Sunday, May 31, 2020

[Roll Your Own Life] The Books That Hooked Me (Part 8)


Onto part eight of my series of blogposts about the books that had an impact on my life.

David Wong's book, John Dies At The End, is a weird one in many ways, but the way I discovered it was a purely selfish one. Inspired by reading Chuck Palahniuk, I'd come to the stupid conclusion that I should give up on comic writing and RPG writing - I couldn't draw, so I should try to tell stories the traditional way and write a book. I didn't (and still don't) have a publisher for fiction, and I had a look online to see how the indies did it. After all, indie publishing was the way I went with comics...

One that really stood out was David Wong's web story. Published in instalments online, John Dies At The End had thousands upon thousands of readers, attracting the attention of publishers - which lead to the eventual book years later.

I read about this, and read the first handful of chapters online, and thought, "Hell, this is it! This is how I do it!"

Feeling full of renewed vigour, I started writing my awful fiction - The Case of Lost Possibilities - in instalments on a new blogsite (an offshoot of this one) and put up new bits every week. I figured, this was it - this was the way to attract the attention of publishers, show I can write fiction, and get my crazy-assed stories out into the world.

And you know what?

It didn't work.

I think the site had less than a dozen readers, and the story was a bit lame anyway. I liked elements of it, but I really should have had it all planned out beforehand. John Dies At The End always felt like it was being made up as it went along and I really enjoyed it, but I wasn't anywhere near the league of David Wong.

The book came out, and I was working at Ottakar's/Waterstones when it was released - I bought it first day it came in. I read it in a week, and loved it. It was crazy, strange, and sounded just like the weird s*** I would have written given half the chance.

It was the first book I read and got to the end, and then flicked straight back to the beginning and started the book again. That's how much I enjoyed it.

It has been very high on my "you must read this" recommendations list since then.

The movie adaptation is rather excellent too. Brilliant cast, great director (Don Coscarelli - director of Phantasm). It's well worth a watch. Just be warned, it's like watching The Lord of the Rings and the movie gets to Rivendell, then skips straight to Mordor. The movie's great, but to squeeze it all into 90mins it had to miss out a huge chunk in the middle.

Maybe one day they'll make it into a TV series, so they can continue into the crazy adventures of John and Dave in the sequel books...

The second book of John and Dave, This Book Is Full Of Spiders: Seriously, dude, don't touch it is just as crazy, and was recently followed by the third book, What The Hell Did I Just Read. All of them read like the sort of thing I would have written back when I was roleplaying a lot with the old game group in my tiny hometown of [undisclosed].

Very highly recommended.

Hell, just writing about them makes me want to reread them again. Or write a roleplaying game set in their universe...

1 comment:

Gaunilo said...

Great post. Thank you.