No doubt we’ve all seen that author who gets all up in your personal space, mercilessly invading your Facebook and Twitter feeds and notifications with the unrelenting plugging of their book. Yes, we all have to shamelessly plug, but come on, there is a line to be drawn, and often that behavior is an indication of the quality of work being offered. But then there’s the quiet artist whose talent eclipses SO many in the field yet you never hear about them. That’s John Boden–an underrated, gentle soul of a man whose is humble to a fault and one of my favorite authors, not just because of his profoundly deep prose but his original ideas.
I first met John when we had both entered a writing contest. I placed third. He placed first. Admittedly, instead of being content with placing at all, I was a little bummed I’d not taken first place. Until I read John’s piece. I then left a comment under the winning announcement and congratulated him, telling him he definitely had the superior piece and deserved the win. He found me on Facebook and we became friends. Our diverse taste in music brought us closer together and then we began trading stories back and forth, sharing our work (both published and unpublished) as well as ideas we had. It started to become clear that our writing had a lot in common; not necessarily our writing styles but the content. It’s not uncommon for either of us to write something that leaves the reader feeling a bit…hollow–melding the horrific with heavy emotional attributes that tap into the inner youngsters in us all.
Then last fall John sends me an email with an attachment titled “JEDI SUMMER.” The email said: “This is my coming-of-age novella. It’s all true except for the few things that aren’t.” I forwarded it to my Kindle, and one night while in bed I decided to read a few paragraphs. At first I didn’t get it. It read almost like diary entries but not really. There were no dates or “Dear Diary.” Nothing like that at all. They were first-person events, moments in a child’s life. But they were highly entertaining, and I ended up reading much more than the few paragraphs I had set out to peek at. I stayed up far too late and woke the next day thinking about it. There was no real order to the book yet it was still heading in a single direction, and taking me with it. For reasons I couldn’t understand, I was compelled to keep reading and enjoying every bit of it, wanting…NEEDING to know what the kid would go through next. I longed for a certain ending, and the ending delivered. I’ve been waiting nine months to tell people about the book so they can partake and here we are. Come July 22, 2016 “JEDI SUMMER: With the Magnetic Kid” is being released to the public, and it’s already gaining rave reviews. Well, enough about my thoughts on John Boden, here he is answering a few questions:
CHAD LUTZKE: Nearly all of your work is very deep emotionally. Why do you think that is? Would you say writing is therapeutic for you?
JOHN BODEN: I’m not entirely certain. I mean, I don’t purposefully set about writing that way. I tend to base most
characters on aspects of myself or people I know and I just paint them honestly, realistically. There are things that have been quite therapeutic for me. I wrote out a great deal of the grief after my Dad passed away. I just tend to write personal, I guess. I was actually quite worried that folks wouldn’t like this (JEDI SUMMER). It’s written in a very untraditional manner and I worried it wouldn’t translate into a good read for others. The overwhelmingly positive response from beta readers let me know I was wrong.
CL: Is writing something you’d like to make a living doing one day or is it just a hobby for you?
JB: I won’t lie, it would be great to make enough money with my writing to tell the day job to piss off and just sleep in a little every day, write for hours and not have to go anywhere. Being a realist, that isn’t likely to happen. I’m a middle-aged fellow who has worked since he was 17. I have a family and things that need financial attention and I need that promise of a timely paycheck every week. So I guess, I’d say hobby. I love doing it. I love that people actually care enough to read the things I manage to get published and even like them. I’m very grateful for that.
CL: You’ve stated to me that your new book JEDI SUMMER is based heavily on your life and much of it is autobiographical, also your brother plays a significant role in the book. I’m curious what he thinks of it, as well as the rest of your family.
JB: I wrote it as a sort of olive branch/love letter to my little brother. When we were growing up, we fought a lot. There was always a resentment from me, because I was older and our Mom worked so much, I was thrust into an adult role of raising him in a lot of ways. As a teen , it made me mad. I was mean to him, hurtful and shit. I never really thought about it. He let me know once a number of years ago, how that made him feel and all I could do was say I was sorry. I never forgot it. I wrote a short once called “The Magnetic Kid”, which was basically a scene that ended up in JEDI SUMMER…but I had not yet planned on expanding…it was just a little story about my brother. Then I decided to make it longer…and more and more truth fell into it and before I knew it JEDI SUMMER was done. My little brother loves it. He was thrilled about it, so does my Mom and my adopted little brother, Mike.
CL: What is it about the coming-of- age subgenre that you are attracted to?
JB: I have always loved that subgenre. From Bradbury’s numerous works that fall under that umbrella to King and McCammon. James Newman wrote one of my faves, Midnight Rain (and gave me a foreword for JEDI SUMMER) Dan Simmons’ Summer of Night is a great one. Keene’s Ghoul. Joe Lansdale has several books that fall in this territory. Mark Gunnells has a great CoA novella, Summer of Winters. Kevin Lucia has some good stuff. You, my friend, have a brilliant CoA thing coming out soon! (referring to my novella OF FOSTER HOMES AND FLIES). It’s just an honest area. When you write about kids and growing up, you can tap into a vivid well of memory, it gives you a chance to tap into an honesty that you need to work a helluva lot harder for in “regular” work. That make any sense? Everyone has been a kid, everyone has some level of relating to that.
CL: Give us some trivia concerning JEDI SUMMER, something that would be found in “author’s notes.”
JB: I don’t wanna ruin anything so I’ll be vague. This novella is probably about 92% true. There are some
fictional liberties taken but not many. I also did a really shoddy job of “concealing identities.” I’m pretty sure if anyone from home reads this, they’ll know who I based characters on and I can only hope they don’t get sore.
CL: What’s coming next for John Boden?
JB: I’m having the best year for writing so far…I have a story in Borderlands 6 which was edited by Tom Monteleone and his daughter. I have a story in an antho called Bumps In The Road from Black Bed Sheet Books. I wrote an extremely surreal fable-type novella with Mercedes Yardley called Detritus In Love that will see print this fall from Omnium Gatherium Press. The only other thing I have going on is another novella called Spungunion that is currently subbed out and I’m waiting for word on it. I have the follow-up to Dominoes. It’s a room-by-room tour of a haunted house. I need to figure out what exactly to do with that. I’d love to make it a pop up book. I have a few things planned to work on or start work on soon. Writing projects and Shock Totem duties. I’ll keep busy, don’t worry.
Pre-order JEDI SUMMER here.