Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Interview with C.K. Kelly Martin

This is C.K. Kelly Martin

and these are her books.

The Basics

1. When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I started writing and drawing picture books for myself when I was seven so I guess you could say I knew on some level then. Definitely by my late teens/early twenties I’d realized it was what I wanted to do for a living but I also knew it would take me awhile to get around to. I felt like there were other things I wanted to do first, even though I wasn’t sure what those other things were. After I’d graduated from university and spent several years in Ireland I finally felt ready to dedicate the time and energy required to writing.

2. What’s the best part of being an author?
I think the time you actually spend writing the book in the first place – getting lost in the characters’ world. It’s sort of like being an actor – you get to exist in someone else’s skin for awhile. How many people can say that?

3. What’s the hardest part of being an author?
All the rejection that occurs at various levels of your career. As a writer (or a musician, actor, artist etc.) you’re constantly setting yourself up to be judged. This piece of work you’ve spent so much time on – there are people who are bound to dislike it and that can be difficult to deal with.

4. What’s the most surprising part of being an author?
For me the most surprising thing is the very same thing that you always hope for as an author – that there are readers out there who genuinely care about your characters and their situations and feel a real connection with them. It’s so amazing to hear from readers that a book really meant something to them.

5. *anything else you want to say about being and/or becoming an author*
I saw this movie once where some guy was calling himself a “failed writer” because he’d had fifteen rejections. This was long before I was published and I just had to laugh to myself and think man, I could’ve been a failed writer ages ago! The quality you need most as a writer is persistence – to continually try to improve your work and keep on sending it out to agents and editors.

About the Books

1. What inspired you to write I Know It’s Over?
I’d just finished a trilogy with a female main character and I really wanted to clear that character’s voice from my head by writing about someone very different. The Third Eye Blind song Ten Days Late inspired me to write a short story about pregnancy from the guy’s point of view. When I couldn’t find a market to sell that short story (which was called Happy Families) to I decided to keep going with the story and it became I Know It’s Over. Chapter One of I Know It’s Over is basically the story Happy Families. They both end the exact same way, with Nick and his dad inside the Burger King restroom on Christmas Eve and Nick telling him that Sasha is pregnant.

2. Did you have to do a lot of research for this book?
I’m constantly reading nonfiction materials on teenagers but for this book I also read books, articles etc. on teen pregnancy and hockey. My brother used to be the assistant couch for a team of fifteen year olds and he read through all the hockey related stuff in the book to make sure it was realistic, which was invaluable. From the time I wrote I Know It’s Over to its publication the rules about Plan B (the emergency contraception morning after pill) in Canada (where the book is set) changed so I also had to look through information about that. In theory, current regulations allow for Plan B to be on the shelf with Tylenol or condoms but unfortunately, pharmacists still keep it behind the counter. So the more liberal rules are deceptive – people still have to talk to a pharmacist to get access to Plan B.

3. What is your all time favorite part of I Know It’s Over?
My favourite part is the saddest scene (don’t want to give any of the story away by revealing what that is here but you’ll probably know when you read it) because it’s so raw and private, one of those moments between two people that you don’t normally witness.

4. What was the hardest part to write?
That same scene. It’s not so much that it was difficult to imagine but more that it was so emotionally draining. I felt really worn out after this book.

5. How long did it take you to write and publish this book?
The original draft took about six months, which is how long a book usually takes me if there aren’t any interruptions. That was back in 2003 but my then agent really didn’t like the book and suggested changes that I didn’t agree with. So we parted ways and I continued writing other YA books while searching for a new agent. Altogether it took five and a half years from the book’s completion until it was published.

6.What is your latest project that you’re working on?
Right now I’m working on revisions for my third book, The Lighter Side of Life and Death. The main character’s a sixteen-year-old guy again but the subject matter is a lot less serious. The book’s mostly about his love life. Mason’s had a crush on his best girl friend for years and they fall into bed together one night after a party, which he thinks is one of the best things to ever happen to him. Meanwhile, she thinks it’s a huge mistake and doesn’t even feel comfortable talking to him anymore. Shortly after that he gets secretly involved with a twenty-three year old woman, a friend of the family.

7. What was different about the process in writing and publishing your second book compared to the first?
I already had several books, including the second to be published, finished when I Know It’s Over was picked up by Random House so the process for writing One Lonely Degree (due out on May 26th) was very similar. Because my editor and I had already worked together I had a better idea what to expect of the revision process too. I think there may be a little more anticipation about One Lonely Degree since I already have a book out, which is nice.

8. *anything else you want to say about any of your books*
The paperback version of I Know It’s Over will be out at the end of April with a brand new cover. It’s very different from the original and at first I was kind of disappointed that we couldn’t keep the original cover (which I love) but now I’m excited about the change because it makes I Know It’s Over look like a whole new book. I’m also really excited about One Lonely Degree because it’s such a summer book and after this seemingly endless and crappy winter (this is from the point of view of someone who has been sick for the past five weeks!) I can’t wait for some half-decent weather! We still get some bright days in Toronto during the winter but most of them are pretty cold.

Extra Stuff
5, 4, 3, 2, 1…..

5 of your favorite books
- Emma Who Saved My Life (Wilton Barnhardt)
- Deaf Elephants (William Benton)
- Atonement (Ian McEwan)
- A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters (Julian Barnes)
- The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)

4 things you can’t live without
- a steady supply of new books to read!
- sunshine (something I didn’t realize until I’d spent a few years living in Ireland)
- white bread (I can’t eat the whole/multigrain stuff that’s popular now)
- a major body of water nearby (in Dublin it was the Irish Sea and here it’s Lake Ontario). I think it would just feel wrong not to be able to hang out near the water when the weather’s fine.

3 things readers probably don’t know about you
- I’m freaked out by sharks so can never watch the Jaws movies. I saw a documentary on the making of the third one years ago and even that gave me a bad dream.
- Dublin and Toronto feel so close together in my head that sometimes it’s surprising to me that I can’t jump on a streetcar in Toronto and end up near Grafton Street in Dublin.
- I’m allergic to practically everything – when I was a kid I sometimes had to stay inside for days at a time during Ragweed season because I’d break out in enormous hives all over.

2 of your favorite YA authors
- E.R. Frank and Joyce Carol Oates

1 other career you probably would have chose if you weren’t an author
- Probably film critic – my degree is actually in Film Studies and I still love movies. My first web page, when I was living in Ireland, was mostly a film review site, something I did just for fun. I also used to do some reviewing for my university newspaper.

I would like to thank Ms.Martin for doing this interview with me and for being so generous and kind. She truly is an amazing author. I am looking forward to reading her new books and you should be too. Thank you.


prophecygirl said...

Brilliant interview! I love C.K. - she rocks!

Thao said...

I love C.K thanks for the interview

*sends her some sunshine*

Katie said...

Great interview!