Comments: 722 • Responses: 114 • Date: 2015-10-07 16:33:51 UTCsource
bobbyphillipps49 karma2015-10-07 16:47:15 UTC
How did the original idea for "John Dies at the End" come about? Did you just put pen to paper and it just snowballed from there, or were you pretty methodical and plan ahead? Were you mostly alone, or were you bouncing a lot of ideas around your friends and coworkers?
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JasonDavidWongPargin28 karma2015-10-07 17:15:51 UTC
In the early days of my blog (we're talking late 90s here) my most common running bit was an article that started out normal and then slowly went off the rails, like seeing how long the reader would stick with it before realizing the author was insane. So one Halloween I just had a simple idea to write a campfire story that started out like this very straightforward haunted house thing, then it would slowly get stupider and stupider, until they were being chased around this house by a pile of haunted meat products. It went over so well that the next year I wanted to do it again, but basically set it in the same universe and as a continuation of that story. Around then I started sketching out the larger themes and universe and this continued for about five years, until I had something that was about novel length. But that's why JDATE reads are more episodic than my other books, it was originally a serial and each bit came to what felt like an ending. I think it was in the third year I started calling it "John Dies at the End" as a running joke, like every year they'd come back to find out if John was going to die in that one.
NorbitGorbit49 karma2015-10-07 16:44:32 UTC
what sort of ties does cracked have to the old cracked magazine -- do you have access to archives or anything like that?
JasonDavidWongPargin23 karma2015-10-07 17:06:25 UTC
They own every aspect of Cracked, including the library of old magazines that I think they still have in a room somewhere. But it doesn't come up very often because we aren't really using any of the IP from it (like we don't use that blond kid mascot or anything). And none of the staff carried over, that was a couple of companies ago (after the original magazine folded, it got sold and then sold again).
CttCJim41 karma2015-10-07 16:43:43 UTC
Ronda Rousey recently said in an AMA that she would fight as many as five dogs in a man suit, provided they were bad dogs. Are you willing to match this, or are you more of a three-dog combatant?
JasonDavidWongPargin23 karma2015-10-07 16:59:38 UTC
If she has already agreed to do it then I think it's best I just stay out of the way. Unless there's more than one of them, in which case that seems like a systemic problem.
TherisseV39 karma2015-10-07 16:41:29 UTC
Why aren't there very many female columnists? I know there are women who help with articles from time to time but not many that have weekly features. Is it something that's on your radar? Also, thank you David, your articles are my favorites!
JasonDavidWongPargin62 karma2015-10-07 16:56:50 UTC
Our two most famous ones had babies and for some reason decided that was more important, we still have Kathy Benjamin and Kristi Harrison and some promising new ones like Eden Dranger and Emma Larkins, but yeah we need way more. It doesn't matter how open-minded your writers are, they'll never have the same perspective. But the most important thing is we need writers who are willing to abandon their families.
WeirdAssJamJar33 karma2015-10-07 16:56:05 UTC
Mr. Wong. I'm that annoying girl on your Facebook that continually ask for a book tour.
Also, I just have to say thank you. JDATE helped me laugh through a very dark time in my life. I think you're the bees knees, so there.
JasonDavidWongPargin11 karma2015-10-07 17:41:41 UTC
We talked about a tour early in the process when we were discussing promotion of this book, and I kind of shot it down just purely because of the time commitment. Remember I have three jobs going right now: 1) working full time at Cracked 2) promoting this new book 3) writing JDATE 3. So taking two weeks of precious vacation time from Cracked to hit the road and sign books would be a lot of fun but it would make life a lot harder for me in the future, due to the amount of piled-up work that would greet me when I got back.
The signed books thing is kind of the same deal - the last time I offered to sign books by mail (and just kind of mentioned it briefly on FB and in the forum) I got more than 250 orders. I don't have a staff, so it's just me signing and buying packing materials and driving back and forth to the post office (and for international orders, filling out that customs form for everyone) and that wound up taking A LOT of time. Remember that a certain number of them are going to get lost, or be wrong, or come back due to a bad address, and once again it's all on me to work through and fix it. Like even if I charged some crazy amount for each one it wouldn't matter - it's not about the money, it's about time.
MuonManLaserJab31 karma2015-10-07 17:32:46 UTC
As a pedant, I get annoyed whenever a Cracked article's title implies a format that the article doesn't actually have.
For example, the article "8 Insane Things I Did After Being Kidnapped By Terrorists" contains the entries:
#8. This All Happened Before 9/11, When "Terrorist Kidnapping" Didn't Seem Likely
#8. This All Happened Before 9/11, When "Terrorist Kidnapping" Didn't Seem Likely
#7. The Kidnappers Were Strangely Polite
#7. The Kidnappers Were Strangely Polite
...which aren't things the author "did".
Basically my question is, who's your favorite porn star?
