In this podcast, Jason Pargin talks about If This Book Exists, You’re in the Wrong Universe, crazy technology, experimental writing, 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. He’s just released his new book If This Book Exists, You’re in the Wrong Universe.
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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 WeeChat were masters of horror, about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Now, today's guest is Jason Pargin for the second and final part of our conversation. In this episode, we jump into his brand new book. If this book exists, you're in the wrong universe. We also talk a little bit about some of the craziest technology and experiment experimental writing. So lots for us to jump into. But before any of that, a little bit of an advert break,
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Michael David Wilson 2:34
Okay, without sad here it is it is part two with Jason parging. On dare says horror. So you've got a new book coming out on October the 18th. If this book exists, you're in the wrong universe. And I don't to begin with let's talk about the two sections that you have. At the start of the book you've got contact the author if interested in purchasing any of the following, and a note to the Rozman family regarding reimbursement for their cue list. So what inspired these two little sections at the start?
Jason Pargin 3:20
There's a key thing where the books are kind of packaged to as if someone the person who wrote them really doesn't know what they're doing. So if those new to the series, there's one thing that happens in the book, starting with Book Two is whenever it switches to the point of view of someone else, there's at least one guy who is just doesn't know how to tell a story. Like he's everything he said is completely wrong. He's just clearly making things up. It's inconsistent. So the idea is these books are very, the joke is that they're very sloppily put together. So this book, where you know, a novel is supposed to grab you instantly with its premise and draw you in this one opens with the author, the ostensibly like, very poor and mostly unemployed author, trying to sell you some haunted items he has in his garage. And so it introduces you to the universe via the nature of what he's selling. And so it's almost like this is a self published thing where it's like, well before the book begins, if you want to buy any of our any of our stuff, please just let us know. And the stuff is all selling for like, like $12 It's very low price. And then after that, it's like okay, now Now we'll start the novel and then it comes back. Okay, well, hold on one thing we have to apologize about stealing this person school or Yeah, yeah. And that starts a story but it starts it in it's in such a haphazard way that it's obviously it's carefully designed on my end, but the there's a kind of a sloppy, haphazard nature to these Stories and that's supposedly what makes them lovable is it it's a it's a an often when the story kind of just picks up in midstream, and it's like you've woken up in a car that's already heading down the highway, it's that's part of the charm about them is that the perception that the author is just barely in control of what's happening here?
Michael David Wilson 5:23
Yeah, did you ever have any resistance, so pushback from the publisher regarding this kind of style, the sloppily put together style as you put it, or given that your John dies at the end? At the point where you'd sold it initially, to the publisher had this established? AUDIENCE And this established way of doing things? Were they just like, No, this is cool. This is your way,
Jason Pargin 5:52
only in the sense that they clarify, is this stupid in the way that you intended it to be? It's because when it switches to John's point of view, and and his he's getting huge details wrong and his story, it's like, okay, is this an inconsistency? Or is this on purpose? And they don't they don't question it beyond that. But it's, there's no question that the editing experience is different now than it was when I started, where in terms of like having to justify choices, or creative choices or anything like that. Now, it's more in terms of, okay, it's like, we get that the way you did this is intentionally confusing. But do you think you should do something with the font here to make it a little bit clearer? Or like, like, here, you've switched to a different timeframe? Do you need to make it clear that that has happened? Or will the reader get lost, but it's always a collaborative thing, where early on, you know, you're brand new that, you know, the editor is trying to make sure you have an actual working novel that that functions, but at this point, I am now I had to stop and count how many novels I'm now six novels into it into my career, this many into it, it's generally I can anticipate if you're doing something weird, you're telling the story out of order. You're switching perspectives, you're intentionally introducing strange things like that. I generally know how to convey it. And anything I want to do that's creative, like if I want a picture, or I want to I want a weird font or anything like that, you get into technical aspects, like is this doable? Bob referenced House of Leaves earlier. Which if have you read that one? You know what he was referencing there? Yeah. Okay, so I have no idea if they ever did like an ebook version of that, or how it would even be possible that for anybody unfamiliar with House of Leaves, and beyond the horror story, that's, that is the main thing, the formatting is half the experience. Because some pages are in reverse on pages. It's one single stream of letters down the center of the page. And then there's tiny footnotes, and then in the footnotes is an entirely separate novel. And it's this chaotic House of Leaves, it's almost like, like leaves also can refer to a sheet of paper. It's almost like suggesting this just as pile of sheets and scraps and notes that have been put together. And so that is a big part of the, the experience is it's physically difficult to read that like not hard to read, like hard to understand. It's physically a challenge tree by design. And that's part of the fun is chasing the story across the scraps and does weird formatting and all of that. I've always wanted to do something like that. But it must have been a logistical hell on earth, dealing with the printer, the publisher, like just proofing. It's hard enough to prove a novel just going back and forth on spelling and things like that. To then separately, okay, you said you wanted the letters to be in like a pyramid at the bottom of the page. In a tiny font, does this look right? It's like no tinier. It's like, well, they can't make it that tiny. It's like I wanted, I wanted the text to run right up to the edge of the page. It's like, well, no, they actually can't the printer can't do it that way. Mike, it must have been crazy. And I don't know if there's ever been another book like it. And I know that he could say it's like a gimmick or whatever. But it that's half the experience is it's I had loved seeing something new done. And playing with the format. You know, they used to be what was special about the internet in the early days. Nobody knew what a website was supposed to look like. So it was just crazy. People were just making what Ever they whatever they wanted? And if any new forms and of course now it's not like that now there's a standard, it's all standardized, but this, I have not seen the equivalent of another book like like that, have you Is there another House of Leaves type title,
Michael David Wilson 10:17
not to that level,
Bob Pastorella 10:19
I was gonna say demon theory by Stephen Graham Jones but it's real, it's more of a footnote type thing. Because basically that demon theory is a basically film treatments of three films that you know, form the main part of the story. But then there's footnotes, some of which are longer than the actual story like the footnote on certain pages, like covers over half the page. And so and the way you read it is you read it, like you would read a normal book, you just read page, you know, after page. And so you're getting a sense of the story, but also you're getting, like a history, a horror, you know, horror fiction, horror, cinema history, behind the scenes, you know, and it's, it's really a fascinating way to do it. From what I remember listening to the book podcast, when Mark Danielewski, turned in his book for the familiar, which I believe is going to be like, I think he's on like, volume 14 or 15. Now he turned, he's turned his book in on an iPad. It's basically like, Hey, here's my new book, you know, there's nothing printed, he turned it down to iPad. And they basically had to log into the iPad and in the iPad basically showed him how the book was
Jason Pargin 11:57
gonna be laid out. Really?
Bob Pastorella 12:01
Well, when he when you when you have a book, like Castle leaves, you know, in your next book is going to be something like that, then I mean, I think that if that's if that's your brand, then that's that's how you're going to present it.
