Jason Garden Interview

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Hey everyone!

We are back with another review. This time you will get to read words from Jason Garden, author of You’re Not Dead. You can find my review here. Enjoy!

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1. First of all, I must say congratulations on the wedding! We could say you got married fairly young, is this maybe a reflex? That you now consider some things more important than you used to?
Thank you! I knew from the second I saw her that it was going to happen, so the time between asking and the ceremony felt like an eternity. As for my age regarding marriage: it is less of a big deal when one realizes that I am two years younger than her. She is over 30 and is very much ready for that part of her life to start. I am honoured that I can be apart of it and am excited to see what happens next.
 
2. Could you tell the readers who you are? What got you to the point where you are at right now in life?
I am Jason Garden. I am a nerd, have a sick sense of humour, and I am possibly the worst person to allow to express opinions on all things. I was in the independent music scene for ten years as a drummer and have been on nine albums. I used to run a really bad record label and an equally bad studio. I worked in retail for too long, was a manager of a music store for a year, then everything changed. I contracted Viral Meningoencephalitis back in 2013 and it resulted in me being in a wheelchair. I have been working my ass off to get back what I was accustomed to for 25 years.
3. And after all that, you decided to write a book titled You’re Not Dead. How come you decided to write down what happened? You know, you could have made videos and whatnot, but you chose to write. Why?
A part of the why I wrote the book was for myself. As much as I was in hospital for ten months, I was only in hospital for ten months: a lot happened. That coupled with the fact that I died twice, I found myself a year after being discharged from institution wondering what happened and not entirely sure who I was anymore.
 
4. Have you at any time felt that you maybe made the wrong decision? Was there maybe a thought that you are not that good of a writer, or what people would think of the book?
Writing the book? Not once. Some of my advertising tactics? Hell yes.
I have dropped websites because I could no longer afford them ALWAYS after doing some huge promotion for that site. I have spent hundreds of dollars on copies of books for reviewers, contests, and family.
Do I wish I knew what I know now when release first happened? Clichéd, but of course. Do I regret the fact that I am tens of thousands in debt to tell my tale? I really don’t. There is always the chance that what I wrote inspired a person or someone could relate to it. Even if that doesn’t happen for 20 years, it will.
 
5. The book was released last year and it basically covers your recovering process. You mentioned that your biggest wish is to be able to walk again. Has something happened in the last year regarding that? Any progress that maybe you could share with us?
To say that is my BIGGEST wish is a bit presumptive: It implies that nothing ever changes. Is it still a goal? Fuck yes. Is there much to share there? Fuck no.
Now, when I say that, it is not to say there isn’t advancement. After the initial few changes that were spectacles and grand, every change for a while has been “quiet.” That is, to say, I notice changes (like being able to stand longer, advancements in health, things like that). To the average on-looker, it would appear that nothing has changed. Am I still working towards walking? Yes. For “interesting” updates, look into my blog at wheelchairhero.com
 
6. Now, this is a book blog and I am sorry, but I have to return to the topic. Can we expect more books from you in the future? Maybe even books that are not necessarily connected to yourself?
I am working on a book right now, but I am only about 13,000 words in. I am writing a fiction, for once. I am very nervous about it, but I also REALLY like the tale. I just hope people do, as well.
 
7. Do you think that maybe there is not enough real stories, like yours, out there? Or do you maybe enjoy, for example, a fantasy novel more than one with a serious topic?
I think that showing a preference towards one or another is very subjective to the material. For my book, for instance, I tried to create an independent world from our own: A world self-contained. My reason to do so was to avoid having to describe situations and procedures that even I do not fully understand.
 
8. Most authors say that their books are their babies, which I totally agree with. But do you maybe have a favourite book that you enjoy and cherish even more than the one you wrote?
Two books come to mind that are very different from each other. The first is 1984 by George Orwell. It will forever be my favourite book. I just love how accurate it became and still remains.
The other book is jPod by Douglas Coupland. It’s about a bunch of people who work at a programming studio that focuses on video games. The book is funny and relatable.
9. Now, I want to give this question to each author, so you are getting it too: Let us say that you were given a magical pen. The first word you wrote down would immediately influence all people in the world. What would that word be? Why?
Loaded question. Just one word, eh? Probably “Remember.” I am half convinced that any sort of ignorance is due to forgetting the past. I am a huge fan of human history, especially in the realm of Religion and Politics.So many modern blunders seem to be a rehash of a mistake from the distant past. So many stupid things that people say are just from a disregard for situations that are just past. TO MAKE CLEAR: I am not excluding myself from this. The amount of times I will say something to my wife where she simply replies with “You’re going to say that again?” is embarrassing to admit.
 
