Today I have an interview with Martin Fossum, whose latest book, Beyond Asimios, was released last month.
What inspired you to become a writer?
My mother had a lot to do with inspiring me to write. She was a school librarian for thirty years and she thought highly of the written word. Her father was a journalist. His father published a small Norwegian language newspaper in northern Wisconsin. A respect, in my family, for the writer’s craft may have given me the courage to try it out for myself.
Of course there were other reasons that led me to write. Beyond the typical youthful infatuations with iconic literary antiheros—Hamsun, Faulkner, Hemingway, Camus, the Beats et al.—I’ve always desired to play a role in contemporary thought. Academia, politics and are avenues to achieve this…but art (writing and filmmaking, in my case) appear to have won out. There’s no money in it, as far as far as my experience would suggest, but at least it’s honest.
What books have influenced your writing?
I really think that cinema has influenced my writing more than anything. Godard and Truffaut and Fellini and Bunuel have taught me that art can (and should) be both sober and playful. This holds for writing as well. And this is liberating! In my opinion, artistic effort has a real chance of succeeding only if it pokes fun at itself, and I guess this is the reason why two of my favorite books are Melville’s Moby Dick and Cervante’s Don Quixote. These books are courageous works by mischievous minds. There is love, tragedy, comedy and satire here.
Did you base any of the characters on real people?
After moving to Seattle in the late nineties I started working at as a ski instructor at one of the local resorts. My boss at the ski center, Mike Marshall (and I use his real name to honor him), became a very good friend of mine and a father figure of sorts. The main character in Beyond Asimios, is based on him.
Mike died a little over a year ago, but I will always remember him as garrulous, opinionated, stubborn, curious, intellectual and a perfect personality to inhabit the pages of a story.
How do you find people to read and review your book?
Well, I do what any author would feel compelled to do: I send out copies to all the people who I think would be eager to read and review it…and then I wait and wait and wait. The truth is that unless your work is vigorously marketed, it’s hard to get reviews. I think this is a particularly difficult aspect of writing. Until you make that breakthrough, it’s a long and lonely journey.
Anything else you would like to add?
A story is a story, whether it’s sci-fi or romance. As long as the struggles remain human, a story remains valuable. We need stories to cope with life. We need fiction to help us put our own lives in perspective and we need to witness the struggles of others to inform our own struggles.
Thank you, Sarah.
Martin Fossum is the author of Faking Smart! and Beyond Asimios. His next science fiction short story, Ildarim’s Arrow will be published in early February.
Martin currently lives in St. Paul with his wife, Emily, and their irascible and lovable terrier, Max.
When the Tacitus III came to Asimios Station to evacuate the crew and stop the terraforming project, Dr. Avery Graf had only hours to decide if he would return to Earth with the others or stay behind and let Asimios decide his fate.