Tesla and Holmes: An Interview with Author Martin Hill Ortiz

Martin Hill Ortiz has written many novels that explore the thrilling side of history. Açedrex editor Jessica Knauss asked him about his process and his literary heroes.  A Predator’s Game debuted on March 30.


JK: What’s special or different about writing a prequel? Was the inspiration or process the same?

MHO: While putting together the publicity for the first book, A Predatory Mind, I assembled the research I had undertaken into the lives of Nikola Tesla and Henry H. Holmes and I realized just how fascinating they are. They had taken up maybe ten percent of the first novel and they were the best part. I decided to devote an entire novel to their interaction.

Instead of a prequel, I chose to take an event that was mentioned in passing in the first novel—that Holmes had gone to New York and stolen Tesla’s invention—and make that into a full story. The form is sometimes called a “throughquel,” but that’s an ugly word.

JK: Do you feel a special responsibility to get it accurate because you’re using real people as characters?

MHO: My answer might seem strange: with Tesla, yes; with Holmes, no.

Tesla was wonderfully contradictory: two parts saint, a man who set as his goal the betterment of the world; and one part intolerant who couldn’t deal with individuals. As Linus Van Pelt once said in an old Peanuts comic: “I love mankind, it’s people I can’t stand.” I wanted to be true to Tesla’s character.

Holmes, on the other hand, was an inveterate liar and exactly who he was is up for debate. It is possible he was a rank, measly sadist and I didn’t want to write him out that way—I didn’t want to spend time with that character. It is possible he was not terribly bright. Medical education was different in the nineteenth century. In 1869, when some at Harvard Medical School proposed to include a written final exam, the dean complained that “more than half of them [the students] can barely write.” I created a Holmes character for my novel who was more suave, more intelligent, and more self-disciplined than the murderer. I made him reflect Moriarty.


I have posted extensively on my blog about the lives of Tesla and Holmes.

JK: Do you write for yourself or for your readers?

MHO: I write for my readers. I want to tell a good story and I am happy enough when that is accomplished. I am the first of my readers, so I am demanding in satisfying myself.

JK: What is your least favorite word?

MHO: Unmicrowaveable.

JK: Do you have a favorite author?

MHO: I used to. I used to read up everything a particular author has written. Two of these were James Thurber and Milan Kundera. Now I find myself author jumping, trying to sample a hundred and one authors to see more of what’s out there. I spent a considerable time last year reading selections from the list of the all-time best mysteries. It was a topic of my blog and I managed to scratch off my reading list another forty of the hundred best.

This year I have told myself I will read up on the works by female fiction authors and more contemporary novels. So I’ve been reading Laurie R. King, Sarah Waters, and Marisha Pessl, along with some others.

JK: What are you currently working on?

MHO: I have the sequel to Never Kill A Friend almost finished. Then I’ll crank a short story or two I’ve been waiting to write. After that I’ve been plotting a Y/A magical realism novel in the back of my mind.

JK: We’ll all look forward to those!


A Predator’s Game is available in ebook and softcover in the following venues:

Kindle | NookKobo

Indiebound SoftcoverSoftcover | Amazon Softcover

Bestsellers 2015 and What’s to Come in 2016

It hasn’t been a great money year for Açedrex Publishing. But Açedrex was founded for the love of books, so in 2016 we’ll persevere and get even more great reading material out to you readers of the world.

As usual, our best selling book of 2015 has been


These journals are fascinating reading, whatever your opinion of Columbus. You should read his story in his own words in order to make better arguments for enshrining his achievements, vilifying him, or forgetting about him all together.

Other great things that happened at Açedrex this year:

New releases

Our first nonfiction from Rook’s Page, Skinny Zen, is revolutionizing the diet scene. Unpredictable Worlds was published and recognized with a five-star review from Reader’s Favorite. Tree/House is out in a new edition and is our first foray into audiobook!

Something else great coming in 2016:

New release early 2016

A Predator’s Game by Martin Hill Ortiz from Rook’s Page Publishing.


You’ve heard of Tesla, Arthur Conan Doyle, and maybe even H. H. Holmes. You haven’t seen them like this. This is the thrilling sequel to Ortiz’s fantasy thriller A Predatory Mind, coming to you in early 2016.

Açedrex and Rook’s Page will keep on bringing you books we love and that we hope you love, too. Happy New Year!

New Amazing Book Available for Bargain Preorder

Unpredictable WorldsAçedrex is proud to present a new book of short stories!

A teacher controls her students with an edible microchip. A reporter turns into a rhinoceros. A couple’s efforts to eat local go frighteningly awry. If you’re looking to be surprised, puzzled, or just plain entertained, pick up this omnibus. There’s something for everyone!

