On 13th October, 2006, my book club interviewed Charles Martin, author of The Dead Don’t Dance , Wrapped in Rain , When Crickets Cry , Maggie and Chasing Fireflies (releasing in 2007).
We reviewed When Crickets Cry and then spoke to him via conference call. Below is the transcript of that interview which was fun and informative. Please forgive my typing errors!
Thanks again Charles for the gracious way you answered our many questions!
CM: Hello, this is Charles
NJM: Hi Charles, Narelle from Australia here. How are you doing?
CM: I’m good, how are you?
NJM: We’re well, thanks. Had a good chat about your book.
CM: Oh, yeah?
NJM: Yeah. They’ve all made heaps of noise, couldn’t stop talking and now they’ve gone all quiet on me!
CM: Well, don’t do that!
NJM: No! We really appreciate your time so thanks for giving it to us.
CM: We’re going to have to get over the language barrier!
NJM: Ok, you can’t understand me?
CM: I can understand you a little bit, but it’s more like after you say it. It takes about 30seconds for it to kinda swirl around in my head and then it’s okay so that is what she said!
NJM: I’ll speak a bit slower…
CM: Oh, that’s much better!
NJM: We have a South African girl here so that will be even better!
CM: Oh goodness! How many of you are there?
CM: Ok. It sounds like you have a good phone or something because I can hear all of you. A lot of times when I do this whoever is calling me I can’t really hear but you all sound really, I can hear you really well.
NJM: That’s good, you just can’t understand us!
CM: I have no idea what you are saying!
NJM: Well, this a new experience for us too, this conference call so we will just see how it all pans out.
CM: It’s not necessarily new for me but its something that I am still a little , like, I mean its sort of a strange thing, I mean don’t you all have something better to do than sit around and talk to some guy in Florida and Georgia at this time of night on Friday the 13th or something?
NJM: We’re all, you know, enjoying a night together!
CM: There’s the truth of it. I’m curious, since your there in Australia, here right now it is the morning of the 13th. What is it where you are?
NJM: It’s 9.15 on the night of the 13th.
CM: Ok. So you’re almost 15 hours ahead.
NJM: Something like that – we like being ahead of the pack! How about we get into it?
NJM: One of the favourite questions, no doubt you have heard it before and will probably have your answer all ready, what inspired you to wrote When Crickets Cry?
CM: A couple of things. If you read any of my other stories, especially The Dead Don’t Dance, you will see in the acknowledgements, that, um, I am 36 now, when I was 27 Christy and I were out then at Virgina Beach. It’s on the east coast of the United States and it’s about due east of our capital. Anyway, we were out there at Graduate School and I was travelling to work one morning for UPS. Do you have UPS there? Postal service?
NJM: Something like that.
CM: Anyway, I was going to work for this big shipping company and I had to be at work about 3am so its about 230am and I am driving to work and I had this flash or this, I don’t know, this picture that I kinda saw that was pretty detailed for me and I guess I had seen them most of my life but never really paid attention to them and I mean its just a daydream that I see in sort of technicolour. And I made some notes, I always carry a little notebook with me, and I made some pretty detailed notes and as the months went by it sort of became more solidified and that’s when I sort of strapped a novel around it and that became The Dead Don’t Dance. That has occurred to me with most, all of my stories now and I finished, I guess I’ve written five novels now.
With When Crickets Cry the first thing I saw was a little girl in a yellow dress standing on a street corner in Clayton, Georgia, selling lemonade and the thing that struck me was a scar on her chest, it was just a little scar and a little pill container. Somewhere along that time, this kind of all happened around the same time, I began thinking about the heart and just, I don’t know, just sort of this miraculous thing I hadn’t thought of, here’s this little organ that sits in the middle of our chest and it really ticks non stop until thay day you die, it never takes a break, it never takes a vacation. Something about that amazed me.
And then the first part of this equation was, Christy and I have three boys and the boys and I were reading somewhere in Proverbs and we ended up in the fourth chapter and the Psalmist was trying to give his admonition to his son and it starts in the second chapter and goes all the way through the third and it ends in the fourth and for some reason we got to the middle of that fourth chapter where he says “above all else guard your heart” and it just struck me, I don’t know why, but it just struck me that here is the wisest man on the planet, saying “above all else”.
Those three things occurred within about a week of eachother – the picture I saw in my head, my thinking on the heart, then Charlie and that got me going towards the book that you all read.
Read my review of the sequel Maggie