JasonDavidWongPargin20 karma2015-10-07 20:00:11 UTC
Having worked there, I can tell you that titling articles sounds super easy until you actually try it. We give the writers a lot of freedom to deviate from the "list" because the list format is really just a way to break up the long stretches of text, but then when you title it it's often impossible to come up with one simple statement that encompasses every single item. For instance the front page of the site only allows 60 characters for a title, when some articles' most accurate title would be something like, "6 Movies In Which You Didn't Realize The Hero Committed Cold-Blooded Murder, But Also One Entry Is A TV Show And One Of The Examples Is Technically Second-Degree Manslaughter." You just kind of figure, hey, if the article is good and compelling, people will forgive the fact that we had to over-simplify the title. But I'm dead serious, if anyone complaining about the titles tried to be the Title Guy for a week, they'd come back and apologize.
JasonDavidWongPargin21 karma2015-10-07 20:01:44 UTC
Also I don't like porn "Stars", once they go mainstream they lose me. I like the up and coming indie performers, out there breaking new ground.
Jackslid29 karma2015-10-07 16:45:33 UTC
Who's the biggest villain in Cracked history: Adam Tod Brown or Cracked's Title Guy?
jk. A real question: What's the most complicated article you've ever had to work in?
JasonDavidWongPargin10 karma2015-10-07 17:32:09 UTC
No question, it's that one I wrote with Jack about guns: http://www.cracked.com/article_20396_5-mind-blowing-facts-nobody-told-you-about-guns.html There was just so much research to do, and so much of that research is biased or politicized, and we were so obsessed with trying to be balanced in our approach ... it went through a lot of drafts, a lot of scrapped entries, a lot of homework. I thought it turned out well though, got a lot of positive emails about it.
brobleybrob27 karma2015-10-07 16:52:52 UTC
Are you having a problem with transparent squirrels in your garden?
I am. They're not exactly transparent, but they mirror and reconfigure the light around them to make themselves seem invisible, like the predator in that movie Predator.
I have three or four of them, and I'm beginning to worry that they're planning something. Any advice?
JasonDavidWongPargin25 karma2015-10-07 18:31:56 UTC
I'm just impressed that you're able to tell they're squirrels
BigCliffowski25 karma2015-10-07 18:25:58 UTC
Do you think relatively rigid format that cracked.com sticks to is keeping it from growing? I've found it to be not nearly as amusing the past 3-4 years as it was in the past. I find the "mind blowing thing etc" to be less mind blowing and more "eh, interesting I guess."
I liked your book. And the movie was a decent adaptation..
JasonDavidWongPargin17 karma2015-10-07 20:58:03 UTC
Well it's the same challenge for any entertainment outlet, I'm not saying anything crazy here. I'm sure the writers of The Simpsons would like to say, fuck it, let's make this whole thing fresh again and have Homer just leave his family and become a hired assassin in Miami. But obviously that threatens to wreck the whole thing - many a TV show "jumped the shark" not because they got stale, but because they tried some crazy change in the format. So as far as I know, the best thing to do is to balance giving people what they want while experimenting here and there to try to keep things fresh. I mean, we just ran an account of a parent who had to deal with a baby born with a horrifying birth defect, and what it was like to navigate that situation. Do you think we would have run that article in 2007? John just did a column in which he wrote a detailed first-person narrative version of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme. We don't say no to writers who want to do something new and crazy, it's just that all of them know that even now, you get a lot more traffic with a list of mind blowing things.
deathschool18 karma2015-10-07 16:50:06 UTC
Um, idk. I just saw you were doing this. Who's your biggest influence, not necessarily as a writer, but as a novel author?
Also. How much say did you have over the John Dies at the End movie?
JasonDavidWongPargin28 karma2015-10-07 17:36:53 UTC
Probably Douglas Adams, just because that was the first time I saw a writer really dedicate himself to working a punchline into every sentence of narration - a character walks through a door, and there's something funny about the door. But I've read more Stephen King than anyone, the little things he does to ground the world (such as, mentioning real brands and TV shows) makes the horror so much scarier. You can see I do that a lot.
nickcsmf17 karma2015-10-07 16:59:00 UTC
Who would win the battle between Jaden Smith and Giant Snake?
I can only assume that this movie will be made eventually, and the anticipation is killing me.
JasonDavidWongPargin19 karma2015-10-07 19:00:19 UTC
Snake, the movie is only six minutes long and the last five are just of the snake digesting him. It's based on a true story.
zoggian16 karma2015-10-07 19:01:21 UTC
Since you work all the time, don't go out, and don't have much time for hobbies, how do you reward yourself for completing writing goals or milestones? For instance, how did you celebrate the completion of your novels? Do you eat a whole celebration pizza or tub of ice cream?
JasonDavidWongPargin13 karma2015-10-07 22:56:05 UTC
I really don't do that, I mean the moment you finish a book you're immediately greeted with a long series of tasks that have to be done to make sure it isn't a disaster (editing, promotion, etc) so it's always just onto the next thing. But I should say that I enjoy the work itself, I like the process. So offering to send me to Hawaii for two weeks wouldn't be a reward, I'd spend the whole time wishing I was back at work.
