TIH 443: Jason Pargin on Pointless Waste of Time, Film Adaptations, and Optimism

TIH 443 Jason Pargin on Pointless Waste of Time, Film Adaptations, and Optimism

In this podcast Jason Pargin talks about Pointless Waste of Time, film adaptations, optimism, and much more. 

About Jason Pargin

Jason Pargin is the New York Times bestselling author of John Dies at the End and the Zoey Ashe series. He is the former editor of Cracked.com.

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Lure by Tim McGregor

Tenebrous Press presents Lure, a novella of otherworldly Folk Horror by Tim McGregor. In a fishing village on an alien shore hang the bones of ancient, forsaken gods. The arrival of a new god brings dissent and madness, and threatens to tear the starving community apart. Against a backdrop of brine and blood, Lure blurs the line between natural disaster and self-destruction. Eric LaRocca calls Lure “a monstrously inventive fable. Immersive and utterly compelling.” Preorder at tenebrouspress.com now. Lure is out July 18th.

Michael David Wilson 0:07

Welcome to This Is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson, and every episode alongside my co-host, Bob Pastorella. We chat we're masters of horror, about writing, a life lessons, creativity, and much more. Now, today's guest is Jason Pargin for the third and final part of our epic conversation. In this episode, we talk about the likes of pointless waste of time, the ZOE ash series, film adaptations, and a lot more. And you can listen to these conversations with Jason in any order. And the first and second part are in episodes 441 and 442. Now I'm going to talk a little bit in the outro about the This Is Horror Podcast Writing Challenge. It is an exciting initiative that we've got going on over at Patreon and on the discord channel, that for now I want to crack on with the conversation. But before any of that, a little bit of an advert break.

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Bob Pastorella 2:17

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Michael David Wilson 2:46

Okay, well, with that said, here it is. It is Jason Pargin for part three of the conversation on This Is Horror. Right. And much like John Dies at the end. I mean, you've designed the Zoey Ashe series, they can be read in any order as well. So I mean, it seems like a good way to, you know, both have that series, which a lot of publishers seem to want but also threatened not to be intimidating to readers so they can jump in at any point.

Jason Pargin 3:25

Yeah, and I don't want to make it sound like this was a calculated business decision or anything like that it is I do feel like it's the best of both worlds. It's for people that don't have the context. publishers do really want a series, if possible, for what should be kind of an obvious reason you build up a brand. And it's like, Well, every new book in that series is going to sell a certain number. And then with each new book that comes out more readers go back and read the old one. So you just keep selling those early books over and over and over again. This is how you know George RR Martin has made such an enormous amount of money off the Game of Thrones books, because you know, the show comes out and everybody's got a there's not one book to catch up on. There's all of them. But I, I will confess doing something like heated or even, you know, something like the Harry Potter books, where it's where you're kind of you yourself, don't 100% know what's going to happen. The fear of writing myself into a corner. Because unlike and you can say well, yeah, but Jason, you did that with John dice d&d. You wrote it as a serial that occurred over the years Yeah, but I was routinely if I decided I wanted to change something, I just went back and changed it. Like if I wanted to add in foreshadowing for something that I just decided that day, I would just go back the idea of having the books out there and that you know, so I've got you know, the way he As you're locked into certain things where if you have killed the character you can't unkilled them or whatever, or you rely on relies on book for actually the perfect ending of this would require a thing that has already happened to not have happened. And you only realize that then I would be so scared of writing myself into a corner that way that I would be a nervous wreck. If I ever tried to write like an ongoing epic, where it's it's like, you know, book book three ends in a cliffhanger and we're going to pick up on book four, I wouldn't be afraid of getting into a situation that I think George RR Martin has gotten into, where he has knotted himself up with too many things he can't too many like knots, he can't untie or, or things he can't bring closure to. I think he has too many threads going because the way he writes and kind of doing it on the fly, where you don't necessarily know where a scene is going to end or where a plotline is going to end until you get there. And then you don't know what's going to happen to book six until you know, you finished book three, four and five. I had Meyer in the writer who can do that I am not one of those. But also I if someone recommends to me a book or book series, and I look and there's 27 books in the series, it is very, I'm very hesitant to get into it, where it's one where you have to read them in order. Yeah, it's like there's so much catching up. And it's like that rare occasion where somebody will recommend a show to you that it's like a network show where they've done like 23 episodes a season on their on like season eight. That's like, yeah, there's 178 episodes to catch up to where they are now. It's like, the way the world works. Now when there's so much media, and it's almost stressful, trying to keep up with all the stuff. I will admit that deters me from getting into things. So I like very much the idea of one being able to continue with the same characters, take them new places, things like that having to be somewhat familiar, but also each one is unique. But I also like the idea of that if somebody finds a copy of this book is full of spiders at you know, a used bookstore or on in the garbage at a subway station, they can just pick it up and start reading it. And it will, they will orient them in what's going on and they can enjoy it. And then when they get to the end and realize, oh, this was actually a book to have. There's now four of these. They're like, delighted, it's like there's more. There's more of this out there. That same time. It's not again, to be clear to readers, these books are extremely confusing. It's just that reading the other books doesn't make them less confusing. If anything, it just makes it worse. So it whatever whatever you think you've missed, and now it's just just the way they are. It has nothing to do with you having come in and midstream. That's just that y'all now there is the thing where, you know, if you read if you go back and you read the first book after you've read book four, and there's like a character there, there's conspicuously absent

and booked for that maybe don't get too attached to that character, but because something bad probably happened to them, but anyway.

