Wednesday, February 6, 2013


I’m very privileged to have as my quest today, Don A. Martinez, Editor and Publisher of Desert Coyote Productions, who has published three of my own novels. Wait just a moment, is that … yes, it is! Goodness, I see that one of his main characters, Kitty, has also joined us. What an extraordinary pleasant surprise.
Now Don, I’ve read several of your books, but how would you describe this novel to someone who is unaware of your previous work?
It’s a bit difficult to do, especially if they’re not familiar with the characters or concepts. What I would basically say would be this book involves a deeply emotional story of a girl who loves her father very much … so much so that she’s willing to risk the trials of Hell to get to his soul and rescue him from an unearned damnation.
If there is another book in the works, will it also feature Kitty?
Kitty: It had better!
Don: Of course. We can’t have the Ranch be without one of its proprietors. Kitty will be playing a role in the last book of the series, that’s a definite.
Did you do any particular research, and if so, what was the most personally interesting to you? Were there any facts, symbols, or themes that you would have liked to include, but they just didn't make into the story?
In the front matter, I give a shout-out to David Bruce, who put out a version of Dante’s Inferno re-written in prose (as opposed to a poem). This was my primary source for what Alanna is going to face in Hell, but some of Dante’s punishments are altered slightly to fit the more modern milieu in which Alanna is entering Hell. There was a lot of interesting material in the poem that I would’ve loved to put in … maybe spent more time with the flatterers, or tried to cross through the boiling pitch Dante found in part of Circle 8 without flying over it … but to expedite the story and not get bogged down too much in the rich symbolism of Dante’s work, I had to bypass those places for others which worked better for my history, such as every place Alanna finds one of her ancestors.
Give us three "Good to Know" facts about yourself and please be creative.
One is, I’m a voracious consumer of popular culture. I try finding things that are becoming mythic in our current society, and try to relate them to mythologies of old, which is a fun exercise sometimes. Another, while I don’t have the extensive experience you have behind the wheel, I had the opportunity once to run the Petty Experience, so I can honestly say I’ve driven on the track at Michigan International at a pretty decent speed for that school, I managed a respectable 120 on my best hot lap.
As a writer and drag racer myself, I have to admit I'm a bit envious of your driving adventure which was more than 'respectable', my friend!
Kitty: You never told me about that one.
Don: You never asked.
Kitty: Jealous!!!
Don: Anyway … third, both me and my wife are fans of fantasy fiction, so much so that our daughter shares her first name with the female lead of the Sword of Truth series, Kahlan.
And Kahlan is such a beautiful name for your sweet and beautiful baby girl.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I’d try a little harder with the cover of The Advance Guard. Even the second version. Now that I have access to Photoshop and a decent cover designer, I’d want to do something much better than the stock-photo cover it currently has, or the MS Paint explosion of the original cover.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author, as well as the best compliment?
I recently got the toughest criticism on The Advance Guard, from a Goodreads user who gave it a one-star rating and called it “immature,” which I’m willing to agree with him on, it’s not exactly my best writing on display. At least he was being constructive about why he disliked the book, and I appreciate that. The best compliment came from one of the previous bloggers on the Tour, Kris Plausky at Second Book to the Right, when in her review of Infernal Eighteen she mentioned that she had come to love Alanna. I don’t think any author can ask any more of their character than to make readers fall in love with them, and I was very happy that Kris made this mention.
Well, I agree with Ms. Plausky, so consider that a double. Now, would you share with us who designed the covers?
The covers of the first two books were done by me, using the CreateSpace Cover Creator, which is why they have random stock photos on them rather than actual fantasy artwork. Insurgent’s Journal is intended to be a transitional book from Cover Creator to Photoshop, which again I did. The most recent one, though, has been a combined tour de force between a piece of artwork I drew and my wife Stacey’s abilities with Photoshop, particularly layering multiple images with each other, and I’m thoroughly happy with it, so much so that I might have to re-do the other three covers at some point.
The work you and Stacey have done for me has been very impressive. Did you learn anything from writing your book, and if so, what was it?
Mainly, speed ain’t everything. This book took me the longest of any of the Phantom Squadron books to finish … the others were done in a matter of anywhere from one to three months, but this one took me a good ten months to write, not only because of the research, but also because of the growth of my family … baby commitments outweigh writing at this point in time. However, I can honestly say I’m quite happy with the end results.
This is so interesting, but let me pause for a moment.
