Who are your favorite authors—fiction, nonfiction, and/or poet?
Well two of my favorite books are A Clockwork Orange and Brave New World; but Michael Crichton is my favorite novelist overall. It may or may not have had to do with the timing of many movies based on his books—Congo, the Jurassic Park films, Sphere, and 13th Warrior all came out during the 90s; but I also just really dug his books.
As for poets I’ve long had a copy of The Treasured Writings of Kahlil Gibran. At one point I actually had two copies because I thought I’d somehow lost it. Gibran has certainly influenced my approach to poetry in general, along with Walt Whitman.
I didn’t get too into nonfiction until I got a bit older, and then I discovered I’ve quite the taste for history: I basically read The Columbia History of the World from cover to cover, and The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon is an awesome piece of work.
Who’s your favorite celebrity chef?
Perhaps a typical, to-be-expected answer, but Anthony Bourdain. As I wrote in Laminating Daniel, Anthony Bourdain was my Kurt Cobain. I’ve read all his books, Kitchen Confidential at least five times. I was always a big fan of Alton Brown and Good Eats, too.
What’s it like to own your own business after two decades working for others?
When we were first getting started with it, setting everything up and meeting with accountants and lawyers and all that, the common refrain was something like, “You’ll never work harder in your life—but it’ll be worth it, in the end.” The first part is definitely true; but we’re getting there.
What is fatherhood like, for you?
Not as bad as I’d thought it would be. I’d never planned on it, and if I can be perfectly honest I probably won’t like your kids or your kids’ kids: It wasn’t exactly on purpose that he came along. Though I have to say that my wife handles a lot of it, a lot of the time; I’m usually at the bakery. Which is one of only two authentic French bakeries in Tucson, by the way.
What advice do you have for fellow authors and aspiring cooks, bakers, and/or chefs?
Read as much as you can—avoid the competition cooking shows, they’re unrealistic. Read Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain, and read the Cook’s Book, which of course is one that I wrote. There’s good stuff in both of them. For writing I’d say check out On Writing by Stephen King, and of course The Elements of Writing Style, by Strunk and White. And then, once you’ve read it all (and while you keep reading), then you can start practicing, honing the craft.
What is your signature dish or baked good and what is your favorite dish?
I don’t have a signature dish so much as I’ve got some signature baked goods, I think. Maybe three, really: For one, I’ve been making the same peanut butter cookies for over twenty years—that was one of the very first recipes I came up with. Everyone else’s were typically too sweet and lacking in peanut butter oomph, so I found a balance that basically reverses that. Another is the kouign amann, which came later in life, after we started the bakery. I’m a glutton for punishment so of course I had to make it my mission to master the supposedly “most difficult pastry in the world”. Finally—and this one is a true invention, I’ve never had anything like it and I’ve never seen anything like it, anywhere—the pico de gallo bread that we sell at the bakery.
Why did you choose to self-publish?
That’s the way of the world, nowadays. Everyone is a self-publishing something-or-other, what with YouTube and Instagram and social media influencers, et cetera. I do remember twenty-odd years ago when I was first trying to get serious about writing, I actually got two books published before I graduated high school. With two different publishers, no less. Little did I know, to a large degree because of the way they presented themselves but mostly due to my general naivete, both publishers were print-on-demand, which at that time was highly frowned upon. Even locally, I had a hard time promoting via the traditional routes like book signings and -readings, because even the local bookstores kind of snubbed their nose at me. Self-publishing has really changed over the past few decades, I think in a lot of ways because of the strong influence of things like YouTube and Instagram.
Where do you get your ideas?
Well I’ve never really been one to stick to the mold or adhere blindly to the status quo; I’ve always been a questioning, somewhat rebellious type. I never really wanted to be a pigeonholed genre writer per se, so I kind of made it my mission to write at least one book for every general genre. Maybe a little less the romance and fantasy genres, but eventually I gave those a go, too…It was never really so much a where whence came the ideas, so much as a what’s next kind of mentality. You start to notice patterns when you read a lot of the same kinds of book, and that makes it easier to mimic and emulate.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I went through a Star Wars phase right around the time that Phantom Menace was in theatres. I’d been introduced to the original trilogy by my stepfather, and I liked those movies a lot. And then, of course, I found the book version of the original trilogy, and shortly after that I discovered the plethora of Star Wars books to be found at Barnes & Noble and Borders and such. And shortly after that I was able to put two-and-two together, when I realized not all the books were written by the same author, or authors, and I decided I would try my hand at it, specifically after reading I Jedi, by Michael A. Stackpole. So I guess my very first manuscript would technically qualify as fan art.
How would you describe your writing style—prose and poetry?
Conversational: I’ve always been told that, in a lot of ways, I have a tendency to write the same as how I speak. But I’d also say it’s a little breathless, sometimes. I tend to string a series of words together or finish sentences without bothering to ensure proper grammar and sentence structure, actually more often than not it’s a completely intentional skewing of the norm.
How did you come up with your pen-name?
Well my name is Daniel Eduardo Martinez, so that explains the origin of the “D” and the “E”. Being a bit of a Francophile such as I am, and maybe somewhat convinced that in a past life I must either have been a French aristocrat or a revolutionary at the turn of the eighteenth century, I’ve actually always had a kind of “alter ego”. It used to be a portmanteau, Dru Mairoxtinez—for drums, which I’ve played off and on since high school; Aries, for the Western Zodiac (I’m a very typical Aries); Ox, for the Eastern Zodiac; and Martinez. Obviously the initials are still DM. In any case, “de Martinez” could technically be translated as if it was French, to “by Martinez”. It works.
What are you reading now?
A New World Begins: The History of the French Revolution, by Jeremy D. Popkin
What are you working on at the moment?
My magnum opus, a multi-volume novel called The White Room Experiment. It’s rather genre-bending, and technically there’s a part one and a part two. The first part is the “experiment” side, while the second part is the “experience” side.
Which author has most inspired you?
Kind of like watching cooking shows or live concerts, pretty much any author I’m reading or musician I'm watching tends to inspire me. But if The White Room Experiment is my magnum opus, it’s definitely relative to Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, J.K. Rowling’s astounding success with the Harry Potter series, and Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films. Being such an Aries, and being the way that I am—which is to say, pretty all-or-nothing—it just made and makes perfect sense that I should want to write one book like Lord of the Rings, broken down into digestible volumes. Each half of The White Room Experiment is seven volumes.