Jason Pargin 12:16
So love to do something like that. Something that not Not, not like House of Leaves, necessarily, but playing with the format and some way that I see I think about that all the time. And the moment I sit down to write, I chickened out, where it's like, the entire thing is a series of text messages to people sent to each other and you get the whole adventure that way and it's like, well, gosh, but will that just annoy people? And there's that's where as an artist, you have to be able to say, you know, I don't care like House of Leaves, like he had to had to have moments as I was like, anybody gonna stick with this? Like, it's gonna be annoyed. It's like, well, some people will be. But that's where you've got to trust your own ability to tell a story. You've got to trust your audience and I don't know I love and even pallbearers club, Paul Tremblay, his last book, it's in the form of a book. And then it's been marked up with a pin by another party. I don't want to spoil it but so there's kind of a back and forth between this person revising and correcting and you weren't in the end the relationship they had and why why this is occurring. But even there, but when he released I follow him on Twitter, he had my nightmare scenario play out, which is that the ebook was unreadable. It could not be it they didn't format the way they did it with the that a separate markup font where it's supposed to be the other person adding scribbles. It didn't shrink on ebook, and so it was literally unreadable it couldn't be read. And so he gets this torrent of one star reviews on his book whereas the review is couldn't read it and I Kendall waste money. Well, obviously they were going to really they're going to fix it but it was a solid like two weeks after release. You're out of like your your best seller window. And then they finally got the new version out there. And he had to go out on Twitter, twitter, and like ask people please, if you left a one star review, please go back and revise your rating. You can do that on Amazon like it matters. And I'm sure most people did. I'm sure a lot of people did not. But that's I we had that having a crack where we had we had booked those really it was laid out like a textbook like a child's textbook and is this funny goofy textbook and then the ebook version could not be read. And I thought they tested that kind of thing. Especially for a major release that you know that they're they've got promotion money behind, but I don't know stuff slipped through the cracks. I know everybody's overworked. I'm sure somebody thought they checked it but that's that's rough and that's the exact kind of thing I'd be scared of the moment I started thinking well, you know, I'd be funny is if like half of the book was an invisible ink and then they had to go get live in Jewson and uncover the secret half of the book. That'd be fun. Like man, that would be half of them but wouldn't work or Whatever, I don't know, they would accidentally use the wrong kind of paper. And it wouldn't, it wouldn't become visible. And you'd have to do a recall, I would chicken out, I would chicken out one weekend through the process and go back to just writing as a straightforward so so what you see me doing they're playing with format that's as bold as I get is where it is it starts off with what seems to be a Craigslist listing of the author trying to sell you some of his junk as house.
Bob Pastorella 15:27
There's books that do it now, like ber jaegers. Negative space basically is, you know, message boards. And so it takes you a little second or two to get into story. But once you do, he sets the hook so good, that you literally can't stop reading. And I was I mean, that book came out like two years ago, and I was I just read it like, you know, within the last year, and mostly calm, it's called negative space, it's about being our Yeager. And that book is unbelievable. And it's basically, it's almost like, there's just a lot of message board. And the formatting, I mean, here's the thing, it's not like it's formatted to where you can read it. In other words, like it doesn't have like a weird look to it. It's just a way that these the characters convey information. So there's, you know, some subtle abbreviations, things like that, but you get the you get the hang of it. So it's not anything you really have to think about, especially if you've ever spent any time on a message board or reading, you know, read it or anything like that, you know, it's not going to be anything that that's that's, you know, out of the ordinary you know, and I think you know, of course and Erica maracas book which is basically just, you know, the email chain between two characters. So, you know, it's, it's, you get, you get, like, the whole email. That's, that's your dialogue tank. And then you get these these, you know, monologues that become more and more and more disturbing.
Jason Pargin 17:23
You know, talking about things things have gotten worse since we last spoke, right. And it's the title. Yeah, I've got that on my Kindle. I have not read it yet. Because that's mostly that's my, my reading habit is I buy books, and they go on my Kindle and they just pile up on there. I have a list of purchased but unread books a mile long, because everyone tells me you gotta you gotta read this to get as bought. Bought. It's like, Well, okay, now you were you went on tick tock, instead of reading book, Jason. But no, I have that one. It's a CI. And I didn't know I didn't realize that it was in the form of like email correspondence. But I love that too. Because what for people listening, if you're thinking that if you've never listened to or read a book like that, it's thinking, Well, that sounds like it'd be very limiting. See, and horror, that's the fun, because you only get glimpses. And so if you're only seeing what people post in a message board, or what they're sending said in an email, and you're not allowed to see everything else. And so you're only allowed now you're restricted to their point of view, and how they're framing things. And you as an author, it's so much fun to play with that because you can drop hints and the you know, what the reader's imagination will fill in. So those aren't actually limitations at all. It's actually it's actually a great space to play in if you have the skill to do it. Like, again, I you know, yeah, I'm looking at negative space here. This looks great. I have not read any of VR years
Bob Pastorella 18:59
work. Yeah, that was my first it's, it's a really good book. And like I said, it's, I kind of resisted it for the longest time because I knew that it was in a format that I wasn't really going to be too familiar with. But after seeing so much of the hype, I finally broke down and I got it, especially considering that I mean, the books actually, if the Kindle versions pretty much a bargain, you know, you get an almost 400 page book for five bucks. I'm like, okay, that's that's a pretty damn good deal. You know, so might as well go ahead and pull the trigger on this thing. And I started reading it. And I couldn't stop. That's the thing. I was like, Oh, shit. This is like right up my alley. And does it I don't think the presentation really had it because it's still an incredible story. It could have been written in an in a norm Will fashion. Um, but it because it wasn't I don't know if that made it any better or not, but the presentation to it was was insane fresh. If that's if that's a good word to use, it was a fresh look to something that could have, maybe if it was written in a normal way, where you're just having a bunch of First Person POVs. Um, you know that maybe maybe that could have ruined the experience. But if you used you if you put it into a message board kind of context, and you have a collection of message boards, like you're saying that other people can't really see. But you've got it all. That I think that that's probably part of the new allure to it. But it's fascinating book, loved
Jason Pargin 20:50
Amazon's listing that is their only book, you should get them on your show, get them on the podcast, ask ask how they came up with that? Because I would I would listen to it. I'd be fascinated knew the process if they if they had a story that they started with and then decided to you know, if it was late in the process from the side or to do it that way, or if they headed that way from the beginning, because this is something I think people are aren't writers may not realize this. But when people ask like how do you get an idea for a novel, or how you get an idea for a story? Well, you can start from anywhere, like sometimes it is the format that you start with. It's like I Okay, I love the idea of telling this thing, you know, first person through the eyes of a cat, or you know, or you may just have like the voice of a narrator in your head, or you may just have one scene in mind. Or you may just have a monster, like you think of a type of monster and then you or you may just have a series of characters, they may just have, like, you can start from anywhere. So people ask, Well, where do you start? It's like, well, you can start from anything, you may just decide I want to do like a Nora type story, I'm gonna do a 1940s Detective Story, and then go from there. And then halfway through, you might decide actually, this works better if it's modern day and then you may change it, but your starting point can be anywhere. So I would be fascinated if to I would have a lot of questions for them like, did you start with? But what if I told you like a sprawling horror horror tale through entirely through Reddit style posts, or message board style posts? Or did you? Was there some point later in the pot? Is this something you had been tinkering with for years, and then you finally thought, you know what this would be interesting to, you know, play with the format. I'd love to know. The famous authors to like you, you'll hear them and they'll be like, Well, I was, you know, on vacation. And I imagine like what would happen if, if a shark attacked us and so I sat down and wrote a book about shark attacks. But it's usually not that straightforward. It's usually the being a creative people come up, come up with ideas from the strangest places, and you know, I'm always I'm always interested to hear
Michael David Wilson 23:03
is there anything experimental that you're working on at the moment? I mean, you've said that it's something you want to get into, but I'm wondering if you've actively started kind of dabbling or tinkering with an idea that could potentially turn into something.