RancidSnowman16 karma2015-10-07 16:43:58 UTC
Hey hi. I've been reading FVaFS instead of working. I'm about halfway through it now and it's goddamn fantastic.
When it comes to writing, what areas, if any, do you find that you struggle with the most? For instance, some writers have a hard time with dialogue, some with description, plotting, etc. Is there anything you still find to be a particular pain in the ass when you go to wrestle a story into existence? How do you get past that?
JasonDavidWongPargin11 karma2015-10-07 17:04:29 UTC
Geography. Both of my book, uh, franchises take place in fictional towns, and in fictional buildings. The action depends on characters being in a certain place at a certain time and their reason for being there has to make sense. So I have to keep track of how far away this imaginary building is from that one, and how far away both are from the highway, because there can't be any moments where the reader stops and says, "Wait, how did he get there so fast? I thought the reason they were in danger was because he was like two hours away." So there's this very tedious process of mapping out where everything and everybody is, there's nothing fun or creative about it, but it has to be done, and I have gotten stopped for long stretches because of having backed myself into a corner geographically. Not to compare myself with him, but I think George RR Martin also struggles with this, like you can see instances where it took one character several months to traverse the map, then in another a different character just arrives at their destination as if they flew there. People ask why he takes so long to write a book but I'm amazed he's able to do them at all, the complexity astounds me.
imthatguy2515 karma2015-10-07 16:46:35 UTC
What's your favorite Cracked article?
JasonDavidWongPargin23 karma2015-10-07 18:06:24 UTC
Any of Seanbaby's Popsicle Pete comics.
Nekomancer4215 karma2015-10-07 16:47:04 UTC
What would your serial killer name and gimmick be?
JasonDavidWongPargin36 karma2015-10-07 18:19:02 UTC
I don't have a lot of spare time, so I'd hire other people to kill at random for me, I'd call myself the Outsourcer. Or some other name my staff came up with, I'd outsource that part too.
Sinsaken12 karma2015-10-07 17:41:10 UTC
Hey Dave. Is FVAFS a wildly different genre to your retarded horror novels (creepy as fuck in places)? Can we expect the same level of David Wong profoundity and detailed descriptions of male genitalia?
(PS. I'm totally one of those 18 or so people who would treat you like Elvis in real life. Also, my name is in the back of the St Martin's JDATE and I never got to thank you for it, so cheers, yo.)
JasonDavidWongPargin10 karma2015-10-07 22:08:22 UTC
It's like 5% different in tone from JDATE, it's not a straight horror novel but if there was no name on the cover it'd take you about ten seconds to realize who wrote it. I'm still me.
C0nd0leezzaRice12 karma2015-10-07 18:55:44 UTC
This is Dan Duddy of Cracked.com! The guy who writes those amazing posts about t-shirts and a bunch of stuff. You might not recognize my name because usually I'm referred to around the office as "wunderkind" or "young Soren Bowie." Anyway, here are my questions for you:
Any advice for someone just starting at Cracked?
It's hard to find comedic novels that are also quality pieces of literature. (perhaps I'm looking in all the wrong places.) Any funny books you'd recommend? (Besides yours of course)
Piggybacking off of question 2, what works and authors do you think informed your own writing? Who was your David Wong when you were starting out?
I'm a big believer of treating writing like a craft and training for it like one would train for a prizefight. What are some fundamental elements of writing that you think are important to work on? Put another way, what is the "speedbag" or "jump rope" of writing if you will?
When I first started, Jack placed a hunting knife on my desk and one on every other intern's desk as well. What does this mean?
How do I get Dan to notice me?
Serious things: You're one of my favorite writers and a big reason I'm so proud to work here. I could go on and on about how much you've inspired me, but I think it would be too sappy for an AMA. Which brings me to my final question. When do we get more after hours?
JasonDavidWongPargin13 karma2015-10-07 20:20:08 UTC
1 Pay close attention to what others do, how they react to feedback, their work ethic, etc - you're on a team with people who are among the best at what they do in the world. In my opinion, anyway.
2 I always mention Douglas Adams a lot, friends keep recommending Terry Pratchett but I've never read any of his, I'm told they're great though.
4 You have to make yourself do the boring stuff, a lot of stories etc die on the vine because you have written the funny/exciting part, but the next part requires your character to go to Germany and that means doing a bunch of research into, for instance, what the major airports are there. It's tedious because it's not like it's going to pay off in some huge way, but it has to be done. So the whole importance of finishing your stories is knowing that you made yourself power through the difficult parts.
5 You'll find out
6 Touch him, he loves physical contact
JasonDavidWongPargin9 karma2015-10-07 20:20:29 UTC
Wait how did he get those line breaks? How do I do that?
conman0812 karma2015-10-07 16:49:20 UTC
Can you tell my dad that millennials aren't the worst thing to happen in U.S. history?
