The Mike Martin Interview

The Sgt. Windflower Mystery series is a series of cozy mysteries set in the small Newfoundland town of Grand Bank where Sgt. Winston Windflower is the top cop in the RCMP detachment there. The latest instalment in the series, A Tangled Web (2017, Baico Publishing), has just been released.

It begins innocuously enough:

“Life doesn’t get much better than this,” said Winston Windflower. The Mountie looked over at his collie, Lady, who wagged her tail at the sound of his voice. If dogs could smile, she smiled back. His world was almost perfect. He had the love of a great woman and a good job as a Sergeant in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police patrolling one of the lowest crime regions in the country. Plus, the weather had been mild so far, at least for Newfoundland in early December, and that meant no snowstorms with forced overnighters at the detachment.
Life was very good indeed.

The tranquility is soon broken by news that Sarah Quinlan, a young girl is reported missing. Then there is the issue of missing supplies from a warehouse. To add to his workload, a murder is thrown into the mix and the stage is set for another well-spun edition to the popular series.

A Tangled Web, the sixth book in the series, follows A Long Ways From Home of which I commented:

If you like police detective crime fiction that takes place outside the customary big city setting, then the Windflower mysteries will be enjoyable to you.

A Tangled Web is no exception, and it serves to gradually advance the backstory of Winston and his wife Sheila Hillier, who happens to be the mayor of the town and newly pregnant. This leads to the consideration of some important life decisions for both of them.

I thought it would be interesting to interview Mr Martin, and he readily agreed.

The Interview

Miramichi Reader: Tell us about your background, education, employment, etc.
Mike Martin: I was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland and now live in Ottawa. I am a long-time freelance writer and my work has appeared in print and online in Canada and the United States. I am the author of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery series, set in beautiful Newfoundland.

“I didn’t make Windflower indigenous, he came that way. He kind of walked out of the fog in Grand Bank and started telling me his story. I just write it down the best I can.”

Mike Martin

MR: Tell us about some of the books or authors or other people (such as teachers) that may have influenced you to become a writer.
MM: I had three older sisters who taught me to read early. So many books influenced me that it hard to list just a few. I think that the imagination of JRR Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings inspired me. So too did Stephen King and his fabulous book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft was a great tool for me in my writing career.

MR: Let’s talk about the Sgt. Windflower Series, which is up to book #6. I would describe these as “cozy mysteries” but do you even like that term for the genre?
MM: People like to classify things and I don’t mind using cozy to describe the Windflower series. But I just call them some nice stories from Newfoundland. On social media I refer to them as Cool, Canadian Crime fiction.

MR: Where and when did the idea for this series begin? Is it based on any personal experiences or people you know? Did you ever consider a setting other than Newfoundland & Labrador?
MM: I always wanted to write fiction and kind of liked the idea of setting the books in Newfoundland. When my partner bought her grandfather’s house in Grand Bank, I fell in love with the place. 6 books later I still do.

MR: Why did you make Windflower an Indigenous person?
MM: I didn’t make Windflower indigenous, he came that way. He kind of walked out of the fog in Grand Bank and started telling me his story. I just write it down the best I can.

MR: If they were to make a movie based on the books who do you envision playing the main characters? (Windflower, Sheila, Eddie Tizzard,, etc.)
MM: There are lots of great Indigenous actors who could play Windflower. I like Adam Beach from several CBC series. Tizzard could be played by Jonny Harris from Murdock Mysteries. As for Sheila, I’m still looking.

MR: Could Windflower ever get transferred back to Alberta where he is from?
MM: He could, but not likely. He’s got his Auntie and Uncle out there, but very few roots to pull him back. His future is likely closer to the east coast.

MR: Do you have a favourite book (or books), one(s) that you like to revisit from time to time?
MM: Lord of the Rings. I used to try and read it once a year. Now I can watch the movies too.

MR: If you could write a biography of (or spend an evening with) any person, living or dead, who would that be?
MM: I think it would be fascinating to spend an evening with Ernest Hemingway, if he was sober. I’m not sure I could handle a drunk Ernest Hemingway.

MR: What are you working on now?
MM: Right now I am working on promo for A Tangled Web. I want to make sure it has a good push out into the world. A book is like an author’s child. We try and write them well and then we set them free. Each book has their own journey and as a book parent, I am always interested to see where they end up.

MR: Finally, what do you like to do when you are not writing?
MM: I like to walk and ride my bike when the weather is nice. And when it’s not I love to curl up with a good book. Maybe the latest by one of my favourites, Louise Penny.

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