Is there one particular author or book that influenced you when you were younger, and if so, how did that influence shape who you are as a writer today?
After having The Lord of the Rings foisted upon me by my best friend in high school and finding that I loved this fantasy/sci-fi stuff, I tackled Dune by Frank Herbert. Paul Atreides is just my type of hero——an adolescent struggling with his identity when a great responsibility is dropped on his shoulders. I read the sequel, Dune Messiah, a couple of years later, then waited nearly 10 years for Children of Dune. I just knew how it was all going to play out. But that wasn't how it ended, and I threw the book across the room, looked up to the ceiling a la Scarlett O'Hara and pronounced to the heavens, "If Frank Herbert isn't going to write the book I want to read, then I will." There were very few female heroes in fantasy or science fiction at the time, and I decided to rectify that problem. This was the birth of Lisen of Solsta. (And as an aside, I reread Children of Dune later and fell in love with it.)
Have you ever attended any writing workshops or seminars or anything of that nature? Did you find them helpful or not so much?
I have been part of a writing workshop for almost 10 years now. The composition of the group has evolved over the years, but that has only served to sharpen our critique skills. We have several novelists in the group now which necessitates many months of offering up one scene/chapter a week to finish submitting the book to the group, but my fellow writers' input has proved invaluable in helping me make my trilogy the books I envisioned back in 1977. I lucked out, don't get me wrong. Not all workshops are worth the time. A writer doesn't want to find herself in a group that can say nothing but "that was great" or "I loved it." Nobody writes that well. A writer needs a group that will tell her the truth and fight back when she disagrees with them.
How has your life experience as a whole helped--or hindered--your voice as a writer?
I am a bit of an empath. It's pretty much a gift I'm not aware of, and I didn't realize until recently that my ability to realistically describe experiences I've never had comes from what I pick up in doctor waiting rooms, restaurants and other people-filled spaces. Writing from a male character's point of view, describing pregnancy without going all clinical about it, drawing the reader into a battle——all of these abilities come from my open psychic pores.
What can you tell us about your preferred writing environment? Music, no music? At home, locked in your office, or out in the world in a coffee shop?
Sometimes music, sometimes not, usually classical or a movie soundtrack. I find it difficult to write words while words are rushing into my ears. As to where, I have to anchor myself to a specific place or the discipline eludes me. People who can sit in coffee shops and pound away on their computers amaze me. I'm too bombarded by all that psychic stuff (see above) to even be able to spell, much less put a coherent sentence together.
A simple question: why do you write?
A simple answer: Because I can't not write.
D. Hart St. Martin (her real name, honest) opened her eyes to life in La Jolla, California during the baby boom. She grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of Pomona where she served as editor of her high school yearbook. She also played the grandfather (gender switched to grandmother) in "Guys and Dolls" as there were barely enough "guys" for Nathan Detroit's band of merry thugs. Throughout high school, she and her best friend constantly made up stories and sometimes even wrote them down. In her late twenties, she devoted three years to writing the very first draft of her very first book. She continued to write, finishing what was then a very different trilogy from today's version as well as working on a rock-and-roll Faust which she hopes to rework and publish one day. Now, thirty-seven years later, she has completed the "Lisen of Solsta" trilogy with "Fractured," "Tainted" and "Blooded" now available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.