10. I am sure people would like to know more about you, or maybe talk to you regarding the illness, maybe even for an advice. Where can people find you and contact you?
As I mentioned prior, my site is www.wheelchairhero.com. Yes, I chose that URL because of the irony of it. I do not see myself as a hero. I rarely ask for praise for doing the norm and, therefore, picked the name due to its irony. I feel as if I have slowed on the medical as of late, and have been focusing more on day-to-day stuff. I try to do a very off-topic on the last Sunday of every month to stretch my mind. I seem to talk a lot about music and things of that nature.
I also have a very sick sense of humour. Often, I laugh while I write about things of situations. Usually, I am the only person who finds the humour in anything I speak of.
FOR EXAMPLE: I am very VERY honoured that I was asked to take part in this line of questioning. Due to the surreal nature of it, though, I am howling my way through the questions.
I think that is how I have been able to survive all the situations that I have been through in my 27 years of life: I am amazed at the selfish actions made by those around me. I find my continued existence hilarious. The outlandish things that people complain about or draw attention to is so astonishing to me.
Thank you Jason!

At Horizon’s End by Chris Sarantopoulos

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The reason that this is posted on Sunday is the fact that the story has just been released! If you do not feel like reading the review, it is a 5/5 and I strongly recommend that you buy it. You will not regret it. 

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Kindle: $1.21

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The Man Who Fed On Tears always knows whose time it is to pluck from the world of the living. His existence is one of a symbiosis between his need for the tears and woe he causes to those closest to the deceased, and the natural order of life and death to which he is bound. He never questions himself or his actions and has never made a mistake. Until now.

Stella is a four-year-old girl who misses her mommy and wants to see her again. She doesn’t yet understand the concept of loss, so when she sees close family members crying, she tries to stay cheerful and optimistic. After all, Mommy said they’d see each other again when the time comes At Horizon’s End. So if they’ll meet again, why is everyone crying?

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Chris Sarantopoulos once again shows us that he is an absolute master of short stories. I will try my best to keep it spoiler free, as I really do not want to ruin it for anyone.

We are placed in the story right when everyone is gathering at Stella’s house, due to her mother passing away. Stella, being only 4 years old, is already a hint that this story will explore the darkest places in our hearts and minds. And it does. There is sadness that Stella does not understand, she is too young to grasp the fact that her mother will not return, and although she was told by her mother that they will meet again, she does not fully understand that either. She takes it for granted, but does not know that she too would have to die, for that to happen. She tries to explain to her father that they will see her again, At Horizon’s End (an expression her mother used), but as you would imagine, he is way too sad and way too disconnected and, just like everyone else, only manages a smile and a hug for Stella.

The story actually switches between Stella and The Man Who Fed On Tears. Let us talk about him, as he is the main reason for the story that is unfolding. The author gave him that name because, I believe, he did not want to influence your thoughts, and did not want to put religion into the story. I will do it, however, as I will be able to present him better with something you are all very familiar with. The Man Who Fed On Tears in religious sense would be described as a demon. Everyone knows that demons are known to feed on one’s negative thoughts and preferably get them stuck in a loop of negative emotions. That gives them the energy to “exist”, and that is exactly the reason that he is described as the man who feeds on tears, or rather, negative emotions, which sadness definitely is. There is a catch. If you do not let them feed on your negative emotions, as you only display positive ones, then there is no reason for them to exist. And this is when Stella comes into action. Everyone in the house is feeding The Man, but not Stella. She does not have any negativity around her, as she is, in her pure child’s mind, completely sure that she will be able to see her mother again one day. This leaves The Man dumbfounded, as he is not used to that kind of energy, especially on such occasion. Now let me just say this, The Man also plays the role of a Grim Reaper, but not the cartoonish idea or whatever. He is the reason for her mother’s death, he is the one that took her away, so he could feed himself. Now, again, if we follow it through spiritual explanation, we know that evil entities are not dumb. We know that they show great capabilities of thought. And this is also what happens in the story. The Man, amazed that Stella is handling the situation like she is, gets into a moral struggle, whether he did the right thing by taking her mother away from her or not.

