Amy Martin wrote and illustrated her first book at the age of ten and gave it to her fourth grade teacher, who hopefully lost it in her house somewhere and didn’t share it with anyone else. Not counting that early experiment in self-publishing, In Your Dreams is Amy Martin’s first Young Adult novel.
A native of St. Charles, MO, Amy currently lives in Lexington, KY with her husband and a ferocious attack tabby named Cleo. When not writing or reading, she can usually be found watching sports, drinking coffee, or indulging her crippling Twitter habit (and, sometimes, doing all three at once). You can follow her on Twitter at @ThatAmyMartin.
1. One of the main characters in your book, Kieran, suffers with narcolepsy. What made you want to write about someone with this condition and what kind of research did you do to make him realistic?
I’ve always been fascinated by sleeping, dreams, and how the brain functions in general, so having a character with narcolepsy who can dream parts of the future seemed like a good way to explore some of the themes I wanted to delve into in In Your Dreams. Kieran turns out to have something more complicated than just simple narcolepsy, but I didn’t want to take too many fictional liberties with what is a very real condition. For research, I read some pretty dense medical articles on the subject, along with reading books and personal testimonials from people with narcolepsy. Once I understood the common symptoms and behaviors, I felt comfortable enough to incorporate those qualities into Kieran’s character. My hope is that I’ve represented people with this disorder accurately and fairly.
2. Titusville – where you set In Your Dreams – sounds like text-book small-town living, American-style to a Brit like me – is this the world you grew up in? And what did you like most about the setting that made it fit with your story?
I actually grew up in suburban St. Louis, MO, but my parents grew up in a small town, and my husband’s family is from a small town. Years ago, I worked as an admissions counselor for a college in Illinois, and I would travel around to high schools speaking to students—I’ve probably visited every small town in northern and central Illinois, and Titusville is a mash-up of those places. What really stood out to me about those towns is how everything revolves around the high school, whether the citizens were high school students, adults, or little kids—the high school is really the center of the social universe in a way that it isn’t in larger towns or cities. The small-town setting fit with the story because Zip is a small-town girl who realizes that there’s life after high school, and she can’t wait to get started on it. And the Laniers, who have always lived in cities, move to Titusville because they think they’ll be safe living in the middle of nowhere, not realizing that in small towns, everyone’s business in everyone else’s business as well.
3. There’s a strong ‘jock’ edge to Zip’s character in your book – do you play basketball yourself, or have an interest in the sport you wanted to see developed in a character?
I always wanted to play basketball, but unfortunately, I’ve been cursed with a horrible lack of coordination. But I’ve been a basketball fan all my life and have a fairly good understanding of the game. Basketball, particularly at the point guard position (Zip’s position), involves being in control—running the offense, being able to see what’s happening on the entire floor rather than just a portion of it, and anticipating what the other team is going to do. I thought those themes of control and trying to anticipate what’s going to happen fit in with some of the larger themes in the book. And I wanted Zip to be a strong, goal-oriented female character, and having her be an athlete gave me a way to infuse that into her.
4. If you could have any superpower what would you choose? Flying, probably. I have a mild fear of heights and flying on airplanes, so I’d love to know I could just take off of and be up high and be safe.
5. Skittles or M&Ms? I love both, but I seem to reach for the Skittles most of the time
6. Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book. You should read In Your Dreams because it’s an original, twist-filled ride with a strong heroine and a great love story.
7. Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I conceived In Your Dreams as a three-book series, so I’m currently working on the second and third books (I’m hoping to have the second book out in early 2013). I’d love to do something in the future along the lines (tone and character-wise) of the Veronica Mars TV series, one of my all-time favorites.
8. What inspired you to want to become a writer?
I’m an only child, so I’ve always been used to spending time alone, making up stories to amuse myself. Around nine or ten years old, I started reading Judy Blume’s books and was blown away by the fact that there was an adult out there who seemed to understand everything I was going through as a kid. I wanted to one day be able to impact someone with my writing in the way that she impacted me.
9. Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Having readers tell me that they love the book and they love Zip and Kieran’s relationship is really gratifying. Writing and publishing is like giving birth and then sending your children out alone into the world, so I really worried how people would respond. Knowing that there are readers who “get” Zip and Kieran and love them is so rewarding.
10. What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
Probably Judy Blume’s Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. I read that book when I was just entering puberty myself, so all of Margaret’s concerns about maturing and becoming a woman were my concerns. I felt a little less alone and weird after reading that book.
11. What’s one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors? Read a wide variety of works and write often. I probably have several novels’ worth of writing on my computer that will never see the light of day, but I needed that practice in order to learn the craft.
12. When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
I saw an architect on Sesame Street, and so I wanted to be that for a while, until I discovered I was no good at math. Then I wanted to be the first female to pitch in the Major Leagues, because I was huge baseball fan. Once I grew out of that, I wanted to be a writer.
13. If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why?
I don’t know who would play me as a young woman, but Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls, Parenthood) could probably play me now. I’ve had several students in the past when Gilmore Girls was still on tell me “Oh, my God—you are sooo Lorelai Gilmore.” Maybe Alexis Bledel should play young me since she was Rory Gilmore. Somehow, I doubt I’m ever going to have to worry about this. J
14. Cats or Dog? I’ve never had a dog, so I’ll go with cats. My cat is my constant companion when I write.
15. Facebook or Twitter? Twitter.
16. Text or Talk? Text. When I talk, sometimes I get myself into trouble. 🙂 With text, I have to think about what I’m saying before I hit “send.”
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