's vision of what Katla looks like. Which is also the reason that my covers have no images of characters.

Q:  How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
A:  My father worked as an editor for a Dutch publisher of children's/YA books, so I had shelves full of quality books to read. I was (am) a voracious reader and I had a need for telling stories. I used to embellish my experiences, but I found out that people started to regard me as a liar. However, if I made someone else the protagonist of my stories, I was praised for my imagination. Projecting my need for telling stories into writing fiction is also cathartic, I can express myself through my characters, mixing real experiences with research and pure fiction, creating a world that entertains and maybe even educates.

Q:  What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
A:  I'm a stay-at-home dad with two young children, and I also give courses in conflict resolution and physical self defines. I use Scrivener on my MacBook, and sync unfinished scenes with SimpleNote on my iPad, which I take everywhere, so while the children play at the playground I'm on a park bench creating fictional murder and mayhem. Most of the time, my writing is subordinate to my other tasks, so I mostly write when the children are asleep or distracted.

Q:  Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?
 A:  I've read so many books, that I must undoubtably be influenced by all the different styles. If you check my website you can find lists of authors I enjoy and music I enjoy, but I don't think I'm 'like' any of the authors I enjoy to read. My reason to write the Amsterdam Assassin Series has to do with not being able to find certain stories I would enjoy.

Q:  What do you do to unwind and relax?
A:  I read, both for recreation and research. I listen to music, entertain my children, train in martial arts, ride motorcycles, sidecars and scooters [the Vespa on the covers of the Amsterdam Assassin Series]. I live in Amsterdam, so I often just go out and walk around, often carrying a digital camera. I also enjoy doing research, which takes me to the strangest places and teaches me skills that are probably superfluous unless there is a zombie apocalypse.

Q:  What book are you reading now?
A:  I have a TBR list on my Kindle, and I recently have rated and reviewed some of the books I read on GoodReads, so if people want to keep track of my reading and reviewing, check my profile on GoodReads.

Q:  Do you have any hidden talents?
A:  I do, but if I told you, they wouldn't be hidden, would they? Suffice to say that I share many but not all the talents of my characters.
Thank you Martyn V. Halm! 
Don't miss  Reprobate - A Katla Novel in Read It & Reap Sunday, April 28!

No comments:

Post a Comment