Jason Pargin 23:24
See, here's the thing. When people you ask most people like what would your goal be like your ideal goal be as a writer as a creative person and most people will be like why you know, to have a best seller to be able to a full time to have to you know, have the financial pressure taken off and then I can finally do whatever I want in my position. My schedule is so locked down like I signed a three book book deal after like the one the that's about to come out is the last book in my previous deal and I am one of the very fortunate to be able to sign up multi book deal but that is one comes out next year another one comes out the year after that another one comes out two years after that. And that means my life is pretty much planned down to the minute if you factor in the fact that you know the last two months of the year it like it's promotion of the book it's all you know, doing interviews, that kind of thing signing books, all that stuff. So my goal if you ask me what would my goal for the future we need to get to a place where I can just screw around somehow where I make enough I offer like I guess five like a runaway bestseller The sold millions of copies. And suddenly I became like a wealthy and actual wealthy author to be able to do you know, like Stephen King would every once in awhile release just a short story collection like in the middle of all of his best sellers. He would throw together 10 short stories and put them out there. That's the case. I never write short stories. I never write poems I never just tinker with, with stuff. It's always the next book. I'm late getting started on the next book, like I, you know, I am in the final editing stages of the next Zoe book that has to go off to the publisher, probably in October, November. And then at that point, I have to turn turn around and immediately start the next one. Because that's, that's the deal I laid out for myself, I really don't have time to just mess with stuff to just just screw around. And that's bad for a creative person, you need something else you can just a toy with. This is why if you follow, like actors on Instagram, they all have like bands, or they make pottery, or they they make they do something else, they do stuff other than just just act all the time. Because you know, you get you don't want to get into a rut. That's the only thing I regret about my schedule, the way it's set up now, where it's promote, right, promote, right, promote, right, and it's a train of of novels that I'm obligated to turn in. I love writing, I sound like a crazy person who complain about it. But I wish I did have the freedom to sit down and say, I'm going to write like, a weird TV show I came up with, or comic book, I'm gonna find I know a bunch of artists, like I'm gonna call one of these artists and say I Let's collaborate, let's make a graphic novel. Not we won't even get a book deal off, we're just going to make it we'll upload it on the internet. Just for fun, we'll make the weirdest Craziest thing we can think of, I think you need that. And that's what I had once upon a time when there was nothing to lose. You know, I had a day job was just writing on the internet thinking it would never go anywhere. I was just doing whatever. I this crazy book that made my career John dies. At the end. It's only as crazy and chaotic as it is because it was written by somebody who truly did not care. It's like, it's like I've given away for free. It's on the internet. It's like what, what are they expecting it? Well, you want a refund of the $0? You paid to read it? Well, that's not my situation. Now people have expectations. I have a brand. And you know if I will, I cannot. I can do anything I want. That's weird. I cannot replace a book with something weird. You see, I'm saying like if they're expecting the next novel in the series, and I turn in something that stars totally different characters. And it's weird, and it's really short. And it the whole thing rhymes. It's written in iambic pentameter. I don't think I could do that. Because I, I've been paid in advance, I have to get a certain number of sales to the publisher. So I wish I had room in my life so that the book is done. And now I'm going to spend six months just doing this weird thing. That's what I envy about like famous Hollywood actors. It's not that it's not their mansions. It's that you'll hear about one of them. They'll make like a blockbuster movie, and they'll disappear for two years. And you find out that they went and did Death of a Salesman off Broadway.
And it's like, oh, so they made enough money off of being a Batman villain, that they could just go do theater, which is their true love. Or they went and recorded an album, a rap album, like they went just did something stupid because they had they got a big enough paycheck. I don't envy I don't envy the ability to buy Lamborghinis and cocaine, I envy their ability. So you know what, I'm just gonna chill for two years, make some weird stuff. And then I'll I'll be in another Batman movie, when I get when I'm ready. That's what I envy is the time that they bought themselves. And I think somebody wanted to criticize me for that. They say, Well, you've, you've built this schedule for yourself. Nobody hates you to this. But it is in order to stay in the public eye in order to sell enough books to pay the mortgage, they've got to come out at a certain interval, they just do that. If you ask where I would like to be when I'm in my 60s, I think dance what I would like to be different. I'd like to be in a place where I somehow had achieved enough success that I that I could put something out there either on the internet or in whatever it may be, I write an audio drama, and it's recorded with a bunch of voice actors, whatever, take your pick. And then people see it and they say, Well, that was weird. That was the guy that said auto me that that was that was the weirdest thing. He wrote like a musical what? I love to do some of the soul out of character because you know, that's I'm not I don't act like I'm in a prison. It's just I've got a schedule and I, I always live in such fear of because you think about it. You know, this is my full time job writing books. What if I get sick? What if I got what if I'd gotten COVID I've been knocked out of commission for three months. You know, I had a friend who didn't go back to work for months. They are on oxygen younger than me. You know what if I want if I couldn't write for a while that I had been screwed, I wouldn't have been able to make that deadline. That's how tight it is. So I kind of live in fear of like, well, why don't you want to just make space for yourself to go off and make something weird, like, it's like, because I don't know that something isn't going to happen. I could fall in, you know, throw out my back or something and not be able to sit in my office chair for a few months. So that'd be an extreme pain. I'll get Stephen King got knocked out of commission for a couple of years. And because of a car accident, walking down the road, country road, and all sudden, boom, that's it. One, one guy gets distracted by his dog and you get hit and break every every bone in your body. That can happen anytime to anybody. And I don't because I don't have an employer. There's no disability, there's no sick days, like I just don't get paid. If they don't get the book, they don't get the money. So that insecurity habit is part of it. And I know that some I know some people get better about that. I know some actors. Like I think that's why David Academy quit The X Files because it was like, I don't have time to do anything else. It's just it's all X Files. Like I liked this show, but it's just or I'm more than this Can't he was the writer he liked to write. He's like, I would like to go write something. Like I don't have time. And where everybody else is like, Well, screw you. You get to be in this goofy TV show. And you get to be extremely, you know, rich and famous. It's like, Yeah, but I I want to make weird stuff, too. That's that's me. I wish I had room to make more to make weird stuff.
Michael David Wilson 31:27
Yeah, yeah. And talking about time being tight and relating this to what we were talking about. With joining tick tock. I mean, how do you decide when to let go of a social media network? Because I mean, you said you're on nine, possibly 11 Right now, but presumably, in your time, there have been countless ones that you've said, No, this just isn't working. So I'm gonna leave and I mean, I do wonder if for a lot of people Facebook is going that way at the moment. But yeah, when do you decide this is not adding value and this needs to go?
Jason Pargin 32:08
That's a great question. Because I would love to leave Facebook. I don't enjoy Facebook. I like it. I have a personal Facebook that is separate from all that other crap where I fall on my family, because the older members of my family they're only on Facebook. It's my grandma is not going to get on Tik Tok. You know, my aunt, my all these people back home, you know, I don't, I've moved away. I don't live around anybody. So I only see, you know, all the kids. Everybody's raising my brother's kid. I only see that on social media and I only see it on Facebook, he's not going to draw on tick tock. So I have to be on there for that. Anyway, in terms of whether or not the fan pages the issue is not that Facebook's audience is vanishing, it's still extremely huge. There's still more than like 2 billion Facebook users, it's just that they're aging. So from a marketing standpoint, I think a lot of brands have decided Facebook isn't where the action is. But the old people are still on Facebook and a lot of my readers are old because they're, they're my age they they they may have been young when I started writing but they're certainly not anymore. So I do still I have one Facebook page has about 42,000 fans and other has 20,000 Other has about six and then those overlap so collectively, I probably have like 50,000 people now how many of those accounts are still active how many of those accounts are belong to people who have literally have died and Facebook just doesn't know they just have what they I don't know I just I just know that they're still you still do get a good volume of engagement on the posts and clicks from Facebook because I can track that and and you can when you boost a post there is still significant audience and click through from that. I wish I could I wish everyone would just decide this is the one we're all using now. We're shutting down all the other ones because this is not efficient and you can't just take the same post and spam it across all of them because they don't the same format doesn't work everywhere. video does not get great engagement on Twitter. video does not get great engagement on Facebook, Facebook likes images. For whatever reason their algorithm favors still images Tik Tok is only video so the still images you know my my tweets, I can verbally read a tweet into a tick tock and try to perform it. Maybe it works. Maybe it doesn't. But they all want something different. And they their algorithms all favor something different. And so what happens is the as everybody's grandma got on Facebook, all the youth left Facebook because they don't want to be posting where their grandma is, but a lot of them have gone to Snapchat or to whatever the ones a lot of migrated Tik Tok but not all I'm so as as the old people move into a platform, the young people always move off into another one. But the audience, it's never a MySpace situation where everybody just vacates it, or Digg, where everybody just it's just gone one day. These days, they all just stick around and the landscape just keeps splintering. The reason I kept saying on podcasts only ever be on Tik Tok was the joke was, I can't handle another one. Like, I can't I can't take you can't take the mental load or the time suck of having to learn another platform, learn their algorithm, learn what they want. I just can't handle it. And so the thought of this time, you know, I'm talking to you around next year's book release in fall of 2023. And you're, you're asking me like now Do you have a Zuko account? Are you on Zuko yet? It's in an app say no, never tic tock was the last one. And then for the next book and 20 and 2024 off be say, Well, yeah, I'm on Zuko. Now. It's the one where you you have a camera, but planted inside your eyeball, and it just sees everything you see. And we're just broadcast your life.
