Language of the Soul Podcast

Storytelling and Social Reform with Author Johnny Worthen

December 15, 2023 Dominick Domingo Season 2023 Episode 12
Storytelling and Social Reform with Author Johnny Worthen
Language of the Soul Podcast
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Language of the Soul Podcast
Storytelling and Social Reform with Author Johnny Worthen
Dec 15, 2023 Season 2023 Episode 12
Dominick Domingo

Prepare to have your mind expanded! Join us as we engage in a riveting dialogue with award-winning author and teacher Johnny Worthen. This isn't your standard conversation, folks. From Johnny's renowned series "Tony Flannery, Slacker Detective" to his science fiction masterpiece "Coronam," this episode is a treasure trove of literary insights. We'll get a peek at Johnny's teaching approach and his unique course that correlates  Buddhist principles with creative writing. Buckle up as we delve into the role of storytelling in shaping culture and how reading fosters empathy.

We'll also tackle societal issues like class war, social hierarchy, and cancel culture. We'll dissect the invisible ties that bind social media,  unexamined personal biases, and identity politics. Be ready for some thought-provoking discussions as we underline the importance of interconnectivity amid the digital media revolution and political polarization.

Guest Bio: Johnny Worthen is an award-winning, multiple-genre, tie-dye-wearing author, voyager, and damn fine human being! Trained in stand-up comedy, literary criticism, and cultural studies, he writes upmarket fiction, long and short, indie and traditional, mentors others where he can, and teaches creative writing at the University of Utah. He is a member of SFWA and a lifetime member of the League of Utah Writers. Johnny's best-selling CORONAM series is an epic science fiction tale in the vein of Frank Herbert’s DUNE. It is available now from Flame Tree Press. Johnny’s best-selling comedy mystery series, featuring TONY FLANER, slacker detective, is available from Rough Edges Press.

Johnny teaches creative writing at the University of Utah, as well as conferences and conventions all over the country. He’s a student of the occult and of Eastern cultures. He teaches a course on Buddhist Lessons for Writers which compares the steps to enlightenment to the steps of any creative activity, specifically writing.

Learn more about Johnny Worthen at the links below:
www.johnnyworthen.com
https://www.flametreepress.com/authors/index.php?ga=johnny-worthe

We would love to hear from you! Sent US a text message.

Support the Show.

If you would like to make a one-time donation, CLICK HERE, or you can click the support button for other monthly support options.

To learn more and order Language of the Soul: www.dominickdomingo.com/theseeker

Think you would be a great guest for our podcast; please submit a request at LOTS Podcast Guest Pitch Form.

Now more than ever, it’s tempting to throw our hands in the air and surrender to futility in the face of global strife. Storytellers know we must renew hope daily. We are being called upon to embrace our interconnectivity, transform paradigms, and trust the ripple effect will play its part. In the words of Lion King producer Don Hahn (Episode 8), “Telling stories is one of the most important professions out there right now.” We here at Language of the Soul Podcast could not agree more.

This podcast is a labor of love. You can help us spread the word about the power of story to transform. Your donation, however big or small, will help us build our platform and thereby get the word out. Together, we can change the world…one heart at a time!

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Prepare to have your mind expanded! Join us as we engage in a riveting dialogue with award-winning author and teacher Johnny Worthen. This isn't your standard conversation, folks. From Johnny's renowned series "Tony Flannery, Slacker Detective" to his science fiction masterpiece "Coronam," this episode is a treasure trove of literary insights. We'll get a peek at Johnny's teaching approach and his unique course that correlates  Buddhist principles with creative writing. Buckle up as we delve into the role of storytelling in shaping culture and how reading fosters empathy.

We'll also tackle societal issues like class war, social hierarchy, and cancel culture. We'll dissect the invisible ties that bind social media,  unexamined personal biases, and identity politics. Be ready for some thought-provoking discussions as we underline the importance of interconnectivity amid the digital media revolution and political polarization.

Guest Bio: Johnny Worthen is an award-winning, multiple-genre, tie-dye-wearing author, voyager, and damn fine human being! Trained in stand-up comedy, literary criticism, and cultural studies, he writes upmarket fiction, long and short, indie and traditional, mentors others where he can, and teaches creative writing at the University of Utah. He is a member of SFWA and a lifetime member of the League of Utah Writers. Johnny's best-selling CORONAM series is an epic science fiction tale in the vein of Frank Herbert’s DUNE. It is available now from Flame Tree Press. Johnny’s best-selling comedy mystery series, featuring TONY FLANER, slacker detective, is available from Rough Edges Press.

Johnny teaches creative writing at the University of Utah, as well as conferences and conventions all over the country. He’s a student of the occult and of Eastern cultures. He teaches a course on Buddhist Lessons for Writers which compares the steps to enlightenment to the steps of any creative activity, specifically writing.

Learn more about Johnny Worthen at the links below:
www.johnnyworthen.com
https://www.flametreepress.com/authors/index.php?ga=johnny-worthe

We would love to hear from you! Sent US a text message.

Support the Show.

If you would like to make a one-time donation, CLICK HERE, or you can click the support button for other monthly support options.

To learn more and order Language of the Soul: www.dominickdomingo.com/theseeker

Think you would be a great guest for our podcast; please submit a request at LOTS Podcast Guest Pitch Form.

Now more than ever, it’s tempting to throw our hands in the air and surrender to futility in the face of global strife. Storytellers know we must renew hope daily. We are being called upon to embrace our interconnectivity, transform paradigms, and trust the ripple effect will play its part. In the words of Lion King producer Don Hahn (Episode 8), “Telling stories is one of the most important professions out there right now.” We here at Language of the Soul Podcast could not agree more.

This podcast is a labor of love. You can help us spread the word about the power of story to transform. Your donation, however big or small, will help us build our platform and thereby get the word out. Together, we can change the world…one heart at a time!

Speaker 1:

Hi guys and welcome to Language of the Soul podcast, where life is story. I do say this every week, but I've never meant it more. We're very excited about this week's guest. I was just in our in our pre interview. I was just saying I actually met him at the St George Film Festival which, as we all know, virginia was a director of. Probably I think we decided it was 2014 or so and was very impressed and we said hey, let's chat later, and never got the opportunity. So I'm very excited to finally follow up and I guess I'll start by reading his bio, which seems to be the way. Johnny Worthing is an award winning and, by the way, you can correct me on anything that I get wrong.

Speaker 2:

Okay, it was a book.

Speaker 1:

It wasn't a film festival, it was a Did I say oh, thank you, yeah, it's okay, but I get everybody thinking oh, I love this guy.

Speaker 2:

I saw him in Avengers.

Speaker 1:

Right, okay, johnny Worthing is an award winning multiple genre tie dye wearing author voyager and damn fine human being Truth. Johnny Worthing is a member of SFWA and a lifetime member of the League of Utah writers. Johnny's best selling Koran on did I pronounce that correctly? Yes, you did. Well done, now, I'm serious is an epic science fiction tale in the vein of Frank Herbert's Dune. It is available. That's good company, by the way. I thought so. It is available now from flame tree press. Johnny's best selling Johnny's best selling comedy mystery series featuring Tony Flannery slacker detective, is available for I love that title is available from rough edges press.

Speaker 2:

Johnny, sorry, go ahead. No, those are two big ones.

Speaker 1:

I'm sorry, I'm just Okay, we'll get to your big ones later. Johnny teaches creative writing at the University of Utah, as well as conferences and conventions all over the country. He's a student of the occult I'm going to ask about that later, of course and of Eastern cultures. He teaches a course on Buddhist lessons for writers which compares the steps to enlightenment to the steps of any creative activity, specifically writing, and you can bet I'm going to ask about that as well. Okay, so I think we got it. Is that about right to sound like?

Speaker 2:

you about. Right, that's pretty complete. I'm really not complete in a while. Yeah, okay, that's me.

Speaker 1:

Right on. Well, I'm going to start real general this time. We've kind of noticed, you know, authors can go up on tangents, so I find myself steering us back to the spirit of the podcast which, as you know, is, you know, the cultural impact of storytelling. So, in that spirit, I'm going to start real general and just say, if you don't mind, I'm going to be a two parter and I'll remind you on part two if if need be. So the next part one is why is writing, or storytelling as I call it, you're chosen craft? And then part two would be what do you think is the role of storytelling and culture meaning? What is the cultural impact of storytelling?

Speaker 2:

Kind of phone a friend. Well, as far as where I'm doing it, I've always been a fan of writing and reading and the way I fell into this now is, well, I've written my entire life. I noticed a pattern going throughout my entire life. I have a. My resume reads as I say, as a list of things I will never do again. So help me. God absolutely despised that I've had so many different careers. My character, tony Flanner, mirrors this. I've had, you know, I medical insurance bookstores, was working bookstore, I owned and ran a bagel shop and I was at the front line of the drug war. All of these things are really, really long story short.