Michael David Wilson 8:29

Yeah, yeah. And you speak about you know, if you've got like a 20 or so booked series, then it can be very intimidating to jump into that if you have to sequentially read them all. I find that the moment with TV series, we're almost getting the opposite problem where each season doesn't really resolve even kind of partially the central question, and so that you've got like a cliffhanger that would really be an episode rather than a season cliffhanger. But then if it doesn't get enough viewers then Netflix or Amazon or whoever can't service them. So I think we've now got viewers who are reticent to jump in to a new series if it's not a standalone for fear of it being cancelled and them not getting a resolution.

Jason Pargin 9:31

I mean Netflix's library is now littered with that. Yeah, like the show archive at one

Michael David Wilson 9:38

well actually what I was thinking

Jason Pargin 9:42

yeah, very much ended on it's like all right, come back to Season Two for the answers like oh, no, we nobody watched it. There won't be a season two that you can go back and even when browsing through older shows or something to watch and you'll see like some really cool looking. I don't know if some German supernatural horror show is Oh, flicks need as like, oh, wait a second, there's one season and it was made in 2016. I wonder if this was a limited series? Or did it get canceled? And did Netflix just buy it for nothing? Because it's had no value. And a lot of times, it's that second one. And so you know, the second season ends with some, you know, some terrible cliffhanger. And it's like, oh, my gosh, what happened to the hero? What was that thing? And it's the new on amazon prime that out arranged the show with Josh Brolin with this mystery, last type show where he's has a ranch and there's a mysterious portal. And not too little spoiler it skip ahead for like 30 seconds, if you don't want to be spoiled, and at a range that ends on a cliffhanger. They have no idea if they're getting into season two, but the central question of the show, what is happening does not get answered. And the entire the entire plot is driven forward by what is this mysterious phenomenon? And what does it mean? And what they do not answer it? And they do not tell you. And a character actually, in the very final episode says, there's no time to explain. I'll tell you everything later. And then and then you don't see here for the rest of the episode. And then the season ends. And maybe there'll be a season two, two years from now, maybe there will never be a season two. I think that is bad storytelling. Yes, I think that is a very bad habit they've got into because I think among the creators, they probably feel like that's leverage in getting the season to where you can tell Netflix or the platform's like we have, we know for a fact we've got fans waiting, because we didn't finish our story, I think they should know by now. Netflix doesn't care, they will cancel you anyway. They are there was a time when they gave shows that chance that day is over. If the algorithm doesn't show that you're doing well, pretty much immediately after it goes up, they will kill it. They they have their data, and their data they operate on on a theory that really entertainment platforms or publishers cannot operate on, which is that every single thing we put out has to make its money back. And you really can't work that way you movie studios is the same thing. Like you've got to be willing to make weird stuff that is niche, and that maybe loses money, but it's okay, because you've got these other things that the big hits that will that will make it make it back and they're not looking at it that way. It's here. It's like we've got a system we've got software telling us what the engagement is like. And

it is ironic that Netflix, you know, made so much of their early money off people just endlessly watching the office, the American version of the office, just the hundreds and hundreds of hours of it or you know, or however many episodes they made and ton and then watching you know giving them billions of hours of viewership people watching the office because that was a show that on NBC when it first came out, had terrible ratings. And NBC nursed it along and nursed it along and it gained an audience and it slowly gathered momentum and then really found its footing almost after it was gone. And it's later years it's in streaming where people all the memes and stuff to go around. But Netflix itself would never give a show that kind of a chance. And it's ironic that they have this great example of the only reason they have whatever 200 episodes of the office that they can that they were able to show back when they had it is because somebody else took a risk and said no it's good like yes, I get that the numbers are disappointing. I get the does not holding its lead in or what are the metrics networks used to use the we're going to nurse it along because it's it's good. It's got you know, a rabid fan base. It's growing you've got to give it a chance to breathe. And the show Breaking Bad when it came out. The first season people forget that show completely failed. There wasn't into like season three and season four that are really starting to become a phenomenon it by then it had had hit Netflix and found an audience in streaming. But that first season, nobody watched it. That AMC is an expensive show too. But they nursed it along. Netflix won't do what they want do what the stumped that they had was only successful because somebody else was willing to take a risk on a willing to tolerate a loss for a while. Same in the long run. You'll reward the fans reward their loyalty and then over time, let it find its audience. I feel like as you you delegate more and more of these decisions to an algorithm, the algorithm is going to say, Well no you're not making you're not making your money back on these first 16 episodes, so just move on. It's like, man, that's nothing 16 episodes is nothing for a TV show. If you're the creators barely know what the show is after 16 episodes. So it takes some shows years to figure out what you know what's special about it, that I hate to think that not just in the realm of TV shows, but in movies and everything else that you get to where they, they're more and more afraid to take those kinds of risks, because you forget the things you take for granted as being huge hits now. I mean, when Star Wars when the studio saw Star Wars, they were like, What in the hell is this? Like, what did you do with the money we gave you, you made this? It's like they reluctantly they could only get theaters to take Star Wars by agreeing to bundle it with another more popular movie that they they basically blackmailed theaters and showing it, then it becomes a huge hit. And then it looks obvious that at the time, it was the it was bizarre. It was like this weird 70s thing. It's just weird that they hated it. That they took that, you know, they took a risk. And I don't know, it's that's the only thing. It's great that anybody can make stuff. Now, it's great that anybody can publish that in terms of doing it for a living, so much of what you're doing is based on now, basically these algorithms that determine engagement and try to take the creative decision out of the humans hands. That's rough, because you can't create for an algorithm. And I know that because I've tried. Yeah, yeah.