Michael David Wilson 36:09
Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, that's quite an apropos segue to in your latest book, we've got a phone app that children can feed human teeth. What do you think, is the craziest technology that currently exists?
Jason Pargin 36:32
I don't know. Because right now, if you are on any kind of Twitter or anything like that social media, what dominates is people showing these AI artwork that were like, if you could feed a few keywords into it, and then it will generate a painting or cartoon for you. Have you seen this?
Michael David Wilson 36:53
I've Yeah, I've seen people sharing their results. I haven't personally used it. But yeah, I've seen the results of it.
Jason Pargin 37:02
I'm not impressed. I gotta say it's kind of bad art it I don't get it all they did, as far as I could tell, was feted a bunch of art that other people made. Yeah. And then so when you put in a keyword, you know, so it's like, I want to see Donald Trump driving a tiny car or riding a dinosaur. It can grab, go through his database of all those similar images, and then cobble something new together. That just looks like a very bad painting of Donald Trump on a dinosaur. And but people tell me people who know what they're talking about, say that is, what it's doing is amazing, like AI. And that we're like, on the cusp of having, like, you know, a computer that can think, and I don't buy it, I've not seen any examples of it when I see like examples of self driving cars, where you're asking the car to almost do as much processing as a person does. Because driving a car turns out is actually extremely difficult, because it's unpredictable, what other drivers are going to do. They just get confused by the easiest things. So I don't know it feels to me like the next. Like something that could be done with current technology or that is could be done with technology will have very soon. Like, it seems like we are not that far away from for example, like an augmented reality thing where you could wear a pair of glasses that somebody walks up to you and it pops up, you know, it does a facial scan, and it tells you who they are. Which right right now, in theory, you could pull out your phone and look up, like if there's a cashier at Target. And their name is Rachel and you want to stalk this person. You could probably in an hour find their social media by knowing their first name the city where they work, right? Well, I think having a pair of glasses, we're just pops up over their head. You know, this is Rachel, age 47 lives here. Favorite went on vacation here last year, like all because they would just grab all the stuff that they've put out there on social. And then also it doesn't seem like once you have something that can study human faces, and then they can study all like, your metabolic processes. It doesn't seem like we're more than a few years away from something that could instantly tell you if someone is lying. So like 10 years from now, the concept of lying and person might be a thing that doesn't exist anymore. Because it can just read their facial expressions. It can track what they said elsewhere on social media, it can track other people's social media that observed the things they were doing. So if they said oh yeah, I couldn't come to the party because I was sick. I could instantly pop up and say no, they went to Taco Bell at 11pm. We track their transaction, they were spotted on three different cameras. And also that there we can detect that there's a higher that like their pupils have dilated by one per sent, which implies brain activity that is consistent with deception and their heart rate has accelerated by 5%. And that you that the idea of the other thing that can think for you, and the thing we use social media for now, which is like an extension of your ability to socialize, that someone would make a thing where you just can instantly tell if someone's not being truthful with you. Because once that is invented, and once one person has it, everyone would want to have it because what an advantage would be to be the one person who can tell who cannot be lied to. And it would change the car buying experience massively.
Bob Pastorella 40:40
I'm in the tech industry, and I sell cell phones. And we have like, you know, devices to where you can, like, they're called tags. And so they basically use them to keep, you know, fine, your luggage might be lost or something like that. There's nefarious uses for it as well, which I have a really hard time selling these tanks to men typically won't, and we'll find something else to do get someone else to help them. Because nine times out of 10, the guy is going to put it on behind some girls license plate, and he's going to stalk her. So I have a real hard time with that when we get to that point with that AI den where we're going to have that kind of invasion of privacy. If that happens before I actually retire from this company, I will probably quit, I'll probably have nothing to do with it. Because that to me, to having that much information out there is a massive invasion of privacy. And it's like, well, it's not because you put it out there, it's on social media, then I'll get off social media.
Jason Pargin 41:53
Because I think that's such a generational deprivation of privacy. Because I grew up, you know, in the Cold War. And so when we would make fun of the Soviet Union, it's like, oh, yeah, well over there, the government's always watching like they they put microphones on people's houses and listen to them. And it's like, now people will buy an Alexa there has to be listening all the time, because they have to listen for when you give it commands, they have to Oh has to be on for it to work and just makes its make sense. And it's so I know, this is an old joke, but the people who were worried that like that, like the vaccine had tiny microchips in it so that Bill Gates could track your location, but they posted that conspiracy theory using their Samsung phone. That is the has a GPS and and that they posted this like this was posted while I was in line at the target the Starbucks inside of target in Harrisburg,
at 11am, talking about how I will never let the government track me. Let's see, I grew up with that. Because when cable TV was new, I remember a small town, the conspiracy theory that with cable with coax that it was two way that the government could see it through your TV. And I swear to me, this was true. And this is you know, there's a conspiracy there with every new technology that comes about. And like, you know, I have a camera on the top of my monitor. Because I have to use some of these these podcasts. They want video too. So for zoom, you know, I've got it sitting up there. And it's looking right at me. The government didn't didn't make me put that on there. You know, that was that was in 1984. They had a camera washing, it's like no, I did it myself. It's like, well, yeah, you have the freedom to take it down. It's like okay, but if we've trained kids that you can't participate in society, unless you film yourself and surveil yourself and turn on, like you can't have friends, you can't have a social circle, you can't have value. Like it's it might as well be required. It doesn't matter that they never pass a law saying you have to have a camera on you at all times, if we've just socialize them that everything about you everything about your you and your your body and your whole being must be broadcast and you've just been socialized that this is how it works. Then they just, they just do it themselves. This is where when I was a teenager, you know, I said that things to myself that every teenager says like, Well, when I grow up, I'm not going to be like a grumpy old man. I'm going to be the one guy who stays cool. I'm going to when when the teenagers are doing things, like when they're listening to music, or watching movies that I disagree with, I think are gross. I'm going to remember what it was like to be a teenager and I'm not going to like crap on the stuff they watch or because I'm gonna remember Hey, I was at age I remember the old people being cranky with me about you know, the video games and all that stuff. They didn't understand. I'm not going to do that. I'm going to make an effort to understand. Well, no, I it was the privacy stuff that broke me that that's where I want I'm cranky with the kids because it's It's like, you're 13 you're a 13 year old girl. I'm telling you, some of your fans on here are not other teenage girls. They're middle aged men like Do you understand? Like you understand, like the photos you posted of yourself at the swimming pool and your bikini? And you're 13? Do you understand the some of the people liking those photos and asking for pictures of your feet? Do you get those? Not your classmates? Like, do you get it? Do you get that some of these are? It's like a guy in Russia. It's you know, and he's asking for you to DM him. And he's asking to like send you money? Do you get what? You get the thing that used to the cops used to come to my school and warn me about that you're connected with creeps? Yeah, you're connecting with creeps all over the world in ways that creeps in my day could never have dreamed of. And they're also there's no way at that age they understand any of that. There's no way I did my I was 13 I didn't know what I didn't know what creeps were I didn't know what. So this is where I can't not be grumpy about it. Because it's like, it's like, I feel like I know the danger and you don't anything I say it just makes it sound like I'm scared of technology. Well, that's what comes up in the book. Because it's it is for people who are new to the series. Every book in this series, this John Dies at the End series at the beginning of the book, it starts out with what seems like a fairly straightforward horror premise, like a haunted toy, or something that you'd see in a million movies. And then as it goes on, it just goes farther and farther off the rails. As the story goes to the by the end, it winds up in a place that you could not, you could not have predicted it's just that's the idea. So here, it starts off with and this is mild spoiler if you've not read the book yet, but they are looking at what looks like a very ordinary case of some sort of a possessed toy. But it's a toy, like they actually have now where it's a little thing that hatches like a stuffed animal. It's like an egg. And there's an app with it on for the phone because that's the way you know, toys work now so that you know you pay a fee and then you can feed your your baby egg things through this phone app. And so it then and predictable horror story fashion it the app starts asking for them to feed it like, like parts of of people. And then that turns out to be like 1% of what's going on. But that's the starting point. But part of the argument they have is
