With me today to promote both her upcoming release The Lighter Side of Life and Death as well as to celebrate her prior release One Lonely Degree hitting paperback tomorrow is CK Kelley Martin. Check out this awesome interview and see below for your chance to win both of these books!
AGA: What was the motivating factor behind having Mason fall for a 23 year old rather than a teenager?
CK: I never really consciously think about motivations for various events and characters when I’m writing, I feel like the story already exists and that I’m just transcribing it, but if I go back and try to analyze, I guess it’s because Mason’s had a thing for Kat for a long time and after what happens between them I don’t think he’d be easily distracted by another girl – it would take something out of the ordinary to blow his mind again. Having a romantic relationship with an older woman is totally outside his realm of his experience, not something he would’ve even considered a possibility previously and that makes it more of a thrill, something he can be carried away by.
AGA: What was the singular idea/scene that sparked this work and how did it's evolution differ from One Lonely Degree?
CK: I wrote I Know It’s Over, One Lonely Degree and The Lighter Side of Life and Death in that order and when I was thinking of beginning Lighter Side I felt emotionally worn out from just having completed two books that deal with serious problems – unwanted pregnancy and sexual assault. I didn’t want to write something that was going to put me through the wringer again. Because I’d just finished a book with a female main character I thought it would be fun to have another male MC and I started to imagine a sixteen-year-old guy who was having the best day of his life and what would be happening to him on that day…and the following days which aren’t as perfect. I was determined that the tone of The Lighter Side would be overall a happy one and that none of the characters would even cry (although I’m not saying that I stuck to that!). That’s the main way its evolution differed from One Lonely Degree.
AGA: Is the title one you came up with, or the product of many changes?
CK: It’s the original title but there was some question about whether it would pull through. Initially people I told loved it but my editor wasn’t keen and had a couple of other suggestions which I didn’t think fit. Then she went to a production meeting and was “greeted with mass horror” when she mentioned the possibility of changing the title because they all loved The Lighter Side of Life and Death. However, a month later I heard that sales & marketing didn’t like the title and wanted it changed. The cover also went through multiple changes during that time but I’m very happy to say that this current cover is the best of all of them and that ultimately the original title stuck.
AGA: If you were a character inserted into this book in Mason's life, before things started going wrong with his best friend, how do you think you would behave towards him and the events the summary of this book describes?
CK: I think if I were my current self as a character in the book I’d be parental and worried about him and there would be multiple lectures. Therefore he probably wouldn’t confide in me much and I wouldn’t know what was really going on with him. If I was a younger version of myself and a friend of Mason’s it would be a different story. In that case I think I’d be mostly sympathetic and intrigued by the drama, wanting to hear as many of the details from him as possible.
AGA: If you could pair Mason and Finn with any character from any book, what would be your pick for him?
CK: Do you mean pair romantically? I loved Michael Hayden in Courtney Summer’s Some Girls Are. He’s so independent minded and courageous and I think he and Finn would be perfect together. I can imagine Mason with Norah from Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist; she’s such a vibrant person. I think he could really get into that kind of energy.
AGA: If you could be transformed into any one person for a day, who would you want to step into?
CK: I used to watch this show called Zoo Diaries about the real life operations of the Toronto Zoo. The senior veterinarian there, Graham Crawshaw, got to work with such an amazing variety of animals and make a difference to their lives. I think that would be a fantastic day. Either that or, because I have deep problems with our current federal government (especially regarding their lack of respect for human rights issues and preserving our environment), I’d like to step into the Prime Minister’s shoes for a day and do away with the corruption, secrecy and regressive policies.
AGA: What is the most fearsome thing you've done to date?
CK: I would love to say I’d slain a Jabberwocky or something but that hasn’t happened yet! Probably the most fearless thing I’ve done is flying over to Ireland on my own having booked a few nights in a B & B but with no clue where I’d live or work after that. I’d been there before at that point but not on my own and I’m the type of person who gets really homesick when faced with the prospect of anything more than a month or so away from home. But I just didn’t feel like I was done with Ireland yet.
AGA: What is one of the most surprising things you've learned while writing both The Lighter Side of Light and Death and One Lonely Degree?
CK: Because I envisioned One Lonely Degree as a trilogy initially the ending now is different than the one I had at first. I had to figure out how to stay true to the characters and the story while incorporating my editor’s feedback about the ending and realizing that I might never have another opportunity to add on to Finn’s story. It took me a long time to get that final chapter where I wanted it. So I was surprised how far I could push the story and have it still feel right. Now I much prefer the current ending. With The Lighter Side of Life and Death I think the most important thing I learned was after the book was finished (and undergoing various title and cover considerations) and that’s how truly important it is to me that the book I wrote is presented outwardly in a way that’s consistent with its contents.
AGA: Did you find it difficult to write in a male's POV for The Lighter Side of Light and Death verse the female main character found in One Lonely degree?
CK: I didn’t find the male POV more difficult but Mason from The Lighter Side of Life and Death is more of an extrovert than I am and very happy go lucky so those things made writing him initially more of a challenge than writing Finn (1LD), who as a person is probably more like me than most of my other characters. But once I get a handle on a character their POV starts to feel like second nature so it’s more of an issue when starting the book and that issue disappears later on.
AGA: Is there anything else you'd like to say or add?
CK: Thank you, Kari, for having me over and for those challenging questions! I also want to mention that I had six YA books finished (a trilogy and three standalones) before I Know It’s Over was accepted for publication so if there are any other writers out there who have been butting their head against a wall for a long while and are wondering if they should keep going – don’t give up.
Thank you for the interview and the encouraging words at the end! Congrats on all three of your published titles!
Want your chance to win these great titles? Fill out this form! Grand prize is a signed copy of The Lighter Side of Life and Death (which will be sent out once CK gets them in) as well as a paperback copy of One Lonely Degree and two runner ups will each get a signed copy of One Lonely Degree. Contest open to US/Canada mailing addresses and will end Monday, May 17 at 7 CST.