Disturbing and intensely gripping, …

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Disturbing and intensely gripping, this is a novel that seeps into your very soul not to be removed

The Wounded King has to be one of the most intensely gripping novels that I have read in such a long time, with its words seeping into my very soul never to be forgotten. From the moment you read the first sentence you find yourself becoming lost within such an engrossing story that is truly original, idiosyncratic and unique. Jonathan Winn is an author with obdurate creative ideas that blow you away, leaving you sat breathless as you try to take it all in. The electric tension, drama and suspense had me sat on the very edge of my seat throughout as I read the entire novel in only a few hours, lost within the compelling and dramatic story.

And there’s more!!! Read the rest here.

Oh, happy day.

Blessed Brevity

“But it’s not a whole book.”

You know how many times I’ve heard that? Too many. You know how many times I’ve stood my ground and proved the naysayers wrong? Every damn time.

Listen, I’ll happily admit that there’s something quite wonderful about holding a full-length novel in your hands. The heft, the impressive span of the spine, the ragged edge of the pages as you flip through. Your heart leaping as you see Chapter Fifty, Chapter Sixty-Two, Chapter Seventy, the promise of a great read implicit in the size alone.

But not every story needs that heft. Not every character wants to invest themselves that fully. Some are happy to give you just a glimpse of their experience. A look at an event. An event. Just one. The one that changed everything for them forever.

That’s where short fiction comes in.

After I finished my first book Martuk … The Holy I started planning Martuk … The Holy: Proseuche. With Martuk’s bags packed and Amazon arriving any moment to take him out into the big, bad world, focusing on the sequel seemed to me the next logical step.

So I started writing. And then I stopped. Started again. Stopped again. There was something nagging me. Something not quite right. Something unfinished, perhaps.

And it couldn’t be Martuk’s story because it was still being told. And with a book scheduled after that — the third –, the tale would continue.

That’s when it hit me: it wasn’t his story at all. That wasn’t what was nagging me, my fingers hovering over the keyboard while I watched the cursor blinking on an empty page.

It was their story. Those who had befriended Martuk, took him from his home, walked with him, challenged him and imprisoned him and, yes, even killed him. That’s the story that needed telling.

The Wounded King. The Elder. The Magician. The Old Crone. Those Priests in Red and Gold. Even his Mother. They refused to let me go. Insisted I give them a voice. They had stories to tell. They still wanted to speak.

The blinded, stumbling King wanted us to see how he became that bleeding husk of shredded flesh. How his life had trapped him, his days spent as a living corpse weeping red surrounded by an opulence he never wanted, his ears forever haunted by those bones in the stones, the knowledge that Those Beyond the Veil waited, just out of reach.

And The Elder, a man noted for his venality in Martuk, was desperate to show us the why of who he was. Wanted to take us by the hand and lead us into the how of what he experienced, the ramifications of what he endured feeding his actions. Not hatred or malice, but anger, surrender, and disappointment. Needed us to understand that he was as trapped in his fate as Martuk, a prisoner laying on a blood drenched altar under an ocean of stars, was trapped in his.

Could I do that in a full-length novel? Yes. Is that what their stories needed? No.

Alas, short fiction. Ergo, The Martuk Series.

But it couldn’t be like a full-length novel. I needed to limit my words, focusing more on the action and less on the lush prose. Train the reader’s eye to the blade that cuts and not on how the metal shines in the light of the nearby flame. Guide them into the actions of The Queen and The Seer and the ash-covered immortal Shamisé, trusting that what they do will help inform the reader. Tell the reader who they are, their back stories implicit in their actions.

Regardless, this writing needed to be quick. Abrupt. Shocking and swift. It needed to move. Constantly. Forward motion always. These stories wouldn’t linger in the shadows, waiting, biding their time, hoping. They’d rush forward like a great wave and shatter the door to fill the room with their rage, their pain, their wounds.

They would assault us with their stories.

