Interview with Jessica Marting

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a working class neighborhood in Peterborough, a small city a couple of hours north of Toronto, but due to my mother's career in the late '90s-early '00s (church pastor) we bounced around Ontario for a couple of years. Peterborough felt very insular--taking a trip to Toronto was a huge deal, and the big city felt like a whole other planet. The difference is still stark after living in Toronto for the last fourteen years. I grew up knowing my neighbours by name, wandering around the nearby marina by myself, and riding my bike without a helmet. Totally different time and place.

I liked living in Peterborough most of the time, but I escaped a lot through reading. The library and a wonderful used bookstore weren't too far from my house, and I made regular trips to both. They were so much better than the bookstore at Peterborough Square: I could find stuff that was out of print either free or very cheap, and I didn't have a teacher or school librarian hovering over my shoulder, telling me what to read. My father died when I was ten, I did not handle that event with any measure of grace, and reading and creative writing were my ways of coping.

It's a story that's been told so many times, and my chapter isn't that much different. I dreamed of going to other places, and until I actually could travel, I got my fix by reading and writing about them instead.
When did you first start writing?
Almost as soon as I learned to read. I started off by telling outrageous stories/lies to my younger sister about my afternoons in kindergarten, and when I learned that I could write down those stories my whole outlook on life changed. I would've been around six or seven when I started writing down my stories, illustrated with Laurentian pencil crayons (remember those? the peacock blue was the best colour ever and the lead always fell out in every pack I had) and stapled together to make chapbooks. My grandmother taught me to type when I was nine, and that was as close to revolutionary as you can get at that age. I'd sit on my bedroom floor--no room for a desk--hunched over, typewriter in front of me as I wrote. That typewriter was a game-changer.

My typewriter died on me when I was twelve (I was a clumsy child and tripped over it, and it made this weird grinding noise and a couple of keys stopped working--who would've suspected?) and I was devastated. Then, I upgraded to a Commodore Amiga PC, gifted me to by the vice principal of my elementary school. It's been nearly twenty years since that happened, and it remains one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me.
Describe your desk
I use my late father's desk, which I acquired in the summer of 2015. I briefly considered painting it purple and changing out the drawer handles for something silver and/or sparkly but in the end kept the original dark finish. I hadn't seen it in years before I received it, and it's smaller than I remember, especially when compared to the big IKEA table I used to keep everything piled on. Its surface holds my printer and laptop, and not much else. I love it, though.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have so many! Linnea Sinclair was my gateway to science fiction romance, particularly Games of Command. Ray Bradbury will always be on my list of favourite authors, not just because of his writing, but because of his attitude towards it. He loved it immensely, and I think he was the first author I read who repeatedly kept coming back to the same subjects from different angles. He unapologetically loved Mars, and he didn't tire of writing about it.

I'll read just about anything from Jessica Clare/Jill Myles/Jessica Sims. I'm not even that into shifter or billionaire romance most of the time (sacrilegious, I know), but I really like hers. Lucy Woodhull is also wonderful and Liliana Hart is also an auto-buy for me.

Douglas Coupland really doesn't receive as much praise as he deserves. The Canadian market is almost exclusively literary fiction, and his books didn't feel as stuffy as so many other Can-Lit authors did. He writes about a different kind of Canadian mundane--the office superstore employees in Vancouver rather than family sagas against harsh Prairie backdrops--and his books are dark and funny and don't take themselves too seriously.

I discovered Christopher Moore a few years ago, when my sister loaned me Island of the Sequined Love-Nun and I, well...if she's reading this, it's still on my bookcase. The first one you see when you walk into my office, top shelf. Anyway, once I got past the initial confusion ("Oh, okay, a talking fruit bat.") I ended up reading a bunch of his books on an ultimately expensive and very satisfying book binge.

I've taken and continue to take a lot of flack for my fondness for Stephen King that I've had since I was a kid. It started with my dad--he was a huge King fan (think going to the bookstore on release day and buying the latest novel in hardcover kind of fan. I still have all my dad's books), and after much pleading, he let me read The Eyes of the Dragon when I was nine. He wouldn't let me touch Carrie, even though I was fascinated with the picture of blood-spattered Sissy Spacek on the back cover, or anything else on his bookcases. Much to the dismay of various teachers through the years, I developed an affinity for Stephen King's colloquial writing style, and since we all know that Writing Is Serious Business, it was discouraged. Plus, we all know that if something's popular, it can't be good (you can't see it, but I'm giving a massive eyeroll right about now). In keeping with my late father's tradition, I still buy new releases in hardback. He would've liked Doctor Sleep.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I read a lot, and I'm never without my Kindle. I read romance in all genres, but I'm also a huge fan of mysteries, sci-fi, and horror. I'm an enthusiastic diarist, and have been since I was a kid. While I do blog (probably not often enough), I still can't bring myself to make every detail of my life available online. There's something relaxing about writing something just for myself.

