Tag Archive | the sorrows

Guest Post : Jonathan Janz Lives in a House of Skin!

First of all, I want to thank Hunter for hosting me today. His Forest of Shadows and Evil Eternal are an amazing one-two punch, and if you haven’t picked them both up yet, you ought to. Here’s what I had to say about Evil Eternal:

Hunter Shea has crafted another knockout. At turns epic and intimate, both savage and elegant, Evil Eternal is a harrowing, blood-soaked nightmare.”

Yep, I guess you can tell I’m a fan.

And speaking of books you should buy…


My new novel (my first book was titled THE SORROWS and can be found right here) is called HOUSE OF SKIN. Here’s the stunning cover art and a short description of my novel:

 

“Myles Carver is dead. But his estate, Watermere, lives on, waiting for a new Carver to move in. Myles’s wife, Annabel, is dead too, but she is also waiting, lying in her grave in the woods. For nearly half a century she was responsible for a nightmarish reign of terror, and she’s not prepared to stop now. She is hungry to live again…and her unsuspecting nephew, Paul, will be the key.

Julia Merrow has a secret almost as dark as Watermere’s. But when she and Paul fall in love they think their problems might be over. How can they know what Fate—and Annabel—have in store for them? Who could imagine that what was once a moldering corpse in a forest grave is growing stronger every day, eager to take her rightful place amongst the horrors of Watermere?”

So the character not mentioned in that description is the one I’m going to tell you about today.

Pretty logical, huh?

Sheriff Sam Barlow is one of a long line of well-intentioned lawmen in horror fiction. One of my personal favorites is Stephen King’s Alan Pangborn, but there are plenty of them to choose from.

Michael Rooker and Ed Harris both played Alan Pangborn. I figured Rooker deserved the extra publicity.

So what makes my sheriff different?

Well, the structure of my novel, for one thing. Like my debut THE SORROWS, HOUSE OF SKIN has the Gothic structure that I love—where a story in the past affects and ultimately merges with the story in the present. Books like Peter Straub‘s Ghost Story and George R.R. Martin‘s Fevre Dream take on an extra resonance because of their use of the frame story and the manner in which those authors use their back-stories to advance their present stories.

The Finest Ghost Story Ever Written

HOUSE OF SKIN does that. And Sam Barlow is a central figure in both the past and the present.

In the present he’s a grizzled veteran cop who lives alone and does his best not to hate my protagonist Paul Carver, who has the bad luck to look just like the man who ruined Sam Barlow’s life. Sam also has a special bond with my “co-protagonist” Julia Merrow, which is explained in the “past” story.

Many of the book’s surprises involve Sam and his entanglement with the novel’s two main villains, particularly a woman named Annabel. I’ll write about Annabel at a later date, but I’ll just say now that she’s fearsome and beautiful and absolutely evil. Sam is the man who understands this the most, and he’s determined to prevent her resurrection.

But Annabel has other plans.

The last thing I’ll say about this character before I close is that if HOUSE OF SKIN ever becomes a movie, I’ve got some thoughts about who should play my sheriff. Josh Brolin would be great if he were older. Assuming the movie gets made in the next five years (I’m pretty certain it will—hah!), Brolin would be too young. But he does have that world-weary look that would work well for Sam. Guys like John C. McGinley (one of the Office Space Bobs) and David Morse (Brutal from The Green Mile) would also be great, but my first choice is the man pictured below…

Ash, Elvis, and…Sam Barlow?

Bruce Campbell would kill this role. Then again, Bruce would probably kill any role, but I think he’d do a particularly wonderful job as my sheriff.

So, Mr. Campbell, if you’re reading…my people will call your people soon.

And please don’t threaten my people with your prosthetic chainsaw.

Interview with Author Jonathan Janz

Jonathan Janz is new to the horror scene, just like Tim Tebow is to the NFL, only JJ is a hell of a lot better at what he does. Now, I’m not saying we’re lifelong buds or neighbors, but from getting to know him over the past 6 months, I’m pretty secure in saying they invented the phrase “he’s the salt of the earth” to describe this guy. His debut novel with Samhain Publishing, The Sorrows, is the real deal. Think The Haunting meets the early work of Phil Rickman (and if you have never read a Phil Rickman novel, you can return your Official Horror Fan Membership Card). This book has the iron jaws of a pit bull, except this is one angry dog you’ll be happy to cross.

Jonathan was nice enough to answer my sometimes bizarre questions. Here they be, in all their gory…glory.

1.Your debut novel, The Sorrows, is now out through Samhain Publishings new horror line. Tell us a little about your book, you know, something that will compel us to buy it as much as terrify us to sleep with the lights off.
 
To borrow a question from my favorite horror novel (Peter Straub’s Ghost Story), “What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?” If you’re imagining it, I now want you to imagine the face of the person you wronged. Then imagine that face growing dark with rage and pursuing you…even after death. That dread is at the heart of The Sorrows.
 
The novel is set on an island, and this island (called the Sorrows by its long-dead inhabitants) is haunted by events nearly a century old, as well as a bestial creature that might or might not be a Greek god. If you travel to the island, you better hope your slate is clean because any soul you’ve ever wronged will find you there…for violent and unholy retribution.   
 
