Kathie: Hi Mat, and welcome to MG Book Village! I appreciate you taking some time to chat with me today. You have an upcoming MG graphic novel called LUMBERJACKULA illustrated by Sam Owens and scheduled for release on July 19th from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. Can you tell us a bit about it, please?
Mat: Hi Kathie, so happy to be chatting! Lumberjackula is about Jack, a ½ vampire, ½ lumberjack who can’t decide which of his parent’s old middle schools he wants to attend, because the truth is, all he wants to do is dance! There’s tons of fun dance sequences beautifully drawn by Sam Owen and loads of puns and unique characters. It’s a story about how you don’t have to choose just one side of yourself. I can’t wait to get it in kids hands!
Kathie: It sounds like this story has a very relatable theme of finding the confidence to do your own thing. Why was it important for you to write about this?
Mat: As a kid, I struggled a ton with confidence and still do now really. I’m dyslexic and was a pretty poor student. It wasn’t until I started expressing myself creatively that my confidence grew. I’m the dad of the two best kids in the world, and I want them to eternally feel supported to be whoever they are and I want more stories in the world that celebrate folks dancing to their own beat. I’m hoping kids reading Jack’s story will be inspired to be more brave and go after what they want.
Kathie: Did you enjoy reading humorous stories when you were younger, and who are some of your writing influences?
Mat: Reading wasn’t the easiest when I was a kid, but I was obsessed with Calvin and Hobbes. I also watched pretty much every cartoon ever in the 90s. I have so many writing influences, some maybe more obvious ones are Jeff Kinney, Vera Brosgol, Alex Hersh (and the Gravity Falls writers), and John Allison. But I was also really influenced early on by Brian K. Vaughan and Jeff Lemire.
Kathie: If you could choose to be a lumberjack or a vampire, which would you choose, and why?
Mat: Oh vampire, no question! I want as much time on earth as possible. There’s a ton I want to do, and I never seem to have the time. So living forever would be rad. I would have to vampirize my family (with their blessing of course) and I would figure out a not jerky way to get my blood and just fly around doing cool stuff. I’m already pretty nocturnal and like wearing black, so I think it would fit me well! Being a lumberjack wouldn’t be awful, I do love me some flannel and being outside. But the whole manual labor, coordination part I would just be so, so bad at.
Kathie: What was the collaboration process like for you with Sam when creating this graphic novel?
Mat: I would make a hundred books with Sam if I could! I hope there’s a demand for some Lumberjackula sequels. This entire process with Sam has just been amazing. I approached Sam about the book when I just had a synopsis, a sample script, and some character designs. Since then, he’s added so much to every word I wrote in the scripts and I couldn’t imagine the book without him. We both got our agent Maria through this project, and it’s been awesome going on this journey with him. I can’t wait to start promoting it a bit out there in the real world and maybe even meet him in person one day!
Kathie: What’s something new you discovered about yourself as a writer while working on this book?
Mat: I guess not really fully new, but with Lumberjackula I feel like I’ve really landed on the type of books I want to make– silly middle grade where really anything can happen!
Kathie: Where can our readers go to find out more about you and your writing?
Mat: I have a website that’s due for an overhaul, but has all the important info. Matheagerty.com I also am @mat.heagerty on instagram and for some reason, I still subject myself to twitter, I’m @matheagerty on there.
Kathie: Best of luck with your book’s release, Mat, and thanks for stopping by the Village.
Mat: Thank you so much for having me! I’m grateful!
Mat Heagerty is a comic book writer living in Boise, ID. He’s the writer of “Martian Ghost Centaur”, “Unplugged and Unpopular”, and Lumberjackula”.