Monday, February 8, 2016

Q&A with Martha Brockenbrough

Martha Brockenbrough, photo by Emerald England
Martha Brockenbrough is the author most recently of the young adult novel The Game of Love and Death. Her other books include Devine Intervention and The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications, including The New York Times, and she lives in Seattle.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Game of Love and Death?

A: I wanted to write a love story narrated by Love—to see how human beings were frustrating and confounding and heartbreaking to the very source of love. It slowly evolved from there.

Q: The novel is set in 1930s Seattle. Why did you choose that setting, and do you think the story could have taken place in another time and location?

A: I live in Seattle and love the city, so it was always going to be set here. Originally, though, it was a contemporary story. I moved it for a couple of reasons.

For one, Seattle has a really interesting history, especially musically. Henry, the male protagonist, was always a musician, and aside from grunge, Seattle’s biggest contribution to music was through jazz. Plus, the ‘30s are interesting and in many ways like today.

What’s more, interracial and same-sex romance, which appear in the book, were even more dramatic then. That makes for higher stakes.

And finally, I wanted the story to start on Friday, February 13th. There are only a few of those in any given century, and one happened in 1920—the perfect year for my characters to be born.

Q: You’ve written for both children and adults, both fiction and nonfiction. Do you have a preference?

A: There’s a lot to love about every form, and I am proud of all of my books. Novels were always the thing I aspired to write, and there is something about that form that is supremely challenging and therefore supremely rewarding.

Different readers like and respond to different books, though, so I don’t mean to imply any form is superior. I’m just pleased to get to do this for a living. 

Q: Which authors have inspired you?

A: Too many to say. 

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I’m working on a variety of things. I’ll have a book about sharks coming out in May, a couple of picture books next year, and I’m in the midst of a novel set in medieval times with a non-human narrator and lots of music happening. 

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: Here’s to readers and writers. It is so nice to be able to find so many books in the world, to talk about those books with friends, and to do the hard work of telling a story in a way that captivates someone’s mind and heart. Thank you for being part of it!

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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