Author Interview: Jenny Martin

Author Interview: Jenny Martin

qft-Tracked.CoverThe Fast and the Furious gets a sci-fi twist in this action-packed debut!

On corporately controlled Castra, rally racing is a high stakes game that seventeen-year-old Phoebe Van Zant knows all too well. Phee’s legendary racer father disappeared mysteriously, but that hasn’t stopped her from speeding headlong into trouble. When she and her best friend, Bear, attract the attention of Charles Benroyal, they are blackmailed into racing for Benroyal Corp, a company that represents everything Phee detests. Worse, Phee risks losing Bear as she falls for Cash, her daring new teammate. But when she discovers that Benroyal is controlling more than a corporation, Phee realizes she has a much bigger role in Castra’s future than she could ever have imagined. It’s up to Phee to take Benroyal down. But even with the help of her team, can a street-rat destroy an empire?

 TRACKED (05/05/15, available hardcover/ebook/audiobook)

qft-Marked.CoverMad Max meets Firefly in the exhilarating sequel to the sci-fi novel Tracked!

After an escape gone wrong, Phee barely made it out of Castra alive. But Cash, the leader of the rebellion, is still missing–and Charles Benroyal is to blame. Caught between grief and blinding thoughts of revenge, Phee fights for the resistance, gaining new allies and, perhaps, making new enemies, too. Meanwhile, Phee can’t control her growing feelings for Bear, her best friend since childhood, and she’s forced to make a choice–between the boy who has always been there for her, and the one who might never return. As Benroyal’s attacks grow bolder, Phee and her team embark on a daring mission to defeat the Sixers and save the planet. But no one is prepared for the sacrifices Phee will have to make to win this war once and for all. With nonstop action and a wholly original science fiction world, Marked will have your heart racing until its breathless conclusion.

MARKED, (05/17/16, available hardback, ebook)

qft-JennyMartinJenny Martin is an author and librarian. Her first novel, Tracked, has been featured on The Mary Sue, Bustle, Bookriot and Hypable. Tracked was named one of Paste Magazine’s and Teen Magazine’s ‘Best Books of 2015’, and its sequel, Marked, released May 17th, 2016, from Dial, an imprint of Penguin-Random House. Jenny is also an experienced speaker, panelist and presenter who’s appeared Texas Teen Book Festival, Texas Library Association and San Diego Comic Con.

She lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with her husband and son, where she hoards books and writes fiction. And yes, she’s still on a quest for the perfect pancake.

Hello again, loves! It’s time for another crazy amazing author interview with the crazy amazing Jenny Martin, author of TRACKED and its sequel, MARKED. I know these things. Read them. Met her. Be jealous. She’s super sweet, smart, and fun, and she gives fantastic advice.

These are a few of her favorite things:

Author: Neil Gaiman

Book: Stardust

Song: Let it Be, The Beatles or The Pretender, Foo Fighters

Show: Poldark or Netflix’s Daredevil

Movie: Empire Strikes Back

Fairy Tale: Sleeping Beauty

Superhero: Superman

Super villain: Winter Soldier

Superpower: Telekinesis

Motivational Quote or Saying:

“The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” – Hemingway

“Feminism isn’t about making women strong. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” —G.D. Anderson

Love those quotes! Tell us a little about yourself and what made you become a writer.

I’ve always been an insatiable reader and writing was the one thing that always ‘fit.’ As a teen, I wrote essays and short stories (and some very bad poetry), but somehow, by senior year, I’d gotten it into my head that I could never write for a living. Fast forward to adulthood…after finishing my Masters’ Degree in Library Science…I’d read so many great books and had written so many essays about them…suddenly, I wanted to write those kinds of novels myself. So I started writing again and never looked back.

How did you get the idea for Tracked?

In one way, the idea for Tracked had been sleeping in my subconscious for years. I’m a huge Star Wars fan, and I love science fiction (especially space opera) so much. But the immediate inspirations for Tracked came after watching Death Race 2000 with Jason Statham and Hot Coffee, a documentary about corporations and the slow erosion of civil rights.

