Friday, 26 March 2010

Q&A with author Matt Mikalatos

Q&A with Matt Mikalatos, the author of "Imaginary Jesus"


How did you start writing?


It mostly grew out of my drama classes in high school, actually. We would write our own sketches and plays, and when I got into college I realized that I loved writing, not just acting. So I was actually a writing major at the University of California in Riverside, and I wrote a couple of unpublishable projects before Imaginary Jesus. But high school is where it all started, with an excellent Drama teacher named Mrs. ten Pas.


How did you come up with the idea for "Imaginary Jesus?"


I have always thought it interesting to take Biblical stories and transport them into the present so I can see what makes sense and what is weird. For instance, Jesus walking up to fishermen and saying "Follow Me" doesn't seem like a big deal. But imagining him walking into a fast food restaurant and telling the employees to follow him is a completely different picture. It's weird to imagine people leaving burgers burning on the grill and walking out the door after Jesus. So, as I started to wrestle through a lot of our misconceptions about who Jesus is, I thought it would be funny and interesting to see what it would be like if we could actually see our misconceived Jesuses. It all grew out of that first chapter in the book, where someone points out, "Hey, your Jesus seems a little weird. I don't think that's the real Jesus."


Who are your favorite writers and why?


Oh boy... how many do I get to list? Here are a few:

1) John Steinbeck. If I could grow up to write like anyone, it would be JS. I re-read "East of Eden" about once a year. He has an amazing ability to draw out the complexities of human interactions that shows a keen understanding of human nature and what drives us. He doesn't waste words, and his books are moving and powerful.

2) Gene Wolfe. Gene Wolfe gets touted all the time as one of the best living writers in the English language, and I think this is true. His books are the type of books that I can re-read multiple times with increasing enjoyment. Check out his collection of short stories "Strange Travellers" or the novel "Pirate Freedom."

3) Flannery O'Connor. Again, keen insight into human beings, but Flannery also has keen insight into everything else. Everything she wrote, essays, short stories and novels are all amazing. The short story "Parker's Back" is my current favorite. I've never lived in the South, either, I'm a California boy.

4) Michael Connelly. I love the Harry Bosch detective novels. I always pre-order them and then wait by the mailbox. I love reading about someone so dedicated to justice and the fact that every human being matters and they all "count." And he's a gifted story teller, who uses plot to reveal character over time. Harry Bosch is certainly my favorite series character.

There are a lot more... Vonnegut, Beuchner, Lewis, Chesterton and more. But I don't want to bore you by listing a million authors!

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