JasonDavidWongPargin18 karma2015-10-07 17:35:11 UTC
That's probably not an effective strategy, what is more worth your time is making sure YOU don't have the same opinion about kids once you're older and crankier. But you probably will - your kids will seem like they have it easy (have you heard they may have a pill that mimics the benefits of exercise? Imagine your lazy sons sitting around playing games all day, and they have Brad Pitt's abs) and their slang will grate on your ears. For whatever reason, each generation forgets what it was like to be on the other end of it, saying, "Oh sure we had our flaws, but we were NOTHING like these worthless kids today!"
ldlindse10 karma2015-10-07 18:03:06 UTC
Who would you cast as who in FVFS, living or dead? I can't not picture Michael Clark Duncan as Andre.
JasonDavidWongPargin9 karma2015-10-07 22:22:43 UTC
If they told me that Jon Hamm was playing Will Blackwater I wouldn't be too upset. Zoey would need to be a young unknown, but you know they'd try to Jennifer Lawrence that shit. Main villain would be Michael Cera.
WisdomLaine10 karma2015-10-07 17:03:19 UTC
So first I would like to say that as an aspiring writer your stories about breaking into the novel writing business are incredibly helpful. I've been in and out of creative writing courses a lot, done a lot of my own writing, etc, but the practical lessons are limited. So, thanks.
But My Question: In the first John and Dave book, it's written, uh... In sort of a forwards-backwards narrative, but in Spiders, and from what I've read of Fancy Suits, the narrative is way more linear. Is there a reason for that? Do you just do what you want? Or is that simply how it was dictated to you from on high like Joseph Smith?
Also thank you for writing your books. They've had a positive effect on my life.
JasonDavidWongPargin16 karma2015-10-07 20:30:15 UTC
Well the timeline in Spiders does jump around some, and it's played for humor and/or to knock the reader off kilter, like you saw something happen then you rewind and realize it wasn't what you thought. I think that will always be part of the JDATE series, because part of those stories are about Dave not being at all clear what's going on, and the reader needs to always be just disoriented enough to feel what Dave is feeling. This is one of those cases where confusion on the part of the reader is a feature, not a bug - that's part of what makes it scary, that there's no neat answer to the question, "What's going on?"
paulatina89 karma2015-10-07 18:04:02 UTC
Hey, I just want to thank you for this article: http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-harsh-truths-that-will-make-you-better-person/ . It really helped me so much. That one and also all the ones John Cheese wrote about alcoholism, THANK YOU!!
Anyway, my question is: who's the hottest person at Cracked?
JasonDavidWongPargin8 karma2015-10-07 20:05:08 UTC
It's me followed closely by Soren, but then ranked after him is me again. It's hard to explain.
CrackedFan38 karma2015-10-07 17:06:28 UTC
As I understand it, you have a bachelor's degree and (of course) wrote the all time great novel "This Book is Full of Spiders (seriously, dude, don't touch it)" (as well as the original JDATE); I've noticed in your podcasts and articles that you have a really authoritative command of many, many subjects that would go beyond the scope of your (known) educational achievements. What I want to know is, how in the hell do you manage to do that (mostly because I would like to be able to do that, haha)?
JasonDavidWongPargin9 karma2015-10-07 20:39:18 UTC
I'm not as smart as I sound, and was a very average student (I once got a D in English in high school). I have one specific kind of intelligence, which is that I can read about a new subject and gain a surface-level understanding very quickly. I read fast and generally have good instincts about whether or not the source I've chosen is bullshit. That's perfect for Cracked, because I'll edit half a dozen articles a week and each time I have to be knowledgeable about the subject, so on one Saturday night I might have to give myself a crash course in the Bay of Pigs invasion, and two hours later have to rapidly catch up on Japanese vending machines. But I've always been like that, even before the internet came along. I'd hear about some interesting subject and just go diving after it. But I'm also not an expert in any one subject, as a result of that. I'd be a good Jeopardy contestant but I shouldn't be considered an authority on anything.
Ghost_of_Fred_Chu8 karma2015-10-07 16:55:44 UTC
Have we met?
JasonDavidWongPargin29 karma2015-10-07 18:34:46 UTC
Yeah we were in the same line at Chipotle two years ago, I was the guy who kept screaming "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM" at the cash register guy when he tried to charge me for double meat.
Farronmullen8 karma2015-10-07 19:27:17 UTC
It might sound a strange one but I'm a massive fan of John Dies at the End, literally one of my favourite books, recommended it to so many friends. The movie adaptation though, should I watch it? Should I not? I'm really weird about adaptations because it's really hard to work some books into a film. Let me know, thanks.
JasonDavidWongPargin11 karma2015-10-07 23:26:37 UTC
If changes to a movie ruin the book for you then it's perfectly reasonable to stay away. It isn't like that for me - I watch The Two Towers and when the elves show up at Helm's Deep I just shrug and say, "Oh, that's cool, yeah it kind of makes sense they'd have a better chance if the elves were there." Like I don't see any book as a sacred text, no matter who wrote it. A movie is an adaptation, not a transcription - they're not just taking it page by page and filming it for the screen, they're taking the raw material and molding it into something new. And it has to be new, by necessity - a film is a different medium from the ground up, the whole story structure is different, the language by which it conveys its ideas is different. I think once you accept that you can kind of relax and say, "Okay, let's see what this creative person can do with the material."
