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Monday, April 27, 2009

Author q&a: Martin Powell

Martin Powell is the author of a number of our graphic novels and chapter books, such as Hound of the Baskervilles, Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltskin, Swiss Family Robinson, Adventures of Hercules, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, SUPERMAN: The Stolen Super-Powers, and BATMAN: The Fog of Fear. Here, he answers questions from the Stone Arch Books staff. Thanks, Martin!

Stone Arch Books: How did you become a writer?
Martin Powell: It was a very deliberate decision. I've wanted to tell stories since I was six or seven years old, and started writing and drawing my own books from around that time, in crayon. I've had other interesting jobs from time to time, from an educator in the paleontology gallery of a museum, to acting on stage and as an extra in film. Writing fiction has always been the most driving creative force in my life, and I always kept coming back to it. I'm very fortunate to have been a professional writer for 22 years. I love my job.

SAB: What’s your writing process?
MP: Depends upon the project. I'm a firm believer in research, and writing "what you know". For example, if you're composing a story about, say, a scientist or a detective, then you really need to take the trouble to learn something about them and how they work in real life. If you don't believe in your characters, your readers won't either. I do this full-time, eight to ten hours a day, five or six days a week.

SAB: What were you like as a kid?
MP: Oh my. Well, I have two older brothers who introduced me to comic books, and Batman, which helped me learn to read. My mom took me to the library a lot, too, so I was always bringing home these great books about dinosaurs, ghosts, and outer space. When my friends were out playing ball in the street, I'd rather be inside reading, writing, or drawing, like building a plastic model kit, or watching an old monster movie on our old grainy black-and-white TV. On weekends I spent a lot of time with my cousins on their farms in Kentucky. Being in the wide, open fields and deep, dark woods was very magical and mysterious, and certainly stirred my imagination. I had a wonderful childhood.

SAB: When you were a kid (the age of your readers) what did you want to be when you grew up?
MP: A writer! Guess I'm one of those very lucky individuals who always knew what he wanted to be pretty much from the start. My mom bought herself a portable typewriter when I was about nine years old.. Sometimes she let me use it to do my homework, and almost immediately I was hooked on that little machine. I used it a lot more than she ever did. Eventually she gave the typewriter to me, and hardly a day went by when I wasn't pounding away on it, mostly just to entertain myself.

SAB: What’s your favorite book?
MP: That's a tough question. There are so many. I love books. I guess it would probably be something in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan series, or L. Frank Baum's Oz books. The stories of Ray Bradbury are special favorites of mine, too.

SAB: What do you eat or drink as you’re writing?
MP: Diet Coke. Plenty of it. Too much of it. I really, really should cut down.

SAB: If you could have written any book, what book would it be and why?
MP: It would be extremely thrilling to write a graphic novel adaptation of Tarzan of the Apes. The jungle hero has always been a big influence to me. Also, someday, I'd love the chance to write a long-running series of mystery-adventure books with my own characters, for a younger audience. That would really be a dream come true!

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