Interview with C.K. Kelly Martin

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C.K. Kelly Martin is the author of 6 novels, including her newest novel, Yesterday. We are hosting Yesterday as our September Book of the Month. It was a great dystopia book that I think everyone should have the chance to read. C.K. Kelly Martin was kind enough to sit down and do an interview for YaReads. You can find out more information about C.K. Kelly Martin at her website and her blog.

Dairy Queen or Baskin Robbins?

So hard to choose! But I have really early memories of going to Dairy Queen with my family so I have go with DQ. And their burgers are good too, so you can stop in for dinner, not just a snack.

Batman or Superman? Again, very tough. I loved the recent Batman trilogy movies but the trailer for the upcoming Superman film looks so cool too. I like them both for different reasons – Batman because he doesn’t have any super powers but wants to fight the bad guys anyway and Superman because of his inherent goodness. If it comes down to it, though, I guess I have to pick Superman (please forgive me, Batman!) because there’s something comforting about the idea of a saviour from another planet caring so much about this one.

Favorite drink? Ahh, this one is easy: Coca-Cola. There’ve been so many photos snapped of me with a Coke in my hand over the years that I could fill up an entire album with them.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book, Yesterday?

I would describe it as a sci-fi thriller. It’s set mostly in 1985 and focuses on sixteen-year-old Freya who feels nothing about her recent life seems exactly authentic. At first she puts that down to grief over her father’s death but then she runs into a boy she’s never met but is sure she somehow knows. From there everything she thinks she knew about her life begins to unravel. Because I was sixteen in 1985 myself I relished the chance to revisit the music, TV and movies from that time. I love the 80s with a passion and had an enormous crush on Simon Le Bon back then and used to be able to do the Rubik’s Cube in under 2 minutes.  

Do you have a specific writing style?

I guess I probably do but it’s something I’m unaware of on a conscious level. All the writing stuff sort of goes on in a secret room in my head that my conscious self isn’t allowed to go into. One thing I do know is that no matter what I’m writing it tends to have a contemplative quality to it.

 How did you come up with the title for Yesterday?

I always need to have a title before I start writing a book so it was there from the beginning and just seemed a natural fit. I loved the idea of having Yesterday as a title for a book that is also set in the future.

 What is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing a book set both in the past and the future?

Dealing with two very different times but the same two main characters is complicated. I wanted the characters to seem like the same people across time. I hope they do!

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

Every book I’ve read and enjoyed – from Babar to Atonement – has been an influence but if I’m going to single out just one person it would have to be Judy Blume. I devoured her books as a young person. You always knew you were getting the truth from Judy Blume. Her writing is so fearless and down to earth.

 If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?

Not really. I’m pretty obsessive so I don’t let go of a novel until it’s everything I want it to be. That way, when other people have differing opinions on it (because they will!) I don’t have any personal regrets. 

 How do you cope with writer’s block?

If I get to a point where I’m really stuck I need to get away from the computer and do something else. Sometimes even just taking a walk can help. But I’ve noticed that exposing myself to other types of art – like theatre and movies – can inspire me in new ways. Also, seeking out other opinions. 

 What was the hardest thing to cut from your manuscript?

I usually end up having to trim the sexual scenes a bit but that wasn’t the case with this book. There isn’t anything too tough that I can think of with this particular manuscript but with One Lonely Degree I had to cut the original ending and write a whole new one. I think the new ending was a big improvement but at the time I agonized over it.

How do you react to a bad review of one of your books?

It depends on what the review says. Sometimes it stings for a bit and then I put it behind me. If I can tell that the book just isn’t the reviewer’s type of thing it bothers me less but the Kirkus review for My Beating Teenage Heart really got to me because they said one of the main character’s “moping reaches cartoonish levels.” And this character was actually suicidal because of the death of his young sister. I felt the reviewer was irresponsible in making it sound like real people don’t go through these sorts of things and it prompted me to write a response, talking about depression and suicide, on my blog.

 Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Everybody has their own path so try not to get hung up on what other writers’ paths looks like. Do your own thing in your own way and try to enjoy the journey too.

 Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I just read Amy Spalding’s upcoming 2013 release The Reese Malcolm List and I can’t wait to read more from her. I also loved J.H. Trumble’s debut, Don’t Let Me Go, and plan to read whatever she writes next.

What is currently in your To-Be-Read pile?

 I’m so behind on my reading right now but I have copies of YA books Something Like Normal (Trish Doller) and Fracture (Megan Miranda) that I’m dying to dive into.

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