Speaker 1:

The bagels and the drug war. To separate things right. Yeah, thank God, I know there can be poppy seeds on bagel, so I just that's the road I went down.

Speaker 2:

Actually true story. Actually failed somebody for a poppy seed muffin. Well, that's harsh, almost almost lost. Her job is terrifying.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we've been a little drunk with.

Speaker 2:

Power sounds like well, yeah, I mean, I was. That particular job is the kind of real thing that you could absolutely get your, if you like taking separating families, like taking shit away from parents. That's the job for you. I highly recommend it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, if you have authority issues, that's the place right to serve your.

Speaker 2:

It was. It was. I mean as an old hippie, you know you talked about my tie dye. I do live in tie dye.

Speaker 1:

So this is what I when I said we sometimes get off track, and I like to steer it back to this period of the podcast. Okay, so why are you a damn writer?

Speaker 2:

I was getting there. So I was. I realized after that I had a war chest and I said I'm just going to do what I want now and I started writing in this and so now I'm a full I want I'm the idiot the quit his day job. I've always written. I've written games. I've written newsletters. I've written angry letters to neighbors and posted it. I want to do it and I've always told stories. I've had a lot of stories to tell. My degrees were in English. I've just enjoyed it.

Speaker 2:

I learned to write from the inside out, not as an MFA, but as a critic. You know I spent instruction. I know LeCun and Oderida. I know these. You know this is me, yes, deconstruction, where the new, new philosophies have come from. So anyway, I started that and now I am about to be 12 years into my 10 year plan to be an overnight success Anyway. So I adore it.

Speaker 2:

I actually a lot of the thing also is, as I have an obsessive personality, tend to throw myself into hobbies, have never not had a hobby, and a lot of my hobbies really have nothing to show for it. I remember getting those of you who love video games God bless you. My kids do as well, I remember having solved, finished a video game after 2030 hours and said hey, michelle, michelle's my wife, you should probably know that. Hey, michelle, I just finished this great video game. She said that's great. So, anyway, that didn't do much.

Speaker 2:

So then I started doing something that I could show for it. So to me it's. Then I started writing and really enjoying it and teaching myself how to do the creative part of it rather than the peeling part of it. So myself into that, I always did reading and storytelling is actually the foundation, it's the whole. You know, if you look at the nature of the species and everything, because it goes into that, where symbolic species, we, you know, we speak in either audio or audible or visual or clues, as symbols and we communicate back and forth and it's just, it's just compelling to me and as far as this is the part to the right the role of storytelling and culture.

Speaker 2:

Storytelling is. You know, maybe it's just just playing around. You know, it's working with it with the big problems and, granted, if I could do anything, I'd probably be a film director, but I mean well, I almost made you a film director earlier.

Speaker 1:

I mean, my master's degree is in film. I have a rich uncle to do that and I've learned that the hard way. My Virginia's heard me say this before. My rich uncle turned out to be a mafioso. So my father was nearly a maid man, but you know different, different, like there was dirty money and being put into the film and I'm like that's when I'm out, that's my cue.

Speaker 2:

Isn't money all dirty though? Yeah, you could argue that, I suppose yeah you have to, you have to kind of want to talk about with, with, with the occult and the Zen thing. You know, all my interest kind of lined up and how, how does one communicate, and and I found that writing was just absolutely an integral part of therapy. So you know, as I say, I bleed on paper and then try to sell the bandages. Nice, I got an image there.

Speaker 2:

yeah, yeah, it's really, really what it is. All the good writing isn't so. I mean I, I I'm a problem for my marketers because I'm, because I come with a single idea and then the story grows from that. What genre it is will be determined by the end of it, not necessarily at the beginning.

Speaker 1:

Well, if you don't mind, I'd like to follow up, and I mean you've said about 12 things that I am tempted to follow up on. But I did notice because I did my research as much as I could and I watched at least one podcast with you. You seem to be a kindred spirit and in my world I don't consider genre, I just honor and inspiration and I follow the muse right and I do what sounds a little lofty, but I do with the universe demands for me. And then they tell me oh, that's, by the way, like my first young adult novel that Virginia knows, because that's when I was touting, when I, you know, visited the let's see if I can say it right this time the St George book festival. Yes, book, thank you.

Speaker 1:

But anyway I wrote it and just followed the inspiration. And then not only was it magical realism, it was fantasy, which I knew, but apparently was urban fantasy which, do you know what I mean, didn't even cross my mind. So I guess I wanted to follow up on the idea of being a multi genre no-transcript. And again, bear with me, I want to preface it by saying we just had a few guests and it's come up a lot lately where there's this sort of selective erudition, right, if somebody specializes in literary fiction over genre writing or even memoir, the truth that's available in memoir kind of dismissing right. That a heightened truth is available through invented content, not just autobiographical content. So I'm just I consider myself I write whatever genre is demanded from the inspiration, right. I love literary fiction, but I actually like the parameters and the conventions that one can fall back on and genre writing. So can you speak to that a little bit? You know how and why you became a multi-genre author.

Speaker 2:

Well, it was because I came up with ideas and it was exploring an idea to get as a way to test it and to experience it. So, whether it's like the idea of love, my debut, beatricelle, was about love. I thought it was writing a love story, but it's a horror, I found out.

Speaker 1:

So the thematic and that's what intrigued me. By the way, apparently you were told this is not just a character study, it's a paranormal character study.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

But in your mind maybe you're like me and life is paranormal. So, yeah, it's like being a frog in the boiling water. You don't see it that way, but somebody has to tell you that, Like, I've been accused of head hopping in my writing and it's like well, welcome to my world. We know more than we know. We know and I have not that I'm omniscient, but I'm very aware. Do you know what I mean? And it didn't even cross my mind that I'm hopping heads.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, head hopping, I understand that. Yeah, so I teach creative writing and that's always talking against that. But these are all just suggestions. I mean, this is an art form. It's all freaking subjective, and anybody who says there are rules, I mean how? Even punctuation is just a suggestion.

Speaker 1:

All right. Well, I think it's what's demanded by the story, and I think you were hinting at love as a theme is what was driving Eleanor. I'm saying it wrong, I realized that it was actually. Beatricelle, oh, beatricelle, oh, I'm sorry, do you have something called Eleanor right?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, Eleanor is my young adult paranormal. That one I was dealing with the ideas of being the weakest, lowest form but actually being the apex predator in the world, and that one has to do with acceptance and love and trust, mostly about trust.

Speaker 1:

Right, but I think you were saying that the theme I'm calling it inspiration, but the thematic content that is inspired, it just demands a certain format. I don't want to put words in your mouth, but a format or a genre, but it's not the impetus for it.

Speaker 2:

No, for me it's the theme begins the story. I only begin with the theme and then I kind of get an idea of what I want to do with that and, for example, my Coronom series. The theme on that is a couple of things drove that. But one of them is the shitty state of the world and I thought, well, I could write a better world, I could write a utopia. I didn't mean I gave up trying early, but I knew I could do better. So I explored some ideas of where society, how society got where it is, took us back to that moment.

Speaker 2:

If you will, I know it's a science fiction, but really there's a lot of history in it and I adjusted accordingly to what I thought could have happened and I got my trilogy out of that. And then each character has their own struggles and everything and the story just kind of moves out from there. But the power of story has always been around. I mean, it's how we actually share and writing is just the best kind of sharing of story. It's difficult because literacy seems to be falling down, which is a bit of a terror.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, I joke, and I decided to become a writer at the moment when nobody reads anymore. Why?

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And not to mention.

Speaker 2:

My line has always been we are candle makers in the age of the LED. All right, I think the novel's height had to be during Dickens. Everything else has just been where on those things. But then again, it still survives and it's because it's a pure art form. It is absolute telepathy. I mean the studies you show, for example, in fiction, and this has been tested again and again and again. I'll point you to, for example, stolen focus, last year's bestseller. Anyway, the idea is that fiction, even more than reading, is great because reading plugs it right into your brain like nothing else. But further, at an emotional level, fiction specifically changes you and they've done test after test and people who read fiction not just in people, that you can compare it like people who read but don't read fiction, people who read fiction are demonstrably more empathetic.

Speaker 1:

Right, right. I cite those studies in my book Language of the Soul.

Speaker 2:

Oh good, so you also know, for example, that reading your brain acts as if you are a participant and not a person. Exactly, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Which is why, but I mean the outcome, and they actually did distinguish this study I'm referring to and I wish I could remember the names, but it may be the same and maybe it's not. But literary fiction and, of course, spending 273 pages with a protagonist with whom you identify and being invested in their goal right, their want or their need, is going to create an identification and therefore nurture empathy or sympathy. But I think the study even proved like just the other right, instead of having a tribal instinct to demonize the other, there's more tolerance as a result of literary fiction, because you're exposed to cultures and identities other than your own.

Speaker 2:

When you say literary, I assume you mean written rather than the genre of literary fiction.

Speaker 1:

like Jonathan, no, I meant the genre of literary fiction.

