Josh Flanagan’s ‘Astro Van’ Available on Kindle & Nook

If there’s any chance you’ve enjoyed my work or my writing on iFanboy in the past, I’d love it if you’d check out my novel, Astro Van, available digitally on the Amazon Kindle or Barnes & Noble Nook.

It’s the story of Ted, who moves from his small town to Los Angeles, where he gets a job working at a production company that once produced a somewhat popular children’s puppet television show. His boss, Jack Herschfeld, a sort of 3rd rate Jim Henson asks Ted, and his spacious minivan to accompany him on a trip to Las Vegas. Jack is mercurial and witty and strange. Ted has very little idea what he’s doing there, but goes along with it, because, well, what else is he going to do?

Then the shootings, kidnappings, and gunplay begin.

It’s a short novel, and I’m very proud of it. It’s fun, hopefully funny, and has some characters that I liked hanging out with a great deal. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s a fair amount of entertainment for $2.99. If you were to go pick it up, I’d be eternally grateful.

The cover, which is gorgeous and wonderful, was designed by Sonia Harris, who some of you might know as a former writer for this very site, and as a very talented designer.

I’d also ask one more favor if you do pick up the book and read it. Go back to Amazon or Barnes & Noble and give it a rating, and even review it. That’s the only way it’s going to get noticed by anyone who doesn’t already know my work, and for that I need your help. Obviously, be honest in your reviews about how you felt, but I think if you appreciate my sense of humor here, you’ll find more of that in the book.

You want an excerpt? Fine!

Jack had driven his share of vehicles over the years. At the height of his success and fame, he’d been able to purchase almost any car he’d wanted, and had settled on a Porsche. It was a fine car, as good as had ever been made. It made women crazy, made men envious, and it stuck the back of your head to the seat something fierce. These days, he favored cars that were more understated, like his Volvo. It was top of the line, comfortable as hell, handled well enough, and had decent pick up when it was needed. The Volvo didn’t really drop panties, but it did send the signal that here was a nice guy, who liked nice things, but didn’t need to show off.

Ted’s Astro Van said none of these things. The Astro Van said other things entirely. It said things like:

I’m broke.
This is all I could afford.
I had kids about ten years ago, and never upgraded.
I’ll move furniture for you.
I hang out at children’s playgrounds.
I didn’t go to college.
The Olive Garden is the height of cuisine.
My parents gave me this car (the Astro Van actually did say this one.)
I do not care what others think of me.
I’m not going to be in a rap video.
My social status is irrelevant.
I feel out of place in a suit.
Style, comfort, speed, and handling are not concerns.
I like a really big cup holder.
I don’t object to bumper stickers.
No no. 55 MPH is fast enough, thank you.
I didn’t bother to vote in the last election.
There are probably fast food bags on the floor.
The middle class eludes me.

Jack kept thinking about all the things the Van said, and how little it had in common with his personality. He didn’t necessarily want to, but having lived in a state of privilege for such a long time, it was difficult to go back to this earlier stage of poverty. That people should be forced to drive and be observed driving cars like the 1992 Astro Van, Jack thought, is a state of great wrongness. It made him want to work for a better world, for a better economy. Then, it made him feel very low for harboring such shallowness. Finally, it made him crack a smile, and spare a little chuckle at the expanse of his hapless companion Ted, who was God knows where.

As he tore down the interstate, feeling responsibility, a feeling that not nearly familiar enough, for Ted’s predicament, he found himself with purpose, caring, and  worrying about what might happen to Ted. Perhaps most notably, he found himself taking the blame for what happened, and recognizing that, were it not for him, for Jack, Ted would not be in this predicament. He felt bad for that. It had been so long since he’d felt guilt that it was almost novel. Yet he also had purpose. He would save Ted. Hopefully he could do that without giving up everything in the process.

That is, of course, Jack’s point of view, not necessarily that of the author.

I’d also like to point out that Kindle has apps that can be read on almost any device, so you don’t need a Kindle per se, you just need a computer, a tablet, or even an OK phone, and you’ll be in good shape.

Again, thanks very much, and back to your comic books!


