Saturday, May 25, 2013

Interview with June Featured author Matthew Dicks who talks about his novel Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend–". In my initial vision for the book, the imaginary friends would comprise the bulk of the world and thought that the human beings would remain in the shadows."

Drum Roll Please and congratulate the winner of the paperback copy of the novel who is
Congratulations Jeanne. I hope you'll join us in the read.


If you missed the reading schedule here it is again:

Week one June 3-9 Chapters 1-21
Week two June 10-16 Chapters 22-42
Week three June 17-23 Chapters 43-end

Now I'd like to introduce all of my June readers to Matthew Dicks who has graciously agreed to join us in June.

It’s my immense pleasure to introduce Matthew Dicks whose novel Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is our June monthly feature.
Matthew, welcome to my blog, I’m very excited to have your input while we read and chat about your novel.  There’s nothing to fear my May author Lisa Verge Higgins paved the way to this my second feature on my blog.

As you know I raved about your novel to whoever would listen to me, it made one of my top 20 list of 2012 and I chose it for my feature not only because I love it but because I think it’s an important piece of literature that my fiction friends would enjoy too. During our first interview you revealed that the premise of the novel came about because of your childhood imaginary friend Johnson Jonson.
How did Max come about?
I originally thought that Max would be a character in the background of the story. In my initial vision for the book, the imaginary friends would comprise the bulk of the world and thought that the human beings would remain in the shadows.
I chose to place Max on the autism spectrum for two reasons:
             Children with autism tend to have imaginary friends who last longer than typical kids, and I knew that Budo needed to be old by imaginary friend standards.
            Our school has a program for special needs students, so every year I have autistic children in my classroom. I feel like I understand these kids better than the average person and wanted to take advantage of this unique knowledge.
Still, with this in mind, I planned on keeping Max’s role small, but Max wouldn’t allow it. Every time I tried to deemphasize his presence in the book, Max reared up and refused to be ignored. It sounds strange, but in many ways Max emerged on the page because Max demanded to exist in a way that I had not planned. 

On your website you say that when your first novel was sold and published it was a dream come true.
Were you an overnight success or was it a bumpy road to becoming an author?
I had many false starts before publishing my first novel, but Something Missing was the first novel I completed, so I feel fortunate in that regard. But yes, it was a bumpy road indeed. After leaving my childhood home at eighteen, my life included years of managing fast food restaurants in order to put myself through college, a brief period of homelessness, an arrest and trial for a crime I did not commit, an armed robbery that left me with more than a decade of PTSD and much more. An interesting and often difficult path to say the least, but I wouldn’t change a thing. 

You also currently teach elementary school.
Did being a teacher help you mold the characters of Max and Budo?
My experience as a teacher certainly helped me in creating Max, but Budo was more a product of my imagination. As a third and now fifth grade teacher, I never had a student who discussed his or her imaginary friend with me.  

Your other two books have adult protagonists.
What are you working on now and is the protagonists a child or adult?
I just completed my next novel, tentatively titled The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs. It features my first female protagonist, a 40-year old woman who is unhappy with her life and the person she has become. She traces the source of her problems back to a bullying incident in high school and decides to return to her hometown after twenty-five years to do something about it.

Do you connect with other writers for critiquing/networking purposes?
I actually connect with readers for critiquing. I have a group of about 25 friends who read my work chapter by chapter and offer feedback as I write. After having grown up on video games, I require immediate feedback. I use about ten of these people for each novel and choose them based upon how their skills match up with the type of book that I am writing. For the book I just finished, I used more women than ever before simply because the book is comprised primarily of female characters. For Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, I chose more teachers and parents as readers than normal because of the nature of the story.
But in terms of networking, yes, I connect with writers constantly. They have become some of my closest friends. Being able to share the day to day struggles of being a writer with someone who shares the same struggles has been invaluable.

You also describe yourself as a storyteller and not just in print, you host many in-person and other media storytelling series including one that you and your wife host in Connecticut called Speak Up! Oral storytelling is an important part of our history.
Why do you think that oral storytelling is important today?
I think it’s important for people to look and listen more. With our heads buried in our phones and our computer screens and television programing available on demand, it’s easy to find yourself staring at screens more often than actual human beings. Storytelling requires you to put away the phone, step away from the computer and TV, and sit and listen to someone share a portion of their life with you. I can think of no better way to spend time.  

Your blog (which I love and need most days for a huge bit of humor) is very entertaining.
Is it mostly an emotional outlet for you, a stress reliever or something totally different?
My blog is the space where I can express the random, incomplete, and inconsequential thoughts that I have on a daily basis. Whether I am bragging about my children, discussing my writing process, whining about my golf game or criticizing a piece of popular culture, my blog is the outlet for my unfiltered, unedited, often unwise self. I can’t imagine what I would do without it.
 My wife is the only person who gets to tell me that I’ve gone too far and need to refrain from posting something. She is my filter. Fortunately, she only nixes posts once or twice a year. 

Than you Matthew for this interview and for the opportunity to pick your brain for an entire month. I can’t wait to begin!!!

Barnes & Noble


  1. Deb and Matthew, thanks so much for the interesting Q&A! I was an elementary teacher (2nd and 3rd grades) for almost a decade, and had a few students that were on the autism spectrum. Max sounds like a fascinating character, and I look forward to reading his (and Budo's) story.

    1. Hi Marilyn, that's fascinating and I find it so interesting learning especially through fiction about something I know very little about.
      Thanks for the comment, your husband still teaches I believe doesn't he

    2. Yes, he does still teach, Deb!
      High school, though...and his year is chaotically winding down now ;).

  2. Deb and Matthew, I too rated this book in my top 20 for 2012. Tb ough not as avid a reader as Deb , I am. Lose on her heals.
    Tbe concept for Budo was wondercul and well presented. I loved the story he had to tell. And what a wonderful way to help people understand the world of autism.
    I don't know if you ever watched the movie DROP DEAD FRED or (I can't re meber the name of the 2nd but the imaginary character's name is Budro). Each of ft hese stories had a child messge to get across to adults. And in each they tur ed to the imaginary for help and advice, or recieved on what they should do what ppl roblems they could not solve. Slmetimes I think we adults lose somethi g when we de ide we don't need our Budo anym ore.


    1. Hi Karen, thanks for the comment I remember when you told me you had read the novel
      I really look forward to this coming month and this discussion

  3. Well Deb, I've gotten to the end of chapter 21, and I can't tell you how hard it was to stop! Hurry up and start the discussion - I can't wait!

    1. Hi Elaine. I just re-finished it too! I so wanted to go on. I'm making up questions as we speak :)
      glad you'll be with us