Speaker 2:

Well, but are you excluding genre fiction from that?

Speaker 1:

The study apparently made a distinction, oh see.

Speaker 2:

I think that's full of shit, because I think some literary fiction is just ridiculously pompous bullshit.

Speaker 1:

Well, that's what I want to get into with you a little bit.

Speaker 2:

When I said earlier and I was trying to be gentle about it, but I consider myself literary because of my angles, but I try to use the emphasis of genre, the elements of genre fiction, to make the story more accessible. But I mean you have the average person, the Hunger Games and you give the same person, Jonathan Fransen's, anything and they're going to put Fransen down. And Jonathan Fransen is writing the American novel right now. He's a great writer, Don't get me wrong. I finally got through one of his and I can see why he's touted. But Gravity's Rainbow does not hold up against Terry Potter. I'm sorry it doesn't Shoot it Right. Right, Terry Potter's impact.

Speaker 1:

Well, the way I put it and this is what I wanted to run by you is again the elitists that I'm referring to. I call it selective erudition. It's really easy to put on a pedestal what you're up to but then dismiss the relevance or significance of what everybody else is up to. But it couldn't be worse. In those that really value the truth, telling that's available in autobiographical material and memoir and that sort of thing. I'm here to say there's a heightened truth. When you honor do you know what I mean a template like the hero's journey, you're tapping into the universal. So if you can raise the stakes by inventing content and yet still draw on your life experience, it can resonate right and in a way that autobiographical material can't, because you understand the human condition right and you understand how to really up the stakes. Anyway, that's my opinion. I just wonder if that resonates with you a little bit.

Speaker 2:

Well, yeah, I mean, if you're talking about just writing a story versus writing everybody's- a liar.

Speaker 2:

I mean, I've never read a memoir that wasn't tilted Right. We're all liars and the idea is that write what you know, and just know a lot. This kind of comes down to the whole modern idea we have right now. Stay in your lane. Right, there's been a really ungodly bad push for people to. I mean, I understand the need for own voices and still, with the other hand, writers. Their job is to actually imagine and explore other lives and it's well, I think we have access to them.

Speaker 1:

We have access to all the archetypes. There is appropriation right, but we have access to the whole of human experience, and that's arguably what it is to be a writer.

Speaker 2:

I disagree that there's appropriation. I do not believe so. I think there is celebration and the idea that you that I mean it's the easiest way to find somebody being hypocritical is when they say appropriation. So then you look how they're dressed. Well, what are you wearing Is anything from not your culture? What is your culture? What is the definition of your culture? And I think what it's doing is when you start throwing labels like that out and here's my soapbox I will die on this one is that you basically are dividing everything. Instead, what fiction has done is it allows us to explore other experiences, To say that one person has a monopoly on what it is to be a woman.

Speaker 1:

Right. No, that's what I was hinting at. I'm more and more interested in the universal lately, and yeah, but I guess I do think it lapses into what some call appropriation when we, when there's no context, right, there are. Stereotypes are alive and well right, and I think damaging tropes are alive and well. So when it's not authentic or there's no life experience to draw on, that's maybe when it lapses into stereotype.

Speaker 2:

And we should censor that, we should ban that.

Speaker 1:

No, I think authors should probably just do their research in some cases. But no, I think we're on the same page. I feel like we have the whole of human experience available, and that's what it is to be a writer. So I'm in the LGBTQ community and I've done queer films and I've done the queer film festival circuit. I've seen it all. And when people say, oh, that actor right Brokeback Mountain, well, that shouldn't be played by a straight person, the answer to that is, well, that's what it is to be an effing actor, by the way.

Speaker 2:

Thank you, I agree with that. I feel I mean I think I suffer for being an author being told I can't write about women or Right. I've the actors. My God, you poor sons of bitches. Your entire, your prior lives are now done because of a political correctness. Push it's right.

Speaker 1:

Right. Well, I guess I would say, like with Billy Eichner's bros, there was a lot of talk about, you know, just leveling the playing field and giving opportunities to the silenced and erased. So I think that's the only reason to do. You know what I mean. Give a gay character, to cast a gay actor in a gay role is just to create more opportunities for people that have been written out. But of course, a straight dude can play a gay guy. That's what it is to be an actor, Anyway yeah, I thought so too.

Speaker 2:

I threw on the same page on that and all these, and this is what it's all about. So when I again, when I'm bleeding on paper, I'm exploring these ideas again, I look at. I mean, somebody once told me, asked me, how was it I wrote a 16 year old girl so well in Ellen. I thought it sounds like a made up statement, but it actually came out. Somebody asked me that.

Speaker 1:

And I said because you have one living inside of you.

Speaker 2:

Clearly Well, right, well, actually I, or that, the same line is how do I write women so well? Or how do I write? And George Martin's favorite line, the famous line, came to me and said well, I write women so well because I always approach them as if they were people.

Speaker 1:

Oh, my God.

Speaker 2:

You know. I think that that's you know we well.

Speaker 1:

I got a similar compliment in one of my screenplays. They said, wow, you really write Well. You write well for it was an eight year old girl, by the way. You know. You really write from the female perspective and I'm like, well, I don't really have a horse in the race. You know, all the gender wars are a little lost on me, right? And men are from what is it? Mars, women are from Venus. Like none of that, it's all lost on me. So that could be why.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I wanted to say too, which goes back to you know, the whole right which you know is, you know, like Johnny, you have kids, you know, I have kids, you know, and I mean Dominic, you've watched releases and effings, I mean I think that's the other thing that people kind of for getting dismissed in the writing world when someone is writing like, just because you're not specifically that person, maybe there's somebody like that in your life that you've known.

Speaker 1:

So you, or how, about 55 years of being an observer of the human condition and of behavior? Yeah, of course that's what makes us human I I just to dovetail on that. You know, I had that thought about my sister the other day. I think she didn't have the first clue about how not how men are, but how men have been socialized right. But now she's got grown, you know, they're in their thirties now, but grown men that are her children and her own husband. It's like I think she probably knows more about men than anyone on the planet by raising them.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, my wife has raised three, three boys, two of them like it's another. So you know, right, no, it's tough, and but it's, you know, it's again, it's about creation. And so what I always see about this is as a, you know, we can change subject, but to me it's just every blow struck in the culture war is a failed strike in the class war. And I, I, I see, you know the, the, the, the problem is poverty. The problem I mean granted, we have, you know the situation is access. Of course that still happens, but ultimately comes down to economics.

Speaker 2:

And I, you know, if I were that monopoly guy with a hat on laughing, you know I'd be laughing every time somebody gets tries to cancel somebody else. Or sometimes, you know, something rednecks us, something that they should not say. Why the hell you doing that? You know you. You know you're living in a trailer man we got to. You know a raising tide raises all boats, you know. So, anyway, that's that's where I come from. So most of my books tend to have a real socialist element to it. So you know, everyone does better when everybody does better, kind of idea, and I've that's one of the few ongoing themes I have through all, through all of my books, you know it's funny you would say that.

Speaker 1:

But we have another guest later and I was doing a little research on the word competition. You know, I think this idea, you know Lamarck, is being exonerated, and these Darwinian, I guess it does spell it out, like you know, it's not survival of the fittest, it's actually survival of the most adaptable. But of course capitalism really just ran with that idea. Right, that it's killer be killed because it suits our manifest destiny, mentality, right. But I think Lamarckian thinking is being exonerated, meaning it's more symbiotic than it is competitive. But also the word competitive, I recently learned, is about how we all up our game by winning or losing, it doesn't really matter where. We're all evolving and we're upping our game through competition.

Speaker 2:

I agree with that. Yeah, the theme of my core time system. I can sum up in how big is your family, and that's actually that becomes a major turning point in the entire entire trilogy meaning like a tribe is a family and humanity is a family.

Speaker 2:

Exactly, and you know the idea comes, you know is is come to this. I mean, if I say things were hard, I would make darn sure my kids got fed right, and then I would make sure my wife got that. I would eat maybe, or I don't know, and then I'd make sure my or maybe you'd eat your wife and children.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I'd eat. I'd eat the dog.

Speaker 2:

No, and then actually, when you realize that, how big, if you know, if you have enough food, why do you? Why don't you feed your neighbors or your family? It just goes on and on. And if you recognize the, the unity of the species, or even all life itself, how big is your family?

Speaker 1:

You know again, that's okay, it takes a village. Right, Number one, it takes a village. But if you recognize our interconnectivity, then suddenly all that resource scarcity mentality dissolves.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, exactly Scarcity.

Speaker 1:

So you are a communist.

Speaker 2:

I would go socialist. But yeah, I would go socialist. Okay, I'd go for socialist. Yeah, Um, but the scar yeah, the myth of scarcity is is the biggest. Yeah, your thanks. Good word, by the way, they're dominant, that's the word.

