Last summer, author Charles D. Martin seduced readers with his debut novel “Provocateur,” and this August he will mesmerize fans again with the sequel “Nadia’s Obsession.”
Martin grew up in a small town in Ohio. His parents were poor, but he was able to put himself through college by working two jobs. Martin later had a highly successful career in venture capital and private equity. He founded a pair of investment firms that he managed for two decades.
He runs a thriving hedge fund, Mont Pelerin Capital LLC, and serves on investment committees for prominent universities. His wealth of knowledge about people, finance and technology translates well in his novels.
Martin’s first book, “Provocateur” (August 2012, Chaney-Hall Publishing), invited readers into the intriguing world of Nadia Borodina, a Russian orphan who comes to America, is thrust into the high life of powerful men and transforms into a crafty femme fatale. “Nadia’s Obsession” (August 2013) continues her story with bold twists and turns.
Martin and his wife, Twyla, live in Newport Beach, a picturesque coastal town south of Los Angeles.
Charles talks about his writing.
In 2012, “Provocateur” attracted both female and male readers. Were you expecting that?
I wrote it thinking of both audiences, so I’m happy to see the crossover appeal. It seems women vicariously enjoy seeing a woman outsmart and get the best of alpha males. Men love Provocateur for the suspense and adventure. Both seem to like the sexual tension between Nadia and the men she encounters.
The confident and beautiful Nadia Borodina is back in the second book of the series, “Nadia’s Obsession.” What inspired you to write this unique character?
A “Nadia-like” incident occurred to a friend at the Pelican Hill Resort. It was somewhat similar to the first chapter in the first book, although I made the story a little more interesting. The character for Olga was inspired by the life story of a real operative in the British SOS, Nancy Wake, during WWII. A fascinating bio on her is on the book’s website.
Nadia is such a strong, intelligent, independent female character. What kind of message are you hoping to convey to readers?
Women will have more confidence and pride in their powers; their role verses men, the dynamics between the sexes and the power of finesse and feline prowess over the male gender.
Most men are secretly aware of the stealth nature of a woman’s powers. But they always enjoy adventure and the gamesmanship.
Both will enjoy the fun of it and interesting sex is always an attraction.
Who are some real women in society you think embody Nadia’s audacious, independent spirit?
Nadia is an idealized character. Many women will see a piece of her in them. In the end, she is a composite of many attributes of outstanding women.
The books focus on a highly interesting daily occurrence – the contest/rivalry between men and women. How does a type-A business guy write such fascinating, compelling fiction about gender and relationship issues?
In order to write about relationships, one must have experienced much in life, as I have. A writer must be an acute observer of the human condition and the human experience. No young person could write with insights about the dynamics between men and women without a lot of life experience.
You’ve had a successful career in investment strategy. How does your big business background help shape the stories you tell?
The story background for the encounters between my lead female character and powerful men is a series of sophisticated sting operations that involve complex financial issues and technology (the cyber-attack on the US Treasury auction by a Russian oligarch). These are areas that I know through my business experience.
Also, I have travelled to the many high life venues featured in the book and have substantial experience with large private yachts, featured in the novel.
Can you give us some personal insight into some of these exotic locales, and especially the exclusive yacht life?
I want readers to enjoy learning about interesting places and experiences as part of the story backdrop. In addition to enjoying a fascinating encounter between a superior woman and strong men, I want readers to come away with some new knowledge about places they probably did not know and world events that are important to understand.
In addition to the remarkable character study of your heroine Nadia, readers learn about the emerging threat of cyber warfare. How real is that, and how would it affect the nation?
The threat of cyber warfare between nations is an extremely serious emerging threat. It comes up in the news now and then, but perhaps this book can shed more focus on it. Also, as my books point out, it is not just the province of a battle between sovereigns; it can also come from private insurgency groups. In coming years this will be a very big issue on the world stage.
Readers compared Provocateur to movies like The Thomas Crown Affair for its suspense and cleverness, and Body Heat for its sexual tension. Did either of those influence the book at all?
Absolutely! I have been an admirer of the story of Body Heat since I first saw the movie. It is filled with suspense and sexual tension. The poor guy (William Hurt) is a somewhat above average man who does not understand until the end that he is completely outsmarted by a superior woman (Kathleen Turner) that “plays him” like a piano.
In the Thomas Crown Affair, I loved the suspense and sexual tension…but it reverted to the typical story pattern of the man outsmarting the woman. He was superior; she was outdone. That’s not the real world.
Can we expect to hear from Nadia again?
I have begun the third book in this series. It will have some fascinating new characters.