Timothy Dean Martin, the author of Mental Hygiene, was born in Piqua, Ohio in 1945, and grew up with a family that moved between Ohio, Phoenix, and Los Angeles with some regularity. The middle son of three, he became something of a loner and created a happy universe of his own, populating it with characters and pretending to be them. He thrived on Hit Parade Magazine and the weekly Hit Parade TV show, Classics Illustrated Magazine, and visits to the local movie theater. His mother exhibited some alarm when he burst into tuneful imitations of Mario Lanza singing “Drink, Drink, Drink,” from The Student Prince.
In his junior year of high school in Covington, Ohio, Martin’s English teacher required the class to keep a daily journal. His writing career began. He’d found an outlet for the characters and stories that swirled in his mind. In junior college, he discovered poetry during a ripe literary and cultural time in Los Angeles — the mid-60s — and read every book of poems available at Santa Monica City College. He first became a published poet in 1963, at age 18, and has continued writing poetry since. In Winter 2010, he was published again in The Hummingbird Review, a major literary anthology.
Martin’s lack of funds prevented him from attending college regularly. Thus he, like so many others, was swept up in the draft at the Vietnam War’s height in 1966. He was eventually shipped to Fort Jackson, South Carolina, where he served as a Psychological Social Work Technician in the Mental Hygiene Clinic. This experience is fictionalized in Mental Hygiene.
After being discharged from the Army in 1968, Martin’s poetic talent gave him an entree into the music business as a lyricist. He wrote hits that made both the Pop and Country & Western national charts. Artists for whom he wrote included David Clayton-Thomas (Blood, Sweat & Tears), the DeFranco Family, Manfred Mann, Cilla Black, C.W. McCall, the Outlaws, Bobbie G. Rice, John Davidson, and many others. He parlayed his success in the music business into the world of advertising and won a CLIO award for Best Radio commercial in 1980.
Martin was also a highly successful marketing director for several international high tech firms, and co-owner of another firm. In 2008, the parallels of his experiences in military mental health during the Vietnam era and today’s troubling psychological and physical assaults on military personnel in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars compelled him to retire from business to write Mental Hygiene.
Mental Hygiene is the first in a trilogy, which will feature a recurring protagonist, Michael Murphy. Murphy’s journey of self-discovery parallels that of a country wrenched from its innocence by the Vietnam War, a country that encountered ceaseless waves of change in the ensuing decades.