Matt Myklusch is the debut author of Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation, a wild adventure with superheros, ninjas, robots, and much more. Thanks for visiting The Writing Cave, Matt!

Tell us about your journey to publication.

I started out writing screenplays because A.) I am a big movie buff, and B.) I foolishly thought that it would be easier than novels.  The standard movie script is about 120 pages, and I said to myself, “That’s way better than writing a book that could literally be ANY length. 120 pages is realistic!”  I didn’t realize at the time that it was actually harder to do more with less words and pages.

I wrote my first screenplay in college, and it was terrible.  A good idea poorly executed.  Mainly because I didn’t know much about writing.  But, I learned from it and kept going.  I wrote two more screenplays once I got out of school, each of them a little better, but I was overly descriptive and used way too much scene direction in all of them.  I always ended up needing more than those 120 pages that I was so focused on.  My wife helped me realize that the weaknesses in my screenwriting would be strengths in a novel, and I shifted gears.  I partnered up with a friend and wrote a book.  We weren’t able to sell it, but that experience gave me the confidence to write JACK BLANK by myself, and that’s the one I finally broke through with. 

All in all, a little over a 10 year journey from the first time I sat down to write that truly terrible screenplay back in college.

Well, this is one reader who’s glad you turned to novels! What was the spark that started Jack’s story in your mind?

It really comes from a love of comic books.  I was a huge comic book fan growing up, and I still am.  With JACK BLANK, what I wanted to do was showcase the comic book world that fired my imagine nation as a kid, and show it to an audience that hasn’t seen it before. 

In the comics, you have hundreds of heroes all running around the same city fighting an endless supply of bad guys.  It’s normal for people there to see super powered battles in the middle of the street on a random Tuesday.  That fully-developed super hero world really doesn’t exist outside of comic books.  In this novel, I wanted to create my own super hero world, and show people who might otherwise never pick up a comic book how much fun it could be.  That became the Imagine Nation, and the best way I could think of to introduce this place to readers was through Jack Blank’s eyes.

You’re working on the second book of Jack’s adventures, and you envision it being a trilogy. Any hints on what readers can look forward to in the future?

At the end of Book One, Jack still has some work to do if he’s going to become the hero he wants to be.  In Book Two, we’re going to follow him as he goes at it, trying to head off some very real Rüstov threats (without letting the rest of the Imagine Nation in on the secret).  I can promise more twists and turns along the way, as well as a deeper look inside the Imagine Nation as Jack learns more about the island and how it interacts with the Real World.

I can’t wait! You said on the Simon & Schuster website that you’d pick Indiana Jones over Han Solo for top fictional hero. Convince me 🙂

Here’s the thing…  With enough hard work, study, and whip practice, I could BE Indiana Jones.  Anyone could.  It’s possible.  Han Solo is cool, but no matter how hard I try, it’s highly unlikely that I will ever grow up to be a starship captain/space-smuggler (even one who dumps his cargo at the first sight of an Imperial transport).

Please note this is not a defeatist attitude on my part, as I clearly think that A.) it’s possible that I could still become a daring archeologist that fights Nazi’s, and B.) that I have yet to grow up.

Hmm, OK, I’ll buy the logic. Though I’d still rather have Chewbacca next to me as a sidekick.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

There is so much that can be said on this subject, but the big one, I think, is don’t give up.  You only fail at something when you give up.  If you’re still trying and you haven’t quit, then you haven’t failed, no 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 like that.  Life is going to present you with no shortage of excuses for giving up… the important thing to remember is that they are excuses.  Not reasons. 

Also, write for YOU.  Write the story that you want to read.  The one that you’ll have fun writing.  It takes a long time to write a novel, and if nothing ever happens with whatever you are working on right now, you better at least have fun writing it.  That’s what I did with JACK BLANK, and I think it made a huge difference in how the story came out. 

Very good advice. Finally, I’m a cheese freak, so I have to ask: what’s your favorite cheese and why?

I like melted cheese.  Because it’s gooey.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer questions, Matt! Find out more at the Jack Blank and the Imagine Nation website and facebook page, and follow Matt on Twitter.

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