But it is going to deviate, it has to. If that bothers you because it messes up the canon as it exists in your head, that's understandable. You have the right to enjoy things however you see fit.
Trixsterxx8 karma2015-10-07 19:52:20 UTC
Have you ever written so horrifying, so creepy that it keeps you up for a couple hours at night?
Most of "This Book is Full of Spiders" managed to cause temporary insomia but that hallway first person shoot out, wow that was inspired. Thanks for doing the AMA
JasonDavidWongPargin12 karma2015-10-07 23:48:14 UTC
I don't think you can be scared of things you thought of yourself, but I'm sometimes scared of the fact that I thought of them.
Psi_Lapse7 karma2015-10-07 16:46:22 UTC
What would you consider to be your theme song?
And what toothpaste do you use?
JasonDavidWongPargin10 karma2015-10-07 18:05:50 UTC
Sexy Motherfucker by Prince. I try to use a peroxide toothpaste because my gums are always bleeding. I avoid whitening ones, I've been told they actually damage your teeth (health teeth aren't bleach white, BTW)
LarzTTV7 karma2015-10-07 18:52:03 UTC
If you could write a crossover story with Dave and John, which universe would you like to drop them into (i.e. Supernatural, Full House, ect..)?
JasonDavidWongPargin5 karma2015-10-07 22:54:08 UTC
Well you don't want them to walk into a similar situation to what they already have, so I'm going to say Downton Abbey
subjunctivitis7 karma2015-10-07 16:37:27 UTC
How's your rabbit doing?
JasonDavidWongPargin10 karma2015-10-07 17:58:52 UTC
Rico unfortunately passed away early this year, he got an infection that spread in a matter of hours. We rushed him to the vet in the wee hours of the morning but it was too late, their metabolism runs so fast that you have to catch things as soon as they happen. They are fragile creatures and we knew that when we got him, it's one of the risks. We have another golden retriever now, btw.
Tleprie6 karma2015-10-07 17:36:08 UTC
Want to say thanks to you and all of the other Cracked writers who have inspired me to begin writing.
You get lost in the woods with a creature known only as 'The Hug Monster', you are allowed to bring along five other Cracked employees/writers. One of them will be eaten by a giant praying mantis. One will turn on you, revealing that they brought you all out here to serve their nondescript master. One of them becomes deathly ill and is a burden on the group. One of them is Brett Rader. The last one is secretly videotaping the whole thing, but will probably be killed when they get too greedy for 'that one perfect shot'. Who fills what roles, and why?
JasonDavidWongPargin9 karma2015-10-07 22:03:35 UTC
It's all just Soren in various wigs
docbadwrench6 karma2015-10-07 17:42:45 UTC
I'm a long time fan, especially of the podcast. From time to time, you have woven observations from your upbringing into those episodes.
As someone who grew up deeply conservative and fundamentalist, I'm curious: How has your background in Christianity informed your thinking about your work?
JasonDavidWongPargin8 karma2015-10-07 22:12:11 UTC
It is frustrating to look back and realize how many issues I was told weren't issues at all. Like in church I was told that nobody REALLY believes in evolution, that it's just this crackpot thing that somebody came up with to mock the Bible. It annoys me that they weren't honest about that - it's fine to hold a certain belief, and to even hold a belief that runs counter to evidence (for instance, I believe that my pets really love me, rather than that they're just waiting for me to feed them). But it bugs me that they didn't present the whole picture and say, "We know this is how the world sees it, but here's why it's important to believe our version."
So I've just tried to ... not do that. To say here's my point of view, but more importantly, here's how I arrived there. I link to my evidence, I walk through my argument. So where lots of people disagree with me and rightfully point out that I'm no expert, what I hope everyone appreciates is that there is an honesty to what I'm doing - I'm showing you how the logic works in my mind, and if you still aren't convinced, that's fine. I'm not right about everything. But I never want to just throw it out there as, "Here's the truth and you're an idiot for thinking otherwise."
GodzillaSpank6 karma2015-10-07 19:49:26 UTC
In the JDATE universe, could someone with a ghost hand use it to pet her deceased dog? Asking for a friend.
JasonDavidWongPargin7 karma2015-10-07 23:44:29 UTC
That's how you get ghost fleas
BrokenTripod6 karma2015-10-07 17:25:37 UTC
Super fan of all the work you've done. Do you have an archive of old PointlessWasteOfTime.com articles? I loved that old website and haven't been able to find many of the old articles on Cracked or elsewhere on the web. Not sure how well they've dated!
JasonDavidWongPargin8 karma2015-10-07 21:39:36 UTC
The only archive is on some hard drive in a closet somewhere, there was just never time to go through and reformat them, when I've been focused on creating new stuff.
theredball6 karma2015-10-07 16:57:23 UTC
Dude, Jason. I'm a huge fan of yours, I remember reading John Dies on the web back in the day and you're a huge inspiration for me. Though, I figure, you probably laugh at the idea of someone finding you as a figure to look up to.
