I’d read William Martin long before I met him. And while I could have guessed from that first great read – Back Bay – that William lived somewhere nearby, it wasn’t until a holiday party at the New England Mobile Book Fair that I realized that the New York Times bestselling author was a true local, active in the city and the literary scene. He’s got his next big book – Bound for Gold – out July 3, just in time for the beach! It’s an honor, therefore, to host him today on Five Questions.
How does a book start for you?
I‘ve written eleven – soon to be twelve – novels, and for every novel there has been a different source, a different inspiration that causes me to begin. That’s the big picture. The smaller picture for me is finding some unique way to get the story started. A good line of dialogue… a strange point of view… a powerful event like the San Francisco earthquake, which opened my latest, BOUND FOR GOLD. If you can get readers to turn the first page, you got ’em.
Who in your latest book has surprised you most – and why?
BOUND FOR GOLD was born of a screenplay that I wrote some forty years ago about an upper-crust Yankee and a street-wise Boston Irishman who team up in the Gold Rush. So I wasn’t too surprised by what the characters did in the first two acts of the story. But I always knew that there would be a third act if I ever returned to the material. And things things that the characters do in that last act surprised me. That Irish guy, though he is not the narrator, tries hard to take the book over. People remember him. That’s what I want.
When and/or where is your latest book set and is there a story behind that setting?
BOUND FOR GOLD takes place in 1849–50, during the California Gold Rush, and in present day San Francisco.
What are you working on now?
A WWII thriller. I should be done in a few months.
Which question didn’t I ask you that I should have?
What’s your motto? This is supposed to be fun. Not for you. For the reader.
William Martin is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven novels, a PBS documentary, book reviews, magazine articles, and a cult-classic horror movie, too. His first Peter Fallon novel, Back Bay, established him as “a master storyteller.” He has been following the lives of the great and anonymous in American history ever since, taking readers from the Mayflower in Cape Cod to Ford’s Theater in The Lincoln Letter to the South Tower on 9/11 in City of Dreams. His latest, Bound for Gold, sweeps readers back to California in the legendary year of 1849 and “solidifies his claim as king of the historical thriller” (Providence Journal). He was the 2005 recipient of the prestigious New England Book Award, given to an author “whose body of work stands as a significant contribution to the culture of the region.” In 2015, the USS Constitution Museum gave him the Samuel Eliot Morison Award, for “patriotic pride, artful scholarship, and an eclectic interest in the sea and things maritime.” And in 2018, the Mystery Writers of America (New England Chapter) gave him the Robert B. Parker Award. He serves on the boards of many of Boston’s historical and cultural organizations, lives near Boston with his wife, and has three grown children.