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Book One: Imaginary Jesus

Some thoughts about my first book, Imaginary Jesus!

 People often ask, “What’s your favorite book you’ve written?” and it’s one of those questions I don’t know how to answer… I love different things about each one. 

In a few days my TENTH book, THE HEARTWOOD CROWN is releasing, and I thought it would be fun to journey back through my previous nine books, sharing a little bit about what I like about each one. 

The first book I ever wrote was a novel… a strange, hilarious, unique novel that starts with Jesus getting punched out in a communist cafe in Portland, Oregon. It’s called IMAGINARY JESUS.

What it’s about

Matt Mikalatos (yes, I’m the main character) liked Jesus a lot. In fact, he couldn’t believe how much they had in common. They shared the same likes, dislikes, beliefs, and opinions. (Though Jesus did have better hair.) So imagine Matt’s astonishment when he finds out that the guy he knows as Jesus . . . isn’t. He’s an Imaginary Jesus: a comfortable, convenient imitation Matt has created in his own image. The real Jesus is still out there somewhere . . . and Matt is determined to find him.

What I love

This book is so weird and funny, but with a strong emotional core. I’d been told a lot of things about what was “acceptable” in the Christian publishing world, and I love that in my first book I was told those things weren’t true at all. It’s a comedy novel with George Barna making a cameo. It has (appropriate) cursing and

Art by Luke Daab

A favorite bit

It’s hard not to love Daisy the talking donkey and King James Jesus. Daisy wasn’t ever part of the plan, she just walked into the book and took over.



Fun Facts

  1. I got to record the audio book! More than one friend has told me they listened to my voice reading the book to help them fall asleep at night which I choose to believe is a compliment. I drove around town practicing the line, “Thine ass is mine!” in traffic.

2. We accidentally let a domain name we had bought at the time lapse, which is why briefly became a commercial for Japanese wart removal before devolving to a 403 forbidden domain. Bahahahahahaha!

3. Before the book came out I was contacted by someone claiming to be the “returned Jesus” who wanted me to write his autobiography.

4. Some people thought the book was written by an atheist! To make it a little clearer to those who were confused, we changed both the title and the cover. MY IMAGINARY JESUS was born!

5. Deanna Jent and the Mustard Seed Theater made a stage play out of the novel! That was a truly amazing moment.

Favorite review quote

Relevant Magazine said it was, “Monty Python meets C.S. Lewis.” That’s a pretty awesome blurb.

How it prepared me for THE HEARTWOOD CROWN

Imaginary Jesus was the first book where I started experimenting with humor and tragedy in the same work. Obviously Imaginary Jesus leans heavily into humor, and the tragic underlying story comes about almost as a surprise as you move toward the conclusion. In the Heartwood Crown, the humor is sprinkled throughout (mostly through one character), and the deep emotional payoff has been telegraphed for an entire novel. But Imaginary Jesus was the first place I experimented with this, and it helped me find the balance more easily (AND my editor, Sarah Rubio, helped a ton! Her first book comes out in October and it MADE ME CRY).


By Matt Mikalatos

Matt Mikalatos is a writer not a fighter.