Hi everyone! We are pleased to have John Emil Augustine with us today!! He is a great guy and an awesome writer. His latest book “From The Abyss” already has ten five-star reviews since the publish date of Jan 1st of this year! We know he has many more coming in the near future. “From The Abyss” is an emotional journey. This book is an up-close and personal account of John’s own struggle to be true to himself and his family.
Starting out in marriage we all bring in our own hopes and dreams. We never want to consider that our own experience wont be anything but blissful, even if the signs are there before hand. It can be tough to understand the difference between a person who is difficult from a person who is abusive. When John and Cindi married, he felt sure he could love enough to heal what was already broken. It took a lot before he understood just how badly broken this relationship was. And, by that time, there was more at stake.
“From the Abyss” is based on a real story, John’s very own story. He is very open and honest. John relates his life story to the reader by exposing raw emotion and his decisions that are almost too much for him to handle. John is able to relay a sense of hope that his wife is capable of changing and determination on his part to stick it out. To finally his own realization that no matter what happens no one should be abused, ever.
This story is open, honest and will break your heart at times. John shows us the best and worse of relationships. I recommend this book for adult readers, especially to anyone struggling in their relationship with their spouse.
Now that we know a bit of what the book is about, let’s take some time and find out more about this awesome author:
Welcome John! We are so happy to have you with us today!! Tell us, where are you from? Minneapolis, Minnesota
Tell us a little about yourself: I grew up in Minneapolis and toured in my twenties and early thirties with local and national acts; writing, arranging, and performing with notable jazz, blues, gospel, reggae, post funk, prog rock, and folk groups. I’ve also been a landscaper, mail carrier, English professor, and forklift operator. I still surround myself with music as I have a musical family. My wife and four boys (13, 12, 6, and 6) all play and sing.
What is your latest news? From the Abyss is my first book and I think of it as a “Reality Novel.” It is my true story originally written to a friend of mine who had been in an abusive relationship. I wanted to give her the idea that there would eventually be a good ending to her episode, and that things could still work out for her. Actually, to all abuse victims, that is an important message I want to send, so I decided to turn my story into a real book.
When and why did you begin writing? I’ve always written, but it had been mostly rock lyrics up until this book. Generally, with lyrics, you reduce a story to three verses and a chorus. You try to make each and every word count, and you try to turn the whole song on its head in the third verse. Like…”Oh, that’s what this song is actually about.” Shakespeare tended to use that formula with the last two lines of a sonnet. With novels, I have three books and a title to work with, so I am trying to do a version of that formula with my trilogy. It’s a fun experiment.
When did you first consider yourself a writer? I don’t. I think in terms of actions. At the moment I am writing. That’s what I consider myself doing. I am also breathing, but don’t really consider myself a breather either. When I label myself, I stop myself in time. When I say I am doing, I call it like it is at the moment. It makes me much happier because I don’t have to live up to an arbitrary expectation based on a past action. I can simply do right now. I’m much happier that way.
Do you have a specific writing style? I approach the writing like I approach song lyrics. There has to be a rhythm. It has to sound right in my head. When Sarah Wallace and I have gone back and edited, I have then come behind and made sure the words are placed right for the rhythm. Nothing in the book is arbitrary.
How did you come up with the title? Brenda Perlin came up with the title. I liked it because it lends itself to all kinds of interesting twists. For example, having been through the figurative abyss which is an abusive relationship, I can truthfully say I am From the Abyss. I’ve lived there and I’ve found my way out. It’s a great title.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? My hope is to spread the message to those who are being abused, to those who know someone who is being abused, and to those who are abusing that we are here to survive each other’s abuse, we are here to help and respect each other, and we are here to learn about and improve our own actions.
How much of the book is realistic? The whole thing. Everything is as it actually happened, even the bad stuff I did and of which I’m not proud.
What books have influenced your life the most? Brenda Perlin’s books have been influential. I still read a book called Words from a Man of No Words by Shree Rajneesh. I also read I and Thou by Martin Buber quite often. I am going to go back and read Thoughts Are Things by Prentice Mulford again. When I was a kid, I read the Rabbit Run books by John Updike.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? Brian Wilson
Are there any new authors that have grabbed your interest? I’ve been blown away by the Master Koda authors. I am making my way through all the current books on the website. Such great diversity and excellent writing.
What are your current projects? As I write the three From the Abyss books, I am also putting together the bits and pieces of songs I wrote during the time the books take place. No one has ever heard this stuff, and I am going to arrange them, perform them, and turn them into a CD. That CD will then eventually be used as a soundtrack to audio books. I know audio books don’t sell, but I believe mine will make people think twice about what an audio book can be.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. Brenda Perlin. She has been a huge motivating factor, especially when I was having some tough times with publishers. She brought me right over to Kim Mutch Emerson at Master Koda and I am so grateful for that among many other things.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? In fact, I am doing it again as this is a better version of my self-published book. Working with Sarah Wallace has been the thing I would have changed. She took what I had and made it shine. I am very grateful and really dig the way the book sounds and looks now, much more than before.
Can you share a little of your current work with us? Yes. Here’s part of the first chapter.
So Long, John
The hot, humid Minneapolis summer was cooling, and the city streets no longer waved heat as they had just a few short weeks before. Landscaping had been tough that summer. I remember being told to sit down and drink water one squelching August afternoon as my mind went a little hazy from working so hard in the hundred degree heat. Landscaping could be a tough gig.
Now, by early September, the powerful sun was waning, and the concrete behind the landscaping office was finally cooling. I sat on my lunch break with Emily. Everyone else was on assignment, so she asked me to join her for lunch that day. Her tousled red curls waved in the wind and glistened in the sunlight. Her faded freckles, though accompanied by laugh lines and faint wrinkles, still gave her face a youthful look. I loved to hear her laugh and to hear her up-beat, confident, sweet voice. To be in her presence at the age of 25, even though she was 37, was incredibly thrilling.
She was married. I was getting married. I didn’t care. I didn’t want to sleep with her – not really. We had too little in common for me to really entertain that notion. The idea of Emily as a conquest or an ideal lovemaking partner had certainly gone through my mind, but something had never been right about those thoughts. I understand the un-guyness of such a statement, but there it is.
Torrid sexual tension wasn’t actually what made the relationship interesting. This was a better relationship than that. Better than sex. This was my little taste of heaven. This was my reminder of what I was looking for, what I had been looking for until I decided to get married. In fact, my fiancé, Cindi, and I had actually been set up by Emily. I was following Emily’s recommendation. The way I looked at it, I was marrying the next-best thing to Emily.
At the worn, wooden picnic table behind the office, Emily ate her hummus and veggies, and I sat with my peanut butter sandwich and chips, looking at her and then at the trees behind her. They were beginning, just a little, to turn. Everything I had experienced that summer, especially my courtship with Cindi, was changing and most certainly cooling. Cindi was changing. Emily knew. She understood me like a best friend. She sensed my apprehension and had seen Cindi change first-hand. She knew my predicament well.
“John?” Her head tilted.
I looked at her and saw the concern in her beautiful face. I knew what we were going to talk about. I knew she felt as if she should at least broach the subject. She had always looked out for me.
“Yeah,” I said nonchalantly.
“Are you doing ok?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“You know Cindi’s not talking to me, right?”
“Yeah, it’s childish. I know.”
“Well, that’s between me and her, but I am worried about you. If you ever need help, just let me know, and I will try to help you.”
“I know…I think I will be ok.”
“I really don’t want to put her down, but I know she can be difficult sometimes.”
“No, you’re right. I can see that pretty objectively. She was awful to you, and I can’t apologize for her, but…”
“John, no. Don’t apologize.”
“I know, but I want you to know it isn’t your fault. That’s how she is. She’s mean to people for no reason.”
“John, I have to ask…are you sure about this?”
“About what? The wedding?”
“I don’t want to talk you out of it; I just want to know that you’re walking into this with your eyes open.”
“Here’s what I think. Cindi needs…help. She needs someone to care for her and to be a voice of reason.” I was surprised at myself when I heard my own words. What was I getting myself into?
“She does. I agree.” Emily sighed.
She must have known something about what I was getting myself into, I realized. Then, because I realized her awareness of the tottering perch upon which I was balanced, I suddenly felt the need to convince her that I was doing the right thing, that I had the situation under control.
“She trusts me, Emily. So long as she trusts me, I can be that person for her. She knows she gets out of line. She just doesn’t know when it’s called for and when it’s not. She needs someone who will help with that. I think I can do it.”
“I just wish you could wait. Your wedding is next month. Can’t you wait till spring?”
“Of course we could wait. Of course.”
I looked away, trailing off. How beautiful the trees would look in a few weeks. By the time the wedding happened, the leaves would be brown and mostly fallen. But between now and then, I could enjoy this one last reprieve, this beautiful change from green to brilliant red, orange, and yellow. I could enjoy my freedom one last time. And I could enjoy my moment with Emily.
“Then why don’t you?”
I broke from my thoughts as a wave of anger went through me, and all my frustration suddenly boiled to the surface as I snapped, “You don’t get it, Emily!”
“John!” Her face flashed shock. She had never seen me like that. I had rarely seen myself like that.
“Sorry. I’m so sorry.” I immediately put my head down in shame, suddenly shaking.
“John, you’re not ok. Please let me help somehow. This isn’t you.”
“I know. I’m just tired, that’s all. I’m so sorry. I don’t know what came over me.”
“I’m worried about you, John. Do you have my number?”
“Here, I’ll write it down for you, just in case. I don’t care why you call; just tell me you’ll call if you need anything. If you need a place to sleep for the night, someone to vent to, whatever. Just tell me you’ll call.”
I nodded my head obediently. “Ok, I’ll call.”
“Here. Put this somewhere safe.”
“Ok. Thank you.”
“All right, Duke, I better get back in there,” she said, pulling herself away from me and the conversation. She got up, picked up her lunch bag, and then turned back, putting her hand on my shoulder. “You take care of yourself. So long, John.”
“I will. So long.”
Wow!! What a start! Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Reliving abuse is extremely challenging. I feel that it will help people because I’ve already seen that happen, but going back and trying to recreate certain scenes has been a lot to handle. Almost too much at times.
What is your particular writing quirk? I write in the warehouse where I work while waiting for the trucks to come in.
Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)? My goal is to do presentations about abuse as well as creative writing, so I plan to do some traveling. My life travels thus far are in my book.
Who designed the cover(s)? Rebekkah White. She is wonderful.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it? You can learn everything from writing or painting or whatever your medium is. You process your thoughts that way and realize things about yourself you would never have otherwise.
Do you have any advice for other writers? Follow your heart.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? If you are in an abusive relationship, get out. Period. I know how improbable that sounds, but I have been there and I have crawled out. You can too. Things will begin to get better when you do. If you know someone who you suspect is in an abusive relationship, be a friend. When the opportunity presents itself, help your friend. And if you have any inkling that you are abusing someone, send me a note to johnemilaugustine (at) gmail (dot) com. Let’s figure out what’s happening and make it better. No judgment, just help.
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John, Thank you so much for being with us today and sharing from your heart. Folks, you need this book! We all have been in relationships that are not good for us or we know dear people who are. And John means it when he says ‘contact him.’ He knows what it’s like and if he can help he will.
Blessings to you all,
K.R. and T.L.