Cristina Martin: Author Interview

30 11 2012

Hello, readers!

This week Charles Henry Editing is interviewing Cristina Martin, author of The Automat.

What inspired you to write your first book?

When I was a teenager, I had three goals for my life: move out of Miami, show my art in a gallery, and write a book. I wrote a lot of poetry as a teenager, but I wanted to write an entire story. I have always been fascinated by the history of automats, so I wanted to incorporate one into a book. I started writing “The Automat” when I was living in New York, and a lot of the descriptions of the fictional city backdrop were from my own personal experiences walking around New York. New York, in and of itself, was very inspirational to me.

Do you have a writing routine?

I like to be comfortable when I write, so I do most of my writing in bed on my laptop. It doesn’t hurt to have some wine beforehand. It’s important to have an environment that is conducive to the flow of your story. The Automat has dark undertones to it, and I wrote it in the dark for the most part. I also prefer to have music on when I write. Sometimes I listen to movie soundtracks such as “Atonement” or “There Will Be Blood” to aid a certain scene in a chapter, other times I’m listening to artists like Jason Molina or Ryan Adams. Their lyrics may inspire me to write a certain sentence or two. I give a literary head nod to Jason Molina’s song, “Coxcomb Red” in my first chapter where I describe Horace living in a pale world.

Can you give a brief overview of what The Automat is about for my readers?

The Automat is a story of a man named Horace Gray, who lives his life according to a strict routine. Part of that routine is going to an automat before work. One day, he takes notice of a mysterious set of eyes that stare at him from behind the automat wall. Horace sets out on his own adventure to meet the woman (Millicent) behind the automat wall, and ultimately understand her motives. He finds himself obsessed with Millicent, and everything else around him becomes inconsequential. The story is a psychological thriller, mixed with romance and crime.

What drives Horace’s obsession to understand Millicent?

Horace represents those people who become trapped in their daily routines. Sometimes we don’t even notice that our lives become so repetitive and dull. The introduction of Millicent in Horace’s life is symbolic of that change in our lives that we secretly desire. Horace is faced with following his heart or remaining stagnant. Some people choose to avoid change because they’re afraid, but others take the risk and adventure into things that are unknown. The fact that he becomes obsessive helps the reader to show how truly deprived of love he was.

Is Millicent obsessed with Horace or does she just enjoy playing with him?

Without giving away too much of the story, I think she enjoyed playing with him at first, but  her actions caused unintended consequences, which changed her perception at the end.

Did you do a lot of research to write the character, Detective Bones?

Not much. I work as an investigator for a university, and I have spent the last 10 or so years working closely with LAPD and NYPD detectives on certain cases. When I first started my career, I was taught investigative techniques by a retired NYPD detective who I worked with.

Which character was the most fun to write?

I would probably have to say Horace, only because I modeled him after Crispin Glover’s character in the film, Willard. I’m a huge Crispin Glover fan, so when I wrote about Horace, I had Crispin Glover in my imagination, playing him in my mind’s film adaptation.

Several other reviewers have commented that your work is “Kafkaesque.” Is Kafka an author you like?

The last time I read Kafka was in high school, but I do remember enjoying his works. I didn’t intend to make my story “Kafkaesque,” but I can see how Horace could be a character in one of his stories. He’s alienated, has Kafka’s boring day job at an insurance company, is a psychological masochist, and eventually transforms. I seem to like authors who have main characters who are literary underdogs such as Goethe’s “Sorrows of Young Werther” or Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” Horace, Werther, or Gatsby are characters that may be hard to love at first, but after you get to know them, you want them to succeed.

What are your upcoming projects?

I am working on two books. The first one is titled “A Face for Reuben Hill” which is based on a dream I had about a man who was born without a face. Long story short, he finds a doctor who creates a mechanical façade for him in order for him to woo a girl. The story centers on how we tend to want to change ourselves for others, but should focus on accepting ourselves for who/what we are.

The second book I am writing is a departure from the dark literary fiction I’ve written. Instead, it’s an autobiographical piece interlaced with humor. It’s called “Life with Alvy: Memoirs of a Real Life Annie Hall.” It chronicles my time dating a man in NYC who was an avid Woody Allen fan. Our relationship closely resembled the film, “Annie Hall.” Every time I start writing a new chapter, I find myself laughing at my laptop and copy/pasting paragraphs on my tumblr blog. Even though my book is humor-based, it is still difficult to re-live a past relationship. I’m lucky to have a husband who sees what my book is about and who gets my sarcastic sense of humor.

Where can my readers buy The Automat?

Amazon for Kindle and paperback. (paperback)

Barnes and Nobles for Nook

Sony eReader


Apple Bookstore

You can also download it directly from

Want to learn more about Cristina Martin and The Automat



Twitter: hornandhardart






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