Kate Martin is a YA (young adult) novelist, specialising in stories that show empathy, hope and understanding.
She grew up in Lancashire with her parents and two older brothers, before going to Reading University to study English, and then Manchester for a teaching qualification. She combined these two achievements and became an English teacher in Cheshire.
Her debut novel, Are You Okay, Elliot Hart? came out in March 2022, with its sequel planned for an October 2023 release. The book was shortlisted for the 2022 Write Blend awards in the Young Adult category, and in the 2022 Cheshire Book Awards.
Meet Kate Martin
Questions On Writing
What has been the hardest part of your writing experience?
The book is written from the perspective of two teenage boys. I wanted to make sure that not only did I get the voice of a teenage boy correct, but also that their voices were distinctly different. I also find it hard to find time to actually sit down and write! I still do. I have a busy life as a teacher and mum to two boys, so finding moments of peace is tricky.
What did you learn about yourself when writing Are You Okay, Elliot Hart?
That I can do this! I lack confidence in my own writing ability and have huge imposter syndrome but the more I wrote, the more I realised that I cared about these characters and if I care about them, maybe someone else will. The book was inspired by my own experience of growing up with a mum who suffered with poor health. Elliot is a young carer. You would think that would mean I found writing about his struggles difficult, but actually, I found those parts quite therapeutic. It’s clear I was finding an outlet for my own hurt and frustrations.
Is there anything there anything you edited out of the book that you now wish you’d kept in?
I don’t think there was. My editor was happy with all the content. That’s not the same for book two where I’ve already had to change the beginning! Book two woes!
Do you make yourself write everyday/regularly, or do you wait for inspiration to strike?
It would be my dream to write every day. I would love it but for now, it’s when I find time. At the moment, I’m editing book two and planning book three with lots to do but not so much time.
What does literary success look like to you?
Great question! There was a moment when I thought that’s it…no matter what happens next, I’ve done my job. There is a teenage girl in my school who has daily struggles. She loaned my book out of the library, read it in a day and then emailed me saying ‘Your book is beautiful.’ That’s all it said. I knew then that my book had found the reader I always hoped it would. Anything else is a bonus.
What was it about Young Adult fiction that drew you to that audience?
I’ve been a high school teacher for eighteen years. I’ve taught thousands of teenagers and witnessed each one of their joys and angst. I find their tenacity and humour inspiring so it was a no brainer to write for them. I hope to encourage empathy for each other and know that even in the darkest of moments there is hope.
How did you celebrate when your book was published?
Now then, that’s a sensitive subject! I went to work for the day and celebrated with my colleagues but my husband actually forgot! Even though it was written on the calendar in big black letters! So, if I’m honest, it was a bit prickly in our household that evening! I did have a book launch in my local library a few days later with my family and friends and a sheepish husband! That was really humbling.
Questions on Books and about You
Firstly, the most important question: what books are currently ‘on your bedside table’?
A big stack of books waiting to be read! I think my next one will be Naomi Gibson’s Game Over Girl. Jion Sheibani’s The Silver Chain is always there at the moment. It’s the kind of book I read a little of and then need to put it down and take it all in. It’s expertly written and resonates with me a lot.
What children’s book would you suggest every adult read?
I recently read Hannah Moffat’s Small, and it was a laugh out loud story. My books tackle gritty themes so it was nice to read something that was silly and fun.
What does your writing space look like?
In my dreams? An office with a comfy chair and a big noticeboard plotting out my latest novel, maybe framed pictures on the wall of my latest book covers. In reality? Anywhere I can! The kitchen table surrounded by bowls of dried Weetabix is the norm.
How many books do you think you own?
Too many. I’m an English teacher and an author. There’s no help for me! I don’t want to answer in case my husband reads this and says I told you so. I own too many. Let’s leave it there.
Who is your literary icon?
There is one book that I read when I was 17 which made me fall in love with the power of literature. It inspired me to study and teach English. It was The Handmaid’s Tale, so I’d have to say Margaret Atwood.
If you could own one rare/first edition of a book, which one would it be?
At the risk of being repetitive – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.
Is there an author who you always read?
As time is becoming more precious, I don’t have a certain author anymore, just the book that intrigues me most at that time. I’m lucky to have met a lot of fellow authors and there’s always one of them bringing out another great story!
And finally, are there any plans for any new books? If so, what teasers can you give us?
There is! The sequel to Are You Okay, Elliot Hart? is out in October 2023. It looks at the final school years for Elliot and Josh. I’m also planning a whole new Young Adult book, but it’s slow progress so expect that sometime in 2032!
Thank you Kate for being so open and honest 😊
Kate Martin Books