Kitty, would you please introduce yourself for those readers who may not realize just who you are?
Okay. My name’s Katrina Salem, but folks always call me Kitty because if they don’t I punch them. I’m one of the proprietors of the Hidden-In-Plain-Sight Ranch, but for reasons related to our current status as government fugitives I’d rather not reveal the Ranch’s location. I run the ranch with my husband Cyrus and our daughter Michika. Oh, and long before I was married, I was a cat girl.
A cat girl — I love that. I’m curious about something though, why do you call it the Hidden-In-Plain-Sight Ranch? Is there any significance to that in relation to your current situation?
Well, we originally called it that because it was really hidden away in such a secluded place that we barely got any traffic, ever, even though the Ranch is the only landmark for miles around. Y’know, we’re so incognito that we’re hidden in plain sight. As things deteriorated, though, and we started getting harassed by the government for our perceived crimes as supernaturals, the name became more of an omen for our current work in helping innocents escape the New Empire of America.
You have quite the past, having previously been a cat girl. What kind of perspective can you give us on that?
Oh, there are some stories I could tell … honestly, though, the one thing I would tell your readers about living that life is, it really was a bit of a PITA from time to time. I mean after all, I’ve got my entire body covered in fur … which by the way itches like hell sometimes, especially in humid weather … I’m a foot and a half taller than I’m used to because I’m always walking on the balls of my feet, so I’d clock myself on doorways sometimes, and don’t get me started on how weird it was to have something extra in my pants.
It was a TAIL. Get your minds out of the gutter, all’a you!
You are a hoot, Kitty! What do you currently do at the Ranch? Is your family involved?
Right now we’re ferrying supernaturals out of the New Empire and getting them to a place where they’ll be safe and undetected. Because of our need for secrecy, I can’t tell you exactly where they’re going … you never know who’s going to be listening, after all. My husband set up the pathway and assists me with the day-to-day operations of the regular part of the Ranch, since we still have to have our working aspect, which includes our herds of bison. Michika, though, she’s been going out on expeditions with her best friend Alanna Sharpe … she’s the daughter of a couple of very close family friends of ours … and trying to take the fight directly to the New Empire.
What is your opinion on our current gun control debate?
Don’t punish us responsible gun owners. Besides that, good luck taking any of my guns away. I’ve got a personal stockpile hidden in a place in the Ranch only I can access. If any New Empire blueshirt comes through trying to take my guns, he’s going to leave with some serious alterations at the hands of my husband, my daughter, and my Smith & Wessons.
How does your military past influence your present? Does it change how you are as a wife and mother, as opposed to others?
I don’t think it’s affected how I parent Michika that much. She’s sixteen now, getting into that part of her life when she thinks she’s indestructible, and to a certain extent she might be, but I still worry. Oh sure, I taught her to shoot almost the minute she was out of diapers, but I still punished her if she disobeyed me or Cyrus, and we still did kind of girly things together. I don’t think I’m that much of a different mother.
Don: Kitty, you were a Navy SEAL. That kind of changes just about everything.
Kitty: Shut up, you. I’m workin’ the room here!
Don, she might be YOUR character, but I believe we all know who's the 'boss'. LOL. What’s the defining quality of your personality, Kitty?
I’d like to think that I’m a strong, loyal ally. Cyrus sees through that, though, and he knows that in certain regards I can be a big softie. When the chips are down, I’m right behind you, running into the fight.
Don: (cough)combat monster(cough)
Kitty: HEY!
This might be a silly question to ask, but what is your opinion of your author?
He’s a nice guy and all, but pretty useless in a fight.
Don: Just because I’m a pacifist …
Kitty: And there’s nothing wrong with that, buddy. Let me finish, okay? He’s a nice guy, from what I understand he’s a pretty decent dad and an okay husband, but I think he really shines when he writes.
Don: You’re just saying that so you’ll get some juicier stuff to do.
Kitty: You’re damn right I am.
I must say, this has been one of the most intensified interviews I’ve had ever had the opportunity to do. Thank you, Don and Kitty for such a mesmerizing and spectacular time!
Readers, be sure to check out Don’s links and order your copies of all his incredible novels.
DCP site:
Phantom Squadron official site:
The Hidden-In-Plain-Sight Ranch tumblr page:
***  Kitty posts there!
Author page on Facebook:
Twitter username: @Desert_Coyote13
Goodreads Author page: