Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Author Q&A With Matthew Dicks & a Giveaway!

Hello, my Muses!

Instead of a book review, I wanted to treat everyone with a Q&A and a Giveaway. Awhile back I reviewed Matthew Dick's novel Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend (which you can view HERE) and was so blown away that I just had to talk to him about it. He was not only gracious enough to answer my questions, but also sent me a signed hardcover copy of his novel to give away to one lucky winner!

This Interview & Giveaway should have been posted on my blog months ago, but as some of you may know I ended up getting very sick last fall and I went on a hiatus. While it frustrates me that I didn't get this posted closer to the book's release date, I believe that sometimes things happen for a reason. Maybe this post will catch the interest of someone who hasn't heard about Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend. Or maybe it will give previous readers a different way to look at the novel. Either way, I am absolutely thrilled to share this unique Q&A with everyone.


P.S. Don't forget to scroll down to the bottom so that you can enter for a chance to win an autographed hardcover copy of Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks!

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend

Imaginary friend Budo narrates this heartwarming story of love, loyalty, and the power of the imagination—the perfect read for anyone who has ever had a friend . . . real or otherwise Budo is lucky as imaginary friends go. He's been alive for more than five years, which is positively ancient in the world of imaginary friends. But Budo feels his age, and thinks constantly of the day when eight-year-old Max Delaney will stop believing in him. When that happens, Budo will disappear. Max is different from other children. Some people say that he has Asperger’s Syndrome, but most just say he’s “on the spectrum.” None of this matters to Budo, who loves Max and is charged with protecting him from the class bully, from awkward situations in the cafeteria, and even in the bathroom stalls. But he can’t protect Max from Mrs. Patterson, the woman who works with Max in the Learning Center and who believes that she alone is qualified to care for this young boy. When Mrs. Patterson does the unthinkable and kidnaps Max, it is up to Budo and a team of imaginary friends to save him—and Budo must ultimately decide which is more important: Max’s happiness or Budo's very existence. Narrated by Budo, a character with a unique ability to have a foot in many worlds—imaginary, real, child, and adult— Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend touches on the truths of life, love, and friendship as it races to a heartwarming . . . and heartbreaking conclusion.

Go HERE to read my previously published review for Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend.

About Matthew Dicks

MATTHEW DICKS is a writer and elementary school teacher. His articles have been published in the Hartford Courant and he has been a featured author at the Books on the Nightstand retreat. He is also a Moth storyteller and a two-time StorySLAM champion. Dicks is the author of three novels, Memoirs of An Imaginary Friend, Something Missing and Unexpectedly Milo. He lives in Newington, Connecticut, with his wife, Elysha, and their children, Clara and Charlie. 

Q&A With Matthew Dicks, Author of Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend 

 1. How did you come up with the idea for Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend?

The idea for the book originates back in childhood. When I was about ten years old, I was speaking to my mother about a trip that we had made to Roger Williams Park in Providence, Rhode Island. I was reminding her of an afternoon spent in the Japanese Gardens, and how Johnson Johnson and I played tag on the connecting islands in the middle pond.

"Matt," she said. "You know Johnson Johnson wasn't real. Right?"


"You know Johnson Johnson was your imaginary friend. Right?"

"No," I said, thinking my mother was crazy. "Johnson Johnson. The boy who lived with us for a while."

"Matt, there was no Johnson Johnson. He was imaginary."

"No. Johnson Johnson. The boy who lived with us. Like Jessica."

Jessica was a foster child who had come to live with my family for about six weeks, and she was one of several children who my parents would take in from time to time when I was young. In my mind, Johnson Johnson had been just another one of these kids. The first of them.

But it turned out that Johnson Johnson was not real. I had made him up. Even with a brother and a sister, I had somehow needed someone else to keep me company, and so I invented Johnson Johnson, who my mother had always assumed was named after Johnson & Johnson's baby powder. 

I couldn't believe it. Years later I would watch the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, a story about technology that allows people to erase unwanted sections of their lives, and I instantly understood the concept and sympathized with the characters. In a single stroke, hundreds of memories of my childhood had been altered forever. The boy who I thought had accompanied me to all of my early adventures had suddenly been erased, and for weeks afterward, I would find my mind stumbling upon memories in which Johnson Johnson still existed. Memories in need of erasing.

I mentioned this to a fellow teacher a couple years ago, and she said it would make the basis for an excellent book. I thought she was crazy, but my agent and wife agreed, so I began writing. I promised to give the book an honest effort for the duration of the summer, but if August was ending and I was not happy with the result, I would shift gears.

It took me one day to realize I had a good story in the works.  I have learned to always listen to my wife and agent.

2. When creating the world and mythology of Imaginary Friends, were you aware of the similarities between "ghosts" and imaginary friends? If so, what was your thought process in keeping a clear distinction between the two?

Budo addresses this issue at one point in the book. Ghosts, he explains, were once alive. Imaginary friends were never alive. This also means that ghosts would presumably have a firmer grasp on the real world, having occupied it in a traditional way at one point. Imaginary friends are more prone to confusion and misunderstanding.

3. So there is a little controversy over Imaginary Friend  having difficulty finding a specific audience. To clarify, do you consider the book to be a Young Adult novel, an Adult novel? Neither or both?

I wrote the novel for adults, and while I think of adults as my primary audience, I can certainly see this book crossing over into the YA market as well.

4. Some people have picked up your book because they think the main focus of the novel is about a child that has a form of Autism or Asperger's but in fact, Max's diagnosis is never specifically stated. Can you talk a little bit about that and what you hope readers will get from Imaginary Friend?

