Caroline Russell-King catches up with with playwright, novelist, screenwriter and Chair of Drama in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary Clem Martini for a (Pandemic) Postcard Profile (with a nod to Bernard Pivot and James Lipton).
What is the next project for you?
My last book Cantata was published two years ago and is a graphic memoir. I’m adapting it into a play.
How do you contribute to this?
We were hoping to put it up as a staged reading, with a production in the winter but I don’t know if that’s happening.
What is your greatest creative challenge?
I love writing but I hate promoting my work. I was never raised to be a salesperson.
What turns you on creatively?
I love starting things. I love building worlds, that part of creation is exciting!
What turns you off creatively?
The middle potion of the maze can wear you down, when you know it’s not finished yet.
What’s one thing you’re really good at?
I’m good at dialogue. I have a good hand for structure and a particular love for character.
If you could resurrect and share a drink with a dead person who would it be?
Aristophanes. He was a rebel and prolific. He was a terrific writer and poet. He was adept at speaking truth to power.
What is one thing you wish you’d known sooner?
I knew writing was hard, but I never knew what parts. It’s the routine and the effort of writing that’s difficult.
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Archaeologist! In a way, as a writer, you get to do this metaphorically. Writers find treasure. It’s fantastic!
What would you do with extreme wealth?
Accommodate myself and then build a foundation for writers. This would seed creative projects, assist with tuition and be a place that writers can turn to in times of a crisis.
What is one piece of advice you would give to the person who wants to do what you do?
Don’t do it unless you’re prepared for the long game. I think people get in thinking they will find success quickly. Writing is a marathon not a sprint. It’s a cliché but it is a vocation you take on for life. You have to be prepared to stick with it.
Caroline Russell-King is a playwright, dramaturg, and instructor. She is a member of The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Guild of America and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can find her work here at www.carolinerussellking.com.