Meet the accidental author juggling multiple books deals
16 March 2022
After honing his authorial prowess on Falmouth’s English & Creative Writing degree, Adrian Martin set his mind to learning the ins and outs of the writing industry with an MA in Professional Writing.
The author has just published his second book Stone Ruins and City Smoke and is currently signed to two deals with Dark Edge Press and Spellbound Books.
We sat down to catch up with the writer, who discussed his university memories, tips for new authors and the power of Falmouth’s creative community.
For many aspiring authors, publishing a debut novel is a dream that grips them from a young age – but that wasn’t the case for MA Professional Writing graduate Adrian Martin.
“There was no specific thought to try and become a writer”, Adrian told us. “My education was really interrupted growing up, and I worked as a lorry driver and in the British Army before I went to university. But I really enjoyed writing, so I decided to keep going and see where it’d take me.”
So far, Adrian’s laid-back approach to the industry is treating him well. The author has just published his second book, the romantic comedy Stone Ruins and City Smoke under the pen name Charlie Martyn. He’s also juggling two publishing deals in separate genres (Romantic comedy and horror fiction), which will see him publish a further two books in the next two years.
The author appears relaxed about his progress so far, but as the conversation turns to his memories of the Professional Writing MA, it becomes apparent that his growth as a writer has been a calculated effort.
“For me, the MA was all about learning the nuts and bolts of writing in a professional context”, Adrian reflects. “It wasn’t just about the actual writing itself. I quickly learnt that if you want to be any kind of writer, you’ve got to market yourself really well. You’ve got to become a brand.
“For me, that was a bit of an eye opener. The MA explained how to brand yourself, as well as the other things you can do alongside writing novels or screenplays to try and attract some attention to your name, like utilising your social media networks.
“E.L. James is a really good example of how to build a profile online before releasing a book, it’s why 50 Shades of Grey was such a commercial success.”
Adrian took this lesson to heart; in fact, his first publishing deal, which was struck with Dark Edge Press, came about through the Twitter following he amassed during his time at university.
As Adrian explains “I was firing Stone Ruins and City Smoke off to publishers and getting rejections. I’d spoken about the process on Twitter, and Louise Mullins, who owns Dark Edge, reached out and asked if I’d send her a copy of the book. A couple of weeks later, she got back to me and offered me a deal!”
Falmouth’s Creative Community
Being part of a wider creative community also had an enormously positive effect on Adrian’s development as a writer. The Cornish author attributes a large part of his success to his course mates, who provided invaluable feedback on his early manuscripts and encouraged his development.
“As a cohort we actually took it upon ourselves to review each other’s material”, Adrian explains. “We'd have meetings after our seminars; feedback is just priceless. I found that one of the best things that you can get on the course is peer feedback.
“It teaches you to realize the importance of the not so good stuff, what people didn't enjoy and why they didn't enjoy it. We had a complete honesty rule about how we felt about something, and nobody took it personally because we’d all realized by that time that we were all trying to help each other.
“The MA teaches you to listen to what people have got to say. You can’t just go, ‘Oh yeah, this is my best work ever’ and just run with that. There’s no room for egos in writing, you have to be willing to adapt.
“My last book had 10,000 words edited out of it, and it made it a much tighter and better story.”
Adrian’s story strikes a similar chord to that of fellow graduate Philip Hamlyn Williams, who also notes the importance of making contacts while at university.
“The course is such a powerful community in itself”, Adrian tells us. “It’s really important to make the most the events and services provided, and to try and create opportunities for yourself too.”
Adrian continued to receive support with his work post-graduation, and he credits scriptwriting professor John Finnegan with going above and beyond to help him with his manuscripts. In fact, Adrian’s next book will be the novelisation of the script he wrote for his MA dissertation.
Tips for new writers
As well as utilising social media, Adrian believes that all aspiring writers need a copy of The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. “It’s a writers’ Bible”, Adrian says. “It’s got lists of all the agents and publishers in the country – go through it carefully and look for a person or company that looks like a good fit for your work.”
Adrian also believes that simply having the guts to trust your instincts and get started is the most useful piece of advice any aspiring author can take.
“When I was on the BA, we went to meet with Wyl Menmuir, who was the writer in residence”, Adrian recalls. “He sat us down and asked us what we were all working on; at the time I hadn’t started anything. But when my turn came, I said I was writing a romance novel, which he said he was looking forward to seeing next week! So, by the following week, I’d written a chapter – that book has now become Stone Ruins and City Smoke. If there was ever an accidental novel written, this was it!”
“Just get it on paper. That first sentence is always the hardest one to write in my experience. Don’t overthink it.”