And this is the point where I stop. What arrives after this point is the conclusion to the story that would spoil it for everyone, so I will not go any further.

As you can see, you cannot explain this story or take anything from it word for word, because it is not meant to be read like that. It is meant to make you think and incorporate your own knowledge and your own beliefs into the story, and the story suddenly becomes unique to you. I could go on and on, and explain every single paragraph, but I do not want to write an essay and bore you guys to death. With that said…

Book recommendation: 5/5

You’re Not Dead by Jason Garden

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buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery
Paperback: US$12.41 (Free shipping)
Hardback: US$27.78 (Free shipping)

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You’re Not Dead chronicles its Hero’s travels during his ten-month hospitalization, beginning with his viral meningoencephalitis, and ending with his struggle to regain his life and independence. Acerbic and illuminating, You’re Not Dead pulls the reader into the Hero’s lived experience, while peeling away the layers of politeness we often use when discussing disability. The Hero is brutally honest as he writes of his journey through the medical system. He speaks of overwhelming pessimism, of pronouncements from “on high” made with little knowledge of his condition or progress, and of being spoken at, rather than being spoken to. You’re Not Dead is both devastating and inspiring, highlighting the importance of perseverance in the face of profound adversity.

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This book tells the life story of the author, through the eyes of his character named Hero. It is a story that is written in the minds and hearts of people we usually tend to overlook.

It is a very simple read. There are no complex terms, no bullshitting around. Just descriptions of what we could name “life after death”. Do not expect it to be fueled with action and whatnot, because it is not. You may all now be thinking: “Well, that sounds boring.”. And maybe you are right, but it depends on where you stand in life, where your viewpoint lays. If you want to read this story because you do not have anything else to do, and want to shorten your free time with something, then this story will be a drag and nothing special. If you, however, want to read the story, because you want to know what is going on in the head of someone whose life changed in the flicker of the light, then this is a story for you.

Now, while the process and time-lapse is done well enough, I personally missed more dialog and humor. The author describes what he was told that happened, or how he met new friends, but there is no back story to that, no anecdotes. Well, there are some, but the author did not go into details, and just stated that as a fact, but I believe that something like that was needed to keep the reader from getting bored. There was some humor, do not get me wrong, but I felt like it needed more.

Same with the dialogs that I mentioned. The author keeps telling us, how others told him what happened, but never provides a dialog. I know that things like that are hard to remember, but as a reader I want to be engaged. I want to see the situation unravel in my own mind. There was not enough of this, but again, do not get me wrong, there was some, and that some was done brilliantly. For example, the point when that doctor told our Hero that he will never walk again. I wanted to punch her in the face so bad that you cannot even imagine. And knowing that it is actually a true story made me feel even angrier. A story like this needs as much emotion as we can get, and I feel like there was not enough of that.

Another great point was that we were able to see the struggle. Not just the physical struggle, but the mental struggle too. And I must take my hat off to the author, because there was not a single time in the book that he would pity himself for being in his situation. No matter the falls, he just held his head up high and did not just pass his obstacles but destroyed them. Proving everyone wrong along the way.

I will pick this book up again and again, whenever I feel like MY life is bad. If nothing else, the book title will always stay with me. You’re not dead, Hero. Thank you.

Book recommendation: 7,5/10

The Man Behind The Bar by Chris Sarantopoulos

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Kindle: $1.21

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The past never really stays hidden or forgotten. Ben Stingler left his past for a quiet life, until a young man steps in his bar, and brings with him all the things Ben tried to put behind him five years ago. An overdue debt is back on the table.

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Since this is a short story, I will use the material from the book to write my review. So I will write *SPOILER ALERT* before and after the sentence(s) that spoil(s) the book, so you can skip it.

