I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Canadian blog tour for C.K. Kelly Martin’s latest novel, Yesterday! It comes out today, so be sure to pick up a copy after you read all about Ms. Martin’s introduction to YA fiction, her character development process and what she would tell her sixteen-year-old self:
Angel: How did you fall in love with YA fiction?
C.K. Kelly Martin: Actually, I initially fell for YA via a TV show rather than a book. Watching Party of Five and seeing how the Salingers had to cope with life without their parents after they were killed by a drunk driver drew me to the idea of writing about young people. That was when I started reading YA books again – before that I hadn’t dug into any teen books since I was a teenager myself. I’d basically always known I wanted to be a writer but hadn’t at all suspected my future was with YA. Once I wrote my first YA book I was totally hooked.
Angel: Your previous novels have had more of a contemporary vein than Yesterday. How did the idea for Yesterday come about, and would you write more speculative fiction in the future?
C.K. Kelly Martin: I would love to write more speculative fiction. In fact, I’m just about to start on something else that would qualify.
Years ago I wanted to write a book set in 1985, but without any sci-fi elements. Other ideas took over and I never wrote that specific novel but the feeling that I wanted to write about that year remained. After having finished several contemporary books in a row (including a “new adult” book I self-published this summer) I really wanted to do something different and I’ve always been a big fan of stuff like The Twilight Zone, Oryx and Crake (by Margaret Atwood), and The Chrysalids (by John Wydnham). My favourite TV show over the past couple of years has been Fringe and my all-time favourite movie is Children of Men. So while I can seldom specifically pinpoint exactly where an idea comes from I think my fondness for the genre combined with my nostalgic love for 1985 to give rise to Yesterday.
Angel: What were some of the challenges that you encountered while writing Yesterday? How involved did the research have to be for the story to succeed?
C.K. Kelly Martin: I did a crazy amount of reading on various experts’ theories about the future because I needed a solid vision of it in place before I got down to the rest of the story. I mean, I had pages and pages of notes on various aspects of the future – climate change predictions, nanotechnology, robots, full-immersion virtual reality. I think a lot of those changes will occur in my lifetime and that the speed of change will be such that humans will have a difficult time adapting to it.
But the characters are still the most important aspect of the story to me so the struggle was to keep them in the foreground and not have the plot details completely overwhelm them.
Angel: Can you walk us through how you develop your protagonists? Was Freya an easy or difficult character to conceptualize and write?
C.K. Kelly Martin: Developing characters is never a conscious thing for me. I always feel like I’m channeling the characters rather than creating them. Sort of like being a medium. I’ll start to hear a character’s voice in my head in moments of quiet – like when I’m trying to fall asleep or having a walk on my own. That’s how I figure out who the characters are, just by listening to them and making notes based on what they say.
Freya has more unusual things to go through than most of the other characters I’ve written about and one of the challenges was to make her seem like the same basic person but with two very different backdrops to her life.
Angel: What do you hope readers take away from Yesterday?
C.K. Kelly Martin: We’re always in the process of creating history and if we don’t involve ourselves and be activists of some sort decisions will be made without our input. I think we’re all going to have to fight for the future if we have any hope of limiting harmful climate change and halting fascist elements here and in the States that would like to send us back in time on issues like abortion, gay marriage and human rights. So I hope readers will stay informed, be intelligently critical about the information they’re receiving and then act on that knowledge by voting, protesting and lending their voices to causes they believe in.
Angel: What would you tell a sixteen-year-old C.K. Kelly Martin?
C.K. Kelly Martin: Truthfully, I’m still very much like sixteen-year-old me! But one of the things I remember specifically about being sixteen was feeling like I was stuck (in school and in the Brampton suburb where I grew up). I was the poster girl for the feeling Bruce Springsteen sings about Dancing in the Dark: “There’s something happening somewhere, baby I just know that there is.” And I so wanted to find that place where things were happening, but worried that I never would. Now I’d tell my younger self not to angst about that too much and enjoy the moment more (revel in the 80s – they won’t last forever) but also to be ready and don’t miss bold opportunities to make things happen.
Don’t forget to check out the other tour stops on Canadian blogs that I personally adore!