I reserved Saturday night for an intimate conversation with my author friend John Emil Augustine, and I was not disappointed. We fell into conversation like old friends. As we started, I kept hearing something squeak. When I asked John what it might be, he said it was probably his chair. He can be very antsy and the squeaking noise has been known to show up in a song or two. Yes, he is both an author and musician. Everything he writes, books and music, comes from his life experience. His book series, “From the Abyss,” comes from a place deep within his heart and memory. Songs he has released, such as my favorite, “Lady,” are wrought from that same deep-down place. But I had to ask if he would be open to writing other genres.
“I will write anything that moves me.”
His mentor in writing? Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys. John calls Wilson the great fall and redemption story of rock music, citing his continued musical production at age 71 as surpassing the Stones and surviving Beatles combined. I am beginning to understand that same kind of engine is within John as he fidgets in his squeaky chair. In less than one year, John already has two books and two CDs out with Master Koda. He seems to be on a Brian Wilson-like pace.
What new authors have grasped John’s interest? Brenda Perlin seems to be #1, but he does like a lot of other authors also. However, time to read can escape John. His current project is “Book 3” which is in editing, and he is half way through “Book 4.” There is also a “Book 5” in his head waiting to be written. With all of that happening, there is little time for music at the moment, much less reading as he continues his break-neck production schedule.
Who has supported John outside of family members? I found John’s answer intriguing. “When I first started, my book was put out with no publisher on Smashwords. I'm thinking, ‘How do I advertise my book? How can I get it out there to everyone?’ I did the research and found Fran Lewis, and I had to send her the book in the mail as she would not read it any other way. She loved it. Fran sent it to Marsha Casper Cook who liked it and immediately put me on her blog talk radio show. The other author on the show that night was Brenda Perlin who had also begun reading my book and loved it!” So Brenda basically inspired John to write more than one book. In fact, it was Brenda Perlin who came up with the title “From the Abyss” while in her shower looking at the drain. True story.
Sadly, I was not the first phone interview John has had, but we both agreed it will not be our last. The hour and a half flew by for both of us. It was as if an old friend had stayed up late into the night with me, joking and talking without any thought of time. When I finally asked if John had anything specific to say to his readers, he laughed and quipped, “I hope you like my books.” I was looking for something juicier, so he offered, “The point of my books and CDs is hope, love and mercy. I hope people feel that.”
Before we let each other go at the end of the night, though John had a mild case of laryngitis, he proved true on his promise and sang part of “Lady” for me, accompanying himself on piano. It was an exciting night, and so comfortable and serene. Would I spend another night like this with John Emil Augustine? You can count on it. ;)