Born and raised in the Seattle area, TJ Martinell first got into writing at a young age, crafting short stories for the amusement of his classmates. He penned his first short novel in the first grade (though in reality it was mostly based off of children’s books he had memorized).
He attended Sammamish High School, graduating in 2006. It was there he began his foray into journalism with the student newspaper, eventually working his way up to the news editor position. At Eastern Washington University, he joined the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and within months of his freshmen year started dabbling with fiction as a hobby. Consuming the great works of Hemingway, Remarque, Twain, Pyle, Hugo and Tolstoy, his hobby slowly transformed into a passion. He entered the journalism program at the university and went on to write as a reporter, then as the news editor for the student university paper. There, he further honed his writing with weekly columns. By the time he graduated summa cum laude, he realized whatever his future held for him, writing would at the center of it.
He landed his first reporting gig at the Maple Valley Reporter in South King County. In the nearly two years there, he garnered two Washington Newspaper Publishers Association (WNPA) awards for writing and photography. At the same time, he continued to read voluminously while churning out at least one manuscript a year. Unconstrained by genre, his stories ranged from historical fiction and pulp noir to physiological thrillers and science fiction. At the University of Washington, he completed a certificate program in literary fiction to improve his craft, where he also saw the publication of his first short story, The Ties That Bind, as part of an anthology.
After a brief stint away from journalism, he went to work at the Kirkland Reporter. In 2014, he earned numerous awards from both the WNPA as well as the Society of Professional Journalists; the first award for a story in which he broke the news that a former professional athlete had been found inside a drug house following a police raid; the other award recognized his coverage of a controversial football hazing incident at a local high school. He currently reports for Lens, covering Washington state, regional and local issues.
Aside from writing, Martinell enjoys testing local micro-brews, weight lifting, history and exploring the Cascades.