Guest Q&A: Nick Mamatas

Nick MamatasBerkeley, Calif.-based Nick Mamatas has worked for Viz Media as an editor for Haikasoru, the firm’s line of Japanese science fiction, fantasy, and horror in translation. Mamatas’ fiction and work as an editor and anthologist has been nominated for the Hugo, World Fantasy, Shirley Jackson, and four Bram Stoker Awards. Mamatas is making his first appearance at the Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival, and will appear in several programs, including a writing workshop, “Adapting Books and Other Materials into Comics.”

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
If I knew that…well, I don’t know what would happen. The idea of perfect happiness is so far out of the range of human experience I imagine that it’s somewhat like an emotional singularity: nobody knows what is on the other side. I presume there will be lots of naps at will.

2. What is your greatest fear?
It’s still probably heights. I have a recurring dream of having to climb atop the cables of a suspension bridge. Did my parents bring me to the 35-cent second-run theater to watch Saturday Night Fever when I was too young? I even have a child of my own, and of course dread anything terrible happening to happen, but for paralyzing fear it is still vertiginous heights.

3. On what occasion do you lie?
To either end conversations, or start them.

4. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My eyes…my teeth, no, my height! Oh, I can’t pick just one.

5. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I would say my child, but honestly I had very little to do with his creation and only have some effect on his growth and development right now. He seems to be a self-creating being. Of course, “I created one half of a self-creating being!” might be a good accomplishment.

6. What do you most dislike about yourself?
I suppose my tendency to give up after getting 90 percent of the work done.

7. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Well, you know” is up there.

8. What is your most treasured possession?
I don’t treasure any material objects.

9. What do you most value in your friends?
Generosity and humor.

10. The quality you most admire in a person?
Generosity.

11. What supernatural gift would you most like to possess?
Instant perfect worldwide teleportation? Or is that more science fictional than supernatural? Astral projection then. That’s totally different, right?

12. What is your favorite food?
Ravioli. Nice ravioli, I mean, nothing from a can or anything horrid like that. You can pretty much stuff a raviolo with anything short of sawdust and lug nuts and I’ll eat it.

13. What is your favorite color?
Probably still black, even though everyone says black these days.

14. Who is your favorite fictional character?
You are!

15. Who is your favorite person in history?
Spartacus! (I stole that answer from Karl Marx.)

16. Who is your favorite artist?
Ron English.

17. Who is your favorite musician?
Paul Westerberg.

18. Who are your favorite writers?
Let’s see: Samuel Delany, Harlan Ellison, Joseph Heller, Kathy Acker, Somerset Maugham…I also just read four Edward St. Aubyn novels in a row, so he’s high on my list right now. Project Itoh is another great one.

19. Who are your heroes in real life?
You are!

20. DC, Marvel, Lovecraft or Whedon Universe?
Lovecraft, baby. As a setting, it’s capacious enough to encapsulate the other fictional universes. There can always be something lurking in the inky blackness of space. Draw a picture of Batman struggling to free himself from a mass of tentacles that are surging out of a glowing portal and—boom!—you’re halfway into Lovecraft country.

21. What is your present state of mind?
I just had lunch with screenwriter Sam Hamm (Batman ’89), so I am slightly intoxicated.

22. What is your motto?
Ελευθερία ή θάνατος

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