Halloween as Therapy
By: Jonathan Janz
I write horror for a great many reasons, but one of those has to do with my need to work things out on the page. See, I've only recently realized this, and yes, I'm a slow learner and a late bloomer, so I should have realized it a lot earlier. But there are things that bother me, problems that many don't talk about or others might ignore, and that only makes my irritation grow.
I'm not, however, and irritable person. I am, in fact, a pretty kind person. At least I hope I am. But yeah, I have negative feelings, too. Frustration. Anger. Incredulity. A sense of injustice.
All of this does have a point, I assure you.
But first, one more thing about me - and no, I swear I don't talk about myself this way all the time... which is exactly the sort of hollow disclaimer a narcissist would make, right? I guess you'll just have to trust me on this. Or not.
My wife used to train people in the whole Myers-Briggs personality subject. She could tell straightaway whether you were an INFP, an ENTP, or a JERK, and she had a blast identifying people when they'd request it.
Yet she could never identify me. On some days I was an introvert. On others, I was so gregarious people fled screaming from my vicinity. There were moments when I was so pensive that I'd take two hours to choose the right verb for a sentence; at other times my spontaneity was darn near impossible.
Maybe this is why I need to write. Essentially, in my head, I'm insane. I'm convinced the thoughts I have, the worries that plague me, and the dreams I dream are straight out of some turn-of-the-century asylum. The sort of notions that would cause doctors to lobotomize me, or at least administer some robust shock treatment.
The only way I know how to deal with these issues is by writing.
Here's an example...
I'm fascinated by the things that happen in a small town. More specifically, I'm fascinated by the manner in which certain behaviors occur while everyone looks on and pretends they're perfectly normal.
Take the town slut.
This guy's had a relationship with her, this other guy's discarded her. One dude, he met her at a party, and you'll never guess what they did! And everybody grins about it and elbows each other's ribs and marvels at what a piece of trash that chick is.
Yet nobody thinks about her.
I mean, really think about her. They don't wonder about her thoughts. They don't factor in her feelings. They couldn't care less about her background, her experiences. She's just this one thing, and man, do they enjoy ridiculing her.
This is what happens in small towns.
Another thing that gripes me:
If you're a young man, and you're reasonably handsome, and the girls seem to like you... well, the best thing you can become is a lady's man! See, in a small town, "dog" is not a pejorative term, at least not for the guy. No, the more women you can bed, the cooler you are, and if you can go from female to female and cut a swath of conquests as wide as a cornfield and brag about it and high-five your friends regardless of the emotional damage you might be doing, well then brother, you are the man!
An interlude: I'm not vilifying physical relationships. Please don't misread me. I'm not trying to channel Cotton Mather here, nor do I think there's something inherently wrong with physical desire or expression.
What bothers me is how it's transformed into a weapon. How for this woman it's a metaphorical gallows or for this guy it's a high school letter jacket that jangles with medals and bristles with patches. And I'm also not saying that guys are all evil and women are all victims. What I'm pointing out are two patterns I noticed growing up in a small town. I also noticed how people would admit that this one guy was racist and sexist and homophobic, but they'd let it slide because, well, he's one of us, and he's just a little politically incorrect, right? But we keep him around because he's funny and, well, we've known him our whole life, you know?
When what that guy really needs is a good smack in the face. Or jail.
By the way, I've just described three characters that were bitten by a werewolf in my upcoming novel Wolf Land. I wanted to see what happened when the woman everybody mocked was faced with becoming... something else. I wanted to know how my ladies' man would respond to urges that were truly, actually out of his control. I wanted to know what that jackass that everyone keep around despite the fact that he's a reprehensible human being would do if he transformed into a werewolf.
In Wolf Land, you get all that and more. Check it out on November 3rd.
And thank you, Meghan, for having me tonight. Happy Halloween, my friends.
About the author:
Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, and in a way, that explains everything. 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."
In 2013, Samhain Horror published his novel of vampirism and human sacrifice The Darkest Lullaby, as well as his serialized horror novel Savage Species. Of Savage Species, Publishers Weekly said, "Fans of old-school splatter punk horror - Janz cites Richard Laymon as an influence, and it shows - will find much to relish." Jonathan's Kindle Worlds novel Bloodshot: Kingdom of Shadows marked his first foray into the superhero/action genre. Jack Ketchum called his vampire western Dust Devils a "Rousing-good weird western," and his sexual to The Sorrows Castle of Sorrows) was selected one of 2014's top three novels. His newest release is called The Nightmare Girl. He has also written four novellas and several short stories.
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. You can learn more about Jonathan at his website. You can also find him on Facebook, Twitter, or on his Goodreads and Amazon author pages.
About the book:
An unholy predator is on the prowl! The small town of Lakeview offers little excitement for Duane, Savannah, and their friends. They're about to endure their ten-year high school reunion when their lives are shattered by the arrival of an ancient, vengeful evil. The werewolf. The first attack leaves seven men dead and four wounded. And though the beast remains on the loose and eager to spill more blood, the sleepy town is about to face an even greater terror. Because the four victims of the werewolf's fury are changing. They're experiencing unholy desires and unimaginable cravings. They'll prey on the innocent. They'll act on their basest desires. Soon, they'll plunge the entire town into a nightmare. Lakeview is about to become Wolf Land.