Once I had the basic idea, my main character—Phee—was born. Writing her was good for my spirit. Writing Tracked helped me conquer my own fears and finishing the sequel helped me reclaim my confidence.

How did you come up with the title and character names?

The title has a double meaning, but only some readers notice the connection. As for the character names, I come up with them after sketching them out in my head and trying out different names. The right names just…fit.

Tell us about Phee and what makes her unique.

It’s funny…Phee popped into my head almost fully formed. From the get go, on the page, she was impatient and reckless and headstrong. And above all, fearless—a Han Solo girl with a smart mouth and a stubborn, loyal heart. Basically, she was everything I’m not! And I think that’s no accident. Phee came to me during a really tough time in my journey. Writing her was almost therapeutic. She was so good for my spirit, and she helped me face a lot of my own hangups and move past them. As for what makes her unique, I don’t know for sure, but I love that she’s flawed, but capable.

Who was the easiest character to write? The most difficult?

Phee was easiest, and I think it’s because she’s just so larger than life. She’s outrageous, and that’s fun to write. Bear was the hardest. Readers tend to love him or hate him, and I think it’s because it’s hard to convey the “still waters run deep” core of his personality. He’s a quieter kind of hero.

Who do you see playing Phee on the silver screen? Bear? Cash? How about Charles Benroyal?

I’d love to see Ivana Baquero play Phee. I loved her as Eretria in the TV version of The Shannara Chronicles. I’m not sure who I’d cast as Bear, but I think Manish Dayal would make a wonderful Cashoman Dradha. And wouldn’t Guy Pearce (ala Peter Weyland from Promoetheus) or Matthew Goode make a great Benroyal?

Umm, yes, please! Also, I just like to look at them. What is your favorite quote from Tracked? What about Marked?

Ah, this is a great question.

My favorite quote from Tracked is: “I guess that’s the difference between you and me…I have to believe in impossible things.”

From Marked, it’s the one that makes me cry: “For him, for them, for always.”

From conception of Tracked to finished product, how long did it take to complete, and what was that process like for you? What about Marked?

I drafted Tracked in 2011, but it wasn’t my first book. It was not even the first book my agent submitted to editors. Or the second book. And even then, Tracked didn’t sell right away. It sold in August 2012, and after almost three long years of bumps on the list, it finally released in May 2015. Marked was quicker. I finished it in 2015 and it came out in 2016.

 Can you tell us a bit about your querying and publishing process? Any tips?

For me, getting the agent was the (relatively) easy part. My first novel was just…terrible, and of course, was not picked up. I got an agent while cold querying my second novel, after sending out a couple dozen queries. (My advice? Query your project about sixty to seventy times…if it hasn’t snagged you representation by then, move on to the next project…which you should have already started working on). After signing with my current agent, I wrote two more books, and Tracked finally sold after being on sub for about ten months.

Fantastic advice. What about the challenges (research, literary, psychological, etc.) in bringing them to life?

While it was really fun to learn about the different aspects of racing for Tracked, its sequel required a deeper, more intense kind of study. There’s a lot of darkness in Marked, because Phee is battered and broken by events. Amidst intense grief and loss, she must find her way back to herself, against a backdrop of galactic war. Because of this, I took great care, relying on research and experience, in an attempt to depict the very real, everyday struggle with PTSD and anxiety that’s wounded far too many veterans and survivors. But where there is darkness, there is hope. And I wanted to reflect that reality, too. How we can find ourselves again, with good therapeutic support, and become ‘strong in the broken places.’

What draws you to speculative fiction? Do you write in other genres?

First and foremost, speculative fiction is near and dear to my heart. I spent a lot of my childhood with my nose in science qft-JennyMartinQuotefiction novels. Like many people, I’ve always been interested in stories that ask “what if?” Like them, I love daydreaming about the road ahead, where science, technology and humanity might take us. And there’s something really compelling in the intersection between the ingenuity of the mind and the restlessness of the heart. I can’t help but be fascinated by the prospect of faraway worlds and new frontiers, full of wondrous (and sometimes frightening) possibility. To me, that’s what great speculative fiction is…an answer to that call.

