William Martin is an author. His books, Annapolis; Back Bay; Bound for Gold; Harvard Yard; December '41; The Lincoln Letter; and The Lost Constitution; are part of the Upton Bell Collection at UMass Lowell Libraries in O'Leary Library, 2nd Floor Special Collections and include personal inscriptions.
It's an honor to be included in the Upton Bell collection.
Over a long and illustrious career, Upton met and interviewed more fascinating people than the all the hosts of all the network morning shows across all the decades of broadcasting history combined. And he read all their books... and saved them.
And I am happy to say that I wrote eleven of them (soon to be twelve).
Upton didn't interview me on every one. We met way back in 1980, in the Green Room of Good Morning, a Boston talk show. I was promoting BACK BAY, my first book. Upton was already a fixture in Boston media. But Uption dove right into the conversation, because that's what he always does. He started 'interviewing' me because he has an insatiable curiosity about all the people he meets. We didn't meet again until years later, in a pick-up basketball game at the Cambridge YMCA, where exception to my use of my elbows.
He forgave me, especially when he realized he couldn't stop me from scoring. And soon, he was interviewing me on his show with every novel I published, because he also realized that I like to talk about my writing as much as I like to write. And the question that drove him with every book and interview, whether we were talking about a Michenerian chronicle like Cape Cod, a historical thriller like The Lost Constitution, or a biographical novel like Citizen Washington: "Where did the idea come from."
It's the fundamental question for all writers, for all artists, because it goes to the heart of creativity, which is a place where mystery resides... not just for the reader but the writer, too.
The reader marvels that an author can create character, plot, suspense, momentum, drama, and all the other elements that go into a good story, and wonders, "How'd he do that?" The writer marvels, at least in private, at all that he can bring out of himself if he just keeps his rear end in the chair, and keeps staring at the screen for hours and days and sometimes weeks on end.
Of course, the writer wh's honest will, at some point, admit, "I just don't know where I get my ideas. I can no more comprehend the sources of my creativity that I can describe them for a radio interviewer." The best answer is probably in the work itself.
As I sit here trying to decide what I will write as my thirteenth novel, I'm asking myself Upton's questions about creativity. I'm getting ready to put my rear end in the chair and start staring again. I'm also asking myself the essential questions for a historical novelist: "Where do you want to go and who do you want to meet when you get there?" When I know those answers, I'll have found the source of my creativity, at least for my next book. And I can get to writing.
I've been at this now for over four decades, and I can tell you, that's how it always works. And I plan to keep asking until I can't find any more answers. Then maybe Upton will interview me one more time, and I'll tell him what I know, and then I'll ride off into the sunset. But not yet. Not for a long time. Now... back to my next novel.