Using the promising ruse of a book release party for his latest novel, Children of the Dark, I lured today’s victim…er….guest into the isolation tank. Jonathan Janz answered some questions for me while I tried not to add the words “Hey girl” to each of his replies.
Why writing? What drew you to it? Why do you continue?
I’ve always loved storytelling. When I was a first grader, I wrote an Easter Bunny origin story that my teacher asked if she could keep. I said no, knowing my mom would want it. Then I lost the dang thing anyway.
I told stories in my head all through my childhood and adolescence, though this was mostly in movie form. One year—this was probably when I was nine or ten—I created something like fifty or sixty movie posters for films I was going to create. Everything from romantic comedies to Friday the 13th: Part Thirteen. (Which still hasn’t been made, right? What about it Hollywood? I could write a mean screenplay for that one. The ball’s in your court.)
I continue because I love it but also because I have to. It’s as much a biological need for me as sleeping and eating. When I don’t write, I get surly, stormy. Like Heathcliff (the Bronte one, not the cat) on a really bad day.
If you were freezing to death and the only thing left to burn were the books in your library, what 5 books would you burn last? (And yes, everything else burnable has been burnt.)
I’m going to limit this to fiction, since I don’t like getting all spiritual in interviews. So, which five fictional books would I save? And with the caveat that this list would change from day to day? Here goes…
- Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
- The Complete Short Works of Edgar Allan Poe
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fydor Dostoyevsky
- ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
- The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
What’s the most challenging thing you’ve done (in life or in writing (your choice))?
In life? Being a dad. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, but it challenges me every day. Many times I feel very inadequate. Impatient. All sorts of “I” words. But I love it, and my kids mean the world to me. It’s a challenge I love, but one that really stretches me to be more than I thought I could be.
In writing, it’s accepting and embracing the fact that there is no finish line, there is no “making it.” Every step of my writerly journey has brought challenges, and every step I take in the future will bring more. It used to be, “Will anyone ever publish my stuff?” Now it’s, “Can this book be better than my last one?” The challenges evolve as I evolve.
What’s one word or phrase that drives you nuts? Why?
“Don’t.” People in general are too fixated on what not to do rather than focusing on what to do. If I ever become accomplished enough to write a book on writing, I’m going to make sure it’s full of helpful, concrete suggestions about how to improve and succeed rather than a pompous list of arbitrary tendencies that writers, AT ALL COSTS, must avoid. Do is liberating; don’t is debilitating.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve created? If so, who is it and why?
What a wonderful and difficult question to answer! Okay, with the same caveat I used for my top five fiction books, I’ll choose a character that I love above all others, knowing it could change tomorrow. And the winner is…
Will Burgess, the protagonist of my upcoming novel CHILDREN OF THE DARK. Will is imperfect, because perfection sucks, but he also tries very hard to exhibit empathy, even for his tormentors (of which there are many). He loves his little sister, works hard to do the right thing, and does all he can to fight against evil when most people would turn and run the other way. I really admire the young man and am proud to have created him.
Creepiest place you’ve ever been? Has it appeared in your fiction? Why or Why not?
Oooooh, lovely question. I’d have to say the graveyard next to which I grew up. That has appeared, in one form or another, in THE SORROWS, HOUSE OF SKIN, and especially in CHILDREN OF THE DARK. A close second would be the dungeon-like basement of my childhood home, complete with a brackish cistern that I used to believe was the gateway to hell. That shows up in CHILDREN OF THE DARK, too.
What’s the best rejection you’ve ever received?
Brett Savory (Chizine) once rejected me (a long time ago). He pointed out a problem with a short story I wrote before I knew what I was doing. That was nice of him and was something he didn’t have to do. I didn’t like being rejected, but I did like an editor taking the time to help me.
How did you get that scar?
I’ve got bunches of scars on my face. They’re from jumping and falling off a bed when I was four, being clocked in the cheekbone with a baseball bat when I was thirteen, getting elbowed in the eyebrow when I was in high school, having my eyelid split open when playing basketball as an adult, and suffering a blunt-force trauma wound to my lip from my son’s headbutt inside a bouncy house.
What song would precede your entrance into a room if we all had personal soundtracks?
Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” That’s a very determined song, and I’m an extremely determined guy.
Promote yourself and/or your writing
The following blog post says it best: http://jonathanjanz.com/2016/01/18/my-name-is-jonathan-janz-and-im-a-horror-writer/
I’d add that you should also check out my brand-new line of beautiful special edition hardcovers from Thunderstorm Books. It’s called Jonathan Janz’s Shadow Side and will include eleven gorgeous novels, each one signed and numbered. Also, be sure to grab my latest release when it becomes available on March 15th. It’s called CHILDREN OF THE DARK, and it’s a novel I really love.
Final thoughts before you run screaming for your life?
Thank you so much for having me. These were great questions. I had a blast!
Glad you had a blast, but I wish I’d remembered to hide that box of grenades. I’ll have to coax the creatures out of hiding with a few cartons of cat treats. Just remember to turn left at the second four way intersection, or you’ll end up in the moat with the dire lizards. In case my readers didn’t click on the above link, here are a few shortcuts. Go follow him on Twitter @jonathanjanz and check out his Amazon Author Page.