Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the only Chinese boy in a small town in Alberta? Writer Marty Chan has the inside scoop.
Chan grew up in Morrinville, Alberta, 30 miles north of Edmonton.
Asked if his upbringing impacted his writing, he says, “very much so. I grew up in this small town, and I was the only Chinese kid.” This honed his sense of humour as he learned to make kids laugh with him before they could laugh at him.
On October 9 at 4 p.m. he’s launching Kung Fu Master, a semi-autobiographical children’s book at the Slave Lake Library.
It is the story of a young Chinese boy, who is mistaken for a Kung Fu teacher. He gets into a bunch of scrapes when he decides to play along with it and people want him to teach them.
This book launch is the second of two he is doing at the Slave Lake Library. The other is on Tuesday at the same time. Metamorphosis is the third in a trilogy about a young Harry Houdini who solves crimes with Nicholas Tesla. During the talk, Chan will try to escape a straight jacket.
Chan is also going to C.J. Schurter, E.G. Walhstrom and Kinuso Schools to talk with kids about writing. It is part of a Young Alberta Book Society tour he’s doing. The tour includes stops in High Prairie Vegreville and Calgary.
“It’s going to be a lot of driving,” Chan says.
On tour, his focus is getting children excited about reading and writing.
Chan decided he wanted to be a writer after a high school teacher, Mr. Nigro, gave a writing assignment to describe how one would decorate their room if they won the lottery.
Chan lives in Edmonton. He has a BA in English with a minor in drama from the University of Alberta.
Chan started his career writing comedies for theatre, 25 years ago.
“I enjoyed my work in theatre,” he says, but it didn’t pay the bills, so he went into television.
Chan ended up writing on a couple of a children’s shows and found he enjoyed writing for kids.
His first children’s book was supposed to be a short detour from theatre, but 16 years later he’s written 15 books for children and toured for about 15 years.
“I like the notion that a kid audience is very honest and blunt,” Chan says.
Writing for adults and children, “is about the same,” Chan says. “A great story is a great story.” Writers don’t need to write down to children, he continued. Children understand good characters, sometimes words have to change, but otherwise it’s the same.
Being a novelist, Chan enjoys getting his strange ideas directly to the audience without the added filters of the director and actors in theatre.
Chan’s advise to children and adults who want to write is “writing is a skill that you develop and you have to practice it everyday.”