What book/s are you currently reading?

I just finished rereading Sandman, and am reading Saga. I’m also in the middle of Dead Wake by Erik Larson. Which is weird for me…I most often read novels, rather than graphic novels or non-fiction. I guess I’m branching out this year!

What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m working on a sprawling, epic, multi-POV saga that straddles the line between fantasy and science fiction. (Seriously, folks. This is the toughest, most ambitious thing I’ve ever written!) There are queens and programmed consorts, pirates and knight-commanders, assassins and engineered soldiers, and many more…some of them heroes, and most of them pawns. I joke that it’s my feminist Game of Thrones.

And now I kind of hate that I asked that because I want it now! Do you work on multiple awesomes at once or focus on one project at a time?

Usually one project at a time, unless I get stuck. If I get stuck, I’ll let myself “cheat” by writing on another project.

Tell us about what do you do when you get stuck and what keeps you going through the tough times.

I think there are two kinds of stuck—the lazy kind and the creative kind. For the lazy kind, there’s no easy solution; just stop making excuses and get to work. (Writing is hard. But it’s not that hard. So do it or don’t.) With the creative kind, I’ll talk a break from the project and do something else for a while, or talk out the story problem with someone else.

qft-JennyMartinQuote2What do you think is the hardest thing about writing? The easiest?

For me, the hardest thing is discipline. Contentment is my enemy. When I’m content, it’s easy to get lazy and stop writing. But when I’m discontent or a little uncomfortable? I tend to long for the keyboard. Sometimes, I do my best writing under pressure. The easiest thing? How about typing: THE END.

Valid. What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring writers?

  1. The solution to the obstacle is almost always…write another book
  2. Luck, Talent, Persistence…you only need two of out three.

Best piece of advice for life?

  1. Sleep on it before you send that email reply.
  2. This too shall pass.

Thank you so much for your thoughtful responses, fabulous advice, and all around coolness, Jenny, and we can’t wait to get our hands on your feminist Game of Thrones! Reader loves, if the opportunity arises to meet Jenny at a signing or conference, do it! You won’t be disappointed!


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“Martin’s Tracked reminds me of both the thrill of Star Wars and the energy and grittiness of Firefly … a brilliant old-school SF adventure that will appeal to absolutely everyone. A truly great read I’d race to buy again!”—Rachel Caine, New York Times bestselling author of the Morganville Vampires series

“An exciting blend of dystopia and racing…Hunger Games meets NASCAR.”—Beth Revis, New York Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series

“Deeply inventive, Tracked is an action-packed sci-fi with heart. Sequel, please!”—Erin Bowman, author of the Taken trilogy

“Adrenaline fueled from first page to finish line.”—Mindy McGinnis, author of Not a Drop to Drink

“Dazzlingly imaginative and whip-smart, Tracked is pure adrenaline rush. Buckle up!”—Antony John, author of the Elemental trilogy and The Five Flavors of Dumb

“If you ever wanted to read a book that’s The Fast and The Furious meets Firefly with a hint of romance, then Tracked is the book for you.”—Glitter Magazine

“If you only order one book on this list, make it TRACKED.”—Paste Magazine

“This is a terrifically fun book and readers will look forward to seeing what Martin comes up with in the sequel.”—VOYA

“The intrigue builds into political conspiracies and action—debut author Martin’s strength—and a wild climax that begs for a sequel.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Filled with new technology, political motivations, and action-packed racing scenes, this book will appeal to fans of the Fast and the Furious movies as well as readers of dystopia.”—School Library Journal

“It’s a wholehearted adrenaline rush when it comes to the thrill of the run, making it easy to get drawn into a fast-paced, high-stakes story.”—Publishers Weekly

“Action packed…With a unique concept and intense action, Tracked is a must read.”—Hypable

Heart-pounding.” —Kirkus Reviews




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