Interview: Aidan Martin, Author of Euphoric Recall

Interview by Lara Lillibridge

Book Cover: Euphoric RecallAbout the Book: Euphoric Recall is a raw, honest tale about addiction, recovery, and growing up on the rough streets of Livingston.

In Aidan’s own words: “As a schoolboy already caught up in addiction, I stood outside of a McDonalds waiting for a man I thought was my friend. A friend I met online. It would change my life forever. I was a streetwise kid growing up in a tough housing scheme. But the Internet was a new phenomenon. “Euphoric Recall” details my recovery from extreme trauma and addiction. As a Scottish working-class lad who grew up in a new town—Livingston—I also survived brutal experiences with suicide, violence, and severe mental health issues. One day, I decided to write a memoir about it all. I hold nothing back.”

 

About the Author: Aidan Martin is a fiancé to his beautiful partner and a proud father of two beautiful children. He works as a mental health and addictions worker in Scotland as well as studying social work at the master’s degree level. In 2017 he gained an honours degree in social sciences: with criminology and sociology. As a grateful recovering addict, Aidan is heavily involved in the recovery scene. Aidan was born and raised in a housing scheme in Ladywell, within the town of Livingston.

Aidan’s childhood friend, Mark Deans created the cover image for Euphoric Recall. Mark is an artist and musician based in Livingston. (Guts Publishing website)


Lara Lillibridge: Sharing personal stories is an essential part of many people’s recovery processes. Why did you feel it was important to write down your story and share it with the world, in addition to speaking at meetings? Was the written form important to you?

Aidan Martin: I always knew my story was far more than an addiction-to-recovery tale. However, it most definitely was a cathartic experience, as cliché as that sounds. There are so many people suffering with mental health problems, suicide, addiction, all sorts. Many of them don’t know where to go for help. So I also believed this book could reach anyone, suffering any challenge or trauma. There may even be someone out there who doesn’t realize they have a problem with addiction and perhaps they will identify with my story and seek out help.

LL: How long have you been clean?  And by the way, it’s okay if you don’t want to answer this! I don’t know if it goes against the “one day at a time” mentality, and it might not be something you share publicly.

AM: Currently I am two years and three months clean. And I don’t mind answering this at all so please don’t worry.

LL: Thank you! Next, can you tell us about your publishing journey? How did you wind up at Guts Publishing?

AM: As an unknown author I always knew it was going to be a massive challenge to get published or to even get noticed! That being said I had complete faith in the book. I wouldn’t compromise on my belief that it had to be the right match. A partnership. As soon as I saw Guts Publishing, I just knew in my gut (excuse the pun) that they were the one for me.

They wanted ‘ballsy books about life’ and I told them from the beginning how ballsy my memoir was. But it was more than that—my editor, Julianne Ingles, was honest and thoughtful from the very beginning. The discussions felt personal and real. She told me what she expected from me and I told her my vision. It felt like a match. I was elated when I signed my contract with them.

LL: Many of our readers are writers themselves and are curious about writers’ publishing journeys. How long did it take you to find a publisher? Were they the first place you queried?

AM: It took about a year of researching and pitching. But I was a completely unknown author. I queried many places but I found my home with Guts and I would put that down to another thing I consider as being ‘meant to be.’

If any of your readers who write want advice it would be to believe in yourself and your idea. I almost didn’t pursue this because of self-doubt. Ignore the negative head, pitch hard, don’t take the rejections personally, and persevere!

My dreams came true because I kept going (and because my mum believed in me and wouldn’t let me give up).

LL: I’d like to ask you about writing through fear or discomfort. At one point, in writing about Derek, you wrote,

“The truth is I never wanted to admit that in this book.”

 And yet, you did. Can you speak about being rigorously honest even when it terrifies us as writers?

AM: When this book was nothing more than a thought in my head I promised myself it was all or nothing. No half-truths. No holding back. No exaggerations to add spice. Just the truth, which to me was shocking anyway.

