ComicBuzz Chats With Nicholas Mennuti

With the release of his new sci-fi novella this week, we are delighted to be joined by author Nicholas Mennuti. Weaponized his first novel, was co-written with David Guggenheim.

Hi Nicholas, it’s so great to have you here with us.

As some of our readers may not be familiar with your work, could you please tell us about yourself?

Absolutely! For starters, I live in Washington, D.C. with my wife, two children, and a Goldendoodle who has us all well-trained. I’m primarily a novelist, but I’ve also worked in film and television, while also blogging and writing the occasional op-ed for the Huffington Post. I’m passionate about the arts and politics and my work frequently intermingles those topics.

And I’d be bereft not to mention that I’m not the only writer in my house. My brilliant wife is also a novelist. However, she writes family dramas and romantic comedies, whereas most of my work tends to end with people pointing guns at each other and objects exploding. Or in the case of “Scrap” a little bit of both.  

Can you tell us about your novella, Scrap?

“Scrap” is the story of Travis Schrader, a man who has lost the script on his life, who has gone astray, and absent-mindedly ended up in a temporary position as a night watchman-quasi-engineer at an enormous data storage center in Kansas.

One evening, while on the job, he is kidnapped from the present, dragged into the future, and informed that he has been sold to a corporation that intends to utilize him for their own ends. Travis has allowed himself to become so insignificant in the grand scheme of things, that his life can be manipulated without setting off a butterfly effect that could influence or change world events. And his adventure begins.  

How did Scrap find a home at Neotext?

The short version is that John Schoenfelder, the in-house Pope and brain trust behind NeoText pitched me the protagonist of “Scrap”, and his explanation of Travis’s existential dilemma was incredibly compelling. I could see the story unfolding with every bit of backstory John added in. 

Honestly, it’s so rare when a character’s flaw and the journey he needs to take to resolve it are so commingled on a literal and metaphoric level. Travis had that rare magic. And I jumped at the chance to be a part of “Scrap”.

The slightly longer version is that no other publisher besides NeoText would have been as bold in its collaborative vision with “Scrap”. John charted an ambitious course with Travis, and then he trusted Howard and I to measure up to his challenge in our roles on the project. That’s part of what makes NeoText so special. They thoughtfully and deliberately weigh writer and artist collaborations to achieve the best result. Howard and I being paired together on “Scrap” wasn’t an accident. 

How did Howard Chaykin join Scrap?

John had Howard in mind from the very beginning. In fact, he might have had Howard in mind before me. The only caveat being that we needed to deliver a text filled with prose and narrative incident that Howard would spark to, that would inspire him to create in the way only he can. He’s a genuinely singular talent.

Thankfully, “Scrap” was enough to convince Howard to come onboard, and we were lucky enough to have him.

What has it been like working with Howard Chaykin?

Well, you don’t really “work” with Howard per se. Ha! He’s an incredibly intelligent, inciteful, and independent artist. On top of which he’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever spoken to. He has vast, encyclopedic knowledge about the history of his profession, plus he’s a stylistic chameleon up for anything, and brings the cumulative weight of his experience to bear on every project.

But to be more precise, our relationship involved Howard asking questions, very targeted questions. He knew exactly what he was looking for. And by giving him what he needed to be at his best, it also had the reverberating effect of strengthening “Scrap” as a whole.

By Howard asking me why I made particular narrative or tonal decisions, or to clarify why I selected certain images, he forced me to look at “Scrap” through another set of eyes, really drill down on a granular level and interrogate my own text, which was invaluable, and what the best collaborators gift you with.

Any message for the ComicBuzz readers?

Yes! First of all, thank you SO much for taking the time to speak with me. Being interviewed by ComicBuzz has finally given me cache with my kids and their friends. I’m almost cool, but still so far away.

Also, I urge your readers to check out “Scrap” and not only because I wrote it. I genuinely believe it’s a fascinating fusion of a writer and artist taking a big swing and pulling off something interesting in our respective roles. 

I’m very proud of “Scrap”, proud of the numerous layers it’s engaging with readers. It’s certainly a cautionary tale about corporate overreach and one man’s journey to become human again in a technocratic, oligarchic present and future, but beyond those points, “Scrap” is also a richly illustrated and rendered satire and action-thriller.

We would like to say a big thank you to Nicholas for chatting with us and we wish him and Howard the best of luck with Scrap.

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