The Write Space: Michael Gerhard Martin

The Write Space is a monthly Q&A series from Creative Salem covering a local writer and a Salem space(s) he associates with writing. Questions? Contact

Give us your best writerly bio.

Michael Gerhard Martin is a native of central Pennsylvania, though he has lived on the North Shore for 13 years. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Pittsburgh, and teaches writing at Babson College. His short story about bullying and school violence, Shit Weasel Is Late For Class, won the James Knudsen prize. His book, Easiest If I Had A Gun, was a finalist for the Lascaux Prize and the Iowa and John Simmons short fiction awards. His work has appeared in Bayou and The Ocean State Review, and on, Reading Out Loud, and The Museum of Americana Lit Review. His story Smokes is forthcoming in Big Muddy, and he is hard at work on his second book. He is married to the poet and memoirist Ellen Goldstein. Easiest If I Had A Gun is published by Braddock Avenue Books.

Tell us about your Salem Write Space.

My Salem Write Space is Gulu-Gulu, though I sometimes take up a booth at Flying Saucer Pizza if it’s too busy. I’ve written about Gulu-Gulu before, for Bayou Magazine — the babble of dozens of conversations, the punks and hippies and geeks and hipsters, the art on the walls, and the fertile eavesdropping that I find essential to my writing process. At home, I get wrapped up in myself, and my own world.

Writing fiction is a voyeuristic enterprise, and there is something about being out in a public place, where the staff leaves me alone unless I want something, where I feel welcome and known and anonymous at the same time — it flips the switch on the part of me that wants to steal from reality to create grotesque people involved in absurd conflicts, clawing for meaning in an indifferent world. They also make really good waffles.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m revising my novel in progress. It’s based on a story from my first book, and it’s about young lovers, kids graduating from high school in what one reviewer called “Trump country” — the post-industrial landscape of urban Appalachia. It’s about surplus people — kids trying to find purpose in a landscape long deserted by opportunity, finding sex and drugs and liquor instead. It’s about unemployment, parents, broken alcoholics, depression, and the desperate love of desperate people.

When I’m in Salem, not writing, I’m …

… usually at the cinema or the farmer’s market, or eating at the Ugly Mug.

Excerpt from Michael’s Made Just for Ewe!

Elsa waited at the door with a rolling cart of stock that smelled of Spanish moss and dried eucalyptus, reading a self-help book for small business owners. A Mexican girl in a security uniform, her sleek curls pulled close at the nape of her neck, paced slowly in front of the steel doors, looking bored. The book suggested Elsa think of a word that defined the mission of her business, a single word for what she was trying to bring to the world, one word that she could repeat to herself for inspiration.

She thought, “Failure.” She had lost six thousand dollars on a rained-out craft show the week before, and their home equity line of credit was maxed. She was operating at a loss. And on blind faith; faith that the doors would open, faith that the people would come, faith that she would be able to retire someday. Faith that she would keep her home. Faith that she would die before she ran out of money.

Read the rest of Made Just for Ewe! at The Museum of Americana.

Learn more about Michael at