  1. downloaded it after you tweeted it, half way through it now. loving it!

  2. I think i will check this out through the kindle for iPad app. That excerpt is funny…sounds like a cool story.

    Best of luck with this mr. Josh!

    And yes, that Sonia Harris cover is quite nice. Uneasy and odd and cool all at the same time.

  3. I’m halfway through it. I’ll do my best to write a review on Amazon when I’m finished, but so far I’m enjoying it.

    Two small notes:
    -It could use another proofreading pass (I’m not personally offended by typos, but they take me out of the story)
    -I’m a big fan of chapter numbers or some kind of graphic mark to denote a major change of time/place. The page layout in the Kindle iPad app makes it tricky to figure out when I’ve reached a good pause point.

    • The first version I uploaded wasn’t proofed as well or formatted in the best way. I also learned that ePub formatting is a huge pain. I’ve gone through a few times since then and updated the files, but there’s no way to push the newer version to the first chunk of people who got it. I had to buy it myself to check it out.

      You’re not wrong though. I’ve been through it 3-4 times to get typos, and I can’t seem to completely eradicate them. Honestly, I am not the best proofer, but the current version now should be easier on both of those points. Took some trial and error to get there.

      Thanks Ken!

    • I used to work with a proofreader who worked on lots of books, and she told me a good trick is to read the thing backwards. Forces you to look at each word individually rather than let your brain skim over things and create the words and phrases it already knows. I’m sure it takes forever and makes you go crazy. But y’know..its for the art.

    • You’re very welcome, I figured that without (expensive) copy editing services, typo hunting is one of those never-ending processes, and this is my first ebook experience so I’m not sure how the formatting is supposed to look.

      If there’s no way for you to push the new version, are you aware of a way I can re-download to get the new version? (Without repurchasing, that is. Not that your book isn’t worth another $2.99, but…you know.)

    • Email me. josh@ifanboy.

    • @wally: That’s a good tip. I write infrequently, but my rule is to read slowly aloud – it’s essential for any dialogue, but it helps me catches a lot of the typos that occur when my brain writes faster than my fingers can type.

      (Note: For better and worse, I don’t use this technique when posting here….edit button?)

    • @ken–i saw an article (can’t remember where) but it basically said that our brain handles reading much like autocorrect on an iPad or phone. We don’t read words or sentences. We look for combinations of letters and words we know, and our brain fills in the gaps for us so we can move along quickly. So like after the first 2 or 3 letters we identify a word and move on to the next. Our brain has a big filling cabinet full of words and phrases we know and we identify them as associated shapes and symbols. Only those really bad at reading or just learning how to do it actually sound out individual letters to form words. its fascinating stuff. But anyways, thats a reason why smart, well read people make lots of typos.


    • @wally: Very true. I used to substitute teach and one of the things I miss most about it is reading aloud with kids. I was amazed at how quickly I could read aloud (to the point where I wasn’t always comprehending the text, just interpreting enough to give it the right inflection, or switch from one goofy voice to another.) Of course these were novels written for ten year olds, so they weren’t the most challenging texts, but it still made me feel like I had super powers. 🙂

  4. About 20% through it, it’s great! Loving it so far, good luck with it Josh!

  5. Just got my copy. Look forward to it!

  6. bought my copy the other day, it was the first book i bought on my new kindle! Haven’t read it yet though, im saving it for the my flight to thailand next week. It should break up the pace of the four game of thrones novels im also bringing. Can’t wait. Congrats Josh and best of luck

  7. I don’t have time to read it right now, but I’ve dropped it in my “to read/download” list on That is a nifty cover, though.

  8. Congrats, Josh! Hope you are pleased with sales and write more!

  9. Congrats on birthing something creative into the world. I hope you are finding it exhilarating. I know you’ve spoken often of writing, so it’s great to see you begin your journey on furthering your craft. Cheers to you for taking the step that some speak of doing but never do.