And that’s what the Series is and will continue to be as long as I write it, the possibilities endless as we meet yet more people in Proseuche and then the third book, Shayateen, and then, perhaps, in books after that.

So, the next time someone says “But it’s not a whole book,” I’m going to respond

“You’re right. It’s much, much more.”

Dead yet?

Want to know how to kill a writer?

Save for the tedious bullet in the brain, the boring drowning in a bucket, or the ho-hum of the heave-ho over the side of a bridge, the most devious, unforgettable way to kill a writer is a lot more subtle. Subtle, but despicable. Something that will without a doubt mind-fuck them seven ways from Sunday.

The best way to kill a writer is to suffocate them with The Rules.

Absolutely! Tease those fuckers out, word for word. Wrap them around your wrist until all the Don’t Do Thises and Don’t Do Thats and Don’t Do Those Other Things become a strong, sturdy rope. And then strangle ’em ’till their eyes pop out.

Go ahead.

But first encourage them to write. Insist they put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and create. Beg them to bring to life their amazing story and those incredible characters.

And then the moment they type “Chapter One” uppercut them by denying them adverbs. Karate chop them by demanding they never start a chapter with dialogue. Order them to never do any of the other things Those Who Think They Can Write tell Those Who Really Can Write not to do. Ever.

Seriously, if you want to completely neuter someone to the point where the Fear of Doing It Wrong far surpasses their God-Given Need to Write, the joy they feel in putting words to paper getting creamed at the intersection of Doubt and Regret, hit them over the head with The Rules.

It works.

When I started writing my first book Martuk … The Holy, I was cruising. Man, I was slamming out three, four, five thousand words a day (I’m a speed writer). Just humming along, on top of the world, feeling good. Really good. And writing great stuff! Not perfect, mind you — that’s what rewrites are for –, but good enough. So good I actually found myself entertaining the ridiculous thought that ‘maybe, just maybe, I can do this writing thing’.

And then I was told that as good — or, actually, as great — as my work was, I was doing it all wrong.

Yep. Wrong. And if I wanted to be taken seriously and not make a complete fool of myself — the implication being other Writers would snigger behind my back like bitchy little schoolgirls if I didn’t change my ways — I’d have to start over from Word One and do it “right”.

Stopped. Me. In. My. Tracks. Knocked me over. The humiliation at having done it “wrong” so embarrassed me that I shoved Martuk in the virtual bottom drawer and denied his existence. For a year. The story still lived and the characters still spoke. But not knowing the “right way” to bring them to life, I did my best to ignore them.

Guess I wasn’t a writer after all.

And then one day I did what I always do. Ignoring reason and logic, wrong or right, I dusted off the ol’ MS and got back to work.

I mean, really. Fuck ’em. I never claimed to be perfect, so why should my work be?

Sure, I’d taken a look at the books and blogs and websites that ostensibly celebrate Writers and the Art of Writing. The black pixels on white which encourage the collective Us to find our brilliance and discover our Voice all while kneecapping Us with a growing, often contradictory List of Things To Never Do. Their Personal Ten Commandments playing on the assumption that we need to be accepted and embraced by our peers and then insisting, if we want that to happen, we had to Do This and That and Never, Ever do That.

I don’t need to be embraced. Or accepted. By anyone, really. That’s not why I write.

So that’s what I did. I wrote. I finished Martuk … The Holy. Published it. Got consistently great reviews. Sold some copies. And I’m damn proud of that book. And then I wrote another, The Wounded King. Short Fiction. Inspired by Martuk. And then The Elder. More Short Fiction. Again, inspired by Martuk. More books in the pike. Red and Gold next, followed by Martuk … The Holy: Proseuche. And then more after that, all mapped out, titled, ready to go. None of them “following the rules.” Don’t know if they ever will.

Like a literary Mister Magoo, I am blissfully ignorant of the laws I’m breaking.

