Interview with author of The Sorrows Jonathan Janz

Jonathan Janz had a much different road leading to his first published book, The Sorrows, than his fellow Samhain novelist Elena Hearty, author of Donor. While Hearty just needed to get the voices from her head to print, Janz dedicated himself to perfecting his craft for more than a decade. Luckily for Janz, all his hard work has paid off in his first published novel and the promise of a darkly horrific future at Samhain.

I ask Janz about his influences, his favorite authors, the arduous path to publication and his next projects beyond the break. Enjoy!

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The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz (take two)

At the start of twenty-twelve, I posted my review for Jonathan Janz’ debut novel The Sorrows which you can read here. While I won’t go through all the gory details again (of which there were many in this book), I want to reflect on my initiation into the world of Janz with you today.

I think we can all agree that the Samhain covers leave something to be desired. In fact, some of them are downright cheesy. For example, the lithe body lying still on a couch behind a handsome cartoonish figure with blood dripping from his lips on the cover of Elena Hearty’s Donor did little to whet my appetite for vampires. I will sing the praises of her modern vampire tale until I’m blue in the face, but if it didn’t have the Don D’Auria / Samhain Publishing stamp of approval on the spine, it’s highly likely that I wouldn’t give it a second glance. Of course, we’re here to celebrate Samhain this week, not bash their cover design, but my point is this: you can’t be sure of what horrors lurk in between the covers of a Samhain book. This publishing house really puts that “Don’t judge a book by its cover” phrase to the test.

Still, I do. We all do. It’s partly residual survival instinct I suppose. We have to process the images we see and there’s just not enough time to become acquainted with what’s inside, whether that’s regarding our fellow human beings or a book. I took one look at Janz’ cover for The Sorrows, skimmed the synopsis, and concluded that this would be a slow burning atmospheric story. The Sorrows is not a slow burner. It’s actually a well-paced crackling thunder roll of violent eroticism with beastly undertones. Sounds like a delicious wine, huh? Tagline: The Sorrows, it’ll get ya fucked up! Excuse my language, but this book really brings out the sass in me.  

When I started this novel, I kicked back with a glass of dry red, relaxed my mind, and let Janz lead the way fully expecting to be lulled to sleep. I don’t mind slow pacing necessarily and atmospheric is OK, but I really have to be in the mood for it. As I mentioned already, this book was full of surprises. Instead of a romantic trek on a well-worn trail, Janz was tugging me along through a dark overgrown path, my arm threatening to rip from its socket. He’s romantic like that. Did I mention that there were sex-deprived beasts in these woods? I’d bring protection if I were you, it’s a dangerous place.

I think all horror fiction fans felt like they would be in good hands with Samhain Publishing once Don D’Auria took the helm of their new horror line. Having familiar names like Ronald Malfi, Ramsey Campbell, Greg F. GiFune, and W.D. Gagliani made us all feel right at home. In addition to some recognizable faces, D’Auria has brought on new blood as well and these voices prove to be full of promise, including the aforementioned Janz.

There are publishers and small presses that boast amazing covers, but, ultimately, if you have a fat piece of steak sweating juicy butter on the outside and dry overcooked meat on the inside, it’s only window dressing. At this point, Samhain could put out a book with Sponge Bob Square Pants on the cover and I’ll give it a whirl. That’s how much confidence I have in Samhain and their team.

Of course, they can’t all be winners. Let’s face it, we all have our own peculiar tastes when it comes to horror fiction and every book you read can’t hit all the right notes everytime. However, it looks like Samhain is making a pretty ambitious go of it!

Come back tomorrow as we continue to celebrate the new home of horror, Samhain Publishing, as I probe one of the latest editions to the family, author of The Sorrows Jonathan Janz.

Dreadful Tales Giveaway: The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz

It’s a Friday Giveaway at Dreadful Tales and we’re gifting two ebook copies of Jonathan Janz The Sorrows! You can read my full review here. The quick version is you got an engaging story with plenty of sex, violence, a bit of music and a lot of mayhem! I am very anxious for people to read Janz’ first novel, so I decided to host this giveaway and hopefully get fans as excited about his work as I am. All you gotta do is leave a comment telling me one of the following:

(1)   Your favorite Richard Laymon novel and why

(2)   Your favorite ghost / haunted house story and why

(3)   What horror fiction release you most look forward to in twenty-twelve

Hell, you can even deviate from those three topics as long as it’s horror related! That simple. Leave a comment, enter for a chance to get a digital copy of Jonathan Janz The Sorrows.

I’ll choose the two lucky readers on Sunday evening so you have all weekend to enter. Tell your friends and tell them to tell their friends, tell your mom and dad even! But I hope they’re not easily offended because Janz is unabashedly gruesome to his poor characters which is just the way we like our fiction at Dreadful Tales.

Good luck!

-Meli

The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz

Twenty-twelve is gonna be an excellent year for horror fiction fans. I got that sense compiling the list of Dreadful Tales’ most dreadfully anticipated releases for this year, but also because I opened the year with a novel that really got my blood pumping. Jonathan Janz’ The Sorrows came out in December 2011 from Samhain Publishing, just in time to kick the doors off this mutha, giving every fiber of his creative being to make the reading community take notice. You might be thinking “Jonathan who?” “Janz what?” But I’m going on record to say that by the time this year is over, you shall know thy name Jonathan Janz!

