Enjoy this interview with Charles Martin.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?
I was born in a small town in Ohio and grew up in a poor family. I worked my way through college and graduated from Ohio State University (1960). Upon graduation I got a job working for Howard Hughes and moved to California where I have lived the rest of my life. I had an extremely successful career in Venture Capital and Private Equity. I am a very happily married man and live in the southern California coastal town of Laguna Beach.
Provocateur is a story about strong women and the stealth power that they have over men. It is about the contest between men and women, which I find to be, perhaps, the most fascinating aspect of the human condition. We all can relate to it in some way.
In the novel I explore these issues through the story of Nadia, a young Russian woman who comes to America through a mail-order-bride program. She becomes employed in an enterprise operated by an ex-CIA agent named Olga, whose agency, through clever missions, extracts large amounts of money from wealthy men. In her “assignments” Nadia must get the best of alpha males that are at the top of the male order. Nadia, born an orphan, rises out of a life of poverty and despair, where she had no experience with affection, to face the struggles and take on the challenges of her “profession.” She is a complex, enigmatic woman of superior intelligence who must “win” through her finesse and feminine prowess.
In writing this I want readers will come away with more insights into the nature of the man/woman interaction and powers between them, or revisit those issues with amusement.
What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?
Moby Dick was a book that I read many years ago. I have a love for the sea, which was part of what engaged me. I read it at a time in my life when I was working extremely long, high pressure hours. As you may know Moby Dick consists of a large number of short chapters. It was on my night stand and I would read one chapter every night before going to sleep. Reading it that way took me on a journey inside the story where I felt like I was living with the characters.
It was a sad day when I turned the last page.
Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?
I enjoy writing and have always done a lot through my life. I have written two books before this novel, both are non-fiction, one on investing and one on sailing. I have also written many white papers & blogs on matters relating to investing, the global economy and public policy.
Writing this novel has opened my eyes to the power and excitement of fiction. Through it a writer can create wonderful, interesting characters and take them on a journey through a life experience. One can explore aspects of the human experience in far more depth and granularity than is possible in movies or any other medium. A writer can also dig into philosophic issues that can be embedded in the story line. I love it and want to do more!!!
The writing of Provocateur was stimulated by an experience that got me thinking about the story thesis. I have always been intrigued by the dynamics between men and women and found this story the perfect platform to articulate some of the fascinating aspects of the interaction between the sexes.
Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove is a work of artistry as good as anything painted by Picasso.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I am an active philanthropist in higher education and the arts. Through these efforts I seek to raise the trajectory of the lives of young, high potential young people. I believe that it has high impact on the future of our society. I am also a full time investor at an institutional level.
Any type of writing ritual you have?
I enjoy the process of writing the old fashion way: ink on paper. There is something very sensual about the flow of black ink on paper. Eventually, it must go into the computer, but I love this beginning process.
I never write in an organized work mode; meaning that I do not set down at a particular time of day and stare at a blank piece of paper. I only write when I am inspired and excited about what I want to create. With me there seems to be an endless supply of ideas bubbling up.
In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?
Readers get big value, entertainment and enlightenment for their work.
Where can we learn more about you?
Anything else you’d like to add?
Even though it is purely fiction, out of my imagination, there is a lot of my own life, and my philosophic observations about it, in this novel. For example, in creating the character of Olga, I recall meeting such a woman at a State dinner at the US Ambassador’s residence in Madrid years ago. She had been a CIA agent during the cold-war period working in Eastern Europe. She had lived a very adventuring life and was a totally fascinating woman. I was also inspired by the obituary of Nancy Wake, a British OSS agent who passed away last August at age 98. Her fabulous life story is captured on my website.