Bob Pastorella 16:43

Yeah. And I think that what we're seeing now too, is like, the success of certain shows. If you look at other streamers, they piecemeal amount episode a week. And I see that those shows are more successful than when you have the ability to, you know, put them all put all the episodes out at one time. I think I think Netflix is seeing that because like Stranger Things just came out. Today, season four, but you're not getting all the episodes, you're only getting the first seven. So there's nine episodes. The other two episodes will be released later. So they're, they're actually from what I've read, they're they're kind of playing around with this on an established show, just to see

Jason Pargin 17:36

Yeah, and that's a compromise I think because if they went to a one episode a week model that is actually standard on Apple TV and listen plus, I think a lot of Netflix users because Netflix was always the binge watching platform and they got or their users would rebel so I think they're trying to split the dipper saying well we'll give you stuff to binge right now but we want the advantage that the weekly releases have which is there's room for people to discuss the show together before the rest of it comes out and that was what drove something like Game of Thrones where people will hadn't read the books like oh my gosh is you know Ned Stark is dead and you had time to discuss it and talk about and theorize what was going to happen next online and fans could talk to one another. So I think what they figured out Okay, well we'll give you yes people demand to be able to binge it we'll give you some stuff to bench but we're not going to give you the ending so that you we've also got that we've got this period where you're all going to talk about it you're going to speculate about what happens next and then we'll come back a couple months later and give you they did the same thing with Better Call Saul and AMC where they're gonna take couple months break and then then we'll come back and give you the rest of it and I think that like Disney plus and all those they went to the weekly release model for very cynical reasons which is does it just keep forces you to keep subscribing for more than a month so you can't just binge it and then cancel your subscription right there I think for what I do you think it is better because having binge watched several shows people ask me catch up on the show and I'll watch it all in one weekend. It your brain really doesn't retain it. It's not I don't think Breaking Bad would have been a special to me. I don't think madmen would have been a special to me are the sopranos going way back? If I had just watched it, you know, 10 hours on a Saturday and then 10 more hours on a Sunday. And then just I think all of the moments where the episodes end like they're intended to have this finality of oh my god, I can't believe he said that. I can't I can't believe his daughter walked in and him while he did this, and where you have time to like sit with it and live with what just happened is like oh my gosh, Hank is dead. Hey, like Oh, My gosh. And you have a week where you just have to sit with the reality of what's happened. Where on the bench watch the next episode just queues right up. And I think it loses the emotional impact because it's just kind of this long stream of, of stuff. And I get it in theory, you could just dole them out to yourself one every week. But I it's, I don't have that kind of self control.

Michael David Wilson 20:27

Yeah, no, I,

Bob Pastorella 20:29

I might be the only one in the world. But on a show that I can binge I forced myself now I used to binge I, honestly, I don't have time. So I just watched episode a week of something. Yeah,

Jason Pargin 20:41

well, yeah, my schedule, is the only thing that saves me is because, and that, but that's the that's the other thing is you, I think you and I are from a generation where I think the kids now it's always a two screen experience. They are always watching the show while doing something else on their phone. So a lot of the shows like The reason they can watch the office over and over and over again, is they just have it on the background. Right? Like it's like company, it's like it's just playing back. They're not necessarily specifically paying attention to specific scenes or performances or punch lines or storylines is just kind of on and I don't know, it cheapens it in a way. But if you're, I'll give this as a word of advice to any creators out there. You have to adapt to how people want your stuff. So like right now I'm in the middle of that. And book books are massively becoming an audio format. In my audio book sales used to be this friend or thing and I think it soon there'll be half, like half of my book sales will be audiobooks that has massively pivoting to audio because readers, like if people have gotten used to podcast and they see audiobooks is just another kind of podcast, it's just a fictional podcast. So it's just right there in the same app, it's very convenient to put it on in the car to listen to it on the treadmill, you know, whatever, or when you're out on your bicycle mowing the lawn, this is convenient, you can't do those, you can't read a book while doing those things. You can't read a book while driving your car, you'll the cops hate it when you do that. And that's fine. Like for me to sit here and say, well, that is not the same experience, because you're now letting the narrator's inflection add meaning that I didn't intend or you're letting them deliver a punch line that maybe is not the exact way I would have done it. Or they're adding a tone of voice that is not how I heard it in my head, like, I could sit here and say, Yeah, but the written word is so pure, and that you should be able to read it at your own pace and read lines over again, if you feel like you missed a point or read a paragraph over again, you feel like you didn't fully ingest what it meant. And in audio, you can't do that it moves that the readers pace it, you know, it's and it engages a different part of your brain. I could sit here and be moan that all day. But it doesn't mean anything. If the new generation of readers wanted in the form of an audio file. That's how I'm going to give it to him. That's how you have to think you can't be doing be mad about it. It doesn't doesn't matter. Nobody cares. You know, you're making stuff for and an audience and you have to you have to adapt. And that's what happened. It cracked the people who follow me know that that that whole thing famously imploded a decade into my career and 2017 That whole industry imploded. But that was a case where the audience and the Zeitgeist and everything just kind of moved out from under us in you know, in the thing we were offering was ultimately something a lot of people didn't want or didn't have room for in their lives anymore. And you can get upset all you want, but ultimately, the audience's always, there's always right.

