He was born in Spain of Canadian parents and raised in Costa Rica, France, Mexico, and Canada. As an adult, Martel has spent time in Iran, Turkey and India. After studying philosophy at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Martel spent 13 months in India visiting mosques, churches, temples and zoos, and spent two years reading religious texts and castaway stories. His first published fictional work, Seven Stories, appeared in 1993. Now he lives in Saskatchewan, Canada.