I also want to reach others who may have gone through trauma and it would be a disservice to readers if I held anything back. The freedom I feel now stems from that decision to just go for it. I am so glad that I did.

So to answer your question, I think that first and foremost as a writer you need to be honest with yourself before you expect to put your truth out there for others to perceive.

LL: You also wrote,

“Typing these words now, as my children run around playing, is the first time I have ever put these experiences into words. The truth is it ruptures my soul to revisit what my little brother had to go through.”

How did you take care of yourself emotionally while revisiting such hard material?

AM: Luckily, I am surrounded by very good people in my life. I am committed to recovery and heavily involved in the recovery scene. The structures and foundations for staying healthy-minded are strong. Also going back to something I said before, I knew it would be a disservice to both myself and the reader if I didn’t fully commit and revisit everything.

Sometimes the brutal memories I revisited involved people I loved dearly and I wanted to do them justice by telling their story as it really was. Now that I can see the finished article, I look back with pride at having tackled it all. I believe in my heart anyone reading is going to experience the emotions as I intended them to. That’s my legacy to the loved ones I discuss.

LL: Do you have advice for other writers struggling with writing hard stories? 

AM: My advice would be to make sure you have good support in your life. Good people around you who will be honest if they think that revisiting certain things is potentially self-harming for you. For me writing about it helped. But depending on the person it could potentially be a trigger. So take advice from good people around you. But most of all trust in your own gut. That’s what I did. I knew I was ready. And not in a self-deluding way. I just knew it was time.

Aidan Martin stands in front of a brick wall.

LL: In another section you wrote, “There is nothing wrong with a fun fetish between consenting adults.” One thing I think you do very nicely is to draw a line between healthy sexuality that some people might find atypical, and unhealthy sexuality that causes harm to participants. You also wrote about sex addiction versus degradation addiction, which is a very nuanced and important conversation. Do you have any ideas about educating people about the difference?

AM: I think it all comes down to motive. There is a huge difference between having fun with other consenting adults and putting yourself in a dangerous situation. We need to have more conversations about fetish and sex. Fetish can be massively rewarding between consenting adults. So long as no one is being harmed adults should be allowed to do what they wish with one another. When I am in a healthy place I can better make decisions about how I want to express myself sexually. However, when I was very unwell I found myself seeking out pain and abuse. That is a different world altogether because there are people out there who can exploit that.

LL:  I’ve heard writers say that one of the problems with memoir is that readers often act as if they are entitled to every detail of your life and ask all sorts of questions about topics not covered in the book—and I hope my last question didn’t fall into that category.  Have you been able to establish comfortable boundaries in any live events you’ve had?

AM: First, your questions have been completely fine! Second, I am very open and in a place in my life where I am mentally well enough and confident enough to shut down a conversation if I feel someone is crossing the line. That rarely happens though because I am happy to discuss pretty much anything. If a situation occurs where someone goes too far, I will let them know in a polite way. If they ignorantly kept on, I would be blunt, ha!

LL: You write with a friendly tone towards those who might be skeptical of recovery meetings:

“Each meeting would end with us all holding hands in a circle (still not a cult, I promise)…”

Many of us write with a certain reader in mind. Were you writing for the reluctant addict? Society as a whole?

AM: The recovery scene isn’t for everyone and I respect that. So, I think I was keeping in mind that a non-addict reading this may have felt that the recovery scene was a bit airy-fairy or like a religion when the reality is nothing of the sort. I am not an airy-fairy kind of guy either.

I wanted to strike a balance between celebrating and explaining the recovery path that saved my life without alienating anyone who doesn’t know or who doesn’t follow a similar type of recovery scene. And again, this book is more than just an addiction story so I imagine there will be many people reading for reasons other than addiction.

LL: For Americans unfamiliar with Scottish slang, what exactly does airy-fairy mean?

