I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Reverend Jabneel Crouch, fictional author of the book HOW TO BECOME A CULT LEADER IN 50 EASY STEPS. Reading the instructional guide was a life-altering event for one of my main characters in BEAR, and I thought it would be interesting to delve into the mind of the author of such a powerful and trans-formative piece of literature.
Reverend Crouch agreed to meet for a few minutes in the Interfaith Meditation Room of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport terminal, in Northeast Pennsylvania.
CA: Do you have a cult following?
RJC: I’ve sold over thirty copies of my book.
CA: Where are you originally from?
RJC: Why is that important? Is this going to be a fluff piece?
CA: Okay, well, have you ever been arrested?
RJC: I was born in Kalispell, Montana.
CA: Oh, really, I have friends near Kalispell.
RJC: Fascinating. Perhaps I should be interviewing you about your life on Facebook.
CA: Okay, so what inspired you to write 50 EASY STEPS?
RJC: Do you have any cigarettes?
CA: I’m sorry, no, and this is a non-smoking building.
RJC: I got the idea while eating pudding. Vanilla pudding.
CA: Right, you wrote that Step Forty-one was to always have plenty of vanilla pudding.
RJC: Much of life is about comfort foods. Vanilla pudding is easy to make and a joy to share with people dealing with difficult times.
CA: Is that why you’ve been holding a grilled cheese sandwich?
RJC: What are you talking about?
CA: Okay, well, is there any particular step more important than the others?
RJC: Besides vanilla pudding?
RJC: If I had to choose, I’d say number eighteen and number forty-seven. To always act as if you know exactly what you’re doing is incredibly important.
CA: You mean to show confidence?
RJC: Yes, exactly. And when things go wrong, be swift in assigning blame.
CA: With all due respect, that seems a bit of a cop out.
RJC: I don’t appreciate your hostile tone.
CA: I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you.
RJC: How many copies has your book sold? Let’s move on to some real questions, if you have them.
CA: Your book jacket mentions a guarantee that anyone following each step will become a cult leader. Of the thirty people who’ve purchased your book, isn’t it true that none have gained any sort of cult following? Isn’t it also true that you’ve just made a few bucks off people already down on their luck?
RJC: Billy Wayne Hooduk has over a hundred followers! He leads a flock from a traveling circus that’s holed up down near the Jersey shore. I guess you missed that in all your research, Geraldo.
CA: Billy Wayne is a character in my book, Reverend.
RJC: It sounds like a terrible story. No wonder it hasn’t sold any copies.
The interview ended at this point. Reverend Crouch produced a previously stubbed out cigarette butt from his coat pocket and lit it with a wooden match he struck along the back of the meditation pew. I last saw him strolling out toward the tarmac blowing smoke rings and eating the grilled cheese sandwich.