Years ago I got a call at home at six o’clock in the morning. “Is that the Ken Martin who writes for the International Observer?” “No,” I said. The caller seemed disappointed, but he ended the call.
For years I’ve wondered what he wanted with me. To buy the movie rights to a story I wrote? Had someone left me money? I’ll never know. And never know why, even half-asleep, I didn’t recognize that he was certainly asking for me? Was it because I hadn’t worked as a journalist for years? Was it that as far as I knew technically there was no such thing as an international Observer. The caller sounded American, and he’d probably got the name of the paper wrong because it was published in another country. Or was it one more instance of my kneejerk stubborn refusal to set the record straight when it would be easy to do so? I remember when I lived in London and a bar acquaintance assumed I’d been lying about an assignment because it didn’t appear in that Sunday’s magazine. I could have set him straight by telling him the magazine’s lead time was at least four weeks. But I refuse to defend myself because I assume the more I explain the more likely I’ll appear defensive, and I don’t want people to think they have the power to make me feel defensive. And maybe I believe people will believe whatever they want to, whatever I say.
When Jay Jenkins called and asked me if I was Kenneth Martin the novelist, I hesitated for barely a second before I said yes. I knew that my having written novels was a matter of public record. But when he said he wanted to republish Waiting for the Sky to Fall, I was telling the truth when I said I was surprised. “Novelist” wasn’t what I’d been calling myself about myself for the longest time. And I’m good at practicing amnesia in order to focus on the task at hand.
What happened to the ambitious child who lived and breathed to be a writer? MORE TO COME