Lies for Fun and Profit: Matt Mikalatos

We all know I have an ego that struggles to fit through doorways, and delusions of grandeur that could power a large American city.  So it’s saying something when I tell you that my ego has nothing on the truth behind the mask revealed by Matt Mikalatos in his interview this week.  Or is that the lies behind the mask?  Which interview series is this again?

A lot of your work has a theological bent.  Do you find it difficult to explore theology via genre fiction?

Of course not. There’s a long history of genre fiction and theology getting along famously, whether it’s Tolkien’s “Lord of the Sabbath” trilogy or the Thomas Covenant books, where entire chapters are devoted to ancient near eastern covenant relationships and tribal contract law. The real problem is that my books are theological comedies, and, as you know, so much theological comedy has been written that it’s hard to get a laugh sometimes. On the other hand, when you’re writing about the problem of evil or soteriological systems, the jokes write themselves. Ancient monastic tradition states to clear the room of all furniture when reading in the theological comedy genre “Lest thou breakest thy furniture and become sore vexed when thy reading travels unto its end.” I regularly get notes from people who laughed so hard while reading “My Imaginary Jesus” that they threw their collective backs out. It warms my heart to think of those readers, bent over in pain, trying desperately to crawl across the living room to call the chiropractor.

You have a new book coming out soon.  Tell us about it.

My fantasy book The Sword of Six Worlds just came out. It’s not actually a theological comedy novel, it’s a kids’ fantasy novel. It’s the moving story of six sentient planets who have to share one sword. They’re always fighting over it and like, “HEY! Don’t make me throw asteroids at you” because they hate to share swords. And then they use the sword to break up some comets and an Oort cloud comes to fight them. Then the Death Star from Star Wars gets involved, but it’s no match for a giant sword!

My kids always wanted me to write a story of a young girl overcoming all odds to protect the world from destruction by using a sword and making friends with a giant talking rock and a tiger and things like that, but I was like, hello, fantasy novels are all about planets and spaceships and stuff. Kids are dumb that way.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

My parents were computer programmers and pulled me aside when I was very young and said, “Son, we don’t want you to make a lot of money in a job you have mild feelings about. Go forth and study something you love, even if it will make you poor.” I told them I at least wanted to minor in business or computers but they wouldn’t let me. I had to get a degree in writing. I cried all day and night, but the suffering was really good for my poetry. My backup was always to be an actor and star as “victim #3” in lots of slasher movies. I don’t know why #3. I guess I didn’t want to be the first one to die, or the last. I wanted to feel a part of something bigger than myself.

What’s the weirdest fan interaction you’ve had so far?

It wasn’t the guy who wrote me because he believed he was the reincarnated (Muslim) Jesus. He was really sweet until I told him I didn’t believe he was Jesus, at which point he threatened me and removed me from God the Father and God the Holy Spirit’s e-mail address book. That seemed normal enough.

It was probably all those fans who post on their Facebook accounts, “I am reading the new book by Matt Mikalatos” and then I post on their wall “HOW DO YOU LIKE IT, SUCKER?” or “YOU BETTER GIVE IT FIVE STARS ON AMAZON OR ELSE HA HA HA HA JUST KIDDING NO REALLY” and then they block me or say mean things. I mean, they should be glad to get some attention from an author, because we are like unapproachable beings who dwell in infinite awesome. Fans are weird.

A lot of people have been clamoring for your autobiography. When are you going to give the public what we all want?

I was just talking to Ben Affleck about this, because he really wants to play me. He thinks the drama and comedy of my life would be a perfect mix. I was raised by dolphins who were protecting the ocean from corporate waste dumpers and whalers, so there’s a lot of natural conflict in that, plus I’m allergic to fish. It’s a really beautiful story. Especially when my parents turn me over to a pack of wolves, because they know they can’t take care of me anymore and I was like, “SKreeeeach! Whistle, pop pop!” Then the wolves get killed by a hutch of rabbits and, well, it just gets sort of bogged down for a while there in the normal story of a dolphin wolf boy trying to fit in with some ultra violent rabbits. But eventually I became their Vice-President. Anyway, I feel like anyone who wants to know me more can just read my blog or twitter. Affleck told me that he would read The Sword of Six Worlds to see if he would like to adapt it for a movie and I keep sending him the same message over and over: HOW DO YOU LIKE IT, SUCKER? No reply yet. Fingers crossed.

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