Monday, June 21, 2010


Over at Newsarama, Zack Smith conducts a fairly in-depth interview with yours truly focusing on the imminent (next Tuesday!) release of Imaginalis.  I feel like there's some cosmic drum-roll playing in the background as I sit waiting, not very patiently, for the book to hit the stores.  Here's hoping I don't drive my family crazy till then.

Friday, June 11, 2010


A few weeks ago I was driving to pick my daughter up from school when something wonderful happened.  I’d spent the morning working on an outline for a television project, finishing the teaser (that’s the pre-credits sequence) and the first act.  I knew, in a general way, what was going to happen in the second act, but I hadn’t figured out any of the specifics.  Driving along, listening to the radio, I wasn’t even thinking about the story; then, in an instant, the second act opening—a scene that would take up a good five minutes of screen-time—appeared in my mind.  I’ve written before about seeing movies in my head, watching stories unfold, in real time, and then rushing to the computer to get the details down before I forgot them, but this was different.  This happened in a split second:  the entire sequence—action, dialogue, everything—unfolding in my mind like a hologram, like pop-up book.  One moment it wasn’t there, the next it was, absolutely whole:  an information download from Imagination Central. 

I’d experienced something like this years ago, on a trip to India.  I was inside the Tomb-Shrine of Avatar Meher Baba, placing my head against the cool marble and—once again, in a flash—a story came to me.  A complete story, with a beginning, middle and end.  I didn’t think about it, my wandering mind didn’t dream it up, it was just there, the entire thing unfolding instantaneously.  Over time, that story evolved into Seekers Into The Mystery and, given the themes of that series, a hill in India was the perfect place for the idea to manifest.

These are the moments that writers (well, this writer) live for.  Moments when it becomes clear that we’re not really the authors of our work:  we’re channels, tuning into another frequency, another dimension, and bringing that information down into the physical world, where—using the tools, the talents and perspectives that are uniquely ours—we transcribe and embellish that information, transforming it into that wonderful creature called a Story.

In the end, it doesn’t matter whether the transmission is instant or unfolds slowly, it’s the opening up that’s so magical.  That moment of realizing that you’re connected to something so much bigger than yourself.  I remember, years ago, when I was just beginning work on Moonshadow, standing in the shower—mouth open, eyes glazed, still as a statue— watching the ending of the series play out on the movie screen of my psyche.  Make no mistake:  I didn’t create the scene, I just witnessed and transcribed it.  That truth hit me with even more impact a few months later, when I was working on Moonshadow #3.  The first two issues of Moon were, at that point in my career, the best writing I’d ever done; they were so good, in fact, that I was terrified the third issue would be a total disaster, proving to the world that the my success had been a fluke, that I was a talentless charlatan.  And that’s almost what happened.

I worked that story so hard I nearly beat it to death, but, within a few pages of the end, I had the sickening realization that what I’d written just didn’t work.  And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make it work.  What did I do then? 

I gave up.

Not willingly, not happily, maybe not even consciously; but however it happened, I spent several days collapsed on the floor, cursing the gods and trying to figure out how I was going to explain to my editor that I was quitting comics and committing myself to a mental asylum (which, come to think of it, is where a good part of that Moonshadow issue took place).  And then, one morning, still sprawled out on the floor like a perfect idiot, my mind an absolute blank, there it was, unspooling like a film:  a haunting, graceful sequence with Moon and the spirit of his dead aunt that lead, with equal grace, to the culmination of the story.  That was when I understood, in a way I never had before, that the only way to truly create is to allow the unconscious (and all the realms beyond it that enter through that door) free reign.   Surrender to Story is like surrender to God:  you can’t fake it, either you do it or you don’t; but, if you do, the results, in both cases, will be miraculous.

I’d love to tell you that I can open this doorway to the miraculous at will, but it doesn’t work that way.  It functions very much like Divine Grace—with an elegant, sometimes infuriating, whim of its own; but when it arrives, I welcome it.  No, I revel in it.  Which is why I’ve learned not to be afraid of those moments—and they still come with alarming frequency—when it seems my story is collapsing all around me:  I know now that the chaos is just a prelude.  That my unconscious is tuning into something far beyond me, something huge and unfathomable and yet as intimate as a kiss.

© copyright 2010 J.M. DeMatteis

Thursday, June 10, 2010


This week, Time Magazine's "10 Questions" feature spotlights The Dalai Lama and, as usual, he's charming and funny; profound without being the least bit pretentious.  The answer that really smacked me on the head came after His Holiness was asked:  "How do you stay so optimistic and faithful when there is so much hate in the world?"  The Dalai Lama's reply?  "I always look at any event from a wider angle.  There's always some problem, some killing, some murder or terrorist act or scandal everywhere, every day.  But if you think the whole world is like that, you're wrong.  Out of a billion humans, the troublemakers are just a handful."  The clarity and innocence (not a naive innocence, but an innocence born of real wisdom) of that answer makes me smile.  And gives me hope.

The Time website has provided video of the interview and I think it's worth a look:

Monday, June 7, 2010


Straight from the author's mouth—courtesy of HarperKids's YouTube channel.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


My novel, Imaginalis, doesn't come out until June 29th—but thanks to the kind people at HarperCollins, you can read the first fifty or so pages right now.  Just click here and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


I've been working with Mike Cavallaro—the brilliant artist, and all-around great guy, who illustrated The Life and Times of Savior 28—on a new series called Impossible Incorporated.  (Yes, it was inspired by that quote over there on the left.)  The project is still in the early stages of development, so I'm reluctant to give away any details.  That said, Mike just finished an amazing piece of promo art that I just had to share with all of you.  Feast your eyes:

More on Impossible Inc. as the project develops.