I would like to thank Tyndale Publishers and Matt Mikalatos for providing me with a unique opportunity. This week I had the privilege of having an e-mail Q&A with Matt regarding his newest book “Night of the Living Dead Christian”. Below you will see the transcript of this conversation. I hope you enjoy.
Me: I can understand your interest and use of monsters in this book due to your exposure to Monster Mania. What was the motivating factor that lead you to write?
Matt: I started writing seriously when I was in high school, and my motivation has always been to entertain and to reveal truth. The use of monsters in my current book was a natural, since I spent a lot of time as a kid reading and watching science fiction with my Dad. I thought it was an apt metaphor for the human struggle, how we’re all desiring to become “more human”... to become who God created us to be. It’s really an extension of the Biblical metaphors about how we must be alive in Christ and dead to sin, but that we wrestle with the old man within us.
Me: In this fiction book there still seems to be a picture of who you are, as well as your family. Do you think that this serves as a hook for the reader, or a turn off?
Matt: Ha ha ha. Well, clearly I hope it’s a hook. I don’t think any author is consciously trying to turn off their readers. A lot of people have told me they enjoyed having a “real life” narrator, and it’s an illusion that a lot of classical novels employ.
Me: Our more fundamental brothers and sisters in Christ may not be so keen on your use of monsters. One lady I know attributed your use of monsters in your story as dabbling in the Occult. How would you respond to such claims?
Matt: In 1950 some Christians accused C.S. Lewis of “dabbling in the Occult” (or worse) for his book, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Their argument basically said, “There is a witch in this book, therefore it is an Occult book.” It’s a specious argument. There are witches and sorcerers and demons in scripture, too. My book is about overcoming evil in our personal lives, and there’s not a way to write a story like that without acknowledging and portraying the evil which must be overcome. The fact that the book has a couple of vampires and werewolves and zombies in it doesn’t make the book Occult any more than having an angel in a book would make it Christian. The fact is, my book is about what it means to be a follower of Jesus and what the Gospel is, and how to know and follow Jesus.
Me: Reading this book I often found myself asking, “Which monster represents me?” Do you think that people can relate with multiple monsters depending on the day?
Matt: Absolutely. Since the monsters represent, to some degree, specific sin struggles it’s pretty easy for me to relate to a certain monster depending on the day, the hour, or the minute. I tried to imply that in the book when you see a certain character who has a “trophy box” of his former monstrous characteristics. One of the themes in the book is how the monster will avoid mirrors, because he doesn’t want to see himself. My hope is that this book will be a mirror for all of us that causes us to ask ourselves, “Am I a monster?”
Me: In the Werewolf’s view of transformation you hit a nerve about how Christians will ignore the raped woman on the sidewalks while holding our anti-abortion signs. Many Churches and believers are who run battered women shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, and minister to those who are less fortunate. What would you say motivated this narrative in this chapter?
Matt: The werewolf character has been badly hurt by a Christian in his own life, so it makes sense that his picture of Christians will often skew toward the most negative aspects of Christianity he has observed, and his observation is a fair one: some Christians, in their zeal to oppose the evils of abortion, create a secondary evil by harming women who are in difficult situations. Undoubtedly, the counter examples you gave are true, but when someone has been hurt by a Christian they won’t point out the most godly person in a church and say “That’s what Christians are like,” they’ll use the lowest possible example. I think, as a Christian, I like to point out the best examples of Christian living and say, “That’s what it means to be a Christian.” But if a Christian behaves in an evil way I’ll say, “Oh, that person isn’t a Christian” instead of dealing with the more difficult truth that sometimes Christians do truly horrible things... that sometimes I can do truly horrible things. In many ways that’s the key theme of the book: if we’re truly following Jesus, why aren’t we more like him?
Look for the book review to post on Thursday. Also don’t forget our first ever blog giveaway which will be linked to the book review.