Beck Elementary librarian Jennifer Martin grew up as a self-described voracious reader. She remembers sitting in the basement of her local library reading stories and daydreaming of the faraway lands they described.
But like a reluctant hero, she once doubted she’d ever get to author fantasy stories of her own. Fortunately for Martin and her audience of readers, she overcame her fears and pursued her writing dream.
“Somewhere along the way to adulthood, I got it in my head that I’d never make it as a real writer,” Martin said. “And it wasn’t until I was finishing up my masters’ degree, in library science, that I had the courage to try in earnest.”
Now, the lifetime lover of books is a first-time published novelist.
Martin recently debuted her science fiction/street racing thriller for teens and young adults, called Tracked, at book signings in Irving and Southlake.
She will sign posters and bookmarks at the Taste of Byron, May 25 at Byron Nelson High School. The Northwest school district librarian’s book deal is with Penguin-Random House. The book has been described as The Hunger Games meets NASCAR.
“I've always loved adventure stories and science fiction epics like Star Wars,” Martin said. “Growing up, I always wanted to be the rogue, like Han Solo or the smart-mouthed hero, like Princess Leia. You could say my heroine, Phee Van Zant, was born from that. This spitfire girl who street races, on a faraway planet, and takes down an empire? She’s a little bit of both, the character I've always wanted to write … I just didn't know it, until the idea for Tracked popped into my head.”
Finding time to compose a novel takes discipline, Martin said.
“By day, I am a school librarian at Beck Elementary, in Northwest ISD,” Martin said. “And at home, by night, I get to spin my own stories.”
She said the only tricky thing is time management.
“It sometimes takes me a little bit longer to finish a novel, because I’m only writing on holidays and weekends. It’s true that balancing family time and a dual career isn’t always easy, but I love being an author and a librarian so much,” she said.
Martin also helps other young writers find their voice.
This summer, Martin will facilitate a teen writing workshop series to help young writers explore and develop their writing style. Martin is also coordinator for the Freshman Fifteens, an organization made up of young adult first-time authors.
In that role, Martin initiated an adopt-a-library project to grant two libraries working with teens with a full Freshman Fifteens library: a copy of each member’s debut book.
Denton Creek High School, an alternative campus in Northwest, will receive a complete collection of the young writers’ novels.
“For me, it’s books and young readers all the time, and I get to connect kids and adults with great stories and resources,” Martin said.