Friday, October 31, 2014

AMONG THE STACKS: Jonathan Janz


Fluta:  Hi Jonathan!! *waves*

Abry:  Welcome to The Gal, Jonathan.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.


Jonathan:  I'm a husband/father, a teacher, and a writer.  I pride myself on being predictable in my personal life and unpredictable on the page.

Cordelia Windygale:  What are five things most people don't know about you?

Jonathan:
a) I've had stitches on my face multiple times, mostly via sports-related injuries, but the biggest one from jumping on (and falling off) a bed when I was four years old.
b) My grandpa (the one I never knew) played in the NBA, and my mom was an Indiana Pacers cheerleader.
c) I was the smallest boy ever born at the Air Force base in Colorado Springs.
d) My wife and I met when we were cast opposite each other in Cinderella.  She was Cinderella, and I was *cough* Prince Charming.
e) I'm the world's worst dancer, but I love having dance parties with my kids.  They're total jam sessions.

Abry:  What is the first book you remember reading?

Jonathan:  Stephen King's The Tommyknockers.  Most say it's one of King's worst, but I don't care.  That book transported me and showed me wonders and joys that I didn't know existed.

Cordelia Windygale:  What are you reading now?

Jonathan:  Several things, which is normal for me.  A few of them are Robert McCammon's The Wolf's Hour, a play by Beth Henley called Crimes of the Heart, Mystic River by Dennis Lehane, and some short story re-reads by M.R. James and Edgar Allan Poe.

Abry:  What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Jonathan:  King inspired me, but I didn't begin to write until I was eighteen.  At that time, my high school basketball career came to an end, and I realized I needed to have interests outside of sports.  I started writing a novel, and though it was terrible, the experience really turned me on to writing.

Cordelia Windygale:  Do you have a special place you like to write?

Jonathan:  I do!  I have a faux leather (or maybe it's leather) chair and matching ottoman upstairs in our house.  I sit by the window and our huge magnolia tree and let the words flow.

Abry:  Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Jonathan:  Hah!  I have several, though most of them I'd be embarrassed to share.  I will say that I have several places in the area I go that help me connect with the settings of my stories.  There are parks, forests, vast stretches of countryside, a major and old university ... basically, I can implant myself into one of my settings with just a short drive and a little imagination.  This really strengthens my bond with the tale.

Cordelia Windygale:  Where do the ideas for your books come from?

Jonathan:  All over, really.  Sometimes it's a childhood event.  Other times it's a passage in a poem or a moment from a song.  My upcoming January novel The Nightmare Girl grew out of an incident one of my Facebook friends shared about witnessing a mother abusing her toddler.  That's obviously an unpleasant example, but inspiration can come from anywhere.

Abry:  What books have most inspired you?

Jonathan:  Ray Bradbury and Stephen King always inspire me.  I'm also very stimulated by Elmore Leonard's prose.

Cordelia Windygale?  Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Jonathan:  Slowing down.  I know I've been having a lot of stuff come out lately, but this is an opportunity for which I've worked for several years, and I don't want to pace myself now.  I want to write.

Abry:  What do you think makes a good story?  

Jonathan:  Everything matters, but nothing matters more than great characters.  Beyond that, I love cracking tension, moments of tenderness or humor, a vidid sense of place, snappy dialogue, and a thousand other things.

Cordelia Windygale:  Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Jonathan:  Personality-wise, I'd say I'm most like Sam Bledsoe from Savage Species (minus the adultery, of course).  There's also a good bit of me in Ben Shadeland (from the Sorrows books) and Cody Wilson (Dust Devils).  Oh, and I'm a good deal - a great deal, actually - like Joe Crawford, the protagonist of my upcoming The Nightmare Girl.

Abry:  Why did you pick your particular genre?

Jonathan:  It picked me.  I had a pretty scary childhood.  I grew up between a graveyard and a cemetery, so it was almost like things were preordained.

Cordelia Windygale:  What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Jonathan:  Hm.  Great question.  At the risk of sounding pompous, I really think folks get their money's worth with my books, but that's, of course, like, my opinion, man.  To paraphrase The Dude.

Fluta:  What's in your "trunk"?

Jonathan:  I have one book there that'll some day be reworked.  It's called Garden of Snakes, and I think when I get it right, it'll be awesome.  It's the one non-horror novel I've written - technically, it's probably more suspense/thriller - but there's a strong horror sensibility in it.

Fluta:  The song that best describes you?

Jonathan:  George Strait's "I Cross My Heart."  There's a combination of deep love and humility in that one that, I think, captures how I feel about my loved ones and how I'll always do everything I can to help them be as happy as possible.

Abry:  What can we expect from you in the future?

Jonathan:  Hopefully, a great many more stories.  I had Castle of Sorrows in July.  Exorcist Road in September.  The Nightmare Girl will be published by Samhain Horror in January.  And an as-yet-unnounced novel will also appear in August of next year from Samhain Horror.  I'm working on that one right now.  I have another book done that I can't talk about yet; I'm editing it late at night.

Cordelia Windygale:  Thanks for stopping by, Jonathan.  We always love having you.  Before you go, where can we find you?

Jonathan:  You can find me at my blog here, my Facebook page, my Goodreads page, or on Twitter @jonathanjanz.  I LOVE talking to fans!!

Thanks so much for having me.  It's always a pleasure! :)


About the author:
Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, and in a way, that explains everything.  Acclaimed author Brian Keene named his debut novel The Sorrows "the best horror novel of 2012."  The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin, "reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub's Ghost Story."  Of Savage Species, Publishers Weekly said, "Fans of old-school splatter punk horror - Janz cites Richard Laymon as an influence, and it shows - will fin much to relish."
            His primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children, and though he realizes that every author's wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the cliche happens to be true.
            One of Jonathan's wishes is to someday get Stephen King, Peter Jackson, Jack Ketchum and Joe R. Landsdale together for an all-night zombie movie marathon.  Of course, that can only happen if all four drop their restraining orders against him.

(Note: In the picture, for those of you who are thinking 'Those two look familiar' - that's Brian Moreland and John Everson.)

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