It's Thursday again, and that means I get to welcome Matt Mikalatos to the blog! Read on to find out more about Matt and his middle grade fantasy novel The Sword of Six Worlds, just released this past December.
What are you working on right now?
I'm in the middle of a YA novel about super hero kids, which I wrote as a Christmas present for my daughters. Now it's getting the first draft clean up, and then we'll get to work on structural issues, a lot of which have to do with themes that didn't come out clearly enough (or that I didn't know about when I was writing the first draft). Basically, this is me wishing I wrote comic books.
What's your pre-writing ritual?
Hiding. I usually need to hide somewhere to get some writing time, unless I make the big pronouncement to the family, "Dad is now working on a novel and even though the laptop is open and his eyes are open, let's all pretend that he is somewhere far away." Sometimes I turn of the Internet on my computer, or my "research" takes me on strange rabbit trails that prevent writing.
What is one of the most surprising/interesting things you've discovered while doing research for a story?
I was doing some research into omega point cosmology (essentially the exact point/moment/place where the universe can no longer become more complex or evolve further… depending on who you talk to about it), and was surprised to discover that the concept originated with a Jesuit priest. It's pretty amazing, because the concept has since been picked up, transformed, altered and used by everyone from pot heads to transhumanists to science fiction authors. It's fascinating to me that it was originally part of a system designed to be part of Christian apologetics.
You can have lunch with any writer, living or dead. Who would it be, and why?
Probably John Steinbeck. His novel, "East of Eden" is my favorite novel of all time, and I admire the way he talked about justice and doing the right thing in the context of every day life, and in the middle of hugely entertaining novels. Word is, however, that he was a bit cranky, so my second choice would Endo Shusaku, the famous Japanese novelist, whose work is staggeringly good. Or Gene Wolfe. Or Michael Connelly. Maybe we could have lunch at one of those big buffet tables.
What's one of the best novels and/or short stories you've read recently?
I'm in the middle of "The Passage" by Justin Cronin right now, which I'm enjoying a lot. Not too long ago my kids and I read "Super" and "Powerless" by Matthew Cody. We all enjoyed those and assume/hope another book is coming in that series.
Writing is a sedentary endeavor. What do you do to stay healthy and active?
I'll run a few times a week when I'm doing well on this topic, or, when I'm doing poorly, I'll run once every few weeks. I strongly suggest the former if you can stay disciplined. Once you get out of the habit it's increasingly difficult to get back in. I find that the quiet and space often give me a chance to work through things in my stories and novels when I run, actually, so it's helpful on the artistic front as well.
What other writing projects have you been involved in this year?
I have a story in the UFO (Unidentified Funny Objects) anthology, about a vampire who hunts vampire hunters (or, as he calls himself, a vampire "vampire hunter" hunter). My middle grade fantasy novel, The Sword of Six Worlds, released in December, which has been an enormous amount of fun. I really like the tag line for that book: Validus Smith has three goals. Stay alive. Save the World. Finish her homework.