You see, what I’ve discovered is Readers don’t give two shits about The Rules. Of course, they expect Writers to know basic sentence structure and how to spell and how NOT to butcher the language. We gotta make it an easy read for them or they throw in the towel. A knowledge of grammar and spelling helps. And if we’re self-published, it’s always best if our work is formatted properly. These basic things help to keep those pages turning.

But the Rules? If it’s a great story told well, Readers don’t care. They just want to lose themselves in the pages. To have these strangers on the page catch them, pick them up, body slam them, and make them cry “Uncle!”

Frankly, that’s hard to do if you tie your hands with Rules.

So, are you a writer throwing the Rules out the window and just writing what you write, all those Don’t Do Thats be damned!, simply because it’s how the story must be told?

Or are you sitting there, fingers frozen above the keyboard, the humiliation at breaking The Rules stronger than your Story? Simmering with resentment and frustration as the fear of doing it wrong smothers you and kills your talent?

Think about it. Really. Take a moment and be honest with yourself. Which is it?

In other words, are you dead yet?

“get over it and write”

A quick glimpse at an interview I recently gave:

… write your words unapologetically. Don’t worry about people liking it or wanting to read it. I guarantee you someone out there will hate it and think it’s worthless drivel. But someone else will love it and it might even change someone’s life. You have no control over how it will be received, so get over it and write. A lot.

… and a very brief snippet from a new review for The Wounded King

The Wounded King: The Martuk Series is a story that will grasp readers from the start. Jonathan’s masterful combination of words to create potent images into the minds of his readers is exceedingly entrancing.


Crimson tears

from my book, The Wounded King:

He took a breath, the words coming, swollen and thick and carried on the stench of impending death.

“Beyond the Veil, they suffer, brother. The King, my mother, the Darkness around them, trapping them. It waits for me. It’s here –”

“No,” I interrupted. “I’m here with you.”

“No, no,” he insisted. “Here in the Temple, in the palace, outside in the city, in the night, in the sky, in the air, the wind, the sun. In the dark.”

“You’re safe,” I assured him, my hand once more on his, the square cloth still on his eyes blinding him. “I’m here and you’re safe.”

He released me, pushing me away. His hands reached to remove the cloth.

He opened his eyes.

They were unseeing globes of wounded white.

He spoke, crimson tears staining his scarred and bloody cheeks as he blinked.

“The Darkness, it’s here with us.”

Behind me, the Old Man bowed, the rustle of his garments distracting me.

“It’s here,” my brother, the King, repeated, the wounded globes now closed.

I turned.

Eyes rimmed red, sallow skin the color of sun-bleached sand, holes where healthy teeth had been only hours ago, each heavy step a great effort, she approached.



So, yes, I have Red and Gold (the third in The Martuk Series) to write. That’s next on the list and, quite honestly, I’m looking forward to it. Definitely has the potential to be a strong continuation of the story started in The Wounded King and The Elder (TBR — To Be Released — today). It also promises to be a very good read. It’s chapter mapped, so I know. (^D

(fyi, the above emoticon, to me, looks like a man wearing sunglasses and smiling. I think it’s cute.)

That being said, I can’t escape 5th Century Constantinople. The rise of Antioch. The slow sinking of that desperate, fumbling power-that-was Rome. My mind drawn again and again to cemeteries and magic and Bishops killing Bishops and Priests slaughtering Priests and Christianity quite literally breaking in two, a chasm that exists to this day. I woke up this morning with them, their arguments becoming screams before exploding into violence.

And my immortal Martuk, still stumbling through immortality as the world around him spins into violent chaos. (If you know anything about the Church Councils of the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about)

In other words, Martuk … The Holy: Proseuche (ancient Greek for “place of prayer” or “prayer house”), the full-length sequel to Martuk … The Holy is currently obsessing me. Ob-sess-ing me.

And that’s good. Really good.

But first, I want to pound out Red and Gold, keep the Series going, and then I’ll make the shift into Proseuche.