Michael David Wilson 23:58

Yeah. Well, you got a number of questions from Patreon. And so the first is from Jeffrey Roberts, who says, I've been a huge fan of yours since the cracked days. I have always liked your optimistic view on humanity and the world as a whole, while remaining grounded in what is currently possible with how people think and feel. My question is, with the world and the country overall, in a much more divided and seemingly crazy estate than it was years ago. Do you still feel that optimism that will ultimately pull through and make a better future?

Jason Pargin 24:45

My form of optimism is unusual and I feel like a lot of people misunderstand it. My my optimism is not that the present and the future are great. It's that no one appreciates how terrible the past was. Because whatever problems you have now, I guarantee you it used to be worse. I have vivid memories. And you can say, Well, gosh, the country is so divided. And I Okay. I vividly remember a bunch, a couple of white nationalist terrorists blowing up a building in Oklahoma City and killing 160 people, including in a whole daycare full of children. Like if that happened today, I was in 1995. When that bombing happened, and that was a period of time during the Clinton administration, when you had white nationalist militias training in the woods, and you had these incidents like Ruby Ridge, and Waco, where the siege of Waco I don't know how many people died in that compound during that siege. might then the 90s, if any of those incidents happen now, Twitter with all of the hashtags would be, but it's Civil War Two, it's world war three, it's the it's the apocalypse. Because everything that happens now is we know so much more about it. And if you think about, say, if the 911 attacks happened today, and how many live videos you would have from inside the towers, before the planes hit, and how much more it would be 1000 times more traumatic than it was at the time where we just merely had live TV video of the planes hitting the towers and then collapsing like you would have 1000s of videos from inside the towers as they collapsed if it happened today, right? Because people would be streaming it on Facebook and everywhere else, it would have so much more impact. But the incident would not be so much worse the impact of it on people's psychology and on their anxiety reports just because it's so much more visible to you. So it is I always try to ask people what period of time do you wish you could go back to? Like, what era Do you because I vividly remember prior to 1990 or so I remember as a kid having to do nuclear war drills under our desk and getting to the fire shelter under our elementary school. And we all grew up like every movie that took place in the future took place after a nuclear war, it was assumed that there was going to be a nuclear war at some point, it was assumed that the Soviet Union would ultimately rule the world and that there was nothing we could do to stop it. So I definitely wouldn't go back to say prior to 1990 But you know, if you go back to the 90s the supported you know, the suppose it glory years, some people remember I think only because that's when they grew up. But like the country was, like visibly more racist and hateful than it was today. You did not have legalized gay marriage back then. The in terms of like trans rights, trans people only showed up as punch lines in movies like that was it? But in terms of like asking any, like a presidential in go back to the 1996 elections and ask each candidate? What was their trans rights platform, they will look at you blankly because those the concept of trans people existing wasn't publicly acknowledged by politicians back then. We've come so far on so many things, that if you go back even five years, you lose some people lose their their rights. And I just No, I wouldn't go back. I can't I can't point to a timeline that I would prefer to live in. I definitely wouldn't prefer to live in a period without the internet because, boy, my entire life, my whole identity, everything that I do, it's only possible because this technology was invented. It's I don't know what I would be doing. If I lived in a world without the Internet. I would probably be still working in some office supply store somewhere. Or delivering office furniture or something i because I've I don't have any other skills. I've tried, I've tried everything. I don't I'm not good at anything else. So I don't feel like it's optimistic. It's not like oh, everything's gonna be fine. It's not that it's that man. everything used to be terrible. I remember it. It's it's cars used to be less safe.

Restaurants used to be worse. The food use do worse. It's you know, I don't know. I don't I don't have any. I don't have a lot of tolerance for nostalgia because I feel like people only remember. They're remembering a time when they were younger and healthier and had fewer stresses in their life, that they're not remembering a time when the world was better, because I would not go back and undo all the technological progress any of that.

Michael David Wilson 30:10

Yeah. Yeah. Wow. That makes a lot of sense. And, yeah, I think we just have an ability as humans to always romanticize the past. And her memory almost becomes a highlight package, where we remember the good things, but we conveniently and selectively tried to forget the bad things. And so we do create this, like illusion that things are much worse now.

