Saturday, August 23, 2014

John Emil Augustine

I’d like to thank for stopping by and sitting down with us for a few minutes.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I grew up in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota which is where my book series takes place. I spent my 20s and early 30s playing music around town and the upper Midwest. Those were wild times, but my books deal with what happened to me during those times, namely, my marriage to a woman with some pretty serious mental and emotional issues. The child we had and my subsequent relationships have all been affected by the choice I made, and I unravel the events in as entertaining and thoughtful a way as I possibly can.

Who or what inspires you?
I’m inspired by everyone who has gotten behind me to help spread the message that even in our worst times, we can find hope. When I started out , nobody, and I mean nobody, knew I published a book because I used a pseudonym and never said a thing about it to anyone. Not even my wife knew at first. Since then, I have had tons of help from some incredible people: Brenda Perlin, Judy L. Brekke, Lynelle Clark, Richard Novy, Fran Lewis, Marsha Casper-Cook, Kim Mutch Emerson, Sarah L. Wallace, Rebbekah White, Deanna Bradley, Theresa L. Myrick, Sheena Swenson, Rebecca Mills, Lia Hearn, Shon French, Corry Parnese, Steven Moynier, Erin Moynier, Kd Russell, Douglas Davis, Crissy Sutcliffe, Sophia Hazelman-Holt, Jamie Hieston Willhite, Deausha K Felker-Sernicola, and most importantly, my wife who has gotten behind me and supported my work even when I was losing at it. I am amazed and thankful every day that I have so much help. These people continue to inspire me to no end.

Who’s you favorite author?
I read Martin Buber, Wayne Dyer, Prentice Mulford, Shree Rajneesh.

Do you have a favorite time or place to write?
I write at work before I start my shift.

Do you have a favorite food or drink while you write?

What do you do to relax?

As writers, we all have to deal with writer’s block. What do you do when that happens?
I have to realize that I have not had sufficient time to catch up with my story, either emotionally or intellectually. Perhaps both. So I do something else and don’t think about it; let myself process and feel during another activity.

If you could ask one question of any writer, who would it be and what would you ask?
I used to have questions for writers I looked up to, but I feel that in being still and allowing the questions to just be there, I have discovered the answers on my own.

Now that we’ve got the easy stuff out of the way, let’s talk about your book. . Would you like to share something from you latest project with us?

Here is a bit of From the Abyss III
Jan was yelling, and I grabbed a wooden kitchen chair and swung it at the wall. I still remember it like it was in slow motion, because I have replayed it again and again. All the work I was putting into cleaning up the house was going down the drain anyway, and I was at my breaking point. The chair hit the wall and splintered like a prop in a movie. It broke into six or seven pieces, and I stood there with the back of the chair in my hands as I looked at the hole in the drywall. What was I doing?
Jan went silent. Things became hazy, and I was angry and unfocused. I had to get Jan to stop questioning my every move. I had to make her…no…I couldn’t. I wanted to kill her. I couldn’t.
What was going on? Why did I feel like this?
I tossed the piece of the chair onto the floor and turned around, walking out the door and to the east. Jan got in the minivan and followed. She did not try to stop me, but she hovered nearby in the safety of the van with Andy. I walked at a rapid pace and saw our minivan here and there on the street as Jan followed me. It was like the Easter Cindi had chased me with her car. That time I had gone back. This time, I decided, I would atone for that mistake. I would not go back. I would just keep walking.
Unlike Cindi who had just screamed profanities at me that Easter morning, Jan only shouted at me to please stop and calm down. But I was far beyond that point. I soon left the street and took off through the yards. If I got in that minivan, who knew what would happen?
Somehow I got onto County Road B2 going east and kept up my rapid pace. Angry thoughts began to enter my head as I quickly chugged along. I thought of how pissed everything made me. I would show them. Damn college. I would show them. I would burn the building. See how they liked their lives turned into an ash pile. Damn Jan. I would burn her too. I would take care of her all right. Sandy, my dumbass former boss, she would get hers. I would take care of her.
All these thoughts rumbled in my head as I walked, glaring straight ahead. I looked at no one for fear I would kill anyone who gave me the least reaction. Eventually, I made it to the tennis courts on Fairview Avenue in Saint Paul. Many people were out in the beautiful June evening having a great time. I hated them. I could feel their eyes on me from the bus stop and the tennis courts as I passed by at my rapid pace. I knew I could pull their eyes out of their heads, but I kept walking.
Then I noticed I was slowing down. Where was I going? Three hours soon passed, and my adrenalin had decreased a notch. I was still angry, but I was becoming tired. I passed Har Mar, the strip mall on Snelling Avenue where Charles and I usually hung out on Tuesday nights. Moms and dads went in and out with their kids. Teenagers smoked in groups outside the Leeann Chin’s.
What would I do with Charles now that I was moving so far away, I wondered? It was a dreadful thought. Cindi, who had been so kind lately, would go after me in court again. I just knew she would. What was I supposed to do? The pain and the anger began to return as I passed the strip mall. Damn Cindi, I thought. I’ll show her. I’ll burn her house down too.
The sun was beginning to set as I got a few miles down the road to Lexington Park just before Lexington Avenue. I cut across the park which was still full of toddlers at the playground, teens on the basketball courts, and little-leaguers on the baseball field. They were having a great time in the fading sunlight which made their shadows so long.
As I cut through the park, standing to my right were two young guys wearing black slacks, white shirts, and black ties. They had Bibles and little fliers to hand out. They were talking when they saw me pass by. I assumed I looked crazed. Bizarre. One guy was young and I could see he was in charge. The other guy was younger and I imagined he was learning the ropes about how to sell God’s message door-to-door. Now they had an example of Satan’s power in the demon-possessed man walking by them. I figured they would pray for me, or the older guy would say I was beyond saving. I was ready to tell them to get away from me and back that up with my fists, but they never approached. They were smart.
In the red sunset I eventually got to the corner of Lexington and Larpenteur and sat on the bench at the bus stop. My legs were tired. My feet hurt. I could feel blisters forming. It felt so good to sit down. What was I doing? I had no idea. Why was I there? Four hours, and what had I been doing? Had I come to sit on this bus stop? Was this it? What else was I going to do? Walk to Wisconsin? Cindi lived nearby. Was I going to her house? That thought was an awful one. Would I actually burn her house down? That no longer seemed like a good idea.
I had no phone. I had no money. I was perhaps stuck there. Cindi could drive me. I shuddered at the thought. And where would she drive me? 40 miles outside the city to our new house? Or to the empty house in Northeast Minneapolis? What was I doing? I was completely disappointed with myself. I was compounding my problems. I was compounding Jan’s problems. She did not need this stress. Was she still looking for me? I hoped not.
And what about Andy? At least Charles knew nothing about this. What about Andy? He had seen the whole thing. What was I teaching? Just when I thought I could not sink any lower, here I was, lower yet. I had to get a hold of myself. I had to deal with all of this better than I was. I had gone from helpful to detrimental in the blink of an eye. I could plainly see the thin line between positive and negative which I had just crossed. It was like pointing a wind-up robot in the wrong direction and watching it walk through a fire and then immediately set the curtains ablaze.
The sun went down, and I slowly stood up.

