About Courage #4: Marty Chan

Raised in Morinville–a small town north of Edmonton, Alberta–Marty Chan is a playwright, 167742_187544194605253_5404330_nradio writer, television story editor, and young adult author. Much to the chagrin of his mother, he doesn’t include engineer on his resume. He attended a year of the Engineering Program at the University of Alberta, but received the Dean’s Vacation (a quaint way of saying “don’t let the door hit you in the butt on your way out”).

After a year, Marty returned to the U of A and graduated in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree (English Major/Drama Minor). He fell into improv comedy when he joined Edmonton Theatresports, but his paralyzing stage fright resulted in “penguin arm” acting, forcing him to abandon performing and take up writing.

His signature play, Mom, Dad, I’m Living with a White Girl, has been produced across Canada, published three times, and broadcast as a radio drama. The stage play won an Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award for Best New Work and the Adams Chinese Theatre Award at Harvard University. In October 2004, the play had a successful Off Broadway run in New York.

martyMarty was a regular contributor to CBC Radio Edmonton from 1994 to 2000. His weekly commentary series, The Dim Sum Diaries, recounted his misadventures as the only Chinese kid in a small prairie town. These weekly commentaries were adapted into a half-hour television program (The Orange Seed Myth) which won a Gold Medal for Best Television Pilot at the Charleston World Film and Television Festival, and earned Marty a Gemini nomination for best writing in a children’s program.

In 2004, Thistledown Press launched Marty’s first young adult novel, The Mystery of the Frozen Brains, which has become a hit with young readers across Canada. Resource Links magazine rated listed it as one of the BEST BOOKS OF 2004 for grades 3 to 6.

Marty was the first playwright in residence at the Citadel Theatre. He also served as Chair of the Edmonton Arts Council and taught playwriting at the U of A. He received an Arts Achievement Award and a Performance Award from the City of Edmonton. He also earned a Horizon Award from the University for his contributions to theatre. However, his mother still wishes he stayed in Engineering. Marty released The Ehrich Weisz chronicles : demon gate in October, 2013.

Currently, Marty resides in Edmonton with his wife Michelle and their two cats, Buddy and Max.  source

Marty maintains a fan page on FaceBook.

Marty, you’ve actually been writing for several years and across many different genre and in that, I’m sure you’ve been doing a lot of reading. Who are some of the characters you’ve read about that are noteworthy for their courage? What elements of their character (or of the author’s writing) speak to that courage? What did you build on to create Ehrich Weisz’s courage?

I think courage is a concept that’s easy to understand, but hard to practice, which is +-+921266303_70why readers empathize with fictional characters that demonstrate this noble trait. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) and Augustus Waters (The Fault in Our Stars) spring to mind. I love them both, because they have to be brave in the light of adversity, but they are also heroes because they know who they are and accept themselves. As the only Chinese kid growing up in a small town, I can relate to how hard it is to be true to who you are when that is the very thing that sets you apart from everyone else. When I wrote The Ehrich Weisz Chronicles: Demon Gate, I wanted to build on Ehrich’s courage through his love of his brother. He would do anything to save his kid brother, and his love is what gives him the strength and courage to face the challenges in the story.

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