Jason Pargin 30:45

Well, and like the things that because again, there are specific problems like today, like housing prices have gotten out of control for a lot of specific reasons. You know, the price of health care, the price of education, like these are real problems. They're not, I'm not trying to say, oh, you know, you don't know how good you have it. Because it's, it's true, they are objectively things that are more difficult. It's now it's just that you have to understand, not too many decades ago, like you couldn't, it was extremely difficult to work from home. Like prior to the internet, you couldn't work from home, like I worked, it cracked, I was working for a company in Los Angeles, and I lived in Illinois, lived in a small town in Illinois, working for an entertainment company in LA, like that would not have been physically possible in 1988, or 78, or 68, or any year prior. And I think that's not if you write that off as like a trivial thing. I mean, I don't think that's trivial at all. The idea that people can, you know, the expands what jobs you can do, what people you can know, what things you can experience, I don't, I don't think you can just hand wave that away in terms of how special that is. But it but even like things like cancer, survival rates have gone up. In a dramatic fashion, we've not cured cancer, but your chances of surviving it are much, much, much better now than it was 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, every year you go back, it gets, that gets worse, like we don't necessarily appreciate the progress, it gets made on things. And like us having this conversation where the two people are, you know, in two different parts of the United States, and the other person was on the other side of the planet. And the three of us are having this conversation in real time. And we were able to find each other because we all have the same interests. And to have this conversation, and we will at basically zero cost, be able to upload it for anybody on planet Earth to listen to, at minimal cost on their end. That's a miracle. And I refuse to say where it's like, well, yeah, it's nice, we have podcasts, but you know, the world has gone to hell in the meantime, that's objectively not true. It's the every in every way that you can measure human wellbeing, from infant mortality, to its average lifespan to availability of indoor plumbing, electricity, worldwide, those things have gone up in spectacular fashion in last 30 years. It's just it just mostly happened in India and in China. Whereas, you know, in America, we have specific very terrible problems specifically with drugs, the opioid epidemic, things like that these are real and terrible. But the problems of the past were even more real. And they were terrible. I know, because I was there, it's like telling you, it's I lived under the threat of nuclear war, I lived at a time when the violent crime rate was probably triple what it is now, or at least prior to the pandemic. I know there's been a spike of crime since then. But then even then, like, you know, to have something like COVID Come along. Jesus, if this had come along, instead of coming along now, if it had come on, like in, say, 1970 instead of 2020. I have no idea how many people would have died, I can't fathom because we put we put a vaccine together and 48 hours. And it took like, you know, another year to test it. Because you you do want to make sure that it won't, you know, make people spontaneously combust or something six months later, but the technology to get that vaccine together that quickly and then the we've manufactured several billion doses of it in less than a year. That's incredible. That wouldn't have been possible 50 years earlier, when I was a kid, if COVID had hit then the ability, the fact that we were able to lock down a lot of people were able to keep doing their jobs, thanks to the internet and zoom and that there was technology to telecommute, and so that that let them you know lock themselves away. If this had hidden 70s People just had to have kept going to work and I I don't know what that would have looked like. So yes, it is horrific that you've had this this pandemic come along. But then if the same thing had come along with the technologies just a little bit worse, it could have been, it would have been 10 times this. Right? Yeah. I mean, the Spanish flu killed like 100 million people in 1918, something like that. And I guess it basically went away only because enough people died, there weren't enough people to get it anymore.

Michael David Wilson 35:32

Yeah. We got a question from Max booth. Like to understand it fully, I need to ask you, what is the Ballad of douchebag quadbike?

Jason Pargin 35:47

It asked asked the question, because this is this is actually, this is important as to ask the question, because this, this won't make any sense. But it that's, that's why I want you to ask the question.

Michael David Wilson 35:58

Okay. So I grew up lacking on the PW IoT boards. And I definitely miss how certain jokes and Medifast would grow, and evolve on forums, compared to how quickly things are forgotten, and replaced on social media, The Ballad of douchebag quadbike being a perfect example. What are some of your best memories from the forum days?

