If you were allowed to give one argument as to why the world should read your work, what would that argument be? 

My work is strange. It might make you feel silly, maybe even nervous. Other times, it’ll scare you. You’ll laugh at the dark and see devils hidden in the trees. The experience will stick to you like a secret scar.

What compelled you to become a writer in the first place?

The first one to suggest my writing anything was an old professor. We ran into each other over the summer and I told him a story about vacationing with family. I’d wanted to read the day away; they wanted to play dominos. Drunk. After I told him, he said it’d make a good story. It did not. But that got me to write another and another and 15 years later it has become a passion.

Who are some writers every new/beginning writer should read and why?

Charles Bukowski. He’s a writer’s writer. New writers get frustrated, hopeless. Bukowski will put the fire in you and make you meet the world with your fists clenched.

Cormac McCarthy. You need to see what genius looks like to either aspire to it or realize it’ll never be you. He makes poetry of terror and reveals the muses playing in dirt.

Ray Bradbury and Flannery O’Connor. They both tell such amazingly weird stories.

What are some writing tips you would offer new/beginning writers?

The first person you need to impress with your work is you because the audience doesn’t know what they want until you give it to them.

But the best advice is simple: don’t hold back. Slit throats and smash skulls. Grab the reader by the ears and scream in their face like a wild ape. If they don’t like it, they weren’t for you anyway.

Some books change our lives. Can you share which books have absolutely change the way you look at the world, the way you approach life? How did they affect this change in you?

The Demon Spirit by R.A. Salvatore, the second book of his Demon Wars trilogy, was the first book I ever read. I bought it for a flight when I was a teenager. I didn’t even realize I was reading it out of order (I hadn’t read the first book or even knew it existed). The book itself isn’t even Salvatore’s best but it opened the door for all the others. If not for that book, I wonder if I would’ve ever read at all. And if I never read, there’s no way I’d ever have written.

What’s a movie that absolutely has to be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated (and why)?

The Shining. The big screen captures the beauty of all that grand and horrible loneliness.  

What can we expect from you in the near future?

This fall, I’m going to publish my second novel, NEO-Laredo. It’s a sci-fi novel about the Texas/Mexico border. Next year, I’m planning on compiling stories for my third story collection. Like the other two, San Casimiro, Texas: Short Stories and A Pig Named Orrenius & Other Strange Tales, it will be… odd.


Mario E. Martinez is the author of San Casimiro, Texas: Short Stories,  A Pig Named Orrenius & Other Strange Tales, and Ashtree. He lives and teaches in South Texas.