Genre fans quickly made themselves at home with Samhain Publishing, especially with a trusted name like Don D’Auria at the helm of their horror line. While D’Auria brings macabre vets over to our new playground, he’s got some fresh meat for us to feast on as well, namely the aforementioned Jonathan Janz.

Lately, we want for nothing in the genre of speculative fiction – hell, did you see all those titles coming out in 2012!? Janz’ sophomore effort among them. But just when you thought you couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the promising future ahead, Janz shows up to the party with a breath of fresh air. Ok, maybe the air has a bit of a stench… and within it hides a slobbering beast, threatening to violate you in unimaginable ways. Still, for those that crave new blood, it’s here and Samhain has found him.

From Samhain:

Something is trapped in the castle, and it wants to feed!

The Sorrows, an island off the coast of northern California, and its castle have been uninhabited since a series of gruesome, unexplained murders in 1925. But its owner needs money, so he allows film composers Ben and Eddie and a couple of their female friends to stay a month in Castle Blackwood. Eddie is certain an eerie and reportedly haunted castle is just the setting Ben needs to find musical inspiration for a horror film.

But what they find is more horrific than any movie. For something is waiting for them in the castle. A being, once worshipped, now imprisoned, has been trapped for nearly a century. And he’s ready to feed.

You remember the first time you read Laymon? Of course you do. ‘Member years later, discovering a child of Laymon, someone a lot like you, someone a lot like him, carving their own niche in the horror genre? That’s Jonathan Janz! He’s no doubt influenced by other subgenres and horror forefathers, not to mention drawing from his own non-literary artistic influences, but the parallels between Janz and Laymon in The Sorrows is evident. He adopts the successful Laymon pace, a popping and crackling burn, with a writing style that reflects his own intimate passions and interests. The plot speeds along, like your father at the wheel on a summer road trip, determined to get from point A to B, refusing to pull over to give his desperate passengers a bathroom break.

The Sorrows has a Gothic influenced setting. A desolate castle on an isolated island off the coast of California gives this story all the makings of a dark atmospheric tale, but that’s where the parallels to the shadowy romanticism characterized by Gothic tales ends. While The Sorrows is often romantic in tone, you’ll hardly have time to coo over the scenery while you hold your lover’s hand because Janz will disrupt any tender moment with horrifying mayhem. Every soft reprieve is destroyed by a shocking assault. And for this reader, there is no better drug. Janz is a little trickster, perhaps not intentionally, in setting up the reader for a ghostly supernatural yarn when The Sorrows is really a vicious, sexy beast of a novel.

Not only can you draw strong parallels to the Dreadful Tales God ‘O Literature, Laymon, the violent eroticism is also reminiscent of Richard Matheson’s Hell House, which surely by no coincidence gets a passing mention. Even in the hands of a skilled writer, name-dropping a horror film can come off forced, like you’re trying to be cool, but Janz cleverly tucks it into just the right place with a wink and a nod to welcome you home. Since our main protagonists are film composers, working in particular on a horror film, Janz takes advantage of the opportunity to make that connection to his readers more than a few times.

Speaking of music composition, that is another very important, driving force of the plot. Janz scores his novel with the haunted notes of an unnatural beast, a supernatural force reciting its song with a humble ardor. He exhibits an intimacy with music in The Sorrows that can’t just be feigning interest. Another author that incorporates his music obsession into his work fluidly and with a piercing impact is John Everson, of course most notably in Siren (which I consider an Everson masterpiece). Based on this first book, Janz will likewise offer his readers the same aural stimulation in his stories.

Peppered throughout The Sorrows are diary entries from one Calvin Shepherd, inhabitant of this damned castle around 1925, who recounts his experiences on the island, which piece by piece reveal the secret of what preys on our four protagonists – Ben, Eddie, Claire, and Eva. Did I forget to mention them!? Janz has a strong past voice, another attribute I deeply love about Everson’s work. This anchors the story with historical context making it more horrific and disturbing, but also giving the author a chance to flex other literary muscles, i.e. introduce Gothic and poetic elements.

For all I reveal about Janz’ literary prowess, there is much more to discover. A terrible monster is waiting to leap out from the darkness, aching to dig its claws into your skin, never letting go, with an undeniable concupiscence that cannot be satisfied. (“Concupiscent” is a beautiful word I learned from reading The Sorrows. Who said reading horror isn’t educational!? Definitely not anyone at Dreadful Tales!)

For all lovers of the macabre and readers looking for a dark, sinister literary treat, gather ‘round, fiends, Jonathan Janz has a story to tell you.

The Sorrows is available in ebook format from Samhain Publishing, but for those who haven’t crossed over to the darkside yet, the paperback version will be available in March. Keep your eyeballs peeled for the release of Janz’ second novel, House of Skin, due out this summer. And don’t forget to stalk his Facebook page, Twitter feed, and website.