“When I was 16, I got the opportunity to write for a literary anthology where the topic was ‘be the change you want to see in the world.’ ” Nick recalled the first time he realized he had a shot at his dream.
“It got published ... that was probably the first thing I ever wrote that was recognized as alright, I can be good.” That was eight years ago.
Nick’s gratitude for that experience still holds, remem-bering that he was “lucky enough to have the opportunity to write for it” and that it was the thing that sent him on his way.
“I thought, alright; clearly someone else thinks I am at least somewhat good,” chuckled Nick.
At the time he submitted that work, he had already been working on novels. By his recollection, he was working on his third or fourth around that time.
“I was writing a novel every two years since fifth grade,” said Nick. After finishing that novel, and on the heels of his anthology publication, Nick decided to send it out—to see if he could get it published as well. Everyone rejected it.
“I quickly realized that when you debut as an author, you want it to be incredibly strong. So I decided to make sure that the next time I submitted, my book would be really, really, good.”
He would spend the next seven years working on it.
Nick’s process is not so simple as to write and rewrite the same novel, though. In those seven years, he would write story after story, only to scrap each, in turn keeping only the best ideas from the narrative to carry on into his next tale.
Nick related, “I was lucky enough that I had the resources to support myself and put so much time into writing it. But there were also nights where I would stay up working on my book until like 2 a.m. and then get up and go to work. I would be reading on the train commuting and then writing on the train. I had to make time for writing.”
As he continued to improve his story, he also improved himself. During this time, he attended school for creative writing and learned both in the classroom and out.
“I learned anything I could, read anything I could. I just kept pushing myself. Eventually, I found an agent who fell in love with my book,” says Nick.
That agent would go on to land him a deal that places his name alongside many of the authors who inspired him.
“I grew up reading fantasy and I was lucky enough that when a lot of these big names you are hearing about were really gaining popularity—Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, George R. R. Martin, Robin Hobb—all these people who are huge in the industry were the people that I grew up reading.”
The way that these authors were playing with the tropes of the industry showed Martell where the industry was heading.
“Probably the single most interesting thing in my book is that in my world, magic costs memories. So, you have characters that may not remember things they should. It creates a give or take relationship between the reader and the characters,” he explains. “Is this character lying to me, are they intentionally trying to deceive me, or are they deceiving themselves because they can’t remember?”
Nick explains that from the very first page you read, you know that all of the characters are unreliable in their own ways. Trying to figure out which ways they are unreliable is what keeps this story interesting.
The first installation of “The Kingdom of Liars” is due out in fall 2019 from U.S. publisher Saga Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. It will later be published in the U.K. by Gollancz, Germany by Blanvalet and in audio format by Recorded Books.
Stay up to date on Martell’s writing at @macmartell on Twitter and nickmartellofficial on Instagram.