Q&A: Marty Kelley

Marty Kelley
There are a lot of wonderful writers living in our state. As the Director of the NH Center for the Book  I get the opportunity to talk to many of them. This interview series of Q&As with New Hampshire authors here on Book Notes lets me share that experience a bit with my blog readers. 

If someone hasn't read your work yet, where should they start?
I guess it depends on who that person is. I've written books for a wide range of audiences. Older readers would probably enjoy the dark humor in Twelve Terrible Things or the nuttiness of my first chapter book, Fame, Fortune, and the Bran Muffins of Doom. Younger readers generally get a kick out of my early picture book, The Rules.

When did you first think of yourself as a writer?
I've always loved to write. I thought of myself primarily as an illustrator for the longest time, however. It wasn't until my third or fourth book was published that I actually started thinking of myself as a writer.

How did you end up living in NH?
I was born in Manchester and grew up mostly in Milford. I went away to Boston and Toronto and Orlando for college, but wound up living in New Boston, twenty minutes from where I was born. I love it here.

Where do you like to write?
It depends what I'm working on. Chapter books get done on a laptop. I like to sit in my living room and work when the weather is bad, but during nice weather, I sit outside on our back porch to write. Picture books get written in a sketchbook. I can work on those anywhere and I frequently take it out and write notes or ideas wherever I happen to be.

How important is place in your writing?
My agent tells me that I need to focus on setting and place more in my writing. I tend to enjoy writing dialog more and can neglect the setting, opting to let the reader fill it in for himself. None of the books I've done are tied inextricably to their setting, though it is certainly an important element.


What do you do when you aren't writing?
I love to hike in the White Mountains. I draw and paint. I visit anywhere from 50-75 schools each year to talk about creating books. I also play drums and perform music shows with my good friend Steve Blunt, a wonderful children's musician. I stay pretty busy.

What's the best piece of advice (writing or otherwise) you were ever given?
Fail early, fail often, and fail spectacularly, but learn from each failure.

What books do you love and what about them speaks to you?
I love funny books that are a bit dark. Roald Dahl is a favorite author of mine. The Witches and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are amazing books that work on many levels. They tell wonderful stories full of humor, but with an element of very real danger in them.
I'm also a huge fan of David Sedaris, Chuck Palahniuk, Terry Pratchett, and Christopher Moore; writers who can combine humor with strong storytelling and great characters.

What are you working on now?
I'm working on final edits for my next chapter book (as yet untitled) about two boys who think they have super powers and try to use them to rescue the neighbor's dog. I also just finished up the dummy for a very simple, fun picture book that was definitely born from the super hero theme in the chapter book. It's about a young boy who finds a cape and uses it in an extraordinary way.


What do you want to share that I neglected to ask about?
I think you covered it all!

You can learn more about Marty's work at www.martykelley.com

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