My first and foremost goal with any book that I write is to offer readers a good story that will keep them turning the pages and entertained throughout. Any themes that derive from the work come later and often by accident.

That said, I've always been interested in the idea that we encourage children to be themselves and reject peer pressure, but when these children choose to be different and eventually grow into adults who do not conform to our mainstream idea of a normal adult, we punish them for it. Being yourself takes a great deal of courage. In Max's case, he has no choice. Being himself, as different as that may be, is all that he knows how to do, and to go out into the world each day, so different than everyone around him, is an act of courage that we often fail to recognize. Budo calls Max the bravest boy in the world, and I am inclined to agree with him. 

5.  I am aware that Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend was published overseas first, in countries such as the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. What kind of reception has Imaginary Friend received in other countries? How about so far here in the United States?

The reception abroad was been amazing. I hear from readers overseas every day about the book, and so far their reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. People identify with many aspects of the book. Some recall imaginary friends from their childhood. others see aspects of their own children in Max. Many have fallen head over heels in love with Budo and his allegiance to Max.

6. Let's talk about the cover art for Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend. I noticed my ARC copy (which just so happens to be my favorite) is different from the cover on which I am assuming is the final artwork the publishing company went with. I know many times authors do not have a whole lot of control over the art department. Can you explain the process through your own experience? Also, which cover do you like the most?

St. Martin's Press actually involved me a great deal in the choice of covers, and I couldn't be more grateful. As with most books, there were several options in play at one point, and each one of them was sent my way for feedback and suggestions. Also, because the book is being published in 14 different countries, I have also had a chance to see many of the covers from those those markets as well, so I've been lucky to see several visual interpretations of the book. Ultimately we decided on the cover that we thought would appeal to the greatest number of readers, and it was one of my favorites as well.

7. I pointed out in my review some parallels I noticed between your theme of childhood vs. growing up and the theories Romantic poet William Wordsworth had about childhood. In a nutshell, he believed that children are the closest to God and heaven because their imaginations and spirit haven't been tainted by the responsibilities and sometimes ugly process of "growing up." Are you familiar with Wordsworth and his ideas about childhood? Do you agree or disagree with him? 

Oddly enough, I recall this discussion from my college days, and though I can't remember how I felt about it then, I'm not inclined to agree with Wordsworth today. I have always viewed children as less experienced adults, deserving of all the respect and accountability of an adult. I suspect that this attitude comes from my years of teaching, but I also look back on my own childhood and am able to see a clear line between eight year old version of myself and today's version. There is no magical transformation that takes place between childhood and adulthood. Me is me is me, all the way through.

8. My absolute favorite character is Oswald! And in my review I mentioned how Oswald reminds me of the "mean/misunderstood" ghost in the movie "GHOST" starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg. Were you aware of this? And do you have a favorite character in your book?

I know the character you refer to from GHOST, but I had not thought about him at all while writing the book. It's an interesting parallel, though.

Asking me to choose a favorite character is cruel, because I love so many of them, including Oswald. If I were forced to choose, it would probably be Budo, which is a boring answer, I know, but also an honest one. Of all the characters in the book, I know Budo the best, and I admire his allegiance to Max despite the dangers that it may bring.

9. I noticed you are a teacher. When do you find the time to write and are you open with your students about your writing career? What do they think?

I don't sleep very much, and I tend to write within the cracks of life. Ten minutes here. Thirty minutes there. Writers who are too precious with the time and location and beverage required in order to write tend not to write. If you want to write, you always find time.

As for my students, I share a great deal with them about the writing process and my ongoing career. I try to treat them as honest-to-goodness authors, with all the benefits and expectations that come with the job. I want to give them a glimpse into the business of books in hopes that they may be inspired to continue writing beyond the classroom. And they are fascinated by the process. They can't get enough of it, always demanding that I share recent news or tell them a story about something that has taken place as a result of my career.

10. So what are you working on now? 

My new book is the story of a woman who is bullied in high school and suffers one especially traumatic event which she believes changed the course of her life forever. Twenty years later, through a confluence of events, she decides that it is time to return to her hometown and confront the bully who treated her so badly in high school and finally have her comeuppance. It's a story about finding the perfect comeback a little too late, and it's also a book about how often we mistake a person's life as perfection when there is often a much more complicated story underneath.  


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  1. Thanks for the giveaway! ^_^
    Here's a link to my blog...

  2. Thanks for the giveaway! I've been wanting to read this book for quite a while!

  3. wow. Nice interview and giveaway! :D

    1. I forgot ma blog.

  4. what a wonderful idea for a book, I'd love to win a copy of it. The interview was fabulous, thanks for doing such a great job.

  5. Wow, this book sounds really unique! I will definitely be adding it to my "to-read" list :-)

  6. Thank you for the giveaway!!!

  7. Thank you for a great giveaway the book looks really good would love to read it.

  8. Thanks for the giveaway. The book looks like it would be very good.

  9. I have actually read this book and it's WONDERFUL. I cried my heart out - and laughed out loud. I could see many parallels with my own childhood ... an amazing book.

  10. Hi girl, great interview! and how cool you got a giveaway too :)
    (I didn't enter :( because I'm not from the US)
    I love how much you liked the book and how nice the author sounds

  11. I have recently found Matthew Dicks on Twitter and he's hysterical. I haven't read the book but, I've heard a lot about it. Although I trust you I refuse to read this Q and A until *after* I've read the book. So, keep it posted!