What genre is it?
I think of it as reality because it is.

Where do you draw your artistic inspiration from?
Brian Wilson.

Having read your first book, what made you decide to put this story out there and what has been the response been from people you know who've read it?
I just thought it was a good story, so I dared myself to publish it on Smashwords. Later, when people began to discover it, I began to realize it was a story of abuse. It hadn’t even occurred to me I had been abused until a few people said it! As for people I know, not many people I know have written my books. My wife has read From the Abyss 2 and decided it was pretty accurate. She also laughed all the way through reading the sex scene.

What authors have had the strongest influence on you as a writer?
Songwriters. Brian Wilson, Paul Simon, Van Dyke Parks, Willie Dixon…people like that.

Do you use an outline or do you let the story emerge as it goes along?
With my story, I’ve lived it, so I just start writing. I can see plot points emerge which I aim for and try to set up as best I can during the writing. Then, as I am now drafting From the Abyss IV, I am able to draw parallels to plot points or revelations in the existing books…which is really fun to do.

Are you traditionally or self-published?
I am published by Master Koda Select Publishing.

What made you pick that route?
When I was self-published, I had another publisher ask to publish my book before I went to MKSP, but they rewrote three pages of it and then left it to sit for six months. I knew some of my friends had connections to Master Koda, so I wrote a little letter to Kim and Rebbekah and sent it along with the first installment of my series. It was another thing that I just dared myself to do.

What has been your biggest challenge?
Reliving some tough moments. Some of them, I have heard, are tough to read, so writing them down has been as tough or tougher. Once you put yourself completely back into your mindset during a situation, it can be hard to pull back out. What saved me then and saves me now is knowing things will work out ok. If you think that, your thoughts will come true. It works in terms of both hindsight and foresight.

What has been your greatest reward?
The friendships I have been blessed with since I began sharing my story.

If you had one professional wish, what would it be?
This is it. To be doing. To be able to focus on something I love and feel strongly about it.
That wasn’t so bad was it? But before we go, do you have any last words of wisdom to offer those reading this?
Whatever you write, write it with your heart.
You can find John Emil Augustine at
Amazon Author Site:
Amazon Artist Site:

And please visit his Gofundme page to raise money for his trip to The Book Bash in Kalamazoo, MI

1 comment:

  1. Love the interview and for the meantion John. These are great books. As real as you can get! I am a fan. Thanks for sharing!


Artistic Reflections