Marty Chan – 2011 Writer in Residence
So, what is the 2011 WiR up to now?
1. What was the most memorable part of being the Writer in Residence? Bar none, my favourite part of working as the Writer in Residence was meeting all the incredible writers in the city. I was constantly amazed at their talent and passion. For example, one of my clients contacted me a few months after our meeting to tell me he had found an agent for the manuscript he had shown me. Despite my lack of rhythm, I did a little happy dance for him.
2. Did your year of working with writers change the way you approach your writing? If so, how? My approach to writing hasn’t changed, but my appreciation for this community has grown. Edmonton has well over 70 groups devoted to some aspect of writing, and it speaks to how diverse our writing community is.
3. What projects are you currently working on? My third book in the Barnabas Bigfoot Series will be coming out in the fall of 2013, and I’m working on a steam punk novel for young adults. Hopefully that will come out in 2013 or 2014.
4. Where can readers find your latest work? My newest book is Barnabas Bigfoot: A Hairy Tangle. It’s the second in the series, and people can find it at bookstores and libraries across Canada.
5. What is your advice to writers? Don’t be afraid to fail, because failure is a sign that you’re trying something new and different. And when you do fail, remember that revision erases all evidence of that failure.
As a playwright, he’s best known for his Sterling Award-winning play Mom, Dad, I’m Living with a White Girl. The cross-cultural comedy has been produced at theatres across Canada and received an Off Broadway production. Theatre fans may have also seen his numerous Fringe plays, most notably The Bone House, which was a hit at both the Edmonton Fringe and the Edinburgh Fringe. He served as the Citadel Theatre’s first playwright-in-residence (2002 – 2006), during which time he developed the Chinese opera/western musical theatre fusion play, The Forbidden Phoenix (music and lyrics by Robert Walsh).
Marty enjoyed five years working in Canadian television. He was the executive story editor of the Gemini Award-winning series Incredible Story Studio, which was broadcast around the world. He also worked on the one-hour TV series Jake and Kid and the half-hour youth series Mentors. In 1996, he wrote the TV pilot, The Orange Seed Myth and Other Lies Mothers Tell, which aired on CTV and earned him a Gemini nomination for best writing in a children’s/youth series and the Gold Medal for TV pilot at the Charleston World Television Festival.
Alberta audiences may have heard Marty on CBC Radio performing his light-hearted humour commentaries. The weekly Dim Sum Diaries ran from 1994 to 2000. He also claimed top prize for CBC Radio’s Alberta Anthology dramatic monologue competition 5 years in a row. He has written two radio plays (The Gift and Mom, Dad, I’m Living with a White Girl), which were broadcast nationally.
His first kids’ book, The Mystery of the Frozen Brains, won the 2005 City of Edmonton Book Prize and his second book, The Mystery of the Graffiti Ghoul, earned the 2008 Diamond Willow Award and a nomination for best juvenile crime fiction from the Arthur Ellis Awards. His third book, The Mystery of the Mad Science Teacher was shortlisted for the Golden Eagle Children’s Choice Award. He contributed “Driven” to Henry Chow and Other Stories, an anthology of short stories for young adults. He also wrote the picture book True Story (with illustrations by Lorna Bennett).
For his contributions to the arts, Marty received the Horizon Award from the University of Alberta as well as the Performance Award from the City of Edmonton.
Marty continues to write and live in Edmonton with his wife Michelle and their two cats, Buddy and Max. In 2010, he launched his fourth book, The Mystery of the Cyber Bully. His next novel, The Barnabas Bigfoot Series: A Close Shave will be launched in the fall of 2011.