is this creepy? Even if it's not asking for human parts, like like would it be isn't it creepy, just the app making you pay attention to it all the time because of the way these games work? They demand like it because you have like a fictional you know, it's like a Tamagotchi, you have a fictional little creature you have to feed, but it's on its schedule. And so there's legitimate stress and anxiety that comes with playing these games that you know and you're like waiting to earn enough of this. So you can do this. So you can then do this and it's just an endless chain of it's like a job. So part of what they talk about in this is a story is like, is this all was this haunted before any like monsters got involved? Was Was the technology and the business model itself. And these books are not about scaring making you scared of technology? Again, I'm not I'm not that old and cranky I am after all on tick tock that it is it is objectively true that the technology comes faster than we can discuss it and understand it and adjust it. It just it changes too fast. That by the time we have fully understood like the effect something like tick tock has on the mind, on on, on whatever on your habits, how it affects you and everything would take tick tock will be dead, and they will move have moved on to the next thing and the next thing will be even more demanding. So there's so much science behind, you know, the people making those apps on the phones you're selling. They fully understand the addictive nature of things like interval rewards. Oh, yeah, you know, and then you have a game like candy crush that, you know, everybody was playing seven or eight years ago. It's like you understand that game is based on random chance like it can drop the right fruit or it cannot. It's basically a slot machine. And then that thing where it's like, okay, well, you'll be able to play again in two hours, or you can pay 99 cents and you can get three more lives and play now. And it's so insidious, and we have not had time to even figure out what's ethical there or What should be illegal and that this stuff is geared entirely toward children who do not have it the ability to govern themselves or their time or to understand the nature of getting addicted to a piece of software. Because gambling, you know, we've never let kids gamble that every video game now I get straight up gambling mechanics, it's a random reward. And it's like you don't in a game, you don't earn a new weapon, you earn a mystery box. And the box may have a weapon in or it may not, it's a slot machine. And so you get addicted to opening box after box after box because the next one, the next one may be the one that hits. If you get a cold streak, it's like man I'm do I'm due to hit instead of being truly random chance to weigh a slot machine is this a software it is programmed to know exactly when to dole out the rewards. And it is based on brain science. It's not a conspiracy theory that it's they list the jobs this is the psychology of because they measure their success by how long, they kept you glued on the app, right and kept you just scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. So I'm not here to scare monger about that it's not as simple as that. It's just that it the change happens so fast that there's not even time to form a proper panic over it before we moved on to the next thing
Bob Pastorella 51:23
isn't a lot of people don't understand. It's like all the bad things that you've ever think about technology, the way that the people who would create this stuff, who make money off of it. And they they've taken all these warnings and turned them into selling points. It's deliberate and intentional. Because they're like, we're gonna make money. So it's all about the bucks, you know, so it's, you know, I get paid well, I get free insulin. So you know, but other than that, I don't really don't like it. So, yeah.
Jason Pargin 52:01
And again, I truly don't know, as someone who has to create, like, I have to write books that are for younger people, too. I want everybody to be able to read them. I never want to get to the point where it's like oh, in my day, you know, it's it's if you only can see and how great the world was back in 1986. Now it thinks kind of suck back then I remember the Reagan era I remember vividly it's like I get it. It's it's a different kind of problem. I can't I don't have the the liberty of just saying everything is trashed now, because I know old people like that. I know people as they get older, it's just like they kind of withdraw. And it's all this is all just garbage. I don't want to be like that. I want to understand what people get out of tick tock. I will understand why people find fulfilling about I don't want to be cynical about it. Because the Oh yeah, at the top. Yeah, it is just a series of bean counters, trying to maximize how addicted they can get you to the software but but the actual users who are using it to, to connect. And then you'll see some guy. There's a YouTube channel and I feel so bad. I can't remember the guy's username. But he has like a million subscribers. And all he does he goes around where he lives and he clears out storm drains on streets that have clogged up. Because it is incredibly satisfying. He'll go to where it was like a flood of water, he'll find the drain just got branches, and he'll clear that with a rake. And you'll watch a drain and it's incredibly satisfying to like watch the drain it's most soothing thing. And he gets out in these storms. And he does DOES IT volunteer basis. He doesn't work for the city. He just does it as a hobby clears out drains and ditches. And it's like an ASMR thing where it's like you watch it and it's you're waiting for him to solve this problem when he clears it out. And it drains and there's like a million people to watch this guy and he's some random guy who like lives in a trailer somewhere. It's like That's great. This guy has an audience is sharing this weird little passion he has he's just a normal guy. He's got a normal day job but in his spare time he likes to go around and clean out because the city doesn't stay on top of it. So it's like a little civic thing duty he does for his neighborhood. And people watch it it's like yeah, it's inspiring. There's something magical about that, that this guy has has an audience and he gets fan mail when people like want to like send him gifts or whatever. So I I know that part of the appeal is that people genuinely do find satisfaction you know and happiness and things are there's there's like a famous people on tick tock where it's like an elderly grandmother making some recipes from her from the old country and and people love it and it's she's not flashy and she's not you know, like a TV host But it's so authentic, that people just love to watch her work and the way that it is pleasurable to watch somebody make something who knows what they're doing. And then the result is beautiful. And it's so simple and so wholesome. That I never want to say, you know, man, if it was up to me, we would just go back to the way it was because hey, I wouldn't be a writer if they hadn't invented the internet. So who am I? to poopoo this because I if it was the way it was in 1970s, were the only way you become a writers you get like an English degree and then you what you move, I can't even tell you what the steps are. You moved to New York, I guess. And you work? What do you work as like an assistant in the mailroom at a publisher and you make some friends or you you befriend a writer or you go to a fancy college and you meet other writers? I don't know how you did it, but that you think me you think as guy who's from from the small town in the Midwest, you think I would have wound up on the bestseller list in 1976? You know, if I had been born in the 50s, or something like that, no way. I only get where I am because somebody invented the internet. And they were probably, you know, a lot of old, Cranky people like me at the time saying, Oh, this is a nightmare. It's anybody can type anything. Like that's not you're gonna let the RAMBo out there and just reach an audience. It'll poison minds. But it's like, no, thank God, thank God, they let me they let me poison minds that I was allowed to do that. So so above all else, I want to understand what the people get out of it. I know what the companies get out of it. They're just trying to show to sell ad inventory. I want to find out what what the kids get out of it. And and I hope, I hope they hope they adjust just as I adjusted like, I hope they all grow up healthy and balanced. It's just that if they do, it'll be by accident, because the grown ups have no idea how to even talk about us.