I'm actually about to leave and go get your book after I finish an exam today, but I'd like a suggestion on a few good authors I should check out that maybe I haven't.
Also, dude how the fuck can you be pumping out so much quality work? You're not Stephen Kinging it by any means, but is there some kind of god or devil I should be praying to or what?
Thanks for being you man.
edit: A book recommendation list from you and maybe a few others on cracked would be an article I would read actually
JasonDavidWongPargin10 karma2015-10-07 18:41:27 UTC
It's shameful how little time I have to read these days, I liked 14 by Peter Clines a lot (Lovecraftian horror, but in a very grounded way) and you're going to think I'm just shilling here but The Unnoticeables by Robert Brockway is great, it's horror set in a 1970s punk universe, I've never read anything like it.
As for how I do what I do... I work 80-100 hours a week, depending on the week. I get up at 9 and work until 1-2 AM, I will take a few hours off on the weekends to watch a movie or something with my wife, that's it. I don't go out, I don't have hobbies (I haven't bought a video game since March), I work while the TV is on. I have a laptop on my exercise bike, so I can keep answering email while I work out. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, there's no work/life balance here. But entertainment careers tend to be short and I want to create as much as I can while people are listening. And when it all goes away, I want to know that I did good work while I could.
Kilgoretroutius15 karma2015-10-07 19:07:10 UTC
I'm an aspiring sci-fi novelist sitting a completed manuscript. What should I do next? Submit it to a literary agent? Mail it directly to a publisher? Self-publish and send to self-published sci-fi novel contests? Sell my soul to satan? Sacrifice several goats?
JasonDavidWongPargin8 karma2015-10-07 23:02:19 UTC
God I don't know, I get this question constantly but I'm the worst author to ask because I took such a weird path to publication. But these days, there's no one right way. The Martian was published just like my first book, I think - the guy just pasted it onto his website one chapter at a time. Wool by Hugh Howey was a self published Kindle book and now that's going to be a Ridley Scott movie. Other writers are doing it the normal way, getting an agent and all that.
I have no useful advice because I had that weird thing where my small book (online and in limited Print on Demand paperback) got noticed by a movie producer who bought the rights, which triggered a domino effect of the publisher approaching me to do it in hardcover - it all sort of happened without me, I didn't have an agent or anything, I had to hire one after the fact, to look at the contracts they were already trying to get me to sign. That was pretty rare, I got very lucky.
mediageekery5 karma2015-10-07 17:35:07 UTC
Did you ever think Cracked.com would reach this level of success?
JasonDavidWongPargin10 karma2015-10-07 22:01:08 UTC
God, I don't know. There have been so many ups and downs, In 2000 (before Cracked) I thought the internet would make me rich, it was during the bubble and I had a little bit of an audience and thought, shit, I'll be a millionaire by next year. Then the bubble burst and I spent the next seven years scraping by, having occasional huge successes and deep failures that almost caused me to give up. So when Cracked came along in 2007 - a site at the time with exactly two employees and no office - I didn't have some grand fantasy about taking over the internet. I knew how hard it was, how little internet ads paid, how thin the margins always are. Then overnight we kind of became Digg's favorite website and suddenly we'd go from 6,000 hits on an article to 600,000. But I wasn't some kid just out of school at that point, I was 35 and had been through so many booms and busts I just spent the whole time thinking of how we could try to keep getting better and accumulating talent.
When Digg collapsed a few years ago a lot of people predicted the end, but we're still here, and now have like 30 employees and most of a building to work out of. We're able to make video series with fairly huge budgets and full crews and sets and costumes, we've published two books, we've interviewed famous people. We could have just kept cranking out pop culture lists forever, but instead took the risk to address more serious stuff, still trying to do it in our voice. We sent a fucking crew to go talk to Syrian refugees. I'm eight years into it (yes, I've had this same job since September 2007 - there's been no change in leadership that whole time) and I'm proud of what we've done. Even if it ended tomorrow, like if the building exploded, I'd be happy with that. Because I work from home.
DannyMethane5 karma2015-10-07 16:58:24 UTC
Any tips for an aspiring novelist?
JasonDavidWongPargin13 karma2015-10-07 18:45:13 UTC
Don't get obsessed with coming up with the perfect idea for a story. If you have a lame idea, just write that. Originality isn't going to come from your plot, it's going to come from your voice and your point of view and your characters. So even if yours is a paint by numbers murder mystery, write it. Don't sit there and say, "But does the world need another murder mystery?" because that's not the question. Every story has been told for ten thousand years, but there is only one of you.
