Friday, March 6, 2015

6 Question: An Author Spotlight with Matt Myklusch

Writer and illustrator Matt Myklusch answers our questions! 

Favorite MG authors? Illustrators you admire?

I don’t read very much middle-grade, as I don’t want to be influenced by what else is out there in my category. I have, of course, read the new classics, Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. JK Rowling and Rick Riordan are both amazing. (Really going out on a limb, aren’t I?)

On the subject of illustrators, I have to give a shout out to Owen Richardson who painted the covers for my Jack Blank books and the Artemis Fowl series too. Also, Matt Armstrong, who did the cover for Seaborne: The Lost Prince. I couldn’t be happier with the way that one turned out. Growing up, I was incredibly influenced by comic book pencillers. There are too many to list, but I’ll say Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, Arthur Adams, Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen, and Joe Quesada to name a few. I’m still a huge comic book fan, so that list grows every year.

Favorite MG books from the past year (2014/2015)?

I actually didn’t read any! I read a ton of books, but nothing in my category. I will say that Brandon Mull had a new series kick off last year, and I think his Beyonders and Fablehaven books are excellent. I’d recommend anything he does sight unseen.

How/why did you start writing?

When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time reading comic books like the X-Men, watching TV shows like GI Joe and the Transformers, and movies like Indiana Jones and Star Wars. I always walked away from those things wanting to create my own version of them. I would spend hours drawing my own superheroes and super-villains. My own Transformer and GI Joe characters. My own space adventurers and dauntless archeologists. For some reason, it was never enough to just watch. I always wanted to get in the game.

I think creativity is a compulsion. No matter what form it takes (writing, drawing, singing, acting, etc…), it starts out as an idea that you feel a need to express. A voice in your head that won’t shut up. That’s what gets me started on every new story. I don’t know why I feel a need to do it. I just know I love it and can’t stop. Maybe that’s the reason.

One piece of advice for young writers?

You only fail if you quit. Don’t think about the odds and don’t give up. If after years of writing, you are still trying to get published but haven’t quit, then you haven’t failed. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been at it. A screenwriter named Josh Olson wrote, “You can’t discourage a writer. If I can talk you out of being a writer, then you’re not a writer.” I totally agree. Life is going to present you with no shortage of excuses for giving up. The important thing to remember is that’s all they are— excuses. They’re not reasons. Have faith in yourself and your story.  You can do anything if you want it bad enough.

Also, write for YOU. No one is forcing you to sit down and write, so write the story you want to read. The one you will have the most fun writing. There’s no guarantee anything will ever happen with it, so you better at least have fun writing it. I happen to believe that makes the book come out better in the end.

What are you currently working on?  (Give us your elevator pitch!)

I’m working on a book that is a cross between Johnny Quest and Indiana Jones, with a little bit of James Bond mixed in. I’ve got a first draft complete, but it needs a few tweaks. I’m still trying to find my groove with this story, but it will be a lot of fun once I do.

Are your characters/stories inspired by real people/events?

I think we’re all the sum total of our experiences, so it’s impossible to separate yourself completely from your art. Often, it’s only when I look back on a finished project that I realize, “Oh, I’ve been writing about myself.” Maybe not on a story-detail level (as I have never been a pirate or super-hero), but on a thematic level definitely. I see elements of that in Seaborne and Jack Blank, and I didn’t even realize I was doing it while I was writing the books. That’s one the amazing things about writing— a book can still have surprises in store for its author!

Don't forget!  Matt is going to be hosting a half hour art lesson at YA Fest Jr!

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