Occasionally, there's something that comes along that simply reminds you of the joy of fandom. The execution may not be perfect, but it's nevertheless touching, or thought-provoking, or simply fun. "Tip of the Hat" is our occasional series to shine a light on those things when we find them.
John August has always been staggeringly generous with his time in service of other writers, and so it's not a surprise that his podcast Launch, which has accompanied the release of his first middle-grade novel, Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire would be another gift to writers. August has written a ton of movies, including the film and stage adaptations of Daniel Wallace's Big Fish, the Charlie's Angels movies, Frankenweenie, and he started his career with Go. For the last several years, he has also co-hosted the weekly Scriptnotes podcast, about screenwriting and things that are interesting to screenwriters. But long before Scriptnotes, he was fielding questions for IMDb from aspiring writers about formatting, writing for the screen, and the business of doing so. So for him to decide a couple of years ago to put that career on hold because he wanted to try writing a book, it was a ballsy thing to do.
It was also admirable. It's a shame so many of us are handicapped by a doubt that keeps us from telling our stories, in whatever form they may take, and he took a big risk to step away from a multi-million-dollar career in favor of stepping into the unknown. I love stepping into the unknown, but I usually don't risk much to do it. It might pop into my head, "I wonder if I could animate a music video?" And then I figure out how to do it, and then do it. All it costs me is sleep. Or wonder if I could make a horror movie for $500. Or I might wonder if I can write and record an EP about classic monsters in a week. There are many, varied creative journeys I've taken over the years, and through the Launch podcast, it's been a trip to go on one that had always been closed to me.
I expected I might feel a pang of jealousy somewhere in this journey — after all, listening to an agent flip out over somebody's book isn't the same as having an agent flip out over *your* book — but that never happened, and I think the reason why it didn't is just joy. John August is so joyful throughout this entire process, and so willing to talk about his own uncertainties and fears, that each moment winds up being just so relatable and dripping with joy. It'll be a long time before I forget him exclaiming, "That's my book!" when he sees the first bound copy come off the line. This podcast is a celebration of authors, a celebration of books (which warms all our nerdy hearts here), a celebration of risk, and a celebration of just walking the road.
It's a joy. And the world needs more joy.
Check out the podcast from iTunes here and on Stitcher here. Or just play the first episode right here:
Posted by Vance K — cult film reviewer and co-editor of nerds of a feather, flock together since 2012, Emmy-winning producer and folk musician.