More than twenty years in the making, Unpredictable Worlds contains all of Jessica Knauss’s published and prize-winning short fiction as of March 2015 and a few of her best stories never before seen in print or ebook. Zany plots and outrageous characters will stretch your belief and tug at your heart.

WARNING: These stories contain exaggeration, elision, and disregard for “the real world.” Some even exhibit a tone of blatant optimism. However, they respect human speech patterns, admire good grammar, and hold proper punctuation in the highest regard.

Unpredictable Worlds will release for Kindle on May 15, but you can preorder it now at the special reduced price of only 99 cents. Save 66% off the post-release price and get this unique book delivered to your device on release day so you can start enjoying it before anyone else!

New Accolade for The Abencerraje

Top 20The Abencerraje: A New Translation has been a hit since it was first published a year ago. Within a month of release, it attained Top 20 status on the Amazon Literary Fiction list. More importantly, it also received high praise in unsolicited reviews from sensitive wordsmiths who love history.

Now, the greatest compliment imaginable: the dual language soft cover version has been adopted as a textbook for a course this autumn at Sarah Lawrence College.

The footnotes in the English version were created with university students in mind, so I’m thrilled to have a chance to see whether they work for this audience. I’m open to any suggestions professors or instructors have after using the book in a classroom setting. I’d love to make this translation a useful and attractive book that garners even more readers for this enchanting tale.

Thank you very much to Prof. Esther Fernández and the bookstore at Sarah Lawrence.

Other Spanish departments, take note!

Cover Reveal: Tree/House by Jessica Knauss

Tree/House was our bestselling title of 2011. The Spanish edition is imminent… To celebrate, we’ve commissioned a new cover that better reflects the book’s emotional impact. We hope you like it!

Tree House NEW

To even further celebrate, Tree/House, complete with new cover, will be on sale for only 99 cents on Kindle and Nook (technical issues prevent a Kobo sale at this time, but watch for later!) now through May 13 only! This book has SEVEN positive reviews on Amazon US! Get it for your favorite reader, get it for your mother, get it for yourself, cheap as can be, while you can!

Kindle | Kindle UK | Kindle España | Kindle Canada | Kindle Deuschland | Kindle France | Kindle Italia | Kindle Japan | Kindle Brasil


More Bestselling Medieval Work for Your Scholarly Appetite

We recently noticed that Law and Order in Medieval Spain is a huge bestseller on Kobo, reaching as high as number 1 in two categories and number 3 in a third. This came as a surprise, a very agreeable surprise!  Our new volume is conceived as a companion piece to Law and Order, and, in the same vein, is illustrated with cantigas and supporting artwork. It’s a survey, meant to stimulate interest in the fascinating social scene of thirteenth-century Spain.

In order to describe the miracles of the Virgin Mary, Alfonso X el Sabio’s Cantigas de Santa Maria show life at its worst, and this often includes violence, which may disconcert a modern audience even more than its original medieval one. This essay examines the lyrics and the miniatures of these songs in order to show how they illustrate the balance of power in thirteenth-century Spain. The role of Mary herself illustrates the role of gender and the divine in giving social meaning to acts of physical violence. Illustrated with twelve color plates.

Available now: Kindle | Kindle UK | Kindle España | Nook | Kobo

Update 10/10/12: Deu-lles o que merecian is a Kobo bestseller! Top 7 in all three categories, number 2 in one and number one in the other! Thanks for your support of this title dear to my heart.


The Abencerrraje, finally for epub readers

We’re terribly sorry to have kept you waiting! You’ll be relieved to know that The Abencerraje: A New Translation, which has had such phenomenal success as a Kindle book, is now available for your epub reading pleasure from both your friendly Barnes and Noble and the fine people at Kobo. Endorsed by three arbiters of good taste, this affordable ebook (or paperback) is sure to entertain and maybe edify, too.

To refresh your memory, we present the blurb:

A heartwarming tale of love and friendship in a time when no one could imagine anything but war.

This is a classic story of the exotic landscape of medieval Spain, written about 1551, in a new, easy to read English translation.

Abindarráez is so in love with beautiful Jarifa that when he is taken prisoner by Rodrigo de Narváez, he asks to be freed for only two days so that he can marry her. What happens next shows that love and friendship are stronger than war, even during the final stages of the the Reconquest of Spain.

The translation tries to transmit all the meaning and charm of the original while untangling its complex syntax. Don’t miss the opportunity to read this enchanting book in English!

This edition includes:
• A never-before-published translation of El Abencerraje
• Useful explanatory notes
• A short, original introductory essay

And remember, in the paperback you get both the original Spanish and the new English translation, complete with useful explanatory notes. Thank you for your patience!

Kindle | Kindle España | Nook | Kobo | paperback