My academic background is in the fine arts, and while I learned early on that I don't have what it takes to be an artist (no, really, I'm not just saying that, and it's something I've made peace with), I still love art and art history, particularly Art Nouveau and pop/op art. Galleries are the first places I go to when I travel--seeing Roy Lichtenstein's work at the Tate Modern, in real life, was one of my happiest moments during a trip to London a couple of years ago--and I enjoy museums as well. Living in Toronto gives me a lot of opportunities to visit both.

I also make books by hand, and they're artworks in and of themselves. I collect postcards of all kinds, and I often use them as covers for coptic-bound notebooks. I crochet, and I'm a huge makeup junkie. I think they know me at Sephora by now.

As of September 2014, I've returned to school and I'll be attending on a full time basis for the next two years, so my free time has been significantly cut short. The time I do have is spent writing, so any handmade book projects will have to wait for summer vacation.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
No. It would've been in Grade 1, but I couldn't tell you what it was about. The first story I remember writing, rewriting (granted, the whole thing was probably 80 words, but you get the idea), illustrating, and stapling into a book was Kim Goes to the Pet Shop, its single copy written when I was in Grade 2. I remember thinking it was the greatest thing I'd ever done, because it was seventeen pages (half of those were pictures, the other half the story in huge letters in my careful seven-year-old hand). Its title was pretty self-explanatory--a kid wants a cat and talks her parents into getting her one. I think my teacher had the book laminated, and getting your stuff laminated was a big deal at my elementary school.
What is your writing process?
I make a lot of notes and outline before beginning, to get an idea of the final word count, and before I sit down to write, every time. I get a lot more done this way. I use Google Docs these days, because it's so easy to sync between my computer and smartphone, and I can download the final document into Word.

I'm also one of Those Writers who lurks/works at coffee shops, too. If you see a redhead writing on a Chromebook with a Sugarpill Cosmetics sticker on the lid at Starbucks, feel free to say hi.
What's the story behind your latest book?
DEAD RINGER is a novel about a young woman who discovers that the underground compound she's spent her life in is actually housing clones. Livvy is a clone of a singer more famous for her hard partying than her music. When she hides out in the first house she comes across with an unlocked door, she meets Asher and his sister, Sasha, who agree to hide her and find out why she exists in the first place.

I started writing it over a year ago, but those first 150 pages were absolutely brutal. There's a difference between a project being challenging, and one that's so difficult and messy it's painful to write. The original version was very political, focusing on clones' rights in America and characters representing political parties, and I just kind of hated it. I read and talk about politics enough in real life (everyone knows who Toronto's mayor is) and I didn't want to write a novel full of preaching and politics, I wanted to write a novel about a clone and how she came to exist. My own politics were coming through, and I didn't want that. So earlier this year I scrapped the whole thing and rewrote it, coming up with Dead Ringer.
Published 2015-09-08.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Castaways
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 14,250. Language: English. Published: May 27, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi, Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
The destruction of the starship Vesper leaves Commander Dom Nakobi and Ensign Cosima Platt lost in space and without a way to get home. Finding a station in the middle of nowhere seems to be the answer to their prayers, until they discover it’s abandoned and directly in the path of an incoming ion storm. With so little time left to live, what's the harm finding a fun way to pass it?
Dead Ringer
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 43,750. Language: English. Published: September 23, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
Broke and banished from his home city, Asher is stunned when the doppelganger of a notorious singer breaks into his home. Livvy's claim of escaping a secret underground compound a few miles away is barely believable, but he still agrees to help her. But someone wants Livvy back, and will stop at nothing to find her.
Celestial Chaos
Series: The Commons, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 70,850. Language: English. Published: August 11, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Time travel, Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi
When Lieutenant Honora Kharn is ordered back in time to thwart a plot by enemy agents, the last thing she expects to do is rescue someone, not to mention her military discharge for doing so. Andrew proves to be her personal and professional undoing. But when the opportunity to return to their homes comes up, neither are sure that's where they belong.
Supernova
Series: The Commons, Book 1. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 70,310. Language: English. Published: September 18, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi, Fiction » Romance » Time travel
All Lily wants is a fresh start. She gets it when she wakes up 850 years out of her time in the belly of the Defiant, a spaceship that's anything but. When she joins forces with the ship's no-nonsense captain, Rian, they have to fight their growing feelings for each other to uncover a threat to the civilized universe that neither thought possible.