MARTY CHAN ON FINDING VOICE AS KIDLIT AUTHOR, WORKLIFE BALANCE FOR WRITERS, ZOMBIE NOVELS + OVERCOMING FEAR OF CHILDREN (MF GALAXY 115)


PRE-PUBLICATION TESTING KIDLIT BEFORE AUDIENCES, IMPROV’S SCENE-BUILDING CHEAT CODE, STAY-AT-HOME DAD WRITERS, SMALL-TOWN ALIENATION SCARS FOR LIFE

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Marty Chan is one of E-Town’s most successful writers ever. He’s best known for his popular children’s and young adult books including Keepers of the Vault, Infinity Coil, and the award-winning The Mystery of the Frozen Brains. But he’s also a screenwriter who worked on the TV series Jake and the Kid and received a Gemini nomination for his TV pilot The Orange Seed Myth.

Chan's best-known play is the semi-autobiographical Mom, Dad, I’m Living With a White Girl, about the culture clash of being a Chinese-Canadian finding work and love in the arts in Edmonton. The play’s been produced across Canada and in New York. Chan was the first playwright in residence at Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre, Canada’s biggest and busiest regional performing arts centre.

In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Marty Chan discusses:
  • The professional tension he felt defining himself as a playwright or as Kidlit author
  • The personal meaning and artistic results of his unpublished and innovative zombie novel
  • How and why not having children frees him to be a children’s author, and why a writer friend told him that being a stay-at-home dad was the worst decision he ever made, and
  • The profoundly alienating experience of growing up as the only Chinese Canadian boy in Morinville, Alberta and how it’s affected him for life

Along the way I refer to The Memory Eaters, his unpublished novel he wrote for Book Television 3 Day Novel Contest reality TV series, season 1, for which I was a judge.

The novel was a pre-Walking Dead zombie story that was uniquely from the zombie’s perspective and touchingly and profoundly addressed loneliness, isolation, social networks, and love. He also cites his opera The Forbidden Phoenix which incorporated the classic Chinese story of the Monkey King and Chinese Canadian experiences.

We spoke on June 23, 2008 at his home in Edmonton. This interview has never been aired before.

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