Jason Pargin 36:29

So the fact that those five words are totally meaningless to you, is the point, message board culture for people that were there, because again, that was watch, you know, before we had social media, you had message boards, or forums, or bulletin boards, or whatever they were called. And they were, you know, this was there was chat rooms, but message boards, the difference was, your messages were permanent. So it's not like Reddit, where there'll be a post of a news story. And then you know, 2000 people will chime in, and then that's just kind of gone. Like nobody goes back and reads those old messages. In a message board, these threads would live on forever. And you could go back and you would have a thread that runs for like 10 years, then you can go back to the history of it. And so on these message boards when you have people united under one thing, and it's so a message board has always dedicated to, you know, a TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Star Trek, Deep Space Nine or something. But the point is, it was usually people united in a fandom of one thing, and in my case, the pointless waste of time for him. That's what PW O T stands for. Those people that were fans of mine fans of my website. So those people all had a very similar sense of humor, very similar sensibility, very similar outlook on the world, right. But only by being on there. Every day, the same people every day talking to each other every day. You have these inside jokes and these inside references, that it's not like a meme where everybody makes a joke on Twitter for one day or two days, and then it's gone. It's stuff that continues and evolves. And so the thing he references, it would take me a solid hour to explain it. That that's the point of him bringing it up because this was a running joke about one guy, one weird guy who showed up and said a series of weird things. And then we kept referencing it for years. And at one point, a guy made a song about it. And then another guy made a music video to go with that song. It just took on a life of its own. And if you asked me to explain who douche quadbike was or what the reference or why he we called him that because he didn't call himself that. It would take forever. And you wouldn't think it was funny. Because you had to be there in the entire font of that period. Was it it was totally inscrutable to people from the outside. And I know that like today you have that on 4chan? That for example, in the previous episode I referenced I asked if if somebody had their parents had gotten into Q and not. Q And on was a 4chan prank that 4chan was a spin off of the something awful message board. So from that message board called culture 4chan was spun off from 4chan. This this culture of anonymous people saying the craziest stuff, and somebody thought it would be funny to pretend to be a government agent with a secret information about how a ring of Hollywood celebrities were trafficking children including Tom Hanks with and there's a secret island where the children were being trafficked from under tunnels under a pizza shop. These are things that this was an inside joke on 4chan, that people on the outside didn't know it was a joke. And so they started taking it as real. And then some other conspiracy types took advantage of it. But the guy who invented it was probably like 16 years old. I think I do miss that type of community. Because in high school in in, you know, when I was a kid, I didn't have a big group of friends like that I wasn't on a sports team. I was never in a band. I didn't, I didn't have those things were like, We're together all the time. And like any group of friends like that, you have like your own language, like your own references that nobody else gets. And so those early message boards, it was like that times 10, because there was a lot of people, it was hundreds of people. And you all had this shared references in the shared languages, to where somebody could say a single word. And everybody would start laughing because they knew the history of what that person was, was saying that if you went back now and tried to read it, if you in those forums were deleted years ago, but if you could go find it and try to read through it, you would have no idea what you were looking at. And that was the fun of it. Because it was like, this is our little this is our secret little club. So but that is that is gone. Now. It's like I realized there are still message boards, but I don't think they operate like that anymore. I think the way when people want to go communicate with strangers, they do it on Twitter, they do it on Reddit, they or whatever. And or in like the comments section of a YouTube video. Like if you follow a famous YouTuber. It's just not the same because as he said in his question, it's very ephemeral, like it just kind of comes in and goes and the idea of having somebody who's like, famous on the forum for a particular reason, the way happened back then, I don't know something was lost there. But I don't think people people realize how much of the culture we have today was born out of message board threads, like the horror character Slenderman. That was a something an awful thread that was a the somebody made a thread. Basically, they Photoshopped this weird creature, and he just took on a life and it became like kind of this

this mascot of that, that part of the something awful for him. So Slenderman and it was just a message worth reading. And now it's movies and novels. And he's a part of the culture. But it was one of those things that kind of could only have existed because the mythology of it was built by just multiple people adding to it.

Michael David Wilson 42:46

All right, on their final Patreon question is from Patrick McDonough. And he says, I'm curious if it still feels surreal, that Don Coscarelli wrote and directed the film adaptation for one of your books. And I'm also wondering if you ever expected Paul gmrt To be in Qian dines at the end? No, no,

Jason Pargin 43:15

none of that it was because again, when he when he bought the rights to it, I told myself like it was cuz it came with a decent amount of money but not like, like buy a house money. It was so if so the paycheck was a big deal, but it was more I was flattered that somebody why like the story enough to buy the rights, but I didn't think it was going to be a movie because I knew enough about Hollywood to know that. But I guess just from watching movies about Hollywood, that you there are producers and studios, like they just get they get pitched 100 ideas a day. And so the fact that you've sold the rights to something like that's very cool, and it's kind of bragging rights, that in terms of actually cuz he then has to turn around and get someone to fund it a studio or investors or somebody because it costs a lot of money to make even a low budget horror movie like John Dies him that has a fairly you know, ambitious story in terms of the stuff that happens and so there's all sorts of creature effects, makeup effects, everything else, that somebody had to put up millions of dollars. And so to me, it's like he's gonna find out that this story is too weird for someone to pay that much money to film it, it works on the internet. It is a very much a product of internet culture. And these are the things I was telling myself at the time, but the way that it moves the like the short of sort of extreme short attention span style of the storytelling. It's something that probably just doesn't translate to film and then So I was more surprised than anyone. When he said, though this is moving forward and we have actual famous people attached. It's not just Paul Giamatti, but it's, you know, the whole cast of people I had seen on, it's like, Oh, I've seen that guy on the wire. And I've seen this guy in the Shawshank Redemption and and then actually, like getting in the meeting, and then having a debut at Sundance in front of people who were not book fans, because why would they be like, This is not the type of thing where a bunch of fans of this book are gonna fly to Park City, Utah, it's, it's this is these are just movie fans and horror fans who are seeing this, and it gets a standing ovation. And people are like, like, actively cheering the movie. So to see like these words you wrote, and these people, these characters you came up with. And now it's, they're up on a screen. And then you see the DVD for sale at Walmart and Target. And it there was never a point where I was like, Well, of course it was because that's a great story. And I'm a great writer, it was always like, This is absurd. This is a cosmic prank. It's like, there's no way this actually this actually happened. And it's why I love it when every time I do like a Reddit AMA, or where I take questions from people, somebody will ask Why were you unhappy with changes he made to the story? As like me I can't imagine what kind of a douchebag I would have to be to like sit there it like Sundance like mad because he changed wine or cuz because he didn't have the the other 100 million dollars that would have cost to film the rest of the novel because it's he gets it's taken from like a specific section of the book.

