Stricken by C.K. Kelly Martin
Publication Date: November 4, 2017
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Dancing Cat Books
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Naomi doesn’t expect anything unusual from her annual family trip to visit her grandparents in Ireland. What she expects is to celebrate her thirteenth birthday, hang out with her friends Ciara and Shehan, and deal with her gran’s Alzheimer’s. What she finds is a country hit by an unexpected virus that rapidly infects the majority of the Irish population over the age of twenty-one.
Amnestic-Delirium Syndrome (ADS) starts off with memory loss, but the virus soon turns its victims aggravated, blank, or violent. Naomi and her friends must survive on their own, without lucid adults, cut off from the rest of the world, until a cure is found.
But there are whispers that ADS is not terrestrial, and soon Naomi and her friends learn the frightening truth: we are not alone.
- What is your writing routine? Do you aim for a word count, to tackle a certain number of pages at a time, or do you go scene by scene? (Something else?)
I do some preparation (research, emails, sometimes a bit of social networking stuff) in the morning. I find I can’t get into a good creative groove before about eleven a.m. so that’s when I start writing in earnest. Usually, I’m working from some kind of rough outline but the further I get into the book the more it tends to diverge from what I anticipated might happen. That’s cool because it means I’m usually surprised rather than knowing exactly the way a book will unfold. It takes on a life of its own.
I used to have a word count I tried to reach each day but four years ago I developed health issues and was diagnosed with polyneuropathy. Now it’s very uncomfortable to sit still for long periods (or stand or walk for long periods!) so I have to keep getting up, moving and shift positions and stuff. Overall this has shortened my daily writing period so I don’t have a word count or set number of pages I try to reach; I just do what I can, all the better if I can get a scene finished.
2. What was your inspiration for your book? What was the most fun and the most difficult part of getting the story just right?
I love zombie movies and also plague outbreak movies in general so with Stricken I kind of married the two. The infected in this book aren’t zombies but they’re certainly not themselves and some of them are dangerous (others aren’t at all). On a deeper level, at the time I was writing Stricken I didn’t know my mother had Alzheimer’s but I’d known for years that something wasn’t right. I think that was very much in my consciousness and that it shaped aspects of the book. Stricken is my first middle grade and writing from a younger point of view was so refreshing. But it was my editor’s idea to include lists, which became the most fun part for me. Who doesn’t love lists! On the other hand, the most difficult part was finding a good point to end the book while still leaving room for more in the future because I knew the story in its entirety was too long for one book.
3. What are your favorite books? What authors inspire you the most?
There are so many authors and books I love. In the past year I discovered Grady Hendrix’s My Best Friends Exorcism and Horrorstor and ate them both up. Recently I was also delighted by graphic novel Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos and Me by Lorina Mapa. I’m always finding new inspiration. I’m usually more excited to read something new or an author I haven’t read before than to revisit books or familiar authors. I’ve been writing speculative and horror-leaning stuff lately so I’ve been reading more in those areas, but one of my forever favourites remains The Chrysalids by John Wyndham. I’m also an enormous fan of Judy Blume who showed me, as a young person, what it looks to be unflinchingly truthful about young people’s lives.
4. Odd question – what TV shows do you like?
This is a great question because I just finished watching the Americans finale and it’s one of my favourite shows of all time. It’s incredibly character driven for a show about spies. All the relationships are so nuanced and intricate. There are multiple levels to every conversation and action and you feel you know and cared about the main characters so much (even when they do horrible things) that it makes every single thing that happens all the more gripping. But I like a lot of different kinds of shows: Wilderness survival show Alone, makeup artist contest Face Off, Stranger Things, The Crown, This is Us, The Handmaid’s Tale. I’m sad that this is the final season of Nashville; I’m really going to miss it. I’m also a big fan of Star Trek Discovery and Doctor Who (I can’t wait to see Jodie Whittaker as the doctor!).
5. Lastly, is there anything else we should know about you? Do you like to listen to music when writing? What book projects are on the horizon for you?
I need quiet to be able to put myself in the world of my characters. Sometimes I’ll actually listen to white noise to block out noise from neighbouring apartments. I do like listening to music beforehand though, to help put me in a certain frame of mind that matches up with whatever I’m working on. In the past, I wrote a lot of contemporary young adult books and while I might return to that at some point these days I feel a strong pull to horror, sci-fi, and storylines with fantastical elements. I have a speculative YA, horror YA and a sci-fi MG that I’ve been working on but I’m not sure which will see the light of day first.
Thanks so much for having me over to bookblogarama to talk bookish things!
About the Author
Long before I was an author I was a fan of books about Winnie the Pooh, Babar, Madeline, Anne Shirley and anything by Judy Blume. Throughout high school my favourite class was English. No surprise, then, that most of my time spent at York University in Toronto was as an English major—not the traditional way to graduate with a B.A. (Hons) in film studies but a fine way to get a general arts education.
After getting my film studies degree I headed for Dublin, Ireland and spent the majority of the nineties there in forgettable jobs meeting unforgettable people and enjoying the buzz. I always believed I’d get around to writing in earnest eventually, and I began writing my first novel in a flat in Dublin and finished it in a Toronto suburb. By then I’d discovered that fiction about young people felt the freshest and most exciting to me. You have most of your life to be an adult but you only grow up once.
Currently residing near Toronto with my Dub husband, I’m an aunt to twenty-one nieces and nephews, and a great-aunt to two great-nephews. I became an Irish citizen in 2001 and continue to visit Dublin as often as I can while working on novels about young people.
My first young adult book, I Know It’s Over, came out with Random House in September 2008, and was followed by One Lonely Degree, The Lighter Side of Life and Death, My Beating Teenage Heart and sci-fi thriller Yesterday. I released Yesterday’s sequel, Tomorrow, in 2013 and put out my first adult novel, Come See About Me, as an ebook in June 2012. My most recent contemporary YA books, The Sweetest Thing You Can Sing and Delicate, were published by Cormorant Books’ Dancing Cat Books imprint in 2014 and 2015.
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