MohanadElToomy4 karma2015-10-07 17:12:59 UTC
I know this is probably out of line, but one thing that always dumbfounded me when I read anything you wrote-your two books and cracked.com articles up to 2008 I guess, yeah and a feew podcasts as well- was how deep and profound your views on society and people in general, and I gotta ask, how did you become like this? what did you do to gain this insight?
love, from Egypt (yeah you've gained international fame, congrats)
JasonDavidWongPargin6 karma2015-10-07 21:23:15 UTC
I wish all of the questions here were just stealth compliments. To be blunt, it just comes from not having friends and reading a lot instead.
TheFLAMan4 karma2015-10-07 16:46:01 UTC
1.Can you tell us what some of your favorite video games of all time are and tell us a little bit about why you like them?
Can you tell us what some of your favorite horror movies of all them are and why you like them so much?
Can you approve this pitch I wrote in time for Halloween (I need the money to buy your new book because I'm flat broke :p)
Also, it's great that you're voice is much clearer on the podcast nowadays!
JasonDavidWongPargin6 karma2015-10-07 18:04:18 UTC
zsergy4 karma2015-10-07 17:24:37 UTC
I consider myself to be pretty talentless when it comes to words, I barely manage to express my thoughts, let alone make them sound nice. I also have the imagination of a 5 year old (literally anything I have ever written sounded as if a toddler wrote it).
Under these conditions, do you think it's possible I could ever write a book...about something? I do read a lot of fiction, would like writing something at some point. I have tried(a little) poetry (like haikus, but not even following the few rules those have), and well, some sound almost funny but they're still really bad.
Oh and here's a small sort-of-haiku for you!
The moon above him/
He feverishly hits the keys/
Fire all of a sudden.
(I hope you get the poem xD )
(oh and the question was, "is talent required to write stuff in your opinion? Is just hard work enough, or do you need both hard work AND talent? ")
JasonDavidWongPargin9 karma2015-10-07 21:37:48 UTC
I honestly don't know, if you enjoy writing and find it satisfying, then write. Write what makes you happy. If you never write anything that other people want to read, that's not the worst thing that's ever happened. It's still worth doing, you'll find out a lot about yourself.
mollyconolley4 karma2015-10-07 17:31:04 UTC
Will there be another ARG for the new Jon and Dave book?
JasonDavidWongPargin5 karma2015-10-07 19:32:14 UTC
Maybe? They're purely for fun, it's not like they drive a bunch of book sales or anything. It's just to give the fans something amusing to do during the many months leading up to the debut. There's always a small but obsessive core of people who get really into them.
Mucking_Fuppets4 karma2015-10-07 18:22:06 UTC
I actually watched John Dies at the End for the first time last night. There were a lot of the expected changes from the novel, but I was really pleased with how many of the little details they seemed to get right. Was there anything that made it in the movie that you were sure would get cut?
JasonDavidWongPargin8 karma2015-10-07 22:24:35 UTC
Obviously the penis door knob, but that was the first thing Don said would stay in, no matter what.
Mack993 karma2015-10-07 16:43:36 UTC
Loving the new book so far. Congrats! When will you start working on the third John and Dave book though, with a predicted release date of 2017 (how long does this type of novel take you from idea to publication)? If the first one was supernatural/occult, second was zombie apocalypse, what can we expect from the third adventure in terms of theme/style?
Edit: Also, with JDatE, what lessons were learned from the adaptation of novel to movie that will be applied toward future (unsigned) projects?
JasonDavidWongPargin6 karma2015-10-07 18:56:04 UTC
It takes me two years to write a novel, and then it takes another year to become published. So for instance with Suits, I had the idea in 2012 or so, I started writing in early 2013, and turned in the manuscript in December 2014. Then we spent another three months editing it and had a final version in April 2015. Then the time between then and now was spent on copy editing, cover design, formatting issues, that sort of thing. So I started writing JDATE 3 the moment this one was turned in, and will spend all of this year and all of next year writing it. Then we'll spend the early months of 2017 editing and my books are usually fall releases so right now I'd assume October 2017 but again if any disruption in my schedule throws me off, that pushes it back.
Starsy3 karma2015-10-07 17:09:44 UTC
Is there an audiobook version planned?
JasonDavidWongPargin3 karma2015-10-07 21:19:47 UTC
Available now through Audible!
zoggian3 karma2015-10-07 18:02:49 UTC
Was there a favorite scene, storyline, character, or joke in any of your past novels you were forced to cut for whatever reason? If so, why did you cut it, and what do you do with those cut material? Do you try to repurpose it for another work?
JasonDavidWongPargin7 karma2015-10-07 19:42:33 UTC
A lot of stuff gets reused or resurfaces in some other form, but the stuff that gets cut is probably things you wouldn't miss, a lot of conversations that run on too long, that sort of thing. Like just off the top of my head, there's a lot of banter between Zoey and Will in the new book about the nature of wealth and the mindset of rich people that I thought was interesting but I generally know when the reader is anxious to get to the next thing in the story.
11Chuck2 karma2015-10-07 17:39:04 UTC
David Wong... you sir are my favorite author. I've been a redditor for 3 years, and in my personal opinion, this by far the best AMA I've yet to have the
privilege of reading, and for the first time ever not missing.
