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    By Michele Karlsberg

    Michele Karlsberg: What inspires you to write?

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    RJ Martin: I don’t consider the act of writing as coming from inspiration. It’s more of a compulsion. What I choose to write about is, I guess, where inspira­tion comes in to play. For The Body, inspiration came from several sources. I remember the first time I read Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks, and being instantly captivated by Bone, a charac­ter I could relate to in a world I knew because I literally lived there. The same was true when I read Richard Russo’s The Risk Pool. It also was set in the foothills of the Adirondacks, and had as its protagonist, Ned, an unusual kid surviving and making the best of a chaotic, almost barely existent home life. I’d grown up in enough ways where I could strongly relate to them both—feeling alienated, unmoored, under-parented, and lost.

    When I thought about what story I would tell about this economically flat-lined, but visu­ally stunning, world, I realized there was one so personal to me that it scared me, and that meant I had to write it. Growing up, no matter how bad things were for me, I had the church, more succinctly, I had Jesus Christ, or as Jonah, my protagonist calls him, JC. That was my inspiration: love of home, love of JC, and a desire to add to the canon of Adirondack coming of age stories with my very personal addition.

    RJ Martin’s debut novel “The Body” was published this month by Harmony Ink Press. Martin has been active in the LGBT Christian community. Martin is also a blogger for the Huffington Post.

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    Paco Muñoz-Botas: Creative spirit and my imagination give me inspira­tion to write.

    My family intro­duced me to the literary world by bringing me to poetry readings. García Lorca, for example. I was fas­cinated listening to his poems of love. The spoken word is so energizing, and then you create.

    Most paramount is my affection for the characters I create. Each one is unique and unrepeatable; I “feel in love” with my characters. Through them, I explore my own feelings, special and sacred to me. They are the vehicles that assist me in revealing my stories. Through them, I can become anyone. A roller rink DJ star. A pop icon from the nineties, or a whiskey-slugging senior. I can saturate myself in the world of an Iraqi soldier. I can be a former child actor, or a ghostly grand­mother. Most recently, with my new novel Parade, I am able to mash my feet into a pair of high heels and transform into Reggie Lauderdale, a boy preach­er who fashions his own glamorized religion. Hallelujah! I often think of my characters as my children. However, I relish in their misbehavior. This is why I have always been a fiction writer.

    Even though The Provocateur’s Payback is my first novel, I love the writing life.

    Paco Muñoz-Botas’ debut thriller “The Provocateur’s Payback” was published this year by Riverdale Ave Books. Muñoz-Botas studied journalism, and enjoys international travel and collecting art.

    Michele Karlsberg Marketing and Management specializes in publicity for the LGBT commu­nity. This year, Karlsberg celebrates twenty-six years of successful book campaigns.