Monday, April 29, 2013

James Martin's Warsaw Conspiracy

James Conroyd Martin is a novelist and longtime teacher of English and Creative Writing in the Chicago area. Some years ago he spent time in Los Angeles studying screenwriting, but the diary of a friend’s ancestor led to his writing PUSH NOT THE RIVER and his return to the Midwest.

Welcome to the blog, James.
How many books have you written? 

THE WARSAW CONSPIRACY is my third novel. All three are historicals set in Poland.

Please give us a short synopsis of it.
The Warsaw Conspiracy unfolds as a family saga set against the November Rising (1830-1831), partitioned Poland’s daring challenge to the Russian Empire. Brilliantly iIlustrating the psyche of a people determined to reclaim independence in the face of monumental odds, the story portrays two brothers and their fates in love and war.  Michał is a seasoned veteran soldier, cautious of the evolving conspiracy;  Józef, his much younger brother and impassioned cadet, finds himself caught up in the vortex of a daring plot to abduct the Grand Duke of Russia. With Siberia or emigration to France looming as heart-rending contingencies, matriarchs Anna and Zofia stay steadfast in their resolve to steer the clan through ever-muddying waters.

Do your characters take on a life of their own?

Absolutely!  No matter how I may wish to outline the full book, it just doesn’t work out.  The main characters will speak to me as the plot is unfolding.  They inform me what it is they want to do.

Which is your favorite?

The most interesting ones are cousins Anna and Zofia, who are about as alike as Scarlett and Melanie.  By the way, PUSH NOT THE RIVER had been likened to a Gone with the Wind set in Poland. Then again, Anna’s two sons Michał and  Józef and their love, despite their differences, provide compelling interest.  

What challenges did you face while writing this book?

Getting published was a long and circuitous route taking me through three agents, a failed publishing company, self-publication, and then success with St. Martin’s Press and bestseller status in Poland with translations of the first two books.

Do you travel to do research or for inspiration?

I did travel to Poland prior to publishing the first, and it was exhilarating to find myself in the same places of which the diarist had written.  Anna and Zofia were eyewitnesses to the massacre of 12,000 citizens who were trying to cross a bridge from the suburb of Praga over the Vistula River and to the safety of Warsaw’s walls. To stand in that very location so many years later was chilling.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far?

I’ve learned how writing can affect people in dramatic ways. My fans are passionate. It’s humbling. actually. For example, coming across a young couple who had named their young son after a baby born in Push Not the River astonished me.

What advice can you give new writers?

My advice is to first wait until you’ve honed your skills;  don’t rush to the publication stage.  Second, read as much as you can in your chosen genre.  Last, persist, persist, persist. 

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

 I’m well into the first draft of my fourth novel, also set in Poland but going back to the 1683 Battle of Vienna, more than a century before the setting of my first book.  It was there that King Jan Sobieski and an international force saved Christian Europe from the Turkish invasion which occurred, incidentally, on September 11.  The Boy Who Wanted Wings follows a young boy who wishes to become a Polish Hussar, a lancer who rode into battle with a device of eagles’ feathers at his back, thus frightening the enemy and their horses alike. His chance of becoming one—and winning the love of a noble’s daughter—is complicated by his peasant status.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

My website, currently under construction, is I have both a friends’ site and a fansite on Facebook and the invitations to both are open.

Are your books available in print and e-book formats?  

All three books are available in print and e-book formats on Amazon. 

Amazon purchase site: 

James, it has been nice to learn more about you. Happy sales!

1 comment:

James Conroyd Martin said...

Happy to answer any questions!

J C Martin