AM: Airy-fairy means even though I believe in a Higher Power I’m not suffering from delusions of grandeur or anything. I’ve not got my head in the clouds or suffer from being a fantasist about it. I hope that makes sense. I just believe something greater is at work, guiding and protecting me.

LL: Thanks for the clarification! There were several points in the book that teared me up. One of which was—I’m going to try to say this without spoilers—when your sponsor John walked into the hospital. I guess I was crying out of relief that this time, things might go better for you. Can you talk about the importance of male support in recovery?

AM: Male support is paramount for me. I grew up in a culture where males were encouraged to tear each other apart and compete to violent extremes. As much as I love the lads I grew up with most of us took drugs together as well. So to have healthy relationships with other males in recovery has been extremely important for me.

Recovery, for me, goes further than mutual aid meetings. I have made great male friends in education as an adult too. My friend Darren (from Uni) proofread this whole book when I was writing it. He read it before anyone else. Without him, there would be no book.

Author Aidan Martin and Illustrator Mark Deans stand side-by-side

Author Aidan Martin (left) and Illustrator Mark Deans (right)

And one of my best friends, Mark Deans, is my illustrator for Euphoric Recall. I must point out that he is so much more than my illustrator. He has had my back during a time where I am exposing my life to everyone. We grew up together so having a male friend like Mark to hold me up when I feel weak has been so important. I will never write another book without him involved in it.

I should also shout out my big brother Shayne and my big cousin Neil. Readers will know how important they are to my life when they read the book. But both have had my back during this journey. I will always need my big brother and big cousin. So to sum up, yes healthy male relationships are very important to me, ha!

LL: lastly, you wrote that you’re working on your next book—a novel this time. Tell us about it!

AM: Yes! I am already four chapters into a Scottish mystery novel set in the early 2000’s. It is based around the dying trance scene. It looks at a very specific time for lads in Scotland who had nothing else to live for but drugs and music. It is based in West Lothian (the county I grew up in) and is character driven. I realized there is no need to create characters out of thin air when I grew up with so many vibrant, edgy people.

The book is called “Where the Fuck is Phil?” aka WTFIP. Phil—the titular character— is based on my cousin Neil who was a trance DJ once. All the characters are based on people I grew up with. That includes my brother Shayne and my illustrator/friend Mark who inspired the character Catface. Shit goes down at a trance gig right from the off. From the first paragraph to the last the reader is going to feel like they are tripping on ecstasy, but they will be taken through every emotion on the way. As a Scottish author I am heavily inspired by Irvine Welsh and “Trainspotting” but in no way does it interest me to try and re-tell stories that the master (Welsh) has covered. You won’t read stories like mine anywhere else and WTFIP will blow your tits off.

LL: Well, that certainly sounds interesting. Let me ask one last question: some people post on social media about how staying locked at home allowed them to write triple the amount they did before the pandemic. Others report that they can barely string two words together. How has the pandemic affected your writing?

AM: The pandemic (as horrible and nasty as it is) has afforded me the chance to focus heavily on writing. WTFIP is probably much more advanced than it would have been otherwise. I think I will be ready to pitch it by the end of 2020 and coming off the back of Euphoric Recall I believe people will want to read it.

LL: Thank you for your time!

Euphoric Recall released October 1, 2020 with Guts Publishing. Find Aidan Martin online on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram or his website.

You can follow his illustrator, Mark Deans, on Instagram, Facebook, or his website.


Headshot of Author Lara Lillibridge

Lara Lillibridge

Interviews Editor

Lara Lillibridge is the author of Mama, Mama, Only Mama (Skyhorse, 2019), Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home (Skyhorse, 2018) and co-editor of the anthology, Feminine Rising: Voices of Power and Invisibility (Cynren Press, 2019). In 2019 she judged creative nonfiction for AWP’s Intro Journal Project and currently serves as a mentor for their Writer to Writer program. She also writes for children under the name L.B. Lillibridge.

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