Speaker 1:

Well, yeah, I think it's, it's true, you know it's. Anyway, I think, yeah, the idea that we're competing over resources is what's arguably gotten into this us, into this mess, right With colonialism and imperialism and everything that comes from that. Yeah, I'm not going to preach, I'm really not.

Speaker 2:

I will. So billionaires don't pay a penny in taxes. I mean, if we were to tax billionaires, we might be able to have good schools and roads. Oh gosh, sorry, okay, enough of that, anyway. So books, that's why you put your ideas out there. Conversation, the conversation that we've been having as a species forever, since, since, since Mog was taught was telling grunts about his near run in with the saber tooth tiger. These are the stories we tell and the stories, and I like to say that we read, because the same reason we slow down at a car crash it's instinctive we do. We will not live long enough to make all the mistakes we need to, to make it, to learn all the things we have to.

Speaker 3:

Johnny, what would you say? You know, basically. You know, kateryna, where you're going with this, because of how society is now. I mean, it just seems like because I have a millennial and I have two Gen Zers that I'm raising, while I guess I'm not really raising the millennial because of my house.

Speaker 3:

But anyhow but my carousel, I'm still raising them Anyhow, but would you say, because it seems like they're so into social media and being on Tik Tok, that because they don't really sit down and read books like I would say our generation did, like Gen X and the baby boomers did, do you think that they're missing a lot of what that interconnectivity is between us because they're not diving into story like we did?

Speaker 2:

Hell yes, reading is I mean the reading, for example, it's not just learning the stories. Is that reading allows it's? It's it's thinking properly, it's, it's the ability to understand what is being said, to read between the lines, to read between the lines, all these concepts that that it's why English was taught every single year in in grades up to 12, 20, should be.

Speaker 1:

Are you hinting at, like critical thinking skills? Or discernment or Precisely.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and that's where you get it is. You know, no matter what you're reading, you get that. And there is some. There is some hope. I mean, for example, the rise of long form media in a limited series I game of thrones, or those kind of things where at least there's a beginning and middle and end. It's not a soap, it's not continuing on all the time, those kind of things they're. The fact that there is a desire for that, for the long form story, for the more complex things, shows that there is still a need of it.

Speaker 2:

But if we do manage to, to, to tax these billionaires, I think literacy should be first and foremost because critical thinking is, is the crux of the species, and and and until you can understand why a 280 character sound bite should not enrage you because you don't understand or it's not. You know that's a problem and my kids have pulled out. I think social media is dying at some levels and I'm happy about that. But at least I've seen it in my family, but I don't know where everybody is right now. I know that literacy on the whole is plummeting and and what it's going to do is it's going to create a new class of literate and illiterate, and it's it's going to be difficult and it comes back to that great line. I think it was Isaac Azamov that mentioned that there is a, there's a cult, that that believes that my ignorance is is as good as your knowledge.

Speaker 1:

Oh my God, can I ask you I want to take an opportunity here. Did you happen to read Tara Westmore's autobiography? It's called Educated.

Speaker 1:

I didn't know this is a little bit of a leap, but I feel like you might have something to say about this. So you know the cave allegory, right about enlightenment, and I just have this. So we've had two guests on recently who were all about own voices and telling the stories of those indigenous cultures that have not yet had the opportunity to tell their stories, and there was a real, like you're saying, it's kind of I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I think it's it's, it's dismissing the idea that we all have access to the human condition. But lately I've thought, you know, there's been a lot of shrinking of heads, for example. It's not like you throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Speaker 1:

Indigenous cultures didn't get everything right, right. So in the context of council culture and revisionist history and all this aspirational writing that sort of again reinvents history, I don't know where I'm headed, other than it seems like there's room for all of it. And yeah, I don't know, it just seems like the idea of just that. You know, as, again, as a gay man, it's like we've survived all these millennia because of man's higher instincts, because of education, because of tolerance. Right, I have friends that say I feel much safer in the big city than I do in the in the sticks. Right, I would have been lynched 10 times over if I lived in the sticks.

Speaker 1:

So I guess I'm pushing back a little bit on this idea that the cutting edge of thought forms and paradigms is evil and that indigenous cultures have it right. Does that make any sense to you at all? We've just had a few guests that that were pushing back against, calling everything that I consider cutting edge thought forms. Oh, that's exactly what was used to oppress people. That's exactly what's used to silence people in Judeo-Christian Western European culture.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's that it's difficult. It's become a religion that the political polls have truly become. I mean, they're indistinguishable from a religion and they measure everything by these political litmus tests. It's discouraging, and I've noticed that they tend to eat their own too. It's a notion of the heretic. You know we 999.99% of the things we totally agree in. But as soon as you find out that I have that I said this or that or this, you know they will eat you.

Speaker 1:

Or take you out of the field and shoot you yeah.

Speaker 2:

I mean like I mean it's hard because you know and and you know and there are on both sides of it, there is absolutely just this unbreachable wall of faith and there's. You can't compare to anything else and people don't like to say that they're polychip, that political views are religion, but they kind of are to the point where heretics and you have your holy scriptures which ones, which ones they are? You know, you can look at some of the major major works or these things, and all of it is just using the to divide and it's a problem and it's you know.

Speaker 1:

I think it's the tribal instinct to bond against a common enemy, right, but also identity politics living in a bubble. It's somewhat a tribal instinct and it makes sense, but we got to evolve here.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but that's just it. It's that the things is we're being taught to, to to divide. You know I, you know it's. I think I'm honestly I would have. I honestly no longer think the internet is a good thing. I'm all you know. So I'm not exactly certain where we're going to go with this, of how it's all going to work out, but it is. It is a problem.

Speaker 1:

Well, virginia and I kind of agreed, because the premise of my book a little bit is like yes, this divisiveness is invented, it's imaginary. If you just learn, you know the role of perspective and semantics and shift your perception, there's very there's not as much to agree on as it might seem. So Virginia and I have talked a little bit about how well storytelling gives you the tools to do that right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it should be, yeah, and you explore these situations and you know it's difficult. For example, you talk the Native Americans culture. I'm pretty keen on that one, since you know Eleanor has the Native American elements in that and I'm not sure it would be published today because I'm not a Native American in it. However, my, my models are good and I'm I'm a big follower of Hillerman. You know Tony and Anne, and having no, you know, I know Anne personally. I never met Tony.

Speaker 2:

Tony Hillerman wrote the Leaphorn mystery series that take place on a Navajo reservation it's, I think, dark Winds is now being the series being made out of it.

Speaker 2:

And I remember talking to Anne about these. I don't want to put any words in her, but I remember talking about the ideas of all these things and and as, and Tony was considered a real hero among the Native Americans because he so well brought them to life and put them in people's minds and he, you know, wonderful. And then a couple of years ago I heard somebody accuse him of blatant cultural appropriation and evil. You're going to piss me off because I know this man, you know, I know this family and you know, and that's not at all what it is. But because the litmus test, you know, says you can't do it, just don't go there and that kind of limitations. It's basically new bigotry, right, right, right, saying you can't be a bigot and going to be a bigot about it, that's you know. I mean there's an absolute, that's why I call it a religious movement is there is a complete mental breakdown by you said something in your prompts, I think in the form we had you fill out.

Speaker 1:

I'm airing dirty laundry here, being very transparent, but in your form. I think you did mention the current problems in publishing. Is that? Is that what we're talking about right now? Do publishers have? Have they fallen victim to? You know, you can't even say politically correct anymore, but have they fallen victim to all these phenomena we're talking about like cancel culture, revisionist history?

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, they're definitely running scared, no doubt I've talked to many people inside. One of the things I do is I try to go to as many conferences as I can to talk to as many insiders as I can. I mean, I'm in Salt Lake City, utah, and so I don't get a lot, you know.

Speaker 1:

I have to go like literary editors and publishers and agents.

Speaker 2:

You talk about these things. And yeah, there, I mean there have been a couple of major, famous debacles where, for example, some some author on the, on the on the verge on the eve of releasing a major book, is just lambasted and they, they pulled, they pulled from something from 25 years ago or something they said in the media recently.

Speaker 1:

What exactly?

Speaker 2:

I forgot the case of it where they pulled the plug, but as a recent, but then like, okay, well, what was the other one? Um, that took place in the South and she definitely, people were attacked because the writer I can't think of the name of it made it into a movie, even. But anyway, you, I mean there's, you know they weren't Cajun or something, is that they were Cajun enough. Therefore, it was, it was an attack on this and they're terrified of this, they're terrified of the social media and the people have talked to, said it's, it's a wave, it'll come and go, it'll, it'll, it'll see what happens, but there is definitely a lot of fear on that.

Speaker 2:

And, um, where, for example? Um, where I talked about, where I don't believe in cultural appropriation, but I'm still self-sensoring, if I want to publish in a certain area, um, I, in my, um, my, I've traditionally, my traditionally published books. I'm careful of that and you know, I mean I'll write it the way I want to. And then if I'll get feedback and say, well, what have you done on this? And I said, well, this is how I see this character. And you know well, you're not this curse, you're not this, this race. Well, no, I'm not a woman, I'm not a, I'm not 80 years old and I'm not two. You know, and you know it's difficult to have this argument. But no, they're terrified, they're running, scared. It's difficult, um and uh, it's. It's, of course, what the opposite side is. It's opened up a whole new um. It has allowed a lot of new authors to come in who might not have been noticed otherwise. So there is an upside to it.

