I was feeling lost and needed some guidance. So Jason told me to go see his friend The Bhagwan. He’s the enlightened one that will put me on the right path. I went to the address he gave me and there was a good looking man at the door waiting for me. He was dressed in toilet paper with a huge pink shower cap on his head. He lead me in the house and we sat on the floor with a grapefruit in between us.
“Oh Bhagwan, I’m told you are an author, so you must be very smart,” I said, “tell me about things you write and educate me.”
“My current slate of published works has classic science fiction, existential horror meets 13th century superheroes, zombies vs gladiators, and Norman knights invading Sicily to foil an international conspiracy, so I’d have to say the main differences are in length,” he said as he squeezed the grapefruit and smelled it, “but seriously, all my books focus on characters and interactions, since most of the people who will read them tend to have those sorts of things in their lives. When you get your characters right, the rest just sort of flows naturally.”
“Ok, sort things out and flow naturally,” I said, “sounds more like a tampon commercial. Well, where do you get your inspiration and ideas from? I need inspiration.”
“In general I pitch myself on an idea, and then start outlining,” he said as he shook the fruit like he was mad at it and then pitched it to me like I was the first baseperson, “ I love crazy ideas, and keep a notebook of them for when I need inspiration. talking to as many people as I can about as many topics helps a lot. This last week I learned about a crazy genetic disorder in which someone’s retina is not fully attached tot eh rest of the eye. Another recent conversation led me to create a character whose gender is primarily expressed through their interactions with other people, and the literal voices in their head.”
He lay on his back, bent his knees, put his feet in the air, and started rolling the fruit on his bare feet.
“Wow that is pure talent,” I amazed, “did you get teased as a kid for this or science fiction and game playing?”
“The answer is no and yes,” Bhagwan started, “I was a very angry adolescent, and lashed out at more or less everyone. This anger was reflected back to me, and gave my tormented much better reasons to dislike me than my hobbies.”
“I would have never thought that,” I said, “how did you deal with it? I need clarity on this issue in my life.”
“I got into fights for a while, but one afternoon I found myself goaded into an altercation with someone I cared absolutely nothing about, for no reason other than people wanted me to. I wailed the tar out of that kid, to the point where my “friends” had to pull me away. I haven’t seen him in over 20 years, but he flinched when he recognized me, and that made me feel even more awful inside than when I did it,” he said and composed himself off the floor, “it was the wrong reaction (to the bullying), for the wrong reasons, and after that I took a lot of beatings myself because I could. It was clear to me that I would never fit in where I was, and as soon as I could get out, I did.”
“I’ll bet that would help a ton of kids and teens knowing that,” I said, “I hope you do this kind of thing for young people. You would be a great help. Like important ways that gaming, Science Fiction and role playing could help, right?”
“Gaming and science fiction gave me a social outlet that was sorely lacking in my every day life. From the time my uncle introduced me to both, I knew that somehow, somewhere, there was a world where someone like me could fit in and not be punished for being different,” he said and started squeezing the fruit while he put it to his ear to listen to it, “finding other fans and people to game with let me experience other peoples lives as we experienced other worlds together, and I slowly became a real person myself.”
“How………” I started and he shushed me and put the fruit to my lips.
“It’s knowing yourself, pure and simple. You can take on other voices, and present other points of view, but unless you know who you are (or acknowledge the possibility that you someday will), making that connection to a reader will never happen,” he imparted about finding my voice, your writers voice, or was trying to tell me my breath was bad.
I was feeling so much clarity about myself and him. I was learning about him and his talent and looking forward to maybe writing something. He grabbed the fruit with both hands and looked into it intensely.
“Do you see something current for me?” I asked.
He shook his head no and pointed at himself. “Several projects, including sequels to my novels Homefront and Seasons of Truth. I also work full time as a video game writer, so I’m always inventing something new.”
“Well that’s great, but I came here for me,” I said dismayed.
“If someone asks me what my best book is, I always tell them Homefront. I think it’s the best edited, best produced, and most accessible,” he went on. “As far as personal pride, I absolutely adore Hearts of Iron, my medieval heist caper action story.”
“Ok I’m outta here,” I said and left with the grapefruit.
“I maintain a website at scottjamesmagner.com,” he hollered like I was going to tell others about him, and can be found on Twitter (@SJMagner), Facebook (/Bhagwan, and an author page at /ScottJamesMagner), Tumblr (/SJMagner), and probably a few other sites that no one uses, including myself!
My advice to anyone is never trust a man with a grapefruit, unless he’s a farmer.
***No grapefruits were harmed or used in this interview.