Michael David Wilson 56:51
In terms of tick tock, and this whole thing seems to keep coming back to TikTok that we're referencing it so much. But I do you get a lot out of it. As a consumer, we've obviously spoke about you as a creator. I mean, are you engaging with other writers on tick tock is I'm honestly not sure how it works. If there is a lot of like interaction between tick tock users or if it's more you put your video out and people comment on that as they would YouTube.
Jason Pargin 57:28
There's there's comments. But the way tick tock works is you have two tabs. One is on the left is a tab of the people you're following, and you only see what they post. So that's the one you've curated on the right, is what's called the for you page. And it defaults to this. And that's the one that the only one that anybody ever uses. It's the for you tab. And that's the one that the algorithm curates for you. And that's the one where tick tock The reason tick tock has taken over the world as their machine learning. And their AI is so good at seeing what you watched and how you watched it and how long you watched it and what you liked. And then knowing what similar stuff to feed you that it adjusts within a few days of using it, it hones in on exactly what will keep you staring at the screen. And the way it happens is the videos are usually very short. They can be up to like three minutes long or even longer, but they're usually under a minute. And then it's it ends and you just swipe up with your thumb and the next one immediately is playing there's no delay, there's no pausing to load it's instant. And if that next thing doesn't interest you, you just swipe up and swipe up and use keep swiping stuff off your screen. So you could in theory, only connect with other people, your friends, your a few other authors, reviewers, whatever critics you want to you want in your circle and only follow them and only talk to them only comment on their videos. From what I can tell, no one uses tick tock that way. And they don't want you to use it that way. They want you on that for you page because they want to be able to to to feed you because otherwise it would be the way I use the Internet back in the olden days where I bookmarked like several sites, you'd come and get on in the morning you'd go click through all of them and then you're done with the internet for the day because that was all the internet they were making back then. There was an endless stuff for them. There was no social media, there were no aggregators to pour stuff into your eyeballs you have like you bookmarked a few things as like, well we don't want you to just check in on your 10 authors, friends your following and you whoever co workers because those people fall we know they may only update once a week. We want to feed you an endless infinite literal infinite stream of stuff that is engaging to you and keeps you staring at your phone instead of staring at some other thing on your phone and So you could use it the way you just described, you could use it to build a very tight knit community. In theory, you could do it like itll message board, where it's a core group of people invite only, and you only comment on each other's posts and you have like a tight group of friends. I can't find anyone using tech talk that way, instead, you go to that for you page, and it will intersperse your friends stuff in there, too. You're not totally cut off. But it's in a sea of similar stuff. So it feeds you other writers, but also, it'll it'll slip in, you know, some some softcore porn to see if you're into that, or a slip and some conspiracy stuff or some, it's some like angry right right wing, and like an anti woman ranting guy, or some combat footage from Ukraine. And if you like that, if you watch it for a while, then you will start getting more of that more combat footage from Ukraine, it'll start to feed more and more of that into your feed. And so the reason Tiktok has sucked so much traffic away from Twitter, Instagram, the other platforms is their system for that. It's so quick and how it adapts. And it's so agile, and it's so advanced. That it tailors that for you page. It's truly for you. And if you do if you only came on there to see adorable animals, it will you will choke on adorable animals, so we'll show them to you till the time but then it'll keep testing the boundaries. Just try to see well what do you get out of the adorable animals Would you also like adorable little kids, like you just like little adorable thing. So here's here's an occasional baby doing something funny. And it's all based on this, this AI or whatever the the algorithm, whatever the terminology is, for
other people who liked this video of a baby cow being fed from a milk bottle, those people also tended to like this video of a toddler falling into a birthday cake. And then those people also tend to like in the connections or sometimes unusual, like the people who liked the video of the toddler also tended to like videos of people repairing their cars. And so what we'll slip one of those in, and maybe you find it soothing to watch a guy, you know, sand, sand down, He's restoring an old car and he sanding it down. They do like a time lapse. So it all happens in two minutes. And maybe you like that. And so it keeps like testing the boundaries and to try to get like this perfect profile of what you want. So in terms of do I enjoy it? I can I've been doing this long enough. It's kind of like why I play video games. I can tell when a video game is just trying to get me addicted. versus no having fun. And tick tock is trying to get me addicted, I can feel it. And so I can feel myself start to fall into it and I try to intentionally limit what I watch on there. am I enjoying it? I mean, it's tailored by this point is tailored for me. It's a lot of animals, because I don't I don't come to social media to be to be made anxious or to be outraged. I get enough of that in my just normal day to day interactions. I don't I'm not like some people go on Twitter. It's like okay, find me something to be mad about. Like, no, I'm already mad about something. I was mad before I turned on my phone I don't need that's taken care of. I come on there to like I get a lot of I mentioned like ASMR stuff. That's the term for just anything where you just like watching a woodworker. Do some woodworking and it's silent is just the sound of like the hammer on the wood. And it's just a lot of people find that soothing and I like watching. Like, because I don't have a real job. I like watching laborers make cool stuff. So I like one of the channels for example. There's this high end chocolate here who makes like he works at I don't know, it's like French. And he makes these huge constructions out of chocolate like a dragon like like an eight foot tall dragon that and he like makes pours the liquid chocolate in each section and cuts it out and shapes it and it's just so satisfying to watch happen because he's incredibly skilled. And you're watching art happen and you see that finished product. I get a lot of that, that that stuff and I get a lot of adorable animals a lot of stuff that's very, that's not going to disturb my peace of mind. But it's like, as you're scrolling you watching one after another after another after another. It's like I could be doing anything but this I could be doing anything else but this. And I don't know, I could be talking to my wife. I could be I could call up a friend. I could be that could be doing anything else. And I'm still instead I'm sitting here just scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. And what am I actually gaining from that? You read a book, you know, you take home themes you take home ideas you want Learn stuff. You know, you learn stuff from every book you read, you've stepped into somebody else's perspective, you explore ideas. You know, or you go out and you play a sport, you sharpen a skill, there's physical, you know, like benefits to that you've, you've, you've improved your mind and your body and your coordination in some way. Almost anything else would have be more beneficial than me just scrolling through one adorable animal after another, as like, this person's got a little baby kangaroo in their house, because they their kangaroo rescue, Isn't that adorable? It's like, yes, it is. But I don't know, I try not to let myself I know that it's the equivalent of junk food or the equivalent of drinking alcohol, that it's like, it soothes something in your brain. But it's temporary. Like it just It distracted me from the work I'm supposed to be doing or whatever the problems I have, like, it's just it took my mind off it. But is that what you want? Is that all? Is that all you want for the rest of your days? Just keep taking your mind off your problems until you die? And then then you don't have to worry about it. It's like no, it's it's there to be a distraction. So I don't know, maybe maybe I can do it in a way that's that provides more meaningful experience. But I don't think it's built for that. I think it's just built to get you to sit and look at a series of ads, because like every fourth post is an ad it's you know, that's how they make money. And it's like, that's all I'm, I'm just a set of eyeballs to sell dishwasher detergent, or whatever the answer for
Michael David Wilson 1:06:34
Yeah, and I think I mean, this is the right as dilemma really, cuz we've been talking about, you know, dividing our time between writing and marketing. And if we want intense focus and to optimize the way that we work, then we really want to, you know, limit social media and this kind of, I guess, conveyor belt of things, trying to get you addicted. But then if we want to sell the books, which of course we do, then we almost have to enter these worlds. So it's such a tight one to balance and to get right. And there are no hard rules here. We just have to kind of try our best and see what works for us.
