Clem Martini

Clem Martini was born and grew up in Bowness, Alberta, which later became part of Calgary. He was the third of four boys. When he was older, he also lived in Montreal while studying at the National Theatre School.

As a child, Clem loved reading, animals, and the outdoors. He spent a lot of time camping, hiking, and cross-country skiing. His favorite books were the Narnia series and works by Tolkien. He also liked the Taran Wanderer series by Lloyd Alexander, science fiction by Andre Norton and Robert Heinlein, and Frank Herbert’s Dune. He was introduced to Seven Pillars of Wisdom in junior high and felt it was profound. His favorite subjects at school were English, Social Studies, and Art.

Clem’s parents encouraged all of his hobbies and interests. One idea his mother had was to provide Clem and his brothers with a tiny budget that they could spend on used books. They would fill a cardboard box with them, and as they camped the summer away, they would go through the box, reading the works they had bought and trading the others back and forth.

Clem knew that he wanted to be writer from a young age. In junior high, he wrote a short story as part of his English homework. His teacher encouraged him to enter it in a contest. He did, and won! He began entering other assignments in contests, and in high school, he won $500 and first prize for a play he had written. At that point, things crystallized for him. He decided to write about things that interested him. And if others were as interested in the writing as he was, they would pay him.

Clem studied drama in university and eventually taught drama and playwriting to young people at Wood Homes, an organization that ran several programs for troubled youth. During the almost twenty years he spent working at Wood Homes, Clem had to deal with kids who had such issues as drug or substance abuse, anger management problems, and learning disabilities. Teaching drama was a challenge, especially to the students who had trouble reading and writing.

One such person was continually being disruptive in class, and would loudly proclaim that he hated drama. That summer, they produced a show in which he acted. After the show, he pulled Clem aside and asked to speak to him. Clem agreed, but then the boy said that he wanted to speak with him in the alley. It was night, but Clem agreed. When they got outside, the teen said that they should walk further up the alley. Clem was getting somewhat nervous, but he said okay. Once they were way up the alley, and no one was around to hear, the student said, “I actually kind of like drama,” and then ran off to join the others.

To kids who are interested in writing, Clem says, “Write about things that you feel passionate about. Try to get some writing done every day. Don’t be shy about sharing your writing with others—and really listen to their responses.”

Annick Press books
by Clem Martini