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John Dies at The End : Review and Interview
© Matt Cowger and Becky Panovich
March 15, 2010

In the horror -- comedy book John Dies at the End, David Wong is resigned to his role as an underachieving twentysomething: a video store clerk who hates his boss, plays a lot of video games, and helps out with his friend’s band. Dave likes peace and predictability.

John is more like a natural disaster. John is a lightning strike of chaos, tearing through the atmosphere in a hail of giant inflatable dongs. When you’re John’s friend, a desperate 3am phone call demanding five microwave burritos, a roll of plumber’s tape and your jumper cables just means it’s Wednesday.

Dave shares his story with a reporter, a tale of crazy cops and killer parasites from another universe, of burritos and bullets and how he and John saved their little town of [Undisclosed] from becoming a portal to Hell.

Since their first taste of a substance known only as “soy sauce,” paranoia-inducing encounters are becoming a regular occurrence for Dave and John. Dave tries to ignore, the horrors that assault Dave from all sides, but crazed police officers and an exploding Jamaican are hard to ignore. I tried to pace myself reading John Dies and managed to savor it over the course of a week. It’s hard not to get caught up in David Wong’s horror/comedy/adventure; I could imagine consuming it whole in an all-nighter.

The book will leave you eager for more. Writer Jason Pargin (aka David Wong) is working on a sequel. While you wait, check out the official site (almost all not safe for work), for more stories by the author and other contributors, music videos by John’s band, and some things you should probably just see for yourself.

RevolutionSF Interview : Jason Pargin aka David Wong

Jason Pargin aka David Wong, in addition to writing demented fiction, is the senior editor for Cracked.com. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for RevolutionSF.

Matt Cowger: John Dies at the End started as a web series of stories, then a book, now possibly a movie. Is there an audiobook in the works? It would make a great radio play sort of project.

Jason Pargin: I haven't heard anything about an audiobook, though the vast majority of audio books are abridgments (where they cut out 90% of the story to get it to fit on a couple of CDs) so maybe it's better that way. That could get awfully confusing.

MC: What was it like to work with Permuted Press? They seem like a pretty cool small publisher.

JP: They are absolutely that. They were also very patient with the fact that I didn't know what the hell I was doing. I was just some guy with a blog at the time and I'm sure I asked extraordinarily stupid questions ("So they'll sell these at groceries stores and stuff too, right?")

But yeah, it was great, they may not have the publicity arm of a huge publisher but the book looked good and the whole process was very smooth. JDatE owes a lot of its success to Permuted and Jacob Kier being willing to take a chance on it.

MC: There's a Lovecraftian feel to a lot of the book in the end stages. Are you a fan?

JP: Sure, and the main bad guy in John Dies at the End is a lot like one of Lovecraft's Great Old Ones, if occasionally there was a Great Old One who was too stupid to join the club.

So the main characters wind up fighting a being who is both very powerful and a total dumbass. Which is actually scarier, because you assume that Cthulhu at least had some kind of a plan. My Korrok has no idea what the filk he's doing.

MC: Was the popularity of the story cycle surprising to you? It seems like it all started off as something of a lark that moved on to something larger.

JP: Only in the sense that I didn't think the Internet would have the patience to read a long piece of fiction (that is, long for the internet).

When I tell people I was surprised by the reaction I got from posting the story, I never want to imply that I thought the story was bad or that people wouldn't enjoy it. I wrote the best story I could.

My surprise was that the audience wasn't saying, "Yeah, yeah, now get this wall of text away from me and go back to photoshopping penises on famous landmarks."

MC: Are you are planning another book or so with these characters?

JP: The sequel is under way as we speak. I can't nail down a release date, the publishing world is slooooow and my method of fiction writing is even slower.

MC: Any plans to continue the John Dies at the End website with the in-character posts' Those have been painfully funny.

JP: Sure, I just have to balance my time. Remember every minute spent posting stuff on the website is a minute stolen from writing the sequel. I have these little buckets of time I can draw from, once I exclude the time I devote to my day job at Cracked and sleeping.

I think fans would love it if I would fill in the gap between now and the release of the next book with lots of updates to the site from the JDatE universe, but short of hiring a staff in India, I can't do both. Not with the kind of frequency they would like anyway.

MC: Do you have any other upcoming projects?

JP: I have lots and lots of people who want me to commit to upcoming projects, and I tell them no. The sequel is all I have room for. Also I'll be at JordanCon, a fantasy book convention in Atlanta April 23 through 25. Details here.

Of course I'm the editor at Cracked.com and my work appears there regularly. Remembering to plug stuff is like a part time job!

MC: The last question that I like to ask, what makes you happiest in life?

JP: Writing is way up there, probably only second to crushing my enemies, seeing them driven before me, and hearing the lamentations of their women.

Matt Cowger and Becky Panovich survived through the whole thing.

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