I'm already in love with the atmosphere painted in FVFS and I'm wondering... at any point in time would ever consider transferring FTFS to film as you did with JDTE??
JasonDavidWongPargin2 karma2015-10-07 22:04:14 UTC
It's not up to me! It costs millions of dollars, it's entirely up to some strangers who have access to that kind of money
yridea2 karma2015-10-07 17:06:33 UTC
Is there any particular reason you didn't do the reading for the audiobook version of FVAFS? Your voice on the podcast is strangely soothing...and I'm really not sure why that is.
JasonDavidWongPargin6 karma2015-10-07 20:40:03 UTC
Audio books are a whole different deal, they're not reading, they're performing. They're doing inflection, different voices, etc. It's hard to overstate how talented those people are and how difficult their job is. I'd suck at it.
Captainpanda552 karma2015-10-07 17:20:40 UTC
I love your 'hard truth' articles on Cracked, they've really helped me become a better person.
I have two questions, if I can be greedy:
1) Where do you draw such good life advice from?
2) What advice would you give to somebody who wants to get started as a writer on the internet?
JasonDavidWongPargin2 karma2015-10-07 21:29:26 UTC
1 People who have a lot of personal and emotional problems tend to obsessively read life advice, so that's something I've been doing since I was a kid, trying to figure out what was wrong with me. So a lot of the things I'm saying, I'm just passing on from much smarter people. Who themselves got them from others. No advice is truly new.
2 Two things: Start your own site or blog so you can do whatever you want, then start submitting to sites that take submissions (and there are thousands of them, it's just that not all of them pay). You need both because in the latter case you'll have to work with editors who will often change your writing and voice, which can be discouraging for a new writer. So you need your own outlet where you can just do what feels good, too. But either way you'll want to build writing into your schedule, so that you're doing it every day.
efbo2 karma2015-10-07 17:07:34 UTC
You're my favourite author and the only time I'm really motivated to read is when it's your books.
I don't really have a question and I know you can't talk about any films but when I read Spiders I just thought that the zombie hunting team's bodycam footage would be a great little teaser trailer.
Also is there any way to get a copy of David Wong is Fat and Gay?
The Cemetery Dance copy of John Dies is great, will there be something similar for Spiders?
Just started Fancy Suits, it seems you're very anti Google Glass so far, do you think that they will become more widespread and are you scared about what they'll be used for in the future.
Sorry for a lot of questions when I said I didn't even have one!
JasonDavidWongPargin3 karma2015-10-07 21:18:53 UTC
Grooviestviking2 karma2015-10-07 17:17:15 UTC
I read and Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits and reread TBIFOS earlier this week. Love them both. My question is are you deliberately picking titles to stand out more or is it mostly coming upon an idea that amuses you enough? Thanks.
JasonDavidWongPargin4 karma2015-10-07 21:25:38 UTC
These are working titles I come up with as jokes to amuse the publisher when we're doing the contracts, then we wind up just using them. I guess they're unique because the person writing them wasn't trying to come up with a title at all, they were all just supposed to be placeholders.
rassilons2 karma2015-10-07 17:18:19 UTC
Where is my badgerconda?
JasonDavidWongPargin4 karma2015-10-07 19:24:28 UTC
flammableperson2 karma2015-10-07 17:35:30 UTC
Hi Jason, I've never written anything before, but feel really compelled to try and write an article for Cracked, but I'm not sure what I would even write about so I haven't tried pursuing yet. Besides my enthusiasm, what else should I bring to the table before approaching Cracked hoping to write an article?
JasonDavidWongPargin2 karma2015-10-07 21:41:34 UTC
An enthusiasm for a subject and a willingness to listen to feedback and do the boring parts (that is, the research). Writing is a learned skill, and we work with hundreds of first-timers every month. But there are the fun parts and then there are the tedious parts and you have to be willing to do both.
Slow_Like_Sloth1 karma2015-10-07 17:00:23 UTC
This isn't really a question but John dies at the end is my favorite book of all time. I lend it to everyone and anyone who will read it (and everyone has loved it). I've got a three armed Sally tattoo, I am just mildly obsessed and try to read the book once a year. I guess I do have a question though; how did you feel about the final result of the JDATE movie? Would you have preferred an HBO series or something akin to it? How did you feel about the shadow people being left out? I thought the two main actors were spectacular but a movie just isn't enough time to delve deep into all of the story line/plots.
JasonDavidWongPargin3 karma2015-10-07 19:13:42 UTC
Well a series would have been great, but I can't get greedy here. There are great writers who spend 30 years trying to get their work either published on a large scale or adapted into film, I had both happen with literally the very first long-form fiction I wrote in my life. That's one in a million shit right there.
As for the shadow people, I just don't think there was any way to make them look right on screen, I've seen similar creatures attempted in other movies and shows and I don't think I've ever seen it done in a way that would be as ominous as what you're imagining. It'd be so easy for it to just come off as, "Oh, here comes some CGI."
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