Book Preview: HolyJuan’s Doug Powhida Writes Ode To The PastFebruary 8, 2017 8:00 am Grace Fleisher
For Doug Powhida, stories are everywhere.
Between his time spent working at an Alaskan salmon cannery and his days traveling the country for COSI’s basketball-playing rats exhibit, Powhida has had his fair share of peculiar experiences, and what a brilliant thing he thought it would be to share those stories with the world.
But Powhida ensures he’s not your average storyteller.
In 2006, he began his online blog HolyJuan as a creative outlet. Between jobs and feeling uninspired he began the blog as a recollection of past experiences. But over the years, Powhida began to branch out in topics, exploring a wide range of items like parental advice (mostly sarcastic), funny how-to’s and random to-do lists.
Over the course of 11 years and in more than 1,500 blog posts, HolyJuan evolved into an interactive platform of shared ideas and experiences, both big and small.
While Powhida has recently taken less to posting stories on HolyJuan and more to his second platform on Twitter as the Fake Dispatch, he’s created a collection of the best HolyJuan stories for his new book I Love Me, Who Do You Love? – My Life As HolyJuan.
“I had all these great stories, and I always thought they would make a great book,” said Powhida. “So I went through and picked the best ones as an ode to what once was. HolyJuan stories for me were always just small ideas that I worked with a bunch in the hopes somebody may find it funny or relate.”
Powhida explained the book’s going to be organized in chronological order, meaning stories from his teenage years will lead into those more recent, including other topics in between.
As the stories progress, the book will also tie in reader’s comments. He explained comments were crucial in opening up a dialogue on the blog, keeping the audience engaged and returning over the years.
“The comments are extremely entertaining,” said Powhida. “People would read something where I was being an ass and have a real visceral reaction to it.”
After a few years Powhida said he even began to receive emails from his readers asking for advice.
“A bunch of people started emailing me asking dumb questions so I would come up with these long, creative and convoluted stories which was great because I was completely anonymous as HolyJuan,” said Powhida.
Powhida recalled one instance where somebody emailed him explaining that their neighbors were parking on their side of the street, and they wanted to know what to do about it. Instead of recommending the reasonable solution he created his own to-do list for them.
“Ok you have a cat? Great. Go over to their house with your cat, make sure that they notice the cat and let them know they can’t park there because your cat likes to be out in front of the house,” said Powhida. “And because I wasn’t in person with anybody and could be this terrible person, then I said go and find a dead cat that looks like your cat, and you put it in front of your neighbor’s car and let them know they killed your cat…”
Those were the types of things Powhida frequently got into on HolyJuan. Eventually an “Ask HolyJuan” segment came about.
Ultimately, Powhida explained that keeping himself anonymous in his writing wasn’t an easy task, but it allowed him a great deal of freedom.
“People who read HolyJuan and know me pretty well got to the point where they could distinguish my tone of writing,” said Powhida.
The tone of HolyJuan and Fake Dispatch are easily quite alike. But the decision to more frequently use Fake Dispatch over HolyJuan was a natural one, as he explained there has long been an intersection between the two. Although the book is going to include more long form stories like those seen in HolyJuan, Powhida explained he appreciates the convenience of sharing small ideas. But, he acknowledges its limits.
“I would get this small little nugget idea and send it out, but then there was nothing left to say because that’s the Twitter format,” said Powhida.
Sometimes though, Powhida explained, a short headline tweet would inspire a story for HolyJuan and vice versa.
While his book I Love Me, Who Do You Love? – My Life as HolyJuan just recently surpassed its Kickstarter funding goal, Powhida is still in the midst of compiling the final pages to send over to a publisher.
The book is set to be published in black and white paperback by early May. Meanwhile, those who want to familiarize themselves with the odds and ends of Holy Juan can read any number of the multitude of stories on his website.
For more information on Holy Juan visit www.holyjuan.com.