A new path: DU student leaves to promote novel

By: Katie Auwaerter | The Duquesne Duke

Features - Book Dude (courtesy of the author)
(Courtesy of S. Alex Martin) S. Alex Martin poses with his book Embassy, released in 2013. He wrote the novel in a 10 day period in the Union Starbucks.

By the time most people turn 21, they hope to have a few accomplishments under their belt. But being a published author most likely isn’t one of them.

It is for S. Alex Martin, whose novel Embassy is now available on Amazon.com. While it’s currently not available in paperback, the Kindle edition can be purchased for $4.99.

Martin, who was a junior pursuing a math and English major with a physics minor, is taking a break from his Duquesne studies to promote his latest novel.

Martin’s sci-fi novel follows the story of Arman Lance, whose dedication to finding the girl he loves takes him on a life-changing journey.

“When Arman Lance falls in love with Ladia Purnell, he makes it his life’s goal to find her after she has to leave his planet. But amid tragedy and his obsession of Ladia, Arman struggles to fight the mental isolation he has built around him. He sees joining the galaxy’s Embassy Program as only one step on his journey to Ladia, nothing more. Now he explores the Embassy, flies a Molter, and competes in the fast-action Hologis tournament. At last, Arman boards the expedition that will take him across the stars to Ladia, but the journey might change him in ways he would have never dared to imagine,” as stated in the synopsis on Amazon.com.

Martin explains that Embassy goes beyond the science fiction genre, having a character-driven story that can stand among the works of Young Adult giants such as John Green and Jay Asher.

“The main character is antisocial, internally conflicted and at a very dark point in life. He shuts everything else out. All he wants is to join the Embassy Program, leave his life behind, and travel to a planet across the galaxy where this girl he once fell in love with lives. He thinks doing that will make him happy again, that this girl is the answer to all his problems. So he has to be inducted into the Embassy, fly across the galaxy and find this girl – but where there’s a journey, there’s a lesson to be learned. I think a lot of people would agree that this book’s central theme revolves around happiness and how it is a choice.”

Martin wrote the original draft of Embassy over a period of 10 consecutive days in the Union Starbucks. What began as a short story that Martin wrote in 2012 became a labor of love for the young author. Taking his original draft of 150,000 words, Martin would edit up to seven hours a day either paring down the original draft or honing the final draft through critiques from his writing group.

“Ask any of my friends. I was always in Starbucks. In 2013, I spent exactly 3,016 hours working on Embassy. For perspective, there are 8,760 hours in a year,” he said.

Adrianna Wolos, a sophomore secondary education and math and dual major, can attest to his claim.

“There was barely a time when I didn’t see him sitting in Starbucks working on a draft.  In my opinion, not only did he come up with the book and its plot, but he also created the world in which the entire novel occurs.  He planned out the layouts of cities, how to fly some of the transportation devices in the book, and all of the rules of the ever-entertaining Hologis game.”

Embassy is published through CreateSpace, an independent publishing company through Amazon. Martin is covering all of his bases when it comes to the self-promotion of Embassy. Having sent out press releases and requests for book reviews, the bulk of his promotion will be through a national book tour.

“I’m scheduling to speak at high schools around my county. I’m going to give as many speeches at as many schools and libraries as I can. This requires an extremely active, involved approach – something I just can’t do sitting in a desk all week,” Martin said.

Martin is also using social media to promote his novel, specifically through Facebook and Twitter. He also created book trailers that are currently available on YouTube.

At this point in his life, Martin’s break from Duquesne looks like it will be indefinite. While he knows some people would look at this as a bad decision, he would disagree. Martin looks at this decision not as “hoping for the best,” but as taking a proactive approach for the success of his novel.

“I have a quality product, an audience, and the means to market the product. Staying in school right now is just going to keep holding me back from my potential … I’m at the point where I need to reorganize and structure my life so I can be successful.”

Now that his novel is available to the public, Martin feels a mixture of positive emotions.

“It is of near-professional quality, and I am absolutely proud to say I wrote it. Tears were shed at certain parts. And when I released it, this sense of fulfillment and pride filled me because I was releasing a book that brought me out of a very dark place and changed me as a person. I always say it’s not about the author – it’s about the book,” Martin said.

“And when you’re trying to build an audience, nobody cares who you are, only how good the story is.”