Jonathan Friesen

Read more about Jonathan Friesen.


Interview By: Tamazon

Date: April 15, 2011

Jonathan Friesen's Web Site

Interview

THE LAST MARTIN

Thirteen-year-old Martin Boyle has enough to contend with: a germophobic mom who keeps him from school at even the hint of a sneeze; a gym teacher who is out to get him; and his crush, the stunning Julia, who won't even give him the time of day. But in THE LAST MARTIN (Zonderkidz; April 2011; $14.99), Martin must also wrestle with the fear that his days may be numbered. After a family trip to the cemetery, Martin discovers that every time a new Martin Boyle is born, the previous Martin dies. Imagine his horror when he learns that in twelve weeks his aunt will give birth to a baby boy-to be named Martin!

Martin has made it his mission to end the family curse before it's too late. Will this precocious teen find a way to prevent his presumed fate? Or will he fall prey to the same misfortune as the Martins before him? Find out in THE LAST MARTIN, the newest novel from the author who brought us the equally spellbinding young adult read-Jerk, California.

Please describe your writing environment.

My wife will not allow cameras to enter this portion of the house, or I would send a photo. There is a small room with a large desk and . . . peach carpet (I needed to check). If you duck beneath the sagging shelves, weave between the six stacks of books, hurdle the Lazy-Boy, you achieve the desk. There, I write, with curtains pulled. It's beautiful outside, but that's the dilemma. Beauty distracts me when I write. I'd just stare out at the seasons and get nothing done. So I have created a cave. A sloppy writing cave. It works for me.

Please tell us your latest news!

The Last Martin is finally here. I've been waiting for a long time to announce that. I had more fun writing this than any other book I've written.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Not yet. But that time will come. I'm incredibly proud of MARTIN, but as with all my books, in time, I discover a missed opportunity and think, WOW, that would have strengthened that scene. So now I live in blissful ignorance.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Leif Enger. Peace Like a River. Stunning like a thick, wet fog is stunning. I feel his writing, close the book and die a little.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don't know. If I do, I sure wouldn't have a name for it. I guess maybe anti-flowery. That sounds about right.

Do you see writing as a career?

Ignoring e-mails. I still haven't found a way to pull this off. E-mails can take up an entire day if you let them.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I was teaching and spending more time jotting anecdotes about the kids, than correcting their papers. So I quit my day job, and went for it.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don't quit your day job and go for it. That first book is so comfortable. You have time. You have no deadlines. Take advantage.

How does your family feel about having a writer in the family? Do they read your books?

My older daughter thinks it's cool. My boys can't think of anything more dull than hours at a computer, so they aren't impressed. They all read my books. That keeps me honest.

Do you write full time? What did you do before you became a writer? Or Still do?

Yes, I write and speak full time. I taught fifth grade prior.

What is your writing process? Do you outline, fly by the seat of your pants or a combination of both?

I write a few paragraphs of synopsis then go. But I spend loads of time on my characters before I begin. I need to know them well.

Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing?

I have no rituals; writing or me is completely random. I wish I had more ritual but I do not.

What main genre do you write in?

Teen / Young Adult

Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?

Not yet. But that time will come. I'm incredibly proud of MARTIN, but as with all my books, in time, I discover a missed opportunity and think, WOW, that would have strengthened that scene. So now I live in blissful ignorance.

What's been the most challenging part of writing for you?

Ignoring e-mails. I still haven't found a way to pull this off. E-mails can take up an entire day if you let them.

Who has been your best supporter? How have they been there for you?

Ignoring e-mails. I still haven't found a way to pull this off. E-mails can take up an entire day if you let them.

Did you pick the title for your book? If it has been changed please tell us about the process.

Yep! I picked it, and it stuck.

Do you have an interesting quirk?

Well, my Tourette's is a quirk. Or a twitch. Or sometimes a twitch and a grunt. When I really get into a passage, my body will jerk dramatically. I think it would fun to watch. Recently, I twitched and whacked the shift key off my Mac. Fortunately, the shift is a kidney key--you have two of them. Thank goodness it wasn't a heart key, like an "a"

What book are you reading now? What are your thoughts on it?

Revolution, by Jennifer Donelly. (I think that's the author.) I dig the quotes from Dante, but I'm not into it enough to give my thoughts. I'm not certain it will hold me.

Tell us all about "The Call" or "The Email"!

It was a quiet e-mail from my agent, asking if she could accept Penguin's offer. I sat and looked at the message. Honestly, there was an emptiness. Not a bad empty, just a strange empty. I felt like I was leaving. And I knew the moment I hit send, life would be forever different. It took me an hour to reply. Even longer to tell anybody. It was my private moment.

What inspires your writing?

I have no answer for this most asked question. I am unsure what this means. Some days, I'm inspired by the story. Some days, I'm inspired by the need to feed my family. It has become very un-romantic. Writing is my job. Coming up with ideas is simply a part of that.

What are your hobbies?

Playing guitar. Four-wheeling. Mowing. (We have a very large yard.)

Do you have any cool promo tricks you can share with other writers?

I am trying to cluster visit when I travel. I set up a few schools on consecutive days--maybe a library in between--all in the same area. It allows me more time at home. I don't think that's a trick. But it does save my sanity.

Do you have any animals? Do they influence your writing?

We have cats, a dog, and chickens. I don't think they influence my writing.

If you had to choose one person to have dinner with, who would it be? And why?

My grandma. She moved on six years ago, and goodness knows it would be tough to get her to accept a dinner date back down here. But she knew me. She saw through me and called me on the carpet. There was more wisdom in her pinky finger than I've ever been able to exhibit. Grandma's not a glamorous choice, but it would mean the world to me.

Do you have a website recommendation for other writers?

I've heard of fantastic websites out there. But when it comes to the web, I'm years behind. I'm not certain where a writer should go, except of course, www.jonathanfriesen.com (just to say hello!)

What's your favorite drink?

Orange juice, straight, on the rocks.

How did you choose your publisher? What was the process?

That's more my agent's world. I trust her. I trust her knowledge of who would best work with my idea. So when she suggests publishers, I listen.

Who's your agent?

Deidre Knight of The Knight Agency. She's fights for me. She calms me. It's a wonderful thing to find someone with those attributes. I can't imagine writing life without her.

I've been blessed to do something I love. That's not so common these days. If I can put some of that pleasure into what I write, I've done my job. The Last Martin makes me smile; I can't wait to hear what you think of it! Enjoy!

www.jonathanfriesen.com

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