It promises to be a great ride.


anguished screams of the stolen innocent

Here you go, guys. The back cover book blurb for The Elder, coming this week:

In The Elder, the latest installment of The Martuk Series, Jonathan Winn, author of Martuk … The Holy, digs deeper into the world of ancient Uruk. A world of power and absolute rule. Of magic and superstition. Of Dark Gods and mysterious Ancients, magical Immortals and unseen Seers. Of powerful Priests cloaked in robes of red and gold and a Man from the Mountains who has yet to arrive.

From the innocence and depravity and blood-drenched chaos of The Wounded King, we now follow The Elder, a Priest desperate to rule, blinded by power, afraid to die. A man who climbs deep into caves beneath sun-scorched mountains and sacrifices anonymous flesh in a blood-stained Temple. A desperate soul driven by words whispered from the lips of a doomed Child and haunted by the warnings of an Immortal buried in ash. One who makes an impossible choice for the promise of Life Everlasting and, riddled by doubt, chooses again, this final act of violent desperation opening the way for an ancient curse from a Darkness older than Time.

From the whispered pleas to the Darkest of Gods to the anguished screams of the stolen innocent, this is … The Elder.


The Elder is the second book in The Martuk Series, an ongoing collection of Short Fiction inspired by the full-length novel Martuk … The Holy.

“these tender bones”

— excerpt from Martuk … The Holy

The King’s eyes snapped open.

“Do you see me?” came the whisper.

The boy stopped, carefully backing away.

“Do you see me?” the King asked again, louder.

The boy nodded his head.

“What is it you see? Do you see me?”

The boy remained silent. Afraid to move. Afraid to breathe.

“Do you see my glory? My perfection? My power? Do your eyes see a god?”

Sitting up, he reached out and grabbed the boy by the throat, dragging him close.

“Do your eyes see a god?” he asked, pressing his lips to the boy’s face, smearing the soft brown skin with streaks of red.

“You, you are flesh and bone,” he whispered, his nose buried in the smooth cheek, inhaling deeply. “Yes, just flesh and bone. Nothing special. Nothing sacred or glorious. There is no god living here. You are expendable and soon forgotten.

“Do you know this? Understand this? Do you see how small, how insignificant you are?”

His hand tightened on the slender, delicate span of neck, the child’s face blushing red as he struggled to breathe.

“Who will miss you when you’re gone? When your dead flesh has been torn, devoured by dogs? Your eyeballs pecked and plucked out by birds? Who will miss these tender bones when they’re nothing but little piles of dust? Who?”

The boy’s flushed cheeks were now wet with tears. A thin stream of drool fell from his swelling lips, then, sliding off his chin and staining the hand of the monster choking the life from him.

“I am a God,” he continued. “I can never die. I can never falter. Never stumble. Were I to fall, the sun would go out, the crops would wither. The world would end. Just end. And humanity, these subjects, these grateful, ignorant, stupid masses who bless my name, they would perish. They would die.

“But they do not see me, a God in agony, trapped in this prison of blood and bones. All they see is power. And were I to be set free from this, this place, this body, this pain, this mediocrity, I would be mourned. I would be missed.”

He pressed his bleeding flesh to the dying boy.

“No one will mourn you. You are human. Mortal. Useless. You don’t carry the burden of greatness. You do not sit in the Heavens. You can leave your skin and forget your bones. You can find eternal rest in the Fog.

“But me?” His voice rose. “I cannot!”

He struggled to stand, lifting the boy by the throat. The tiny feet kicking frantically as his eyes rolled back in his head, small brown hands clutching the King’s wrists in vain.

“You can die! You have freedom! You have peace! You are not trapped!” he shouted at the dying boy, his hands gripping the neck, blood rolling from the boy’s ears and mouth, rivers of red staining his cheeks.

“You are not trapped!”

I felt sick to my stomach watching this. But I couldn’t look away. And I couldn’t help but wonder Why aren’t they doing anything? Helping him? Stopping this?!

“I am God,” the King then whispered, his lips inches from the boy. “I can steal your soul. Eat you. Swallow you.”

And then he kissed him …