After graduating from Regent in 1994 (Ph.D., Communications), Martin returned home to Florida, where, in need of an income to support his family, he took a job selling insurance. Hard work and success eventually led to a six-figure salary offer from Allstate. As Martin relates, he had a young family and bills that he could not pay without an income, but selling insurance was not his dream. He wrestled with God, asking, “Lord, why did you put me on planet earth?” At the end of a weekend of struggle over what to do, his wife Christy, came to him and said, “We are going to do this all out.”
After leaving his insurance job, Martin began trying to find a publisher for his first novel, The Dead Don’t Dance: A Novel of Awakening. He received 86 rejections before WestBow Press accepted it in 2004. Now at age 43, he is the author of nine novels, has had books on the New York Times Best Seller List, and is published in seventeen countries. Along with his wife Christy, Martin says the credit for his success belongs to God: “The Lord allowed us to do that.”
Martin says that he rises early every day and works on his writing between 4:30 and 6:30 a.m. Although he prefers not to read books while in the middle of a writing project, he says that he enjoys non-fiction books that read like fiction, such as Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. Most importantly, however, he reads and re-reads the Bible, last year completing the Bible once, and having this year a goal of reading it twice.
Martin also offered aspiring writers in the audience some reflections and advice based on his own experience. He likened the writer to a sculptor, first using a large chisel, than a smaller chisel, then a still a smaller chisel, until finally polishing the work with a soft cloth. He also advised writers trying to get published to practice reading some of their best work and to take it to writers’ conferences, where books agents are on the hunt for new talent.
Photos of the Charles Martin’s visit are located on the Library’s Facebook and Flickr pages. A video and transcript of his interview with Terry Meeuwsen are on the 700 Club website. To learn more about Martin and his books, visit his official website at http://charlesmartinbooks.com/.