Also, The Sorrows is about two composers (and two female companions) traveling to one of the most haunted places in the world (the island) to find inspiration for a big-budget horror movie being shot by the most demanding director in film. 
 
 
2.If you were guaranteed to be an overnight sensation writing in another genre, what would it be and why?
 
Whoa, great question. I think I’d write readable literary fiction. By that, I mean stories that people can actually understand without having to squint at the page for an hour trying to figure out what the hell the author’s laboring to say. I think of writers like Cormac McCarthy and Ian McEwan…man, I love those guys, and I’ve heard them called all sorts of things, but to me they’re both deeply literary and fantastically skilled. So I’d like to write stuff that exhibits both those qualities. In fact, I’m already working on a couple of things… 
 
 
3.OK, you’re invited to spend the night in a haunted castle, say Leap Castle in Ireland, with the stipulation that you must be alone and have no source of light. Do you go? If you do, what do you expect to happen?
 
Truth? Or something that will make me sound manly and virile? The truth is, I’d never spend a night away from my kids (I’ve got three of them under the age of six) because I’d miss them and worry about them.
 
But let’s say, for the fun of it, that I’m ten years older, and my wife and kids and I are vacationing in Ireland. Some guy says, “Hey, Lad, I’ll put a thousand bucks each in your children’s college funds if you spend the night alone at Leap Castle.” I’d do it then, and I’d spend the rest of the night scared out of my mind imagining all sorts of things.
 
Do I think I’d really see something? Other than the puddle of urine pooling around my feet? I don’t know, and that’s what makes the prospect of spending the night in a place like that so frightening. I might see nothing, though my imagination would conjure all sorts of awful things. I might also see something real, which is truly terrifying.

4.For the aspiring writers out there, can you describe your road to publication? Also, do you have an agent and how did you connect with him or her?
 
My road was very Beatlesesque—long and winding. I’ve been rejected so many times I’ve come to tense my stomach muscles like Houdini every time I open my inbox because a gut punch is always on the way. That sounds cynical, but it’s the truth. You’ve got to be determined, you’ve got to accept that you don’t know everything, and you’ve got to have enough stubbornness and confidence to stay with something that most days brings you nothing but negative feedback. And silence.
 
I don’t have an agent at the moment, though I’m about to start shopping again. I once had one, but that’s a long, dull story that I’ll spare you for today. Having said that, I fully believe an agent is necessary to maximize a writer’s success, and I’d very much like to find one. The key, though, is compatibility. She/he has to like your work, and you have to have faith in her/his abilities. So yes, I do want an agent and believe I’ll get one when the time is right. 
 
5. Quick, in 30 words or less, describe your current work in progress.
 
What if the two traditional depictions of vampires—the romantic, haunted loner, and the monstrous, insatiable beast—were only phases in the transformation into something far more terrible? And infinitely more powerful?
 
That was thirty-two words, and you still don’t know the title (Loving Demons), or who my protagonist is (Ellie Crane) or how her husband Chris becomes obsessed with a beautiful woman who lives in the forest where he and Ellie move, or how Ellie conceives a child but soon learns she can’t leave because the forest and the spirits that live there won’t let her leave, or how a demonic cult once sacrificed—
 
Okay, I cheated a little, but that’s a start. (Hunter : Dude, you cheated a little??)
 
 
6.What is your favorite horror movie and novel? Aaaaand, whenyou were a kid, what was your all time favorite cartoon?
 
Movie: Jaws or The Exorcist. The former is better-made, but the latter is scarier.
 
Novel: Peter Straub’s Ghost Story. The gothic structure of that book changed my writing forever, even though I didn’t even try to write until five years after I read the book.
 
Cartoon: Bugs Bunny and Tom and Jerry. No wonder my stories are so violent!
 
 
7.Last one. Whats the weirdest thing you’ve ever written and did you ever let it see the light of day?
 
The weirdest thing is probably a novel called Blood Country that I actually reference in my debut novel The Sorrows. It’s a bizarre hybrid of a crime novel a la Elmore Leonard and a bloody horror novel by someone like Richard Laymon. Actually, it’s far bloodier than most of even Laymon’s stuff, so I guess the title is apt.
 
I did indeed let it see the light of day about three years ago when I finished it and began querying agents about it. The responses went something like this: “I really like your writing, and there’s no doubt you can do suspense very well. And I know I stated in my guidelines that I wanted dark. But…well…not this dark.”
 
I plan on reworking it after my next three novels are done (the aforementioned Loving Demons, another I’m about eighty-percent done with called Native, and the novel I’m going to write this coming summer). Blood Country is weird, dark, and disturbing. But I like it, and I think readers will, too, once I get it right.
 
Thank you so much, Hunter, for having me on your blog and for asking such awesome questions. Forest of Shadows was OUTSTANDING, and I’m proud to be published alongside you!

**If you want to read a truly insightful, sometimes hilarious, but always honest blog, check out Jonathan Janz, the Blog!

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