  10. Will it be available on iBooks? Or do I need a different app?

  11. Downloaded. Looking forward to reading it!

  12. Halfway through it and having a good time. Looking forward to some more of your work.

  13. This “Jesh Flonagon” seems like my kinda writer. I’m gonna check this out.

  14. My new Kindle will be arriving next week. This will be my first purchase on it. Can’t wait.

  15. Josh – would love to read your work, but i don’t have a nook or kindle – how can i download to read on my desktop? thanks, chris

  16. I’ll definitely give it a shot. Loved all of your previous work as well 🙂

    Also, can your new catchphrase on the site be ‘It Stinks’?

  17. Purchased. I like Sonia’s cover. I like the manual vibe.
    My parents owned an Astro Van. I think I can smell it if I try real hard.

  18. Will buy! I fully expect you to return the favour when I publish my own stuff though.

  19. Just downloaded. Can’t wait to read it later!

  20. I would totally read this if I had any device that would actually have it. I have no Apple devices or any Ereader of any kind. :/

  21. Looking forward to reading this. Expect some good feedback. For anyone unsure about how to read this, Amazon’s got a Kindle app for everything, including PC. Download and read it on your desktop. Josh, any thought to putting this out as a print-on-demand book? You could use a few different options for that.

  22. After reading this article I found out I CAN get a Kindle app for my Samsung Galaxy Tablet, so I’ve gone ahead and ‘picked up a copy’

    I usually ‘read’ books these days as Audio Books, but I’ll give this one a proper go 🙂

  23. I was about to get it when I found out I can no longer purchase kindle books from iphone. Why is there even a kindle app on the iphone if I can’t do anything with it?

    • You have to buy it through Safari at on the phone, and then it will be available in the app.

    • Backstory: Apple decided (back in June I think) that they wanted to be able to control and monitor all purchases made on iOS devices and take 30% off the top of all sales made within an app. So since Amazon didn’t want to give Apple 30% of their revenue from iOS device users, they had to update the app to eliminate in-app purchases.

  24. bought my copy! Will have to stop reading A Clash of Kings to read this. Definitely looking forward to it.

    • I’m on the final sprint for Storm of Swords….just the last 100 pages or so to go and then I’ll pick up Astro Van!

    • Your going to put Clash of Kings down? How is that even possible? And Storm of Swords is even better. I guess reading some Flanagan wouldnt be too bad of an idea after finishing either of those two bricks of books. Your going to have to lower your expectations with A feast for crows though fellas… cause its not quite what the others are. A dance with dragons gets the party started again though. And now if only GRRM would take better care of himself i could sleep soundly again.

    • At least a Feast of Crows is somewhat shorter….300 pages shorter by my count when I took a peek on my Nook, but yes, I really need a SHORT breather before I dive back in. Its pretty overwhelming.

  25. Best-o-luck with the book.
    Where do you feel that this book falls in lieu of your previous article about novice artists waiting until they are ready to solicit?
    Hope it does well for you.
    by-the-by you missed a space up top in “perse”
    two years of Latin lo those years ago may be put to use here: per (though / by) se (reflexive pronoun nuetered “itself”) gives you “per se” (by itself) two words.
    thank you for indulging me.

    • I think I’ve been writing enough that I’m not under the impression that I’m perfect, but that I can’t hold on forever, and if I can put things out there, then I might as well, and learn from it.


  26. downloaded the kindle app just so i could read this – 33% in and i love it so far!

  27. Thats awesome, this is next on my list of books to read!

  28. Good luck Josh. Been a fan of the site for a while, and I’m happy to see you growing as a writer. Next time I’m at the bookstore, I’ll definitely pick this up. Right up my alley.

  29. Very cool Josh. I am absolutely going to read this. Added bonus, we had an astro van going up. Looking forward to this.

  30. Downloaded it to the NOOK yesterday. It’s behind of couple of things I am in the middle of but I’m hoping to get to it soon. I have high hopes. I congratulate you on having the guts to put yourself out there. It’s worth 2.99 just for the Sonja cover.

  31. I would love to see a light dramatic TV series based on this premise — sounds terrific.

  32. Is this the novel you wrote for that November short Novel thingy last year? You spoke about it on the Ink panthers podcast once