Martine Bates Leavitt is a Canadian educator and award-winning author of young adult novels. She writes in fantasy and contemporary realism genres. She is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
She was born in Taber, Alberta, Canada, in 1953. Her father was in the military, so she grew up in various towns and cities across Canada. She moved to Calgary in 1974, married, and had six children. In 1990, now as a single parent, she enrolled at the University of Calvary. Her first book, The Dragon’s Tapestry, was published by Red Deer Press in 1992. Her second, The Prism Moon, followed in 1993, and her third, The Taker’s Key, served as her Honors thesis. She earned an Honors English degree in 1996.
In 1995, she married Greg Leavitt. The Taker’s Key was published in 1998, the last book in the Marmawell Fantasy trilogy. She worked for one year, then quit to have her seventh child. On her lunch hours at work, she wrote The Dollmage. It was published in 2001.
She earned a master’s degree from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2003, the same year she published Tom Finder. Heck Superhero was published in 2004.
She worked for a time as a copy editor for SMART Technologies. She is now a faculty member at Vermont College of Fine Arts and teaches in the MFA Writing for Children and Young Adults program and visiting professor at Brigham Young University.
Her novel Keturah and Lord Death (2006) won several awards and was a finalist for the National Book Award.
The Association for Mormon Letters presented her with an award in Young Adult Literature in 1993 and 1998. She has also won an Our Choice Award by the Canadian Children's Book Centre for The Prism Moon and The Taker's Key. She was the winner of the 2003 Mr. Christie Award for Tom Finder, finalist for the 2006 National Book Award for Keturah and Lord Death, finalist for the 2004 Governor General’s Awards for Heck Superhero. She won the 2013 Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award for My Book of Life by Angel! The novel was also designated a Quill and Quire book of the year. In 2016, Leavitt won Canada's Governor General's Literary Award for her young adult novel Calvin. Her award came with a prize of $25,000. Leavitt said, "My Father in Heaven gave me the talent. He gave me an ability to somehow carve out the time. He gives me the ideas. Sometimes he gives me the words. I'll be showing up to this award indebted to him."
Chris Crowe, a BYU English professor and novelist who worked to get Leavitt to come to BYU, said he is impressed by the career Leavitt has made for herself while raising a large family and serving in the LDS Church.
- "(She had) lots of excuses not to pursue her art, and she's found a way to do it," he said. "So one of her challenges to our graduate students was to start writing at five in the morning because then you make sure you get it done."
He shared a story about Leavitt writing on the bus during her hourlong commute to her job in Calgary. "That was the only time of day she had to write," he said, "so she wrote a couple novels on a bus—handwritten—because she couldn't take time away from the kids."