Short stories are overflowing the market today. And you know what they say about quality over quantity. But I will not go into this today, I will save it for next week. A short story is supposed to be a story that delivers with a bang. That means that it has to reach the climax in a matter of pages, and very few, believe it or not, actually manage that. This one does.

We are put in a bar and follow the first-person story of Phil Harrisson, also known as Ben Stingler. When a strange, dangerous man enters the bar, Phil’s story starts to unravel. We learn, that a few years back, he was a professional hitman, who now want to live a normal, happy life and has managed so for the past few years. Apart from the fact that he stole a couple million dollars in some job this is all that we know about our main character. But then again, we do not need to know much more. The point here is that it is written in a way, that you could only guess what else this character has done before, and that leaves us with a taste of mystery that we will never solve.

*SPOILER ALERT. The next passage will spoil the story, so do not read it if you want to read the story first. Before you skip, I have covered a single point about why the book is worth buying. I am telling you this, so you do not ruin it for yourself, but still know that IT IS worth buying* 

The man who entered the bar was sent there to kill him, which our character guessed from the minute the guy walked in. They have a conversation in which our character reveals what he did and how he stole the money and so on and so forth. At this time, we also have an insight inside his head, where he is thinking about how to kill the man sitting at his bar, with the shotgun that is under the bar. He manages to do that, as we would expect, but the description of the kill that the author provides is something I believe I have never read before. He does not say: “I took the gun and boom, he was gone.” like 90% of the stories nowadays do. He… No, I will not go into detail, this description alone is worth of buying the kindle edition, so do it. For comparison, those of you who are familiar with Harry Potter books. Remember the death of Sirius Black? How it was described? Well that right there is similar here, but not the same, of course. 

*SPOILER FREE ZONE. Go ahead, continue your reading.*

I spoke about climax before, but this story actually does not reach the climax until the last page. It reaches it there and leaves us hanging, thinking about what happened next. At the same time only giving us just the right amount of information in which the story could unfold in both ways and that right there is absolutely perfect for a short story.

I think the author should write more short stories like this and compile them into a book and release that.

Since this is the first short story that I reviewed on its own, I will grade it from 1 to 5, as with all the other short stories that I may review in the future. This is because of the fact, that you really do not need that much space to maneuver. A short story is either great, good or bad. There is no philosophy here.

With that said, my short story recommendation is: 5 out of 5, absolutely spot on. This short story is what every short story hopes to be.

The Monsters.

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This right here is the best gift I can ever receive. There is not enough money in the world that could outweigh the feeling of helping someone and making someone happy. I want to continue that and share her blog with you guys. Go there and show her some love! We have been talking for the past few days and she is for sure one of the most down to earth people you will ever have a chance to meet/read.

The Pointless Life.

Monsters are real…

The scariest monsters that exist are the ones that lurk within our souls. They live inside all of us, and sometimes- they win. The strongest of people are the ones that have a command over their monsters.

I put this topic off a really long time and felt like there is no reason to blog about it. But the ”behind” story of this kept lingering around my brain and I had to get it out somehow. Because, all it gave me was many sleepless nights.

The truth is, I have seen this ”monster”. I have felt its presence. I have been touched by it. And eventually, it killed me. Beauty is a curse on the world. It keeps us from seeing who the real monsters are. The world is full of monsters with friendly faces.

Every monster you have met or will ever meet was once a…

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Gibberish #5

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I still have not read the Haunting of Hill House. Yay! On serious note, I am still feeling like shit, so I am really not into reading this kind of stuff at the moment. I need some books to put me in good mood so I decided to go back to the roots and read… *drum roll* Household Tales by Brothers Grimm!

I know the well-known tales from them (who does not, right?) and those are quite nice. Imagine my surprise when I read some quite scary ones. Hanging bodies, killing people and decapitating your children’s heads in a book that produced so many children tales? 10/10, would read to my children. No wonder our generations are so soulless, we were forced to listen to this kind of poop.

Jokes aside, it is a nice collection and I recommend it to all of those interested in tales. It is a classic for a reason.

Other than that, I have not been up to much this week, so I am cutting this one short. If you have any recommendations for any books that could put me in good mood, please leave a comment. I will appreciate it.

– Viking