Made You Look! – Review by Rox Burkey
Author John Podlaski knows how to grab his readers! Horror movies always scare me, and this story of Nick and Jerry’s work adventure at a drive-in had my heart pumping. This story of two boys getting a full dose of fear with Night of the Living Dead in the dark, in the open is masterful storytelling.
John starts with I’m going to tell you a story type of attitude, and then BAM, you are right beside the boys. The set up is perfect. I don’t want to spoil this one, but it worth your time, especially if this is your first John Podlaski book.
His style of writing enlists all the reader’s senses. I liked this passage a lot as I could relate to the building tension rising like a meteor.
“The immense screen contributed to the realistic scene, almost like being a character in the movie. Captivated, both teens smiled broadly.
Thirty minutes later, screams echoed from vehicles behind them; the shrieks were mostly women, but a few men howled too in response to the movie. The boys considered this film uncharted territory, as previous horror movies like Godzilla, King Kong, The Blob, and The Mummy seemed more fake and humorous rather than scary. This movie, though, terrified them, as they both genuinely believed something like a zombie apocalypse could happen, even at the drive-in. Their anxiety levels spiked as the sounds of car doors locking and windows closing diminished the volume of scared screams from other patrons. Both felt extremely vulnerable out in the open. At the halfway point, a frazzled Jerry and Nick reacted to any sound heard behind them.”
A great short. You will get a sense of the writing talent of John Podlaski. I’m a big fan and highly recommend this for teens and beyond.
About the Author
John Podlaski was raised in Detroit, Michigan and attended St. Charles and St. Thomas Apostle Catholic schools, graduating in 1969. Immediately afterward, John started working for one of the automotive parts suppliers in the area and then attended junior college full-time in the fall. After four months of overwhelming pressure, John dropped out of college – choosing income over education. This turned out to be a huge error in judgement as a school deferment protected him from the military draft. Uncle Sam wasted no time and Mr. Podlaski soon found himself inducted into the Army in February 1970. Then after six months of training, John was sent to Vietnam as an infantry soldier; serving with both the Wolfhounds of the 25th Division and the Geronimo of the 101st Airborne Division. During his tour of duty, John was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, two Air Medals, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and several other campaign medals. Back in the states, Mr. Podlaski spent the next four months in Fort Hood, Texas before receiving an early military discharge in December 1971.
The War Veteran returned to his former position with the automotive supplier and because of his military experience, he was promoted to shift supervisor. He met Janice Jo a few months later and married in 1973. The G.I. Bill helped them to purchase a home in Sterling Heights, MI, they continue living there to this day. A daughter, Nicole Ann was born in 1979. Using additional benefits from the G.I. Bill, Mr. Podlaski returned to college part time; graduating four years later with an Associate Degree in Applied Science.
In 1980, John began working on his memoir about his Vietnam experiences. He had carried a diary during his year in Vietnam, and his mother had saved all the letters he had written from the war zone – both were used to create the outline. He toiled on a manual typewriter for four years before finally completing his work. About the same time, a new national veteran group, akin to the V.F.W. was formed in Washington, DC. They called themselves “Vietnam Veterans of America” and chapters quickly sprung up around the country. John joined Chapter 154 in Mt. Clemens, MI, and as an active member, helped to launch their inaugural Color Guard – marching in parades and posting colors for local events. The members of this chapter were a closely knit group, but wives often felt left out during the many discussions about Vietnam. When learning that John had authored a book about his tour of duty, the wives asked to share a copy of the manuscript, hoping it would help them better understand what their husbands might have endured during their time in Vietnam. The memoir was well received, and wives were now joining their men during these discussions. All were increasingly supportive and urged him to locate a publisher. After hundreds of rejections, a publisher from Atlanta, GA finally came forward and offered to consider the manuscript if it were re-written to a third-person format.
Atari had just come out with a new computer console and a word processor – making re-writes and editing much easier; his work now saved on floppy diskettes. The re-write continued until 1989, consuming all his spare time. John had finished half of the manuscript, then suddenly lost interest – discouraged, and not wanting to work on it any longer – it was ten years already and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. So everything was boxed up and moved to the garage for storage.
Mr. Podlaski continued working for various companies within the automotive sector; primarily in Management roles tasked in either plant start-ups, financial turnaround, or plant closures. John returned to college in 2000 and received a Bachelor’s in Business Administration two years later. He and his wife retired in mid-2013.
At John’s 40th high school reunion, many of his former classmates who read his original manuscript twenty years earlier had questioned its lack of publication. It was a great story and all were relentless in their efforts to get him motivated and finish the rewrite – offering help wherever needed.
After learning that the conversion of Atari diskettes to the Microsoft Word format was extremely cost prohibitive, John’s daughter offered to retype both the completed manuscript and the rewrite, saving both on a USB memory stick. Nine months later, “Cherries” was completed and published. It took almost thirty years but seeing it in print made it all worthwhile. During his retirement, John published a second book about his Vietnam experience called, “When Can I Stop Running?” in 2016; both are available on Amazon.
The author and his wife own a 1997 Harley Davidson Heritage motorcycle and enjoy riding when possible; both are members of the Harley Owner Group.
If you are interested in receiving a “Kindlegraph” for either of his two books (a personal autograph for your kindle), use this URL, search out the authors’ name and then post your request. Your signed document will be sent to you via e-mail.
www dot kindlegraph dot com
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