Jonathan Janz's Blog
April 14, 2017
My family and I are about to eat lunch, so I’ve gotta be quick…
Firstly, the reviews for EXORCIST FALLS started off well and have switched over into out-and-out raves. Here are just a few…
I’ll have more news soon about EXORCIST FALLS, as well as information about a really exciting book coming later this year from one of my favorite publishers.
In other news, next week I’ll become the last author on Earth to have a newsletter. Here’s a sneak peek:
Shadow World will include exclusive content you won’t find anywhere else. I hope you subscribe.
Lastly, by this time next week, I’ll likely have a new website. There’ll still be a blog–I can’t give this darling up–but there’ll be an entirely different look and much more content.
That’s all. Gotta eat.
April 9, 2017
Hey, friends. Hope your April has kicked off well. Mine has, both writing-wise and otherwise, and I’ll be bringing you some updates soon. For now, though, I want to talk about something else.
I want to talk about Sundance’s television show HAP AND LEONARD.
Full Disclosure: I’ve been a Joe R. Lansdale fan for many years. I first encountered Joe’s work as a sophomore in college (a nasty shocker of a novel called THE NIGHTRUNNERS) and have been in love with his writing ever since. So, sure, I’m predisposed to like anything based on his work. Last summer, I got to meet the man himself, and after I picked my jaw up off the floor and managed to form a coherent sentence, I got to talk with him for a good while. I’m happy to report he’s as kind and down-to-earth as any person I’ve ever met.
But it just so happens that you don’t need to be a Lansdale fan to appreciate HAP AND LEONARD. Take my wife…
When I first mentioned the series, she cocked an eyebrow at me and asked me why we should watch it instead of, say, HOUSE OF CARDS or BETTER CALL SAUL.
“Well,” I muttered, “because I hear it’s good. And because the source material is by one of my favorite writers.”
I’m afraid my sales pitch wasn’t