With brand new publishing houses, usually come brand new books. An obvious assumption, but a very exciting one if you find out about said brand new publishers while they’re still, well, brand new.
The publisher in question is Fox and Raven Publishing, an independent publishing house that recently entered Cape Town’s book scene. You can read my interview with them to see that they’re pretty fun and planning to bring a fresh, light-hearted feel to publishing.
That brings me to the brand new books and Fox and Raven’s very first published piece – Passing Visions by Martin John Stokes.
Scroll all the way down for a profile of Stokes.
You really have no reason not to read this little thriller, simply because it has only 25 pages. It all plays off inside the office of Indie Golding, a clinical psychologist, and the patient in question is sixteen-year-old James Riley, brought here by a rather disturbing experience.
Needless to say, if I were James, I would also fear the possibility that I have gone mad.
Now what I really liked about this story is that Stokes doesn’t try too hard to make James sound like a 16 year old. He simply tells the story in a normal way, with little slang and words written out properly. I like that, it lets me decide for myself how the character sounds.
The other thing that I really liked was Stokes’ narrative flow. The story reads easily and he doesn’t cram too many adjectives into a sentence. He simply tells the story and you’re compelled to keep on reading because you’re not bombarded by unnecessary words. I had to look up two words though – lackadaisical and obsidian – but I guess I’m glad to be improving my vocabulary.
I say well done to Mr. Stokes.
Well, generally my name is just shortened to Mart or I’m called Stokes by some of my friends. Prosaic, right? And I have the dubious pleasure of being called The Marinator by a select few. There’s a rather esoteric reason behind that name that I’d rather not go into.
I’m 21 but I’ll be turning 22 come December.
Your most prominent feature?
Oh wow, you’re asking for narcissism here. I’ve got a kind of broken-nose thing going on – kind of like Owen Wilson, but nowhere near as salient. Other than that I’ve got some pretty mean curls that start to show when my hair gets a bit longer.
How long have you been a writer?
I took an interest to writing when I was 16 or so, but I’ve loved books my entire life.
A published writer?
Kind of a funny story in a mirthless sort of way. I was 19 when I published my short story. Joe Vaz from Something Wicked picked it up. At the time it was the only print short-story magazine in South Africa (if my memory serves me correctly), but almost immediately after my story was accepted, the magazine went into a hiatus that spanned quite some time. During their break, they’d switched from a monthly magazine to a yearly anthology – worth the read, I might add, there are some fantastic local and international writers in there and the SW team do an amazing job putting the whole thing together. I had a story published last year and another two this year (the one you would have read, it’s the reason I’m typing this out, I guess) and in the middle of all of this, Joe Vaz and Vianne Venter from Something Wicked sent me an e-mail to say they’d like to put my story in one of their anthologies. So it actually took two years for the story to get to print, although it was accepted ages ago.
Who would you recommend Passing Visions to?
Anyone who’d read it! Horror aficionados, thriller-lovers and perhaps those with a strong gorge. But I think anyone who enjoys short fiction could deal with it.
Best book of your year so far?
At the moment I’m reading a novel by Stephen King; I’m about two-thirds through it and it’s gripped me like nothing has so far. So tentatively, I’d have to say 11/22/63.
Worst book of your year so far?
Tough question. I can’t think of a satisfactory answer, but I read a couple of pages of 50 Shades of Grey and was pretty horrified to realise that it actually made it print. If brevity counts, then most definitely 50 Shades.
Daylight writer or night time scribbler?
Writing is usually the third thing I do when I wake up. The first is stretch. The second is make a cup of coffee.
Real book or ebook?
I own a Kindle and love it to death but still find myself reading more paperbacks than anything else. eBooks do have merit, though. Who doesn’t like the idea of carrying around an entire library in the back-left pocket of their jeans?
Finish a bad book till the end or drop it and find something better?
I’m a firm believer in giving a book a chance. That being said. there’s only so much a person can struggle through. There are countless good books out there and a limited time to read as many as possible, so if the book really isn’t doing it for me, after I’ve given it a chance (and maybe a second one; I’m a believer in those, too), then I put it aside where it’ll most likely gather dust and progress onto what will hopefully be (and usually is) the next great novel.
*Featured image courtesy of Rosmary