Jason Pargin 1:07:22
Because ultimately, you're trying to peel people away from that. You know, you're trying to pry people away, and you're telling yourself, well, I'm offering them something that is probably more meaningful than what they were going to get out of four hours on Twitter. And please don't, don't anybody tell me people don't read anymore. But I've watched, you know, like people read in little bits, they read a tweet at a time where a text message at a time, but good God, the average teenager probably reads 50,000 words of text messages a day. Like they do nothing but read. It's so it's like if I can promise them, you know, it's just like a bunch of text messages. Only it forms a story in a book that to tell me like, oh, I don't have time to it's like, yes, you do you spend you spend seven hours a day on your phone? You could you could read a novel in two days, every two days, you could read a new novel doing that. It's like, yeah, you can you can fit this in your life. But that's what I tell myself. It's like I'm on there to whatever, I'm feeding the beast, but I like to think that if nothing else, I'm I'm trying to make it better. Or I'm trying not to feed into the worst parts of it, where I'm trying to feed people's fear or paranoia, or you know, or hating their fellow man or whatever, which so much of social media is about. And just trying to be one of the good ones. But that's the thing is that's, that is where the eyeballs are there, you know, and I, it makes me hypocrite because it's, it's like if they hadn't built these platforms, they hadn't attracted all these people there. They wouldn't be there for me to sell to them. But I wish, I don't know. And you could say, well, maybe that's always been the ecosystem as like, as soon as TV or soon as radio came along, authors were probably like complaining that's like either all watching TV instead of reading books. And so I have to buy TV ad space to tell them about my book. Or I have to get a movie made for my book before anybody will people care about why Booker says what happened to me? So I don't know. Maybe these are maybe these are old. Maybe these are old complaints. But that's all that's that's the only thing is I don't maybe there'll be a day when I'm old enough. I just can't keep up and I just want to withdraw from it. Or maybe just nobody will want to hear from me anymore. But I have to be where the people are like that's the thing and I don't and I see like you Stephen King is on Twitter and he's always just like tweeting about politics. And just imagine him sitting there. Like in his mansion. He's just looking at his phone scrolling, getting madder and madder about some some Trump thing or whatever, because he always post he'll always have some reply for some anytime some right winger, it says something outrageous Stephen King like reply and then everybody retweets the Stephen King's like, yeah, you got him. I was like, Yeah, okay, but what did what did that accomplish? Like he could have been like he's sitting there in his giant mansion. I know for a fact he has kids and only if he has grandkids and he's got like, he could have been doing anything else. But looking at his phone and yelling at Donald Trump who's not going to see his tweet, or whoever, Ben Shapiro, so he's not going to see your tweet. But it's like, all you did was give him more more attention. And I don't know, it's like, and then he could say the same thing about me. It's like, well, you sat there looking at tic toc and you don't even have a mansion like I do. So. You know, I was I was beside my giant, my giant pool shaped like, I don't know, like about I don't know what Stephen King's pool V shaped like. I always imagined rich people having big pools shaped like, like rock stars, like a big guitar shaped swimming pool. So the thing that I have always dreamed as a kid have happened to get pools shaped like something. But it just seemed like such a waste of a life. I don't know. It doesn't seem like your your time could be used on almost anything else. But I, anybody. Anybody hear me say this is laughing because I'm obviously on here a lot. Because again, you don't know how to use it. Unless you're on there. You have to be part of the ecosystem. You can't just do like a drive by thing where you pop in once a week and say, hey, buy my book. It's like that doesn't work doesn't work. That way, you will not get engagement on those posts. People will not follow you. If that's all they're getting out of you. Or unless they're already fans, but that doesn't. That doesn't help you. You're trying to reach people and reach new people and and intrigue them and lure them into your trap where they actually do the unthinkable, which is pay money for a book.
Michael David Wilson 1:12:06
Yeah. Yeah. which no
Jason Pargin 1:12:08
one wants to do. Nobody wants to pay money for a buck. It's a crazy thing to even suggest. So it's a tall order. Just from the start.
Michael David Wilson 1:12:15
Yeah, yeah, that's fair. Well, what advice would you give to your 18 year old self?
Jason Pargin 1:12:25
The big thing is to be patient. Because when I was 18, let me do the math. I was born in 1975. So if somebody helped me when I was 18, it would have been 1993. The internet didn't exist. Or it's for somebody yells at me, it's like, well, the internet actually, it's existed since 1964. When, okay, for the average person in a small town, I assure you, the internet did not exist in 1993. I had not heard that word. I had not seen a website. When I went to college, it went away of college. Like I spent the two years in a community college in 1994 95, went away to university in 1996. There at the University The first time I saw an internet connection, and it was in their computer lab. So the 18 year old me that technology that would allow me to do that my dream job did not exist. So everything I wanted to do with my life, it because at that time, I was trying to figure out like I was went away to school to get a journalism degree. But the first thing I did was I went to community college because it was like just two more years of high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Because the thing that I was born to do, wasn't a thing. They hadn't invented the technology yet. And so later in college, and then right out of college, when they they invented this technology and made it available. And I got our first internet connection with AOL, in our in our tiny little apartment in the mid 90s in 9697. And it just fit me like a glove. And it's like, oh, yeah, this is what this is what I was born to do. But the thing I was born to do didn't come along into the world until I was in my 20s. And I didn't get my first paying job in the industry until I was 32. So I would have to have said, Look, you feel like you're a fish out of water that you were born into this tiny little town, every urge. Everything you want to do is something that kind of doesn't exist and the things that people do for fun around you the hunting and the fishing and the stuff you can't get into. Yeah, it's actually not because you're broken. It's because you were born for a different world. It's about to happen. And the kid is 18 now like I can guarantee you the technology they have when you're 30 like there's a real good chance that the job that will make your life or define your career is in a field that isn't yet a thing. That it's it doesn't exist yet or further. exist, that doesn't exist in the form that you think it does. Because if you'd come back to me and told me at age 18, was like, Oh, well, you've seen the movie WarGames, where the kid Matthew Broderick can he was able to, like hook us phone up to a computer and play like a game over his phone line. It's like that I'd been like, well, so what is what is that going to do for me? Because you would have to explain that it's not just the technology. It's what it did for society and what it did for communication and what it did for like, all of these things. That will be an outgrowth, including what we're doing right now. Like we're talking to each other in real time on opposite sides of the planet. I don't know if he will realize this. Like, this wouldn't have been possible. If you told an 18 year old man's like, Well, yeah, you'll be promoting your book through a podcast, I say, Well, what's a podcast? You say? Well, it's like a radio show. I was like, oh, okay, well, I know what those are. So how do I make friends in the radio industry, then I'm able to get interviewed on the radio, it's like, well, no, actually, it's a radio show that anybody can make for zero cost at any time. And then anybody can listen to it anytime they want. And some of these will some people like like that guy, Joe Rogan, like he's gonna be, he's gonna be a billionaire doing this, I'd been like, what, because you can't get from a phone line will connect your computer to other computers to the podcast world and what this and how ideas move and how ideas are formed, how subcultures are formed, you can't even explain it. And so I think I would just say, you will have to be patient for the world to come around.
