Rachel M. Martens - Author of the "Poe" Series


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Why I Write

Today I was doing some research on marketing strategies to help me launch Rest in Peace and came across an article so compelling that it is not only going to redirect my focus, but also that I thought it important to share my thoughts on it with you.  The article, written by book marketing guru Tim Grahl, is titled "I Hate Self-Promotion" and you can read it here if you so choose.

The idea of this article is that building an author platform should not be about trying to boost sales figures and, basically, you should not sound like a car salesman with a megaphone.  A platform should be about your tribe, which is made up of you (the leader), your readers (tribe members), and the "Why" that gives purpose to the tribe and empowers it.  My writing has always been about the characters and saying something that makes people think.  That concept is what has helped me keep my focus on the actual writing while I'm also self-marketing my books.  But this article made me realize that it's for the most part missing from my platform.

That's why I decided to take a break from my usual posts on this page and bring you a look inside my head.  I think it's important that you as tribe members or potential tribe members understand my "Why".

Whether it's the Poe series or any of my other works in progress, what I do is never about sales figures.  Would it be nice to see a boost in them?  Of course, but that's not my driving goal.  What I do is also not about me, and that includes my reputation and my pride.  I didn't set out to become a writer to make a name for myself.

I set out to become a writer because I saw stories that needed to be told.

I found a quote online awhile ago when I was struggling with writer's block.  It goes like this: "Writing is a struggle against silence."  Those words acted like a wrecking ball on my writer's block and I immediately made them my desktop image.  That way, every time I booted up my computer to write, I saw those words and I remembered why I do this.  It's about my characters, the voiceless desperate to have their stories told.

Nevermore is about so many things.  At face-value, it is a Gothic thriller based on Edgar Allan Poe's works, the debut in a series.  Beneath that are endless layers.  It's about social issues our society would rather sweep under the rug like domestic violence, rape, the foster care system, depression, suicide, and insanity.  It's about the real people behind those issues who are silenced.  Poe, Frost, and even Nina speak on behalf of the individuals in our society we stifle because we don't understand what they're trying to say.  We fear the reminder of their existence.  People have asked me why Poe's personal history is so dark and so violent, as if I as the author purposely made it so.  What I tell them is the truth: that I was as shocked as they were when I learned what Poe had gone through.  My writing process is to create the skeleton of a plot and major characters and throw them together, like a watchmaker who builds something and watches to see what will happen.  I thought about editing out some of Poe's experiences I knew it would be hard for readers to bear.  But by that point, Poe had become one of my closest friends and it seemed like editing out that part of the story would be like painting over something and pretending it didn't exist, like betraying her by silencing her.  I had to tell her story.

And when I realized that Poe was a real person who deserved to have her story told in full, I realized that she was more than just a character.  She was a spokesperson for every victim of rape or domestic violence, for every person who had every struggled with depression, for every soul who had to consider, attempt, and even commit suicide, for every orphan who had lost their ability to trust, for every person wondering where they stood in the grey area between normalcy and insanity.  And by letting her speak for all those people, I could say something meaningful.

I'm not offering a solution to these social issues.  There probably isn't one in this world.  What I am doing is reminding people that everyone has a skeleton in their closet, sometimes half a dozen of them, and that the day we forget problems exist in our society is the day we offer our consent for them to continue.

Why do this in conjunction with the supernatural-horror-themed plot?  Because I believe in the power of genre fiction, especially sci-fi and horror, to say something that needs to be said.  These genres are still scorned by literary critics.  Consider the sudden applause of "literary fiction" over "popular fiction".  The problem with considering genre fiction to be automatically of a lower merit is that it ignores that it is "popular" for a reason.  It says something about a society while entertaining.  A horror story is made up of both perverse fun and facing the darkness in our world head-on.  Horror shows us our worst fears and addresses them under the guise of fiction.  And that, my friends, is powerful.

So, as I continue to self-market the Poe series and as we close in on my tentative release date for Rest in Peace, I am reminding you of our tribe's "Why".  We are here for the characters, for Poe and Frost, for Liz and Justin, for Trina, and for all the others I hope to introduce to you soon.  We are here because we love them and because writing is a struggle against silence, a struggle Poe and I fight together every day when I sit down at my keyboard.

If you are a current tribe member, thank you for your support and please help me continue to promote the Poe series and our "Why" by encouraging people to read Nevermore.  If you are new to this site or this series and bothered to read this entire post, thank you also for your support and welcome to the tribe.