It's like how how, what kind of a person would I be if I was like, sitting there angry that this one in a million thing that happened to me that it didn't happen exactly the way I wanted, because I don't I don't know anything about writing movies. I've never written a movie, I wouldn't know where to start adapting even my own books into a movie. Whereas he's been making movies his whole adult life, like Yeah, he knew what he was doing. It's far more people have seen that movie than have read all of my books put together the reach of a of a single film, even one that is not a Marvel size, you know, like size block. Blockbuster doesn't matter. When you add up all the people that just casually watched it on cable, or streaming or anywhere else. It's many, many, many more times. So it's his making a movie that like represents it in a way that makes people want to go buy the books is the reason I have a writing career today. Make no mistake about it, Don Coscarelli is the reason I'm able to do this. So no, it never stopped being surreal. I still can't believe it happened. It still doesn't seem probable or even plausible that it happened. But no, I do. I I think if that did happen when I was young, if I if it happened to me while I was in college, I think I could have gotten an unrealistic idea of like, oh, this is the way the world works. You know, you're talented, the world recognized it and you make a bunch of money. The fact that it happened was in my 30s, I think, because I had failed for like 10 straight years. It was hitting me in a place where I realized, oh, what's happening doesn't happen like this. Like I have creative friends. This hasn't happened to any of them. And I was in a place where I was able to appreciate it more and realize how incredibly unlikely it wasn't how incredibly fortunate I was.

Michael David Wilson 48:51

Yeah. Do you have any news in terms of other possible film adaptations?

Jason Pargin 49:00

So the TV rights to the ZOE series is with a production company owns I don't know what I can say in hers. I just know it's in development. I can't say with which streaming platform. It is. Bit it's they, as far as I know, that's still progressing, the wheels turn slowly and that kind of thing. With John dies at the end, people will ask me why was there anything in the works? I'm telling you and Hollywood now with the number of streaming services they are in the way every single property gets turned into a show. At some point, I assure you, many meetings have been held about turning it into that use your imagination the show, it's because I could eat you know, you could easily imagine somebody at Netflix saying well, it's kind of like Stranger Things. It's like It's like Stranger Things. Everybody was older and drunk and the town had fallen apart. So you can, you can imagine, yes, we've had, I have been in on many conference calls with many people, some of them you have heard of, about possibly turning it into one thing or another village. It's one of a billion properties. That's just, that's just out there. And I do not doubt at some point, there will be another John Dies at the End, movie or TV show or take your pick virtual reality experience or something because it is a property that is a known thing we don't. Enough famous people are familiar with it, because they were either in the movie or they're fans of the movie, or they're friends with people who were in the movie. We don't necessarily have to like explain what it is. It's an existing thing. They're familiar with how many people have seen it, they're familiar with what their own metrics show, like it was on Netflix, like Netflix, somewhere in their database has numbers for how many people watched the movie, right? So it's, there will always be people talking somewhere on Earth about doing something else and the John Dies at the End franchise, the I don't have any news for something mean imminent, because this is just the way it is you just take meeting after meeting after meeting. Every single meeting ends with someone saying we love it, this is the best thing we've ever seen. And then you just never hear anything back. That's how Hollywood works. They're extremely positive, it always kills in the room. But then somebody eventually sits down and says this is to do this right will be expensive. Is it too weird? Is it not weird enough? Are people gonna think it's just, you know, Stranger Things or one of the other? Like they made an Ash vs Evil Dead series? They're going to look at that and say, Well, it's kind of like that, right? It's gory, and it's a weekly gory horror comedy type thing. That I believe eventually something will happen. I do. I do believe that. But it's more as they keep it. dentine streaming services, I think they're just going to run out of shows and they'll the or movies or content, and they'll have to come back to us. They won't have a choice. There'll be too many streaming services for our for the stuff that's been made.

Michael David Wilson 52:19

All right. Well, exciting news then in just a matter of when, rather than if we have.

Jason Pargin 52:28

Yeah, I mean, it could be 35 years from now.

Michael David Wilson 52:34

I'll be here. So I'll be around, hopefully. Yeah. Good.

Jason Pargin 52:43

I try not to tie my hopes too, because it's so out of my control. That if it happens, that's great. But I don't feel like I'm like, I think the ZOE books, there's two of them. There'll be a third that I'm writing now. I think don't make a great TV show. That I acknowledge it would be an expensive TV show takes place in the future. In a fictional city. It's a lot to ask. It's a big risk on somebody's part. But I think it would make a great show. I think there's room for great casting and all sorts of stuff it can make for some great memes people could share on social media that I don't feel like I'm owed that if that makes sense. Like I don't walk around mad that it's not a show yet. And I'm not bitter about you know, wow, they made this other crap show why don't they make my thing my thing would have been better than that. It's like man it's you're already so fortunate. Nobody thinks of con you're it Don't Don't Don't Don't press you're lucky it's if it happens it happens but you know why Why should why should they make my thing and not you know a movie out of every single Stephen Graham Jones novel like why why would I be in line ahead of him? Like there's so many more deserving creators out there probably so no, I'm it's whatever happens I'm fine with it.