Speaker 1:

But also, I think, finding a. So finding a, an agent who's courageous, right it's like well it's, it's not a match anyway If somebody's walking on egg shells. So I have this love hate relationship with editors. I have a healthy, you know, distaste for being edited, I guess.

Speaker 1:

But my, my feeling is, uh, in a way they're playing the devil's advocate when they make you question your choices. It's actually a good thing because you can dig your heels in more if you're convicting about it or, you know, have a little humility and listen to the feedback and go yeah, okay, I can see it that way and you know, I'll take your edit, I'll take your suggestion. But I like the idea that they're like. I wrote a line once exploded with you know the power of a thousand sons and, and the comment was really a thousand sons, like really, and I thought, is my voice? Is it not clear? That's hyperbole, you know, but their job is to make you question your choices. But I love when the end result is you dig your heels in more so that I'm with this supposedly sensitive territory as well.

Speaker 2:

The best editor of type Virginia oh.

Speaker 3:

I want to say I want to speak to that a little bit too, because um and you we haven't talked a while, jody, but uh, sonic knows this. So my Dominic um, which is my eldest um, which is my millennial uh, is now transgender, so transgender female and and is also Filipino and Italian mix. And so a lot of people when I talk, um you know when I blog about stuff or when I'm doing stuff within the writing world and and bringing up um, you know transgenderism and, of course, even talking about the Pacific Islander type culture. People look at me because I'm blonde, terribloid, like hold it.

Speaker 3:

Why do you think you can talk about this you?

Speaker 1:

know, and I think some of these people yeah.

Speaker 3:

Well, and I think sometimes people kind of look at who's talking and assumes, which, to me, is their own bias. I think in many ways, and the reason I bring this up is because, like, as I've been working toward my master's degree, I just recently had, um an interview with a bunch of uh, actual doctors and psychology and they were asking me about my own personal biases and how I recognize them and stuff. And one of the things I kind of brought which is a lot of what we're talking about here in the podcast today and about, you know, the human condition and our own personal experiences is, as I told them I said yeah, you know, I probably have them, but the thing that I've realized, like, I've lived in low income housing, I've been the only white person in a neighborhood, so, yeah, I know what it's like to walk around being the only person of my color, which usually sounds weird to hear from a white person but I've been there.

Speaker 3:

Um, you know, I have a child who doesn't look like me and is, you know, a different culture and ethnicity and race them, and not only were they a different biological sex, or me growing up as a kid now has, you know, joined the transgender. You know community and is going through that experience. And I think people forget sometimes that what they see on the surface is just the tip of that iceberg and they don't see everything below. And I really feel like story is where we start to learn that people, you know, because our characters are more you know, especially if you write a more complex character, that there's more depth and that's pretty much.

Speaker 1:

That's what Victor Hugo pretty much wrote about, right? Don't judge your book by its cover.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but it's infuriating. You have to defend yourself. I knew this I have a friend, or shit that's. That's bullshit, it's just infuriating.

Speaker 1:

Well, I look as I keep hate to quick, I keep saying as a gay man, but it's like to be honest. Some of the backlash we're talking about, how dare you write from a female perspective? I've really only gotten it from staunch feminists and I sometimes hear myself say, like recognize an ally. When you see one, you got the wrong guy. Don't sweep me up in your wide net. I'm an ally, but it takes a lot of work, you know.

Speaker 1:

And when I hear because I taught at Art Center and 12 of my 20 students would be Lee's, woo's, young's or Parks, so I've taught there for 20 years. I founded the entertainment track, but I watched this process of the tails, you know, wagging the dog and the Korean money is where you know where all the tuition was coming from. So now we're kind of bending over backwards for their sense of entitlement, but also the Korean parents. It just was back assword. And I have also heard myself say you know what? I may have freckles, but my dad's 100% Italian American. And how sick am I of watching my people being portrayed as mafioso? Is my entire life. We all have something.

Speaker 2:

What I'm saying is that we're all potential allies but the religion says find the heretic and you'll get the worst of it. I mean I'm going to scream my liver my whole life, and so it's. You know, it's frustrating. And then, yeah, I mean publishing world is about. You know, they're catching up. I don't know where they're going to be. I'm not really certain. Since I've kind of gotten filled sick of the bots on social media, I've been a lot happier not being on it so much. So I'm not exactly certain if the world's getting better or worse, but I'd like to think that for the most part, people might be. I like to think people are melding out a little bit. I mean, for example I don't have an example on that, I forget I said that continuous Well, I think we're evolving much slower than we would like, right?

Speaker 1:

You can read Shakespeare and really nothing has changed. So in my opinion there are pendulum swings. But the thing that gets me up in the morning is that I do think, left and right, brain integration and you know, this binary stuff being a little more tolerated, and I do think we're evolving, but the growing pains are pretty excruciating. You know, that's my view, that's what gets me up in the morning.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I can see that.

Speaker 1:

But storytelling is the way we transform, individually, but then by extension. I would say again the thought forms the noosphere. The ideas, the principles, the codes, the ethics, the morals that become policy evolve as a result, because we learn more in the narrative realm than the didactic. So that's why I am a storyteller.

Speaker 2:

But the people who are going to rage against what's in your story they're not reading. It's never crossed the minds. I mean, that's people that I've written and say well, I understand, you have this or that. It's tricky. And if you come in with a I mean a political agenda sorry, I meant a chip on your shoulder You're going to be offended by something. If you're looking for some reason to dislike a white man, gay or not, you're going to find it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, on that front, I did work for Disney for 12 years. I worked on Lion King, pogonis, hunchback guitars and all the 2D would have now become classics. You know, and I don't love Disney. I know they killed dolphins in Florida, for God's sake. I had a friend that would visit me at work and leave pamphlets in the lobby about how we're killing dolphins in Florida and I just, yeah, well, this was in the 90s, like the early 90s, I guess, the park. But I very much said to my friend and I won't say any names you know, if we looked at all the horrible things we've done as a country, we'd have, we couldn't live here. If we looked at all the horrible things humanity has done, we'd have to find another rock to live on. So I wasn't at all out to defend Disney, but I did say I'm proud of the content I'm putting out of the universe. I'm proud of the themes of the particular stories I've put out. Now how they market them is a whole nother story.

Speaker 1:

But then my brother-in-law wrote a really great article and this was right around the moment that the Southern Baptists were boycotting all things Disney because we were offering domestic partner benefits. This was years ago, right, and the battle is still going on in Florida as we speak. But Disney was the first corporation to offer domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples. So the backlash was the Southern Baptists were up in arms and they boycotted all things Disney. My brother-in-law, who's a minister you know Renee Virginia, my Renee's husband or partner, and he's no longer a minister, but he had planted his own church. He was fairly conservative and he wrote a really great article that ran in the LA Times saying these Disney classics are the gospel. Don't cut off your nose despite your face, you Southern Baptists. And he went classic by classic and illustrated how this is the gospel. I don't know how that came up. Were we talking about? What were we talking about?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, there, what Well? So here's I'll bring this back around. So here's kind of what I'm going to say about. That is going back to the story part and what you're. What you were just saying, dominic, and even what you were saying earlier, johnny, is I think you know.

Speaker 3:

And what I was even saying about personal biases and stuff is we're not no one's perfect and for us to walk around the chip on our shoulder thinking that we're better than other people's wrong, and I feel like when we bring story into our life and even look at our own personal stories, we realize that even fictional characters to real life people were all flawed. We all have baggage, we all make mistakes and we should hopefully learn from them and move forward. And I think it said that it's missed on so many people that they don't understand that concept.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I guess that's why my story came up. You said they're not really reading right. If they're, if they're so blinded by their or casting such a wide net, or they're so blinded by their biases, they're not receiving the thematic content right. And so sometimes the package like right, virginia, the fact that you're blonde, oh well, you couldn't possibly dot dot dot. Right, and blonde equals privilege. We all know that.

Speaker 3:

And blonde equals privilege and being a blonde female, major, retarded and stupid.

Speaker 1:

Right, or a Karen, yeah, exactly, anyway, for a major redirect, because, johnny, I mean obviously there's always more to talk about and I want to have you on for a part two, but I do. I want to hit on the things that I was really intrigued to follow up on. So one is give me your definition of occult. You, you have dabbled in the occult from what I understand.

