June 01, 2018
Nick Martell '16 has achieved at 23 what most aspiring authors dream of—a multi-book publishing deal with foreign rights for his forthcoming epic fantasy series The Kingdom of Liars.
The series is set in a city where a disgraced noble's son must risk his own memories and deceive all around him to determine whether his father truly murdered the child prince. Although he can use magic to accomplish his goal, it comes at a price: it steals his memories.
Ironically, Martell said he doesn't remember how he came up with the premise.
"I wanted something different than the normal stakes, which is usually dying," Martell said. "So the question became what other things can I do to introduce conflict?"
Martell, a native of Huntington, N.Y., has been drawn to fantasy since he wrote his first book as a fifth-grader—a self-described "horrible" Harry Potter knock-off that still taught him something.
"After that I wrote another one, and another one and another one until I wrote the one that got me the deal," he said.
The former creative writing major said he came to Susquehanna because he wanted the whole college experience—academics, athletics and campus life. He joined Tau Kappa Epsilon and became a resident assistant. He also went out for the swim team. It was a lark, he said. He'd never even been on a swim team prior to college. Coach Jerry Foley let him on the team and Martell still considers him a mentor.
Martell's book deal has given him the ability to write full-time, which he said is a dream come true. His advice to young writers? Find the time to write.
"Even if you have a full-time job," he advised. "I was writing at points where I'd come home at 8 p.m., eat and write until midnight and then get up early to go to work. And when I was commuting on the train, I'd be reading. You have to make the time."
The first installation of The Kingdom of Liars is due out in Fall 2019 from U.S. publisher Saga Press, an imprint of Simon and Schuster. It will later be published in the U.K. by Gollancz, Germany by Blanvalet and in audio format by Recorded Books.