Michael David Wilson 54:06

Now it'd be a hell of a series if we made a TV series that is every episode is a new Stephen Graham Kevin's not

Jason Pargin 54:14

sure. I would watch them all people who don't know who that is somehow please go go read his go read his books.

Michael David Wilson 54:23

Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Well, thank you so much for spending the vast majority of your evening yeah and with us this has been a tremendous amount of fun and we have covered so much.

Jason Pargin 54:39

Yeah, I hope your listeners enjoyed it or that it distracted them from their troubles for a couple of hours which is really all that's all we can do. Give them give them something to do if they're sitting in traffic give them something to listen to. I hope that it I hope that it made your commute seem shorter or, or whatever you're trying to distract yourself from why listening to this podcast.

Michael David Wilson 55:01

All right, where can our listeners connect with you?

Jason Pargin 55:06

I am on everything except for tick tock just search my name. Jason Argent J S O n p AR gi n. The new book is called if this book exists, you're in the wrong universe. But by the novels you just search for my name, you'll you will find them on any bookseller website. But I'm on Twitter, I'm not gonna give you the Twitter, you search my name, you'll you'll find it. I'm out there. I'm on whatever, I'm on Instagram. I'm on Facebook. I'm on No, I don't have a WhatsApp. I don't know, there's several that I lost track of at some point. I have a YouTube channel, but I never update. Just just Google my name. That's all I can tell you. You're on your own.

Michael David Wilson 55:49

Do you have any final thoughts for our listeners?

Jason Pargin 55:54

No, this has been a lot of fun. I hope if you I will probably be back on the show at some point probably in in October, I will probably ask to be back on every show when the book comes out. If you have questions that we did not get to especially if you're aspiring writers, I love to answer questions for people who want to know things about process. I love talking about that stuff. I know that that can be boring to non writers. But I get the sense there's a lot of aspiring writers in this audience. Anything about the creative process the process of of outlining a novel or trying to get through a long form work. I love talking about this stuff. So any in depth or more technical questions, if you have those, keep them in mind. And the next time I'm on you can ask me, you can ask me them.

Michael David Wilson 56:47

Thank you so much for listening to the This Is Horror Podcast with Jason Pargin. Join us again next time when we will be chatting with Catriona Ward. But if you would like to get that conversation ahead of the crowd, if you would like to get every conversation ahead of the crowd, then become a patron on patreon.com forward slash, this is horror. Not only do you get early bird access to each and every episode, but you get to submit questions to the patrons, you get to be part of the writers forum on Discord. And speaking of which we have just launched the This Is Horror Patreon Writing Challenge is similar to the one story per week writing challenge that we hosted a number of years ago. But now it is a little bit more customizable. We have free recommended challenges. To classic write one story per week. We've got write a novella in a month. We've got write a novel in 90 days. And this is really something though, that you can adapt and customize to make it your own. And the writing challenge is really an excellent way to up your game because you've got accountability. When you actively participate. You're making yourself accountable. You're announcing it and you're interacting with other people on the writers forum. And of course, that interaction, talking camaraderie, took an encouragement and community. And we've got all the details. And you'll also find that in challenging yourself and pushing yourself that you're probably going to go a lot further than if you hadn't set a goal at all. That is certainly the case for me. And we've got all the details over on this is horror.co.uk. But I want to thank all the patrons that have joined us in the last month. So many of you have come through and it is so good to see so many fresh faces for the writers challenge. So I want to thank you all I'm gonna butcher some names here. I always do but thank you to Andrew cardas. To Myrmidon. To Jeffrey Roberts to Matthew Dunkley to Aaron Morgan. To Bobby G. W. Thank you to sighs Missoura God, I better fucked up that lame. I'm really sorry. Please correct me. Thank you to Callum to re panto to Mattie Oh, Masiello to Antony Trevino to Daz eek to Jeff Amberlynn. To Tyler Anderson, and to Susan irlam. It is fantastic to have you all here, part of Patreon and part of the writers challenge and if you want to be part of it to head over to Patreon dot com forward slash This Is Horror. This is the best time to join Patreon. The rise challenge has only just kicked off it is a year long challenge. And you know we're going to be there encouraging you are going to be beta reading. This is going to really kickstart your writing journey or it is going to be rocket fuel to take it to the next level patreon.com forward slash This Is Horror. Now right before I wrap up a little bit of an advert break.

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Michael David Wilson 1:01:36

As always, I would like to end with a quote. And this is from Joseph Campbell. When you find a writer who really is saying something to you read everything that writer has written. And you will get more education and depth of understanding out of that than reading a scrap here and a Scrap there and elsewhere. Then go to people who influenced that writer, or those who were related to them, and your world builds together in an organic way. That is really marvelous. And that was Joseph Campbell and somewhat ironic for me to take that little scrap that little quote, but it is what it is. I'll see you in the next episode with Katrien award. But until then, take care yourselves be good to one another. Read horror. Keep on writing and have a great, great day.

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