Because a lot of what you want to do, and the things you know how to do, and like your sense of humor doesn't appeal to anyone you know, other than like your two friends. But there's a time when the technology will come where it doesn't matter that nobody else within 10 Square Miles has the same sense of humor, because this technology will let you find anyone on Earth, who has a sense of humor, and you will be able to form a community, not based on geographic location, that based on sensibility. And so you can be talking to a guy in Japan, or in the American South, or in the Midwest, or in Europe. And, and you're all the member of like the same club or the same family, and you can all talk in real time and communicate in real time, and you can all find each other. So all the ways that you thought you were lonely, actually, there's a lot of other people out there who feel the same way, and you're gonna find them all. And you're gonna unite them all under this type of work you do, because they're all going to recognize this sensibility and the sense of humor that you thought only you had, you're going to find out that there's people like that all over the world, and that you're gonna get fan mail from them. fan mail from Australia, in Israel and China, and people saying, Oh, my God, I read your book, and I just died, I died, I had to show it to my boyfriend, like I just read it and I killed me, I, I feel like you're reading my mind, I didn't think there was something else like this. And like you found each other, you know, the technology arrived that allowed you to find each other across space and time. And there's something magical about that. But that you will have to be patient and you will have to you will have to still be alive when that happens. If you understand what I'm saying. Like, you have to be there for four because sometimes life doesn't arrive on exactly on time. And you have, it doesn't matter that you can't necessarily see like a horizon where you are lucky you have to push through and anybody out there this age and you if you're 18, you're 1920 or 38. And you say I don't see, I don't see a future like I don't see I look at it and see darkness. It's like, I thought the same thing. It's like I was a kid of the 80s. I thought that by the time I was 47. If I lived that long, I would be living in a nuclear wasteland scavenging rats for food after we went to had World War Three with the Soviet Union in the 80s. When everybody told me it was inevitable, I did not think the future was going to arrive. And instead, I'm talking about my struggles with tic toc and having to make videos and how I went viral on Tiktok and living this very frivolous life in a very comfortable house in a very nice neighborhood. So if I could have told 18 year old me that this is what my life would look like. And at age 47, he wouldn't have believed me. It would have been too. They would have sounded like I was trying to sell them something it would have been too silly. And again, it doesn't matter that there's no no Ferrari and that I am not able to fly to Europe on a private jet. That That wasn't the dream. It's like you're in the future. The technology will come along that you're able to do to create and find an audience and there's basically no barrier between the two of you. Like you can go right you can bypass the publisher. You can bypass all the gatekeepers, you type it in In front of you, it appears on a screen. And the whole world can see it if they if they choose to see it. And there's all sorts of other nonsense. But the fact that that exists and that it's affordable, I wouldn't have, I wouldn't have believed it.
Michael David Wilson 1:20:12
All right. Well, thank you so much for spending all your evening here and with us, and very best of luck for the release. If this book exists, you're in the wrong universe.
Jason Pargin 1:20:26
Yeah, and thank you so much. Thanks for having me on. And thank you for what you do outlets like this giving in I know that like giving voices to authors that otherwise like this will be the best publicity they get many cases like this is this is that it's shows like this that exists. And please, anyone out there listening. It's I know that they they constantly remind you to, to donate to the patreon to join that become a member, stuff like this. It is extremely important. It is as important to the ecosystem of authors and writers and new and young authors and writers of every type and color as the writers themselves having platforms where they can go and discuss things and get the word out when you support a thing like this, like this show. You're supporting authors. Because this is this is everything, being able to reach an audience and just notify them that the book exists. Even if you hated everything I had to say, the ability to come on here like the there aren't that many shows like this, there aren't that many that you know that have an audience that have been out there and doing it for years and years. How long have you had the show.
Michael David Wilson 1:21:38
So next February, I'll actually be the 10th the 10 year anniversary to news,
Jason Pargin 1:21:44
it is a tremendous amount of love labor to put something out out like this every week. I know because I've tried a UC, most people do it and they give up after six months or a year to be able to do this for years and years and years. And to continually like expose people to new authors. It is a true service, if it is of all of the many things begging for your money, and I know there are many things and I know that there's inflation runs wild. Let me tell you personally as an unbiased, front, outside voice, it is the few dollars you contribute to something like this goes much much farther than buying a few extra lives in a game you're playing on your phone, or buying half of a cup of half of a Starbucks coffee or buying you know because then they're not asking for 20 bucks a month. It is if you have a small pool of people paying 345 bucks a month whatever the membership rates are, it changes everything like it is the difference between being able to do this and make to be able to pay some of your bills and not being able to do it at all. That helps authors and helps it as a pure good in the world and less money or both of these hosts get convicted of crimes later in which case I will disavow them but it truly it is it is very much worth it whereas so many of the other things you could spend money on it's for a company that just wouldn't care if you lived or died here an operation like this every like every pain patron is special and if you can that you would be shocked at how how much the creators are touched once a new person comes in and pays five bucks a month for their thing it means the world
Michael David Wilson 1:23:33
thank you for such an amazing endorsement. Where can our listeners connect with you
Jason Pargin 1:23:41
in anywhere anywhere except for telegram search my name Jason Parchin j so when pa R G I N I'm on Tik Tok under my own name, I'm in Instagram the Twitter as John Dies at the End without the D on the if you Google my name you'll find all of the all of the first results again unless I commit a famous crime and then all the first results will be my crime scroll past those you'll find whatever platform you use if you're an Instagram yet you're still on Facebook it's if you're on Tik Tok you're on Twitter I'm out there if you want to keep up with the future books or whatever that's easiest way follow me on one of those the it's it does not take a lot of research to find me on the internet these days are under under my real name so but thank you and I hope hope you guys enjoyed the book hoods people listening this who dare to pay the outrageous amount of money it cost to buy a book these days I hope I hope you find it was worth it and you go back and buy the other ones or get them from a library I'm not offended. Steal a copy I really don't care. What matters to me is that you that you read them don't don't steal a copy it borrow a copy from a friend. Somebody's got one use bookstores have got them
Michael David Wilson 1:24:59
all right Do you have any final thoughts to leave our listeners with?
Jason Pargin 1:25:04
Nope. Other than that I have I'll have a book next year and the year after that too. So it's if you're listening to this like nine months from now because I know a lot of people don't listen to podcasts and as they come out, odds are the next book is on its way soon. If it's not means I've probably committed some kind of a crime and go go look that up. It's probably a funny story. You're living in my future I can't know what's coming.
Michael David Wilson 1:25:34
Thank you so much for listening to Jason Padian on This Is Horror. Join us again next time when we will be chatting with Paul Tremblay. But if you would like to get that ahead of the crowd, if you would like to get every episode ahead of the crowd, and become a patron on patreon.com forward slash, this is hora. Not only do you get early bird access to each and every episode, but you get to submit questions to the interviewee. And coming up soon, we have conversations with Brian Asman and Jonathan Jan's, so if you'd like to ask them a question, the best way or indeed the only way is to become a patron on patreon.com forward slash This Is Horror. And as well as the Paul Tremblay conversation, we will have a Halloween special, an episode with Matthew wholeness. Perhaps most known for playing golf Marang ghee from that classic TV show in the naughties. Gaff Marang his dark place. I spoke with Matt this weekend. It was a real tree. I've been a big fan of that show, since it came out. And I've been very excited about the new book. He's got a terror tome. So you know, look forward to that. Look forward to that conversation because it's coming very, very soon. Okay, before I wrap up, a little bit of an advert break
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Michael David Wilson 1:28:10
Sometimes I will end with a quote. But today I'm going to end with a recommendation. So I just wrapped up watching the film watch Yeah, which is directed and written by Chloe Acuna and stars, Maika Monroe. It is a psychological thriller. It is full of anxiety and paranoia. And I know what it was very good. I know that it was incredibly effective. So you can watch it on shudder. But I believe you can rent it on all sorts of other platforms, including Amazon Prime and YouTube. So check it out. And if you do, let me know what you think of it. Give me a bit of a tweet at This Is Horror. So that about does it for this episode. But until next time with Paul Tremblay. Take care yourselves. Be good to one another. Read horror. Keep on writing and have a great, great day.