Author Interview with Dominic Martell
Q: When did you begin writing military suspense thrillers?
I don’t exactly write military suspense; I’d call it espionage/foreign intrigue. I wrote the first novel in the Pascual series in 1998.
Q: What was your first novel called?
That was Lying Crying Dying.
Q: Tell us what Lying Crying Dying is about.
Pascual Rose is an ex-terrorist trying to go straight. He served as a courier and liaison agent between Middle Eastern and European terror groups in the 1980s, then had a crisis of conscience and became an informant for the CIA and Mossad. After informing on his former associates, he was set up under a new identity in his hometown of Barcelona. As the novel opens, he is approached by Katixa, a member of the Basque terrorist organization ETA, Pascual’s former lover and the only comrade he did not betray. She also wants out; she has hijacked five million francs in cash from an ETA ransom deal and wants Pascual to run away with her. Complications ensue…
Q: What led you to creating your main character, Pascual Rose?
I got the idea from reading John LeCarre’s The Little Drummer Girl, which portrayed that subculture of European youths who got radicalized and drifted into terrorism in the 1980s. I wondered if any of those people ever had second thoughts and tried to get out of the business. I thought that would be a really interesting character. The premise of the series is that terrorism is a tough business to get out of; you spend the rest of your life running from former associates and subject to the will of the intelligence agencies to whom you owe your safety.
Q: You have also written Kill Chain. Can you share with us, readers, what that is about?
In Kill Chain, Pascual returns after a twenty-year hiatus. He has been lying low in a small Catalan town, off the grid, raising a son with his common-law wife Sara. But his old associations are hard to shake; because he shed his real identity when he went into hiding, it is ideal as the basis for a constructed identity which can be used as a front for setting up shell corporations. Pascual is coerced into serving as a front for a massive theft and money-laundering operation involving cryptocurrency, run by expert hackers with ties to intelligence agencies. He will have to free himself from their pervasive surveillance to thwart the plot and keep his family safe. The action takes him to a wide range of locales, from the Caribbean to the eastern Mediterranean.
Q: Was it difficult to get your books published, or no?
I had published four crime novels set in Chicago (as Sam Reaves) when the publisher asked for something different. I gave them the first Pascual novel, and they said it was too different. So I sent it to my editor at Gollancz in London, who had done the British editions of those novels. He liked it and published it. He also said I needed a more European-sounding pseudonym; that’s how I became Dominic Martell.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers in the same field?
Do your homework. People expect a thriller to show them something about the real world. Do the research you need to do to make your story rooted in reality. There’s lots of information online, but you need to talk to people as well, and you need to run your draft by your expert consultants for their approval. Your story needs depth and texture, and that comes from gathering lots of information. You will use only a fraction of it in the story; you’re not writing a travelogue or a manual of police procedures. But do your best to make yourself an expert.
Q: Using three words, how would you describe your writing style?
I try to be witty, concise, eloquent.
Q: Do you have any future projects coming out soon? If so, what are they?
I have just finished writing a sequel to Kill Chain, entitled Black Chain, in which Pascual is again ensnared in skullduggery against his will. This one will take him to Greece and Turkey. It should come out next year.
Q: Where can readers find you and your work online?