Sunday, January 26, 2014

Author Interview with Mike Jung

For my first author interview of this year, I bring to you Mike Jung, who wrote GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES (Arthur A. Levine). Illustrations were by Mike Maihack. This MG book is a science-fiction and superhero story with a superhero fan club, robots, and a middle school crush. The story is told from the perspective of Vincent Wu, the president of the Official Captain Stupendous Fan Club. Vincent and his friends live for sightings of their local superhero. My page turning sped up when Vincent learns the identity of his beloved superhero and when someone close to him is threatened by the evil Professor Mayhem. The book had the right amount of heart and humor, as well as action and suspense.

I recently interviewed Mike. He currently lives in Oakland, CA and works as a library professional for a liberal arts college in the East Bay.  

What did you study at U.C. Irvine?
I was one of the more dysfunctional students in the UCI Department of Fine Arts. My specialty was ceramic sculpture - earthenware, to be more specific. I conducted one incredibly brief experiment with throwing vessels on a wheel, but the other 99.9% of my time there was spent making handbuilt forms. People described my work (such as it was) with terms like biomorphic abstraction, but I'm afraid I was not the most scholarly art student in the world, so that was more credit than I truly deserved. Despite my unhappiness during those years, however, I did genuinely love working in clay, and I miss it - it's much easier to work in clay when you have free rein in a university's ceramics lab than when you're trying to make space in your kitchen. 

GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES is refreshingly funny. How do you weave humor into fiction writing?
I wouldn't say that I deliberately try to weave humor into my writing, at least not anymore - it's more that over time I've developed a voice that naturally skews toward irreverence. I've always been more comfortable and effective with written communication than verbal communication, but high school and college were the years when I made more conscious efforts to write fiction - I took a bunch of fiction and playwriting classes at UC Irvine, for example - and those were probably the years when I was most deliberate about TRYING to write in a way that I thought was funny. That very self-aware effort to be humorous became more organic and internalized with practice, however, and eventually became an integrated part of my writing sensibility.

What books/authors did you like to read as a child?
I was (and remain) a devoted fan of fantasy and science fiction, so authors like Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey, Piers Anthony, Madeleine L'Engle, T.H. White, Larry Niven, Arthur C. Clarke, and Orson Scott Card were very important to me. I'm so sad and horrified by what I've learned about Orson Scott Card's beliefs in recent years - I couldn't disagree with him more strongly than I do - but ENDER'S GAME hit me with the force of a hurricane. In middle school and high school, I became a fanatical reader of Stephen King - this was back in what I consider his true heyday, when I was able to procure books like CUJO, FIRESTARTER, and PET SEMATARY at their original publication dates. I sometimes feel surprised by the fact that I haven't tried to write a horror novel yet, but I suspect that day will eventually arrive.

Thanks!

You’re welcome, Mike!

17 comments:

Mark Koopmans said...

Aloha,

Enjoyed Mike's interview - thanks - and ah yes, I do miss the good old days of Stephen King's newest book and running down to the B&N to pick IT up :)

Cheers :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great learning more about Mike. I always admire authors who can write humor, maybe because I so can't write it.

Ella said...

Wonderful interview with Mike! Congrats on your book it sounds fabulous-I love the addition of humor~ I love Stephen King, too. I bet you can write horror-as well!

Cynthia I have missed you! Life tossed me a few snow balls and I have been rolling down hill, finally the storm ended. I hope you are doing well~

Pat Hatt said...

Great interview, Stephen King has sure had some good ones.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

With a title like that, it has to be funny!

S.P. Bowers said...

I've always wanted to learn ceramics. How fun!

Great title, and cover. It sounds like something we could like so I'll put it on my list for when my four year old son gets just a little older. Yes, I really do have a list. :)

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I was already impressed with Mike even before I learned he can produce biomorphic abstraction!

Chris said...

Hi Cynthia, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/

Medeia Sharif said...

Mike is awesome and it was great learning more about him. Stephen King made me the bookworm I am today.

Ruth Schiffmann said...

Great interview. Mike's book has been on my list for a long time. Thanks for reminding me about it =)

Elsie Amata said...

Fantastic interview. I love when a writer mixes in humor with their story. It makes it much more fun for me to read.

Sherry Ellis said...

I can understand how creating ceramics in your kitchen can be a challenge. My daughter has tried that little trick!

Kathy Combs said...

Great interview! Sounds like his book will be a good one. I will be on the look out for it.

Trisha F said...

Your book sounds amazingly fun, Mike! Nice interview :)

Nicole said...

Thanks to you both for the interview. Mike, I think our childhood bookshelves would have shared a lot of the same authors. Congrats on the release!

Lynn Proctor said...

sounds like something i could get into right about now--i need some humor!!

Pk Hrezo said...

Oh cool! I love the sound of this book! And I totally agree that humor should come naturally in the story, or else it's not funny. lol

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