Speaker 2:

Oh well, okay. Well, the occult versus occult Occult. Yeah, I just did deep dive into this. My newest Tony Flanner book is called the Real Deal, just been released and in it my detective has been asked to save a little old lady who's been brainwashed by occult and he goes to Eugene Oregon to to confront her and and the and Eugene Oregon, they're having a cult conclave Not that's what he calls it, but basically it's a. It's a holistic organization of, of of organizations, to see if we can find common ground to approach enlightenment. So we have like a certain corporate cults there. We have a cult that's a lot like Wicca. We have a right wing cult, we have some hardcore Christian I mean Christian cults with the big smiles and all these different cults that I get to lampoon. And at one point the question is what? How do we define occult? All the differences that let's see. Occult of religion equals occult plus time.

Speaker 1:

Right, but I have a definition. Can I jump in? Yeah, let's hear it, let's just real quick. I've heard that this definition, don't remember where, but it works for me because, yes, all religions could be accused of being cult, so it's not having a guru that fucks everybody, right? I mean that's.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's as a definition.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, I mean it's, it's pretty clear, the men, the women, the children, all of that, but I like the one. It's occult, apparently. The one line is when they encourage you, when they cut off contact with friends and family.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's that. Yeah, there's a list of things that just say whether or not you're in occult, and those kind of things shun the nonbeliever, et cetera, et cetera. And that's again, by the way, one of the reasons I call the extreme left and extreme right of the extreme political fringes occult, because they have many of the same things cut off all association of people who don't think likewise. Right, right, you know. Well, hello my drunken and hello my you know that's what happens right.

Speaker 2:

So, yeah, that that's part of it. But you know, occult necessarily is a was never a bad thing necessarily. I mean it's been, it's. It's usually an organization of people who get together, of like minded thoughts and aspirations, and it's actually start out pretty, pretty benevolent and they can go wrong. But there are a lot, of, a lot of cults out there still which are actually doing some good, you know. You know some of them are older than young, some of them are older than others, but it's really difficult to really point out where the dividing line is. But one of them is that, like thinking, take your money, I get to fuck your wife, right, right, and all these are all. These are good checks and unless you know the ideas behind them, they wouldn't agree to those things if there wasn't some kind of payoff in there. And since the nature of reality, as I understand it, can be changed by by consciousness and thought, it's, it's a perfectly legitimate direction to go into to find a community, you know okay, are we ever?

Speaker 1:

are we getting to occult as opposed to a cult? Yes, yeah.

Speaker 2:

And but even even like, for example, the cult of Macintosh versus PC, Right, you know I'm a Mac guy, have been forever and I remember I was, I was, I was a minority, I was attacked, all that kind of thing, and I'm you know, I came out okay at the end but it wasn't easy and that kind of division, you know, and you people's, hysterical.

Speaker 1:

The people are very passionate about it one way or the other.

Speaker 2:

But how is that any different than than any other?

Speaker 1:

movement. Well, artists, artists are Mac people. It's not just because they're more user friendly, but we just are. We're Mac people. So in the industry, I'm the one I'll go on a job for 13 weeks and work on a PC. Then I'll go in house as an independent contractor and another job and work on a Mac. I and my brother is an IT guy. So you know, oh, yeah, it's. You know they're very passionate, but I'm like nope, it's a just preference and actually there's quirks to, there's bugs on each inner platform, or what do you? What? What do you call it?

Speaker 1:

I guess, every operating system has its quirks and its bugs, but I all I know is it takes me about two days to get used to the keyboard commands in one or the other. And then there's little quirks like the resizing of windows. You know, but you just get used to it there it's preference.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but here we hear you have a, you have a horse in the race. But take, for example, steelers versus 49ers, okay, and there are people who actually, you know, I mean say well, that's just for no. There are people that believe in these cults. They're a cult of identity. All of these things are there. I mean it's, we see it. We see it, for example, very, very elegantly in the World Cup, where the violence that happens during World Cup, I mean it's not just because people are there and are drunk, it doesn't help, but it's they have such an emotional identity with this particular organization and everything it has. And the fact that I mean and this is required for fandom, taylor Swift fans I mean that was a recent, I saw recent documentary compared religions versus Comic Con. The only difference you get between a major prayer meeting and a Comic Con panel are the number of lightsabers. And I can see that.

Speaker 2:

And the trick is is be able to see through your own biases and understand where it is. And this is all enlightenment. And it's easy and sometimes, you know, it's often very, very easy to just buy into a cult, buy into a. I mean we're talking politics again. I'm totally talking politics here. It's easy to buy into a cult's belief because it comes ready packaged. Okay, now watch on Twitter. Who are we going to hate today? Ah, we're hating this comedian, we're hating this corporation. All people in Alabama are racist. All people in San Francisco are, are, are are stupid. You know, whatever, how, whatever a cult says you, it's easier to follow along because you're part of the group, and that's when it gets dangerous.

Speaker 1:

So, yeah, identity politics earlier in the tribal bonding that happens. But I would also argue that you know Judeo-Christian Western European culture is very binary. Right, we got to put everything in a box Good, bad, right or wrong. So that inclines people to buy a platform hook line and sinker without actually using right their gray matter.

Speaker 2:

I haven't seen. I haven't seen a people that that aren't binary.

Speaker 1:

I mean, I look at you know I just I tend to not subscribe to a platform hook line and sinker, because life is more nuanced than that. So it's for me it's issue by issue. I would never buy any platform 100%.

Speaker 2:

It sounds like you've bought the open minded platform.

Speaker 1:

Yeah well, a lot of centrists have that nuance. You know they're capable of nuance. But yeah, I think we have a monopoly on this binary thinking in this country, for sure.

Speaker 2:

Well, I again, I would even go. I spent some time in Europe. I didn't see anything different there. Yeah, yeah, exactly. I don't see anything in Palestine to change my mind on that, or you?

Speaker 3:

know I was just saying every culture has a very and I'm talking broad strokes here- Well, but Eastern culture understands the complementary relationship between light and shadow, between Ian and Ian. There's a little more, yeah, because, because it's not based in Christianity, is based for Buddhism and Hinduism, and you know a lot of well, what you're doing here is you're comparing the high minded of one society to the low of another.

Speaker 1:

Yeah right.

Speaker 2:

Hindus and Muslims have not gotten along. Gandhi had a hard time with that. So our best seers, our best profits, have said the same thing. You know that we needed all these things. So it's again. It's enlightenment Again nothing to talk about when moving to the occult right.

Speaker 2:

Well, that's yeah, yeah, go ahead Of how we can change the way we think and how we can change the world to be better. And the idea here is you can do, it's work. It's practice practicing a cult, practicing a religion, practicing medicine, practicing the eight, practicing the four noble truths and the eight full bath practicing, which means it's work.

Speaker 1:

And that's what I wanted to ask about how you compared the creative process to the steps toward enlightenment.

Speaker 2:

Oh, it's so obviously connected. It's embarrassing. That was the first person to bring it up, but if happened during for me, during COVID and actually one of the times where my particular cult threw me out and my group of friends decided they were mad at me and I never really found out why and that kind of hurt, and so a couple of the things were happening, COVID was bad. I was having a hard time writing my reaction. You know COVID had two different effects on people. One is either we're very creative, Hello Brandon Sanderson, or they shriveled up into a spider on a hot pack.

Speaker 2:

You know I was the hot pack, so anyway, thinking about the nature of the universe and I've always studied the occult, I fell into looking into Buddhism because, I believe it or not, the lead, the lead, the thread on this had to do with an autobiography of Alistair Crowley, one of the great beasts himself who came out of the Golden Dawn, started the, the, the, the OTO religious cult, and actually has, which was with the origins of Scientology. Go and continue this noise. But anyway, one of the things I noticed that one of the original group of seekers of his organization, and the only one that actually seemed to, succeeded in receiving what he was looking for, or moved to India and became a Buddhist. So, okay, let's find out what he was looking for. So, as I'm reading about Buddhism, and I'm reading about this, the problems, I mean, buddhism is such a great religion.

Speaker 2:

Even if it's a religion, it seems to be a psychological, it's a psychology for accounts. Everything is a damn list. You know the three poisons, the four truths, the five hindrances and all these things. So, anyway, as I'm looking at all these things and I say, all right, well, this is what's happening. My meditation, this is what is what's happening. My enlightenment oh, look, this is also what's happening. My ability to get over that slight oh, this is also what's happening my ability to get over my, my, my, my posture syndrome.

Speaker 2:

And then what? Oh shit, and I started applying it on a one to one basis, each of the, each of the things, to that that the Buddha asks you to do, to try to get, to try to avoid suffering. That's the key. It's not a religion, I mean. He doesn't tell you God, he doesn't have promised you an afterlife, though Some people say there, if they do, but the most part, at least the secular stuff I was looking at. The Buddha said I'm going to teach you how to avoid suffering. That is it.

Speaker 2:

Anything else is not what I deal with. So, okay, well, what causes me to suffer? I'm struggling with my writing. Ah, will these apply? And they absolutely do. I teach a one, a one hour class at conferences. I also teach a class that goes over three days at conferences, includes guided meditation, and I've just expanded it to the University of Utah, which a three week course, which is the same thing but has writing involved, where we can actually use our skills and our, our ability as creatives to help explore our psyches and and and deal with that. And so far we've done it once. I'm doing it again next, next year, but it was, it was, it was, it was transformative, it was an absolute.

Speaker 1:

I love it. Yeah, I'd be interested in that, but I wanted to draw. You know, I've often said create the creative process right, and there's many models of it. The Wallace model is the most well known. But you know that inspiration, germination, execution, all these supposedly accepted models of creativity. I thought you were going to compare the steps to enlightenment to the creative process.

Speaker 3:

It sounds a little bit like you're freeing your voice.

Speaker 1:

Though you're, you're accepting the ministry or the muse, the called action by right.

Speaker 2:

Well, it's the same thing. You can take it to that far. I think that writing is the creative process, is is the expansion of the, the human muscle of the consciousness, of the soul, if you will. So that's part of it, but I parse.

Speaker 1:

I parse between, like the artistic, the shaman, artistic, the, the art, the lifelong artistic journey and your relationship with it, and the creative process within a given project. You know so, buddha, dharma and Sangha, sangha are like the three, not pillars, but what would you call them? The jewels, the jewels, it's the jewels, it's a three-jewel.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, and they fit. I mean, the thing is it's it's the same way that a story is created on a fractal. It's got a story structure and it has used zoom end to a chapter or a scene or a sentence. This, the structure, is repeated. The same happens in here. You can take the same structure that you use for something lifelong the lifelong journey of enlightenment or the lifelong journey of existence, and you can take it into smaller steps. In my relationship with somebody, you can take it into smaller steps.

Speaker 1:

This bloody sentence this moment. Yeah, that's exactly.

Speaker 2:

And then the same kind of thing happens and once you realize, and once these tools start happening, once you realize you can actually get a handle on these things, the lessons you take. I mean, one of the reasons I write is to learn about myself, and so by applying these lessons and these techniques to my writing, it's actually basically trains me to use them when I'm not writing, and so they're funny, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And in the book and I think it's come up a few times in the podcast in the book I say you know we have this wonderful gift Anyone with a discipline, not just a craft, but if they've accepted the calling right and they take it seriously and the discipline you hinted at earlier, if you, if you realize your potential within your given craft, that's called getting good at life. It's a wonderful gift when you do those scales on your violin or on the piano or you, you know, sketch from the model and plain air paint and do your still lives or whatever. It's almost like synonymous with getting good at life.

Speaker 2:

Awesome. Yeah, I like that. I often think that that if I didn't have any problems, I would not need to write. I would write, I would just be able to sit on my who doesn't have problems right.

Speaker 1:

So the creative drive is alive, and all of us, because we experienced the car catharsis through it and that's how we transform.

Speaker 2:

Precisely. And so the idea is also since writing can be hard and people get very discouraged, and it's the idea of practicing, again, nothing. If you're good at something from the get go I don't know what's, you know you're, you're a freak, I don't know what's, I don't know how you do that, but you can get better by practicing. And so writing is not necessarily a gift. It's, it's a talent, which means talent needs to be worked on and you might have a gift.

Speaker 2:

You know, maybe there are people that just woke up one morning, you know, they were bored and they picked up a pen and they scribbled out a sonnet. Now that started them up, bill, or it's the Bill Shakespeare, or maybe. They kept working on it and they struggled and they learned it and they used this as an example. And it was their desire, it was their will, it was their. They wanted to create a narrative, to explore a certain idea, or they needed, or they wanted to see if they could create a story that would, that would entertain, or or maybe whatever. And those, those goals, matter.

Speaker 1:

Well, and I think the discipline comes in when, again, if people don't understand the creative process or their relationship with it, they will hit a wall at some point, and sometimes it's when they can't execute what they've envisioned or what's inspired, you know. And that's why discipline helps, because then you have the tools to execute what you've been inspired to create.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's also a notice for me. When I first started writing, I would, I was a firehose. I had no problem. I could sit down what I wanted to write and I could write it, and I did. I got through like four, five, four, five books that way.

Speaker 2:

Later in my career only later in my career did I slow down and I don't intentionally slow down. I mean I noticed a slow down where all the things I needed to say that we're forcing their way out, we're kind of done, and now I needed. Now I needed to coax that a little bit so I would explore these things. And that's when I started finding tools that can help me. And so it's like I've eaten. Now I want to try some gourmet stuff, now I want to try some dessert and those. This metaphor is full of shit, but anyway, it's always part of putting it together on those ways. And so you know that's what I really started. I started learning more. By the way, once it got harder, I took. Then you were yeah, yeah, I started becoming not just a teacher but a student of the craft.

Speaker 1:

Well, it sounds a little bit like Sarah McLaughlin once said, and I think it's been said by many people it takes you a lifetime to write your first album and then you've got to write your second one in a year. That's good, isn't that great? So if you've tapped into all your resources, then, yeah, you might need a new tricks, and that's where the learning comes in.

Speaker 2:

I heard a similar one you might like. This I mean is that you have had. You have enough experience by the age of 20 to write a lifetime worth of the problem. You don't know what it means until you're four. Right.

Speaker 1:

Well, emily Bronte, right, had that, had access to that reservoir of human experience, all those archetypes, and she supposedly really never left the house. But look what she tapped into Exactly. It could be theoretical, you know, and life experience, I think, infuses it with resonance. But theoretical or not, she did a pretty damn good job.

Speaker 2:

I bet you read a couple of books during that time, right, what do you think kids Books good we? All say books, good huh Books good so.

Speaker 3:

Jody, we're getting to the, to the top of our podcast, so I'm just wondering can you share with us some links of like where people can learn more about you and follow you?

Speaker 2:

I do one thing though, if you don't mind. We're talking earlier about how people, how authors, tend to go on tangents. Yes, I'd like to read this. Quite the short passage from my book, the Real Deal. Yes, absolutely, we're Tony. My sleuth has just run into a suspect in the murder who knows his girlfriend, and on a first name basis, and Tony's been afraid to be front, to propose or anything, and so he's known for being petty and jealous, and so to that. I will read this.

Speaker 2:

If I have a fault and I'm not saying I do it might be that I'm prone to jealousy and I eat too much and I have an issue with my internal sensor and impulse control. I also don't dress well or take much seriously. I don't mow my lawn except when forced to by the city, and I think God's own rainfall is more than enough car wash for any vehicle. Also, I swear more than I should. I collect things and am a borderline hoarder. I've been known to physically lash out at assholes with coffee to the face and punches to the dick.

Speaker 2:

I am too honest for most people to take. I'm a go getter. I used to do drugs. I still do, but I used to as well. I'm afraid of heights. Once I cheated in Monopoly because that's really what the game is trying to get you to do. That's how I explained it in fourth grade. Anyway, the game is a mirror of greed and inequality of the capitalist system, where the rich get richer and the poor pour, until everyone but one blood sucking landlord leech is brutally bankrupted. It forces the honest player to think outside the box. Stealing is inferred by the very nature of the enterprise.

Speaker 2:

That's okay for the landlord to happily extort hundreds of dollars from me just because I landed on Park Place where, believe you me, I didn't want to be, but then goes all ape shit and causes mom in when the bank goes light, a couple seas, he got his goddamn money, didn't he? I mean, really, that game is toxic. The only one I know that's worse is life. Don't get me started about that box of vapid worker. Be proletariat propaganda, is it any wonder? A pants turned heroin? But I digress. Where was it? Oh yeah, if I have one fault, it said I'm prone to jealousy.

Speaker 1:

That was great. And and scene.

Speaker 2:

Yes.

Speaker 1:

That was awesome.

Speaker 2:

There's. Each one of my Tony Flanner books has at least one moment where I cracked myself up and I mean, and that is awesome.

Speaker 1:

The whole time I was thinking of the apprentice. For some reason, did you ever watch that? Yes, I didn't actually the whole goal was to the whole and this sorry, I'm not talking about the orange asshole, virginia, I promise.

Speaker 2:

I don't think you're talking about the orange asshole.

Speaker 1:

Okay, well, she doesn't like to know that we plug her. Plug Virginia's ears, yeah.

Speaker 3:

No, we keep, so I will never bring this person.

Speaker 1:

All right, but it's a I can't not. After that, the whole. This is what amazes me that voters don't get. If you watched one episode of the show, you know what it's all about. It's about one orange asshole justifying his entire life and the ways in which he's sold out by getting other people to sell out and throw somebody else under the bus and then zooming in. Its very Lord of the flies, zooming in for the close up. At the moment, they sell themselves out by throwing somebody under the bus. Every episode followed that formula and it's all you needed to know.

Speaker 2:

What a horrible thing. I don't watch it. I don't watch it Nothing.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I'm just just for the record, because since we, since we are bringing up the orange asshole, my father flew for him, so that's why I don't like yeah what a tool he is.

Speaker 1:

So anyway did I know that? No, I didn't know that until now.

Speaker 3:

I'm not sure I know for the first time yet but you know what I'm saying.

Speaker 1:

I could have replaced his name with anyone else, is, but it's what I think you said that in that excerpt like that's what they're trying to get you to do, right? Wait, what was the line that's? That's what monopoly is trying to get you to do is eat what he would that show, not him. What the show is trying to get them to do is sell out their principles.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I actually had an editor tell me you can't see that about monopoly. That's exactly what the game.

Speaker 1:

I never thought it that way.

Speaker 2:

No, it was designed to show funny monopoly, it was never.

Speaker 1:

I've never even played since I was a kid. But you're absolutely right, it was actually considered a socialist game.

Speaker 2:

I'm surprised it didn't come up, but it was meant to show you the inequality and the cruelty of the capitalist system. No joke.

Speaker 1:

Do you happen to know what year it came out on the market?

Speaker 2:

It was during the during the Great Depression.

Speaker 1:

I was guessing. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

And this is exactly what it was meant to do, so I wasn't saying anything new.

Speaker 1:

I'm rethinking my entire childhood. Was that your goal?

Speaker 2:

That's it, but I just love it. God, god damn money, didn't? I just seemed to? He's just talking about the. I mean, this is in the middle of a published novel, it's like but that's Tony, for you. That's why I love this character, that version.

Speaker 1:

That was awesome. He's the slacker detective, Was he yeah?

Speaker 2:

he's a slacker detective. He takes on. He takes on the political stuff, he takes on the religious stuff in this book. To find the real deal is the name is the name of the book and so trying to figure out if any of these cults are there. And of course there are orgies and there are drugs and there's a goat involved.

Speaker 1:

Oh well, every good orgy has a goat, doesn't I? I?

Speaker 2:

thought so too. It's kind of a quiet and it's just Tony Flanders, it's just, it's my social satire. I love that. You know the fact that their coronama is is Dune, but it's much different. That's the problem I have is being multiple genre. You wouldn't know. The same person wrote these books. The Comedy set, the comedy of Tony Flanner, is not in the Kings of Queens, nor in my horror books, believe it or not, not. A lot of laughs in there, but I get. You have an agent out of curiosity. I've gone through to. I'm currently with a currently don't.

Speaker 1:

Do they ever expect you to have a distinct voice or to stick to one genre? I would think an agent would push for that in order to know what to market.

Speaker 2:

Haven't gotten that far. I my last agent, my good agent was okay with me being all over the place, cause the thing is I don't I mean it'd be nice to do that, and if I have enough books, I don't know. I haven't gotten that far yet where they said you can't be writing anything. One day somebody's going to write me, going to pay me, just to write one genre. It might be science fiction, I don't know, and I'll stick with that, but in the meantime I'm just exploring things. If there's enough books in the genre, they can follow me that way.

Speaker 1:

Well now, that's what I was hinting at earlier, like it's got to be the right fit A courageous agent that understands we all have multiple, not styles, but voices, voices, colors.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, the whole idea of a courageous agent. I'm still not sure that even exists. Well, we can hope. Yeah, I mean, if that's just it. The more I study this, the more I'm involved in this, the more I realize how truly dependent they are on the market, more than we are. Where it's why the independent publishing is going nuts is because they're doing much better than that. They're doing very well. A lot of you know it's a viable. Well, ai can fuck it all up, but right now it's a viable way to get published because the narrow window of acceptable manuscripts by topic, voice, by whatever it's tiny.

Speaker 1:

Well, it seems like we are wrapping up, but it seems like a good time to insert something I wanted to ask about, which is, you know, it does seem like where I'll, I guess, people, others are attempting to pigeonhole all of us, right? Or or at least reduce us to a commodity in some way. So I personally identify because I came from film entertainment, right, but like you, I like, I got my first typewriter at seven. I've always written, but I chose illustration, which became my tenure at Disney. But I learned a lot in film entertainment about storytelling structure, western storytelling structure, and of course I took my creative writing classes in college.

Speaker 1:

But you know, I didn't come from the literary realm. I found myself in it by writing a screenplay, getting screen, you know original screenplay credits, and then, you know, taking that leap into the literary realm. But anyway, I identify somebody who you know what, even in my fiction, I'm sorry, I draw on Tennessee Williams, I draw on Arthur Miller, I draw on Chekhov, you know. So, as long as you know the rules of theater versus film entertainment, versus what's possible in literature and I'm putting rules and quotes, by the way, right, your story can come from anywhere, as long as it encapsulates the human condition. Right and there. Anyway, I just feel like some people are so steeped in the literary realm that they don't live life. Do you know what I mean? They eat and breathe the rules of literature without realizing. You know what you can draw on? Playwrights you can draw on. I mean, theater is more cerebral, granted, right. Anyway, I just Go ahead.

Speaker 2:

Oh shit, no, our form is superior to another. I argue yeah, I like theaters, fine, but well, story is story.

Speaker 1:

So you know, I just feel like yeah.

Speaker 2:

I mean, I saw the play Les Mis. The books a little different. No, the books a lot different.

Speaker 1:

Well, sunset Boulevard to me it's like, oh my God, it was perfect in the film medium because it's all about the transition to talkies, right, and it was perfect on celluloid. Then I saw and no, not to disparage Glenn Close, but I saw it live at the stage production with Glenn Close it's just, in my opinion, just doesn't translate. It was perfect as a film noir.

Speaker 2:

Which you, but you saw that first. Had you seen the other one first, you might have had a different angle.

Speaker 1:

It's true, true.

Speaker 2:

Like I very much thought the shiny movie was better than the book, but had I had, I done them in the other order.

Speaker 1:

I probably wizard of Oz is the only thing that's better as a movie Now I'm going to make enemies, it's just so it's more streamlined. And Wuthering Heights, the 19th, same year, 1939, the 1939 Wuthering Heights and I'm just being a little facetious, but I feel like you know Wuthering Heights, I love it, but there's just too many generations, too many. The screenplay really streamlined it and made it more impactful, in my opinion, and same with Wizard of Oz too many lands, too many hammerheads, too many. You know, it's a flawless screenplay.

Speaker 2:

I have read Wuthering Heights. I have not read Wuthering Heights, and Wuthering Heights would never make it through a slash pile today.

Speaker 1:

Oh, yeah, well, that's what I'm just saying, but. But the screenplay is very concise and it lands. It just might be which version? The 39, only, only the 1939. Okay, I'm trying to remember that. I do remember the 70s one, the one that inspired Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights. I remember seeing that it was. It was aired on the BBC in the 70s and I saw that before I saw the 1939, but even so, the 39 is the one that I swear by. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

I don't know well enough, but I know that I thought it was the most very miserable thing I ever read.

Speaker 1:

There's a lot of long passages, just Bible verses and yeah, what a different world you know.

Speaker 2:

granted, it's hard to be read these days, but they're easy to be published. It's hard to be read, but I think these books were written by people who had a lot of time on it Right, it wouldn't pass the 80 AD test for sure. Every character is like the beginning of Gone Girl, where there's not a character in the entire. Or, you know, there's somebody's new series, like Gone Girl or Woman on the Train, where you got a single gam character that you would hit your breaks for if they were J-Walkers.

Speaker 2:

Every goddamn one of them, every one of them, is a complete, miserable human being.

Speaker 1:

Well, the anti-hero seems to be taken over right when they have no redeeming qualities. But you grow to love them.

Speaker 2:

I'm kind of fighting that I'm not loving anybody. I've avoided the boys, I've avoided some of these things.

Speaker 1:

Well, we support you in that. Well, thank you very much.

Speaker 3:

I appreciate it. So can we get your links, johnny? So if you want to follow me, my main one is johnnyworthycom.

Speaker 2:

Johnny, you can email me at johnny, at johnnyworthycom, visit johnnyworthycom and you can sign up for my patented, seldom used mailing list and get a free copy of a Tony Flatter novella called the Nick Mat case. And then, if you hate it, you can just unsubscribe for my mailing list. I'll never know. Come on.

Speaker 3:

But you send out such great newsletters because I know, because I bought that mailing list.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I despise all social media, but I'm trying to get better at it. I've also also have an events page where it shows what classes I'm teaching, what I'm teaching it, what conferences I'm attending and any of the thing that's writing oriented. I mean it. I'm a mentor. It's what I do. I learn, I teach, I write, I know things and I drink. That's what I do.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. Well, thank you so much and thanks for sharing that absurd. That was excerpt, that was awesome.

Speaker 2:

Thank you very much.

Speaker 1:

The real deal All right, thank you. All right, guys, and remember, life is story and we can get our hands in the clay individually and collectively. We can write our own song. See you next time.

Storytelling's Role in Culture
Themes, Genres, and Story Power
Social Media's Impact on Reading
Importance of Reading and Critical Thinking
Exploring Occult, Storytelling, and Biases
Passion, Bias, and Cults of Identity
Buddhism, Writing, and Creativity
Multiple Genres and Literary Exploration