Guest Blog by Shawn Martin, author of Shadowflesh
Nearly eighteen years ago, I faced a crossroads in my life: March my way into law school and settle for a relatively peaceful and prosperous life. Or slap on a helmet and suspenders to become a firefighter and live life literally by the seat of my pants. Having not yet built up the confidence to become a serious writer, but having all the impulses of someone who finds fiction more appealing than reality, I opted to become one of those smoke-eating dudes who rides around on a big red truck.
As the years went by and my confidence as a writer grew, I discovered that I was a hopeless romantic. Well in all honesty, my beloved wife brought this to my attention during an amorous wrestling match when she had me pinned. “Admit it,” she said. “You love Audrey Hepburn movies, sad endings make you mist up, and you’re always reading my romance novels.”
All true. And yes, I tried on her romance novels and found they fit. Thank God I wasn’t the type of guy who tried on her clothes, too. This coed Greco-Roman style epiphany sparked my passion to write stories where love – whether won, lost, forgotten, or betrayed – became the focal point. And I’ve been hooked ever since.
So, writing romance and fighting fire, two totally unrelated occupations, became my life. The two seemed to have nothing in common, except me. But as time went by, I realized how wrong I truly was. Writing romance and fighting fire have a lot in common, and it isn’t just the heat.
When I respond to an emergency, I am invited into what may often be one of the most memorable days of someone’s life. A person’s world has come falling down around them. Fate has wrecked their car, destroyed their home, or dared to take a loved one from their arms. The end seems near for the helpless and hopeless, and they look in desperation to me to set things right. All I can do is my best, which sadly is often not enough.
Those heart-wrenching experiences come back to me as a writer. Not just the memory of sadness and pain, but the feeling that a group of characters who have found themselves in despair have looked to me for guidance, for a way out of their nightmares. As a firefighter, I employ every ounce of energy and imagination to bring peace to the tormented. As a writer, I do the same exact thing. I pour myself into my stories, holding my character by her hand and taking her through the adventure. That’s how Aileen makes it through Shadowflesh.
At this point in my life, I have found that writing and fighting fire create a synergy for me. Each endeavor makes me better at the other, which I hope is a good thing. I have several years ahead of me with a pen in one hand and an ax in the other.