Interview with Julie Mata
Julie Mata is the author of two wonderful middle-grade books, Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens and Kate Walden Directs: Bride of Slug Man. I absolutely adored Night of the Zombie Chickens and am looking forward to reading Bride of Slug Man. These books would be great gifts for the teen/pre-teen readers in your life!
Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
As a child, I loved to read and write stories. I kept writing as an adult—I wrote news stories as a television reporter and then wrote scripts for clients after my husband and I opened a video production business. I wasn’t working on my own creative projects, though. I finally decided I couldn’t call myself a fiction writer unless I was actually writing fiction. I sat down and started my first novel—which is still sitting in a drawer at home. But it paved the way for me to write my second novel, Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens.
What inspired you to write your first novel?
Daughters and chickens—those were my two big inspirations for writing Night of the Zombie Chickens. I wanted to capture the humor, the dramas, and the ups and downs that I saw my own daughters go through with their friends during the tween years. I kept reading middle grade books where the main characters had all the good qualities and the bad girl/bad boy characters had none. My characters are flawed but hopefully they redeem themselves because, like most kids, they have good hearts.
And our ten hens definitely inspired the subject of Kate’s movie. There were days when I could swear we had a few zombie chickens in the bunch!
What appeals about writing for this age group?
Having fun is a big goal for me when I write, and middle grade is such a fun age to write for. My goal writing the Kate Walden books was to make myself laugh, and then hope other people would find the material funny, too. I also love middle grade because you can deal with complex issues but in a lighter, more innocent way than YA. Humor as a genre is sometimes overlooked, but children have so much stress these days, I think laughter is incredibly important. Hopefully, it reminds them (and us) that they’re still kids and it’s okay to have fun.
Julie Mata's book trailers for both of her novels are epic! I just had to share them with you:
Do you write for younger and older audiences as well? Will there be more books featuring Kate Walden? Or are you working on other projects right now?
I’ve written three novels, all middle grade. While I really enjoyed writing the Kate Walden books, I’m ready to move on. I like new challenges so I thought I would try a YA novel next. The problem is, sometimes the main character talks like a sixteen-year-old in my head, and other times like a twelve-year-old, so I need to make her pick an age and stick to it. It will definitely be contemporary, a bit more serious but still with humor. We’ll see if I can pull it off!
I think that your books would make wonderful movies. Can we hope to see Kate Walden on the big screen someday?
My agent sent Night of the Zombie Chickens to an agent who specializes in finding projects for Hollywood producers. I was thrilled when she arranged for me to speak by phone with a TV producer who had read the book with her daughter and really enjoyed it. I haven’t heard anything since, but just having the conversation was exciting. A book usually has to make a pretty big name for itself before Hollywood gets interested. Sadly, my books haven’t landed on any bestseller lists yet, although Kate is quite certain, at least in her own mind, that one day she will be famous.
Can you share with us some of your favorite middle-grade books?
Most are books I grew up with—The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Hobbit, A Wrinkle In Time, Harriet the Spy, The Phantom Tollbooth, Charlotte’s Web. I also love the Harry Potter series, Inkheart, Bridge to Terabithia, Holes, The Tale of Despereaux. I should also mention The Wishing Tree by William Faulkner. It might be considered politically incorrect these days, but it fascinated me and I read it more times than any other book growing up, maybe because it was so unlike any other story I had read.
Which middle-grade novels do you think have been made into successful movies?
Some of my favorite books are also on my list of favorite kids’ movies. I think they did a great job with all the Harry Potter books, with Chronicles of Narnia, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I also love Holes, Hugo, The Wizard of Oz, Harriet the Spy, Matilda, Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, Anne of Green Gables, Babe: The Gallant Pig, and Zathura, among others.
Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us!! How can readers discover more about you and you work?