Pre-F.A.Q. Note

Some really lovely people have allowed me to do interviews and guest posts on their blogs.  Here’s a complete list:


- with Sara Zarr (December 13, 2011)

- with the Clarksburg Exponent (December 25, 2011)

- with Lenore Appelhans (August 7, 2012)

Guest Posts

- Distraction No. 99 post:  ”What Inspires T. Michael Martin

- The Lucky 13s post:  ”Video Ghosts (or, Was T. Michael Martin Nice or Mean in High School?)

- Distraction No. 99 post:  ”Turning Points, by T. Michael Martin

- YA Highway post:  ”Cover Talk with T. Michael Martin

- Presenting Lenore post:  ”Cover Reveal + Cover Story by T. Michael Martin


About The End Games

What is The End Games?

The End Games (HarperCollins / Balzer + Bray, May 2013) is my debut novel.  National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr recently wrote, “The End Games thrilled me and moved me, stirred up my admiration and envy, captured my imagination wholly.”  You can currently pre-order it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and Indiebound (and anywhere else books are sold, of course!).

What is The End Games about?

Short answer:  It’s a YA psychological thriller about two brothers—ages seventeen and five—surviving the apocalypse in West Virginia.  My agent describes it as “The Stand meets John Green.”

The official “jacket copy” version: 

It happened on Halloween. 

The world ended. 

And a dangerous Game brought it back to life.

Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks.

In the rural mountains of West Virginia, armed with only their rifle and their love for each other, the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good.

But The Game is changing.

The Bellows are evolving.

The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules.

And the brothers will never be the same.

T. Michael Martin’s debut novel is a transcendent thriller filled with electrifying action, searing emotional insight, and unexpected romance.

What inspired you to write The End Games?

Well, not to risk my ultra-manly persona, but:  I wrote the book for my little brother.  Back in 2008, my little bro, Patrick, and I got into zombies, kinda.  But in that sentence, “kinda” means “with towering obsession.”   Patrick and I watched zombie movies, read zombie and survival books, even traveled to the mall where they filmed the original Dawn of the Dead.  But the activity that most directly led to the creation of The End Games were the discussions that Patrick and I had about how we ourselves would  survive an undead apocalypse.

Patrick called these discussions, by the way, “The Z Games.”

I’ve always felt protective of Patrick, who is ten years younger than I am.  So “The Z Games” didn’t just make me think about how I would keep myself alive in the apocalypse:  They also made me think about how I’d protect, in body and spirit, this little kid I loved so much.  (In fairness, I also wondered a lot about how I could use live electrical lines and nailguns to destroy human brains.)

So all that was simmering in the background when I was laying in bed in September 2008 and the first line of a YA thriller boomed into my head: a thriller about two brothers who aren’t fighting zombies. . . but something far worse.

So your main characters in The End Games are named after you and your brother.  Are they you?

Nah  :]

I was so excited when I got the idea for The End Games that I didn’t want to get hung up on finding the “perfect” character names; I used my and my brother’s names for the characters as “placeholders,” planning to change them when I came up with something better.

After awhile, though, as the characters grew, it became hard for me to imagine using anything else.  (Also, the End Games versions of “Michael and Patrick” wound up becoming so different from me and my brother that I didn’t feel weird about using the names.)  (Also, I asked my real brother like ten times if he was sure he was cool with it, and he always said, “Yeah for the last time YEAH.”)

Do you have any books coming out after The End Games?

I do!  Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins) will publish my second YA thriller in 2014.  Just to be clear, the second book is not a sequel to The End Games.   The second book might feature a tiny bit of crossover (the main characters in both books are from the same fictional town, for instance), but it won’t share any plot elements or events with The End Games at all.

I’ve always admired the way Stephen King created a fictional universe (Castle Rock, Derry, etc.).  I can’t hold Mr. King’s candle, of course, but I do hope to emulate that sort of universe-building in my own work.  Also, without going into too much detail here, I will say that the second book is not post-apocalyptic.

So what will the next book be about?

It’ll be about 400 hundred pages (yuck-yuck-yuck).

But seriously:  The plot’s a secret at the moment.  Like The End Games, though, the second book will be a “high-concept” YA thriller filled with action, mystery, humor, terror, and—yes—love.


About Me, and My Writing Life 

Is The End Games the first novel you ever wrote?

It’s the first one that sold to a publisher, but I wrote two other YA novels before The End Games.  (They’re currently collectin’ dust in that ol’ desk drawer in the sky.)

Who are your agent and editor?

I’m represented by Joanna Volpe at New Leaf Literary, and edited by Donna Bray at Balzer+Bray.

How long have you been writing?

Since I could write.  I remember reading my first stories to my second grade class.  (They were about, if I recall, a slug who was an archaeologist.  No points for guessing whether I was into Indiana Jones at the time.)  I started writing my first novel when I was nineteen, and finally sold The End Games when I was twenty-seven.  (It was a tough & wonderful journey, and I wrote about it here.)

On the screenwriting side of things, I wrote my first feature length screenplay over Christmas break in eighth grade.  I had a couple of my scripts developed at some great companies during and after film school, and I’m still working toward placing a script with a studio.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

I do!  I’ve written about it here:  Why Catastrophe Is the Key to Success, and Be Weird & Love a Lot of Things.

I’ll expand on my thoughts more as times goes on.   I will say for now, though, that I’m convinced that the vast majority of “becoming successful” at anything is just a willingness to endure.  The process of acquiring and honing any skill can be neurologically and emotionally exhausting, but I truly believe—as corny as it sounds—that love of writing ultimately conquers the pain of writing.  If you can take delight in the study and application of your craft, I think you’re on your way.  (By the way, the best book I’ve ever read about growing creatively is The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle.)

More questions to be listed as time goes on.   Thanks for reading!