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Kids' Q&A

J. M. DeMatteis and Mike Ploog

Describe your latest project.
Here's the short version: Abadazad is a magical land that our lead character — a surly, cynical fourteen year old named Kate — has only known through a series of famous fantasy novels written, a century ago, by a writer named Franklin O. Davies. But when Kate suddenly finds herself journeying through the real Abadazad in search of her beloved younger brother, Matt — who vanished five years earlier — she discovers that the truth of Abadazad is far stranger, and more amazing, than fiction.

Abadazad began life as a comic book... and now we're launching it as a series of books. What's really fun about the project is that we've created what we think is a new, and unique, form of storytelling: a hybrid that combines elements of the traditional novel with elements of the graphic novel. We move back and forth between prose and sequential art — betweens Kate's diary, Davies' books and colorful comic book sequences — weaving what we hope is a magical and involving tale.

If you could choose any story to live in, which story would it be? Why?
J. M.: I actually like the story I'm living in right now: it's called my life!

What fictional character would you like to be your friend, and why?
Mike: It would have to be Tom Sawyer. He was mischievous, but never malicious and always in search of a new adventure.

Introduce one other author/illustrator you think people should read, and suggest a good book by him/her.
J. M.: So many kids know Oz from the classic MGM movie, but it's amazing to me how many don?t realize that L. Frank Baum wrote fourteen Oz books. My favorite of the series is probably the second one, The Marvelous Land of Oz.

Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
Mike: This is easy; it's in the first paragraph of Treasure Island:

I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn door, his sea-chest following behind him in a hand-barrow; a tall, strong, heavy, nut-brown man; his tarry pigtail falling over the shoulders of his soiled blue coat; his hands ragged and scarred, with black, broken nails; and the sabre cut across one check, a dirty, livid white.

What was your favorite story as a child?
J. M.: There were three stories that absolutely dominated my imagination as a child: Peter Pan, Pinocchio and The Wizard of Oz.

Mike: It is unlikely you've read this one; it was a story about a cowboy and his horse. The book is called Smoky the Cow Horse by Will James.

Do you read the Sunday funnies, and which are your favorites?
Mike: Oh yes. My favorite is and always will be Peanuts.

What do you do for relaxation?
J. M.: I play guitar and piano. Sing and write songs. Travel. Meditate. And, of course, hang out with my beautiful family.

Mike: Walk in the forests that surround our home in Devon, England.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
J. M.: An artist, a writer and a musician.

Mike: A cowboy, but not just any cowboy. I wanted to be like Roy Rogers, with all the fancy shirts, and ride a beautiful palomino.

Why do you write books for kids?
J. M.: The best children's books open up doors into mystery and magic and, I think, very deep truths. It's been my experience that life pretty much is a fairy tale... complete with witches, dragons, magic invocations and, yes, happily-ever-afters. Writing children's books (for the child in all of us) allows me to express my feelings about life in a way that so-called adult fiction often can't.

Tell us about your pets.
Mike: We have a monstrous, little fox terrier called Pip, who barks at everything — birds, leaves. Yesterday she was barking at a moss covered rock.

What's your favorite holiday and why?
J. M.: Christmas. Because, regardless on one's religious faith, it's a time of year when our hearts open wide and we allow our eyes to really see to the magic and miracles all around us.

Mike: Christmas, because I still believe in Santa Claus. spacer

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