Posts Tagged ‘Jason Jack Miller’

Over the course of the last two weeks, I spent a week down in Florida (some tell me it was a “vacation”) and then came back to the immediate hustle of property maintenance and fence construction. By the time I had a day to breathe and apply the unguent, I realized I’d totally missed the boat of something cool that I’d said I’d participate in: The Way Cool Cover Reveal of The Revelations of Preston Black.

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, I knew Jason Jack Miller, when he was but a pup without a lofty middle name. This was in high school, and in high school, to “know” someone is relative. We didn’t move in the same circles (mine might have been more square-shaped), but we had mutual friends. To be honest, I don’t know if we ever had occasion to even have a full conversation. But, I would hazard to say that we knew each other by sight and by name, and as with many people we “knew” in high school, that sort of counts, because high school was a very small place, even if it didn’t feel so much like it at the time.

Jason Miller and a Pepsi machine, not during high school, but very shortly after.

Jason Miller and a Pepsi machine, not during high school, but very shortly after.

If you asked me to name one of Jason’s merits at the time, I would have said, “Why are you talking to me? What do you want?” After that, I would have said, “How the hell do I know?” I would have said this because I was extremely anti-social, and also because it was true. There was no way for me to know anything about Jason Miller. It’s funny how, as an adult living in the age of Facebook, we are afforded the opportunity to be exposed to those we went to high school with, to get to know those people better than we ever would have during those rocky times of our youth. In some cases, perhaps our negative assumptions are confirmed. That turns out to be less satisfying than you hoped, to be right in that way. And in other cases, such as with Miller—where the assumption wasn’t negative or positive, but safe to say there no no real assumption either way—you find yourself regretting that whatever social divide separated you in high school did indeed make this new found personal knowledge impossible to know at the time.

I did not know Jason wrote. I didn’t know he wanted to write.

Admittedly, in high school, I didn’t know I wrote either, nor that I wanted to. But, in high school, if you were drawn to some creative pursuit, I would have wanted to know you. I know better now, but I probably could have assumed that no artistic individual could really be an asshole. In some cases, this was proven not to be true, but as I know now, I think it would have been true with Jason Miller, because today, he is a stand-up guy of the caliber that could not have only occurred after high school (after some great awakening of morality), but must have been developing since childhood.

Miller Devil and Preston BlackSo, you can imagine my surprise (coupled with a sense of loss that my high school years could have included at least one better example of a friend) when we connected so many (many) years later, and here he is, a writer, a teacher, a poster of cat videos. I share his cat videos. Many of them. And though I cannot attend his classes, I do read his books.

Reading his books: this could have gone very badly. Just because you knew someone in high school does not make them a great writer. Or artist, or filmmaker, or dancer, or whatever. And then what do you say? You smile and try desperately dig out as many positives as possible to present to that person by way of reaction.

Miller HellbenderWhat a relief that this was not the case. Jason writes well. Jason writes damned well. Damn it, Jason is a damned good writer. But it doesn’t end there, at least, personally, not for me. Place informs Jason’s writing in a way that if his stories were set anywhere else, they’d cease to be what they are and would fall apart. But place isn’t just the mortar; place is also the stone. Place is the collection of geological elements that created the stone, each stone being character, plot, dialog, etc. The same general place that informs Jason’s writing (and who he is personally) also informed who I am. One might think I connected with Jason’s books because of the place we both spent too many hours five days a week for too many years. It wasn’t. I connected to these books because of the larger sense of place. High school is so shallow in terms of the larger world. The place in Jason’s books are that larger world and, whether I knew it (or expected it) or not, that larger place did more to shape me than high school ever did. That’s where the connection took place. In reality, that place is Pennsylvanian and West Virginian Appalachia, as it blows through the woods that cover the mountains and as it trickles down its rivers and streams, down into the towns that sprawl out below, and into the people in all their glory, dark and light.

Miller Rev of Preston BlackI regret not knowing Jason better back then. And I’m extremely thankful that his work and whatever hard and soft roads he took brought him to a place where his work could be placed before the public (thank you, Raw Dog Screaming Press). I’m better for it, my own writing is better for it, and my sense of belonging to a place (which, for me, is always questionable) is much, much better for it.

I want you to buy his books. Anyone can buy them. You don’t have to have gone to high school with him, nor should you have lived where we lived, or even in a place similar. All you need in order to enjoy Jason’s work is the ability to empathize with strong, deeply human characters and a penchant for delving into those sometimes inexplicable, magical elements that course like foaming rapids just beneath the skin of the world. Jason Jack Miller takes Appalachian magic and conjures up a whole new form of witchery, and if you’re open to that, you need to read his books.

Guess he hasn't really changed that much.

Guess he hasn’t really changed that much.

If you go to my Facebook page, you will find out how to enter a giveaway contest! It’s easy-peasy, and I will be giving away a signed copy of The Devil and Preston Black, so you can get on reading that one and be prepared to read The Revelations of Preston Black when it’s released.

Click the cover of each book to be taken to a link where you can buy it.

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