My Ex-Imaginary Friend by Jimmy Matejek-Morris
1- How might someone celebrate imaginary friends they may have had in youth this Valentine's day?
You may not know this, but imaginary friends love receiving mail. Just ask George. The perfect way to honor your past imaginary friend is to write them a card and drop it in the mailbox. Your imaginary friend might also enjoy a tasty treat, so why not order a box of your favorite snacks and leave it open? By the end of the night, you just may find your imaginary friend has eaten their fair share!
I know who else loves getting letters — Santa! 🎅 And he's always looking for elves to help make sure that every letter gets answered.
2- Would you please, in 160 characters or less, give a #WriteTip ?
Find a supportive yet tough group of beta readers and learn to take constructive feedback. It's okay to put a project down and take a break. You can do this.
3- What most motivates you to read a new book?
I am drawn to books that feature LGBTQ+ characters as well as characters who have identities and experiences different than my own. I enjoy broadening my world through reading. Reading books from a diverse group of authors is an excellent way to build compassion and understanding.
4- How much does George have in common with Bing Bong of the animated feature film Inside Out?
George, half walrus, and Bing Bong, part elephant, part dolphin, and part who knows what else, are both delightful company. Each enjoys seeing the best in their human companions and would do anything to keep their friends happy. They are fun-loving, larger than life, and whimsical. They can make you laugh, they will make you cry.
5- Would you share a picture with us of your book with some fun merchandise?
6- Other than 💩, what are some potty words that get alternatives in your next book?
So many nasty, nasty terms. Pee. Booger. Fart. It's an absolutely appalling list of words!
– April 20, 2021
7- What's your Twitter handle, and do you have two or three writer friends on there to shout-out to for #WriterWednesday ?
My twitter handle is @jmatejekmorris .
Three of my favorite fellow writers and beta readers are Sandy ( @sandyjoys ), Shoshana ( @ShoshanaFlax ), and Jen ( @jenstjude )
8- Do you have a favorite #bookstagram image or account/ profile?
I really love following LGBTQ+ bookstagrammers and accounts that feature LGBTQ+ books. Some recent favorites include @bartowskibookclub, @sleepy_librarian_, and @jordys.book.club
9- Are you a Plotter, Pantser, or Plantser, and how did you adopt that style?
I tend to start a project as a Panster, feeling out the characters and seeing where they will take me. Once I've met all my main characters and have a general sense of where the book is going, usually five or six chapters in, I pause and become a Plotter. I use color coded note-cards to plot out the rest of the book, creating a notecard for each scene or chapter and assigning each character a color. If the character appear in a chapter or scene, I will put their color on the corresponding notecard. This way, I am able to spread my scenes out and see them all at once, while also tracking each character's arcs to make sure they do not get lost. I guess this means I'm a Plantser.
10- What does your basic writing schedule look like, and how often do you write?
My writing schedule varies. In my perfect world, I will do one hour of writing in the morning before work, and at least 30 minutes of additional writing in the evening.
Unfortunately, I am not a morning person so I sometimes struggle with this habit. When I do miss a morning session, I try to make it up by doing additional time in the evenings or over the weekends. I don't fret if I don't write every day, but I do track hours spent writing on a calendar so I can make sure I'm consistently putting in effort. As somebody once advised me, create input goals, not output goals, and you will eventually reach the end of the book. The calendar helps remind me of this progress.
11- What is your favorite book by someone else, what's the author's Twitter handle, and what do you love most about that book? #FridayReads book recommendation time!
Too many to name, but my most recent favorite is:
Author name: Kalynn Bayron @KalynnBayron
Title: Cinderella is Dead
Love because: I adore fairy tale retellings, and this one had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. Very strong world building, complex characters, and awesome heroines.
12- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader?
"My Ex-Imaginary Friend" tackles some really difficult topics, but it does so with kindness, compassion, and humor. I hope this juxtaposition will leave a reader feeling empathy for Jack and George, hope that their own potential feelings of invisibility or loneliness can be overcome, and understanding for Jack's Mom by the end of the book.
13- What kind of impact do you hope your book will have?
I hope that "My Ex-Imaginary Friend" will help a child reader to feel seen, less alone, and more compassionate for people struggling with their mental health.
14- What is your favorite creative non-writing activity to do?
I've dabbled in many creative areas over the years. I love live theater, and though I haven't drawn much lately, it has always been something that I have enjoyed. Growing up, I wanted to be an artist, animator, filmmaker, and actor. I was certain I was destined to be a star on the stage and screen, but my stage fright, anxiety, and lack of theatrical talent rerouted my creative energies at an early age. With writing, I found that I could be all of the above and build complex characters and emotional journeys without the fear of falling off the stage.
15- In what ways are the main characters in your book diverse? diversebooks.org #WeNeedDiverseBooks
First, "My Ex-Imaginary Friend" has a queer author. While LGBTQ+ themes do not play an explicit role in the plot, there are many experiences and feelings in the book that were drawn from my own experiences as a gay man.
Second, and most important, "My Ex-Imaginary Friend" explores mental health. Jack's mother is struggling with bipolar disorder, and over the course of the novel, Jack and the other characters come to learn what this means and how to discuss and accept mental health with kindness and respect.
16- What method do you feel is the best way to get book reviews?
I encourage my readers to post reviews on Goodreads and/or on whichever website they used to purchase the book. While reviews are a great way in generating interest in the book, I do try to avoid reading them personally. Once a week or so, I will ask my husband to read my reviews. He will quote the positive excerpts and summarize the rest. This step creates a useful distance between myself and the reviewer that helps remove some of stress I otherwise feel when looking at reviews directly.
17- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?
Traditional publishing was always my dream, but I do have so much respect for folks who self publish. I don't think I have the skills to design and market my own work. After submitting queries, I was very fortunate to connect with my agent via Twitter (through DVPit), who then was able to connect me with my editor and guide me through the traditional publishing route.
18- What's the biggest writing goal you hope to accomplish in your lifetime?
I would love to receive a letter or email from a young reader about how one of my books has influenced or inspired them.
19- Would you please ask our audience a question to answer in the comments?
What qualities would your ideal imaginary friend have? Describe them!
20- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?
"My Ex-Imaginary Friend" is a story of friendship, growing up, mental health, and what it means to be family, as told by ten-year-old Jack and the part-walrus imaginary friend he thought he'd outgrown.
Reviews have said:
"Twin themes of abandonment and belief twine through this somewhat mind-bending debut." -Booklist
"Complicated emotions and difficult family conversations are bracketed with kindness in this unusual book." - Kirkus
"With frank talk surrounding mental illness and what it really means to be a family, this is a story about a boy and his imaginary friend who are desperate to figure out where they belong. VERDICT A poignant, multilayered story that will appeal to those looking for a heartfelt family drama" -School Library Journal
I grew up in New Jersey as the middle child of five kids. I enjoy musical theater, Muppets, ice cream, and action figures. I currently live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with my husband, Scott, and a very well-dressed poodle-Pomeranian named Rudy. When I am not writing books and screenplays for kids and young adults, you can find me peeking through the blinds in hopes of spotting baby bunnies.
I have a BA in Film and English from Cornell University and an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College. My debut novel, "My Ex-Imaginary Friend" is out now from Lerner/Carolrhoda. My debut picture book, "Don't Say Poop," will be out April 20 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. I can be found on Instagram ( @jmatejekmorris ) and Twitter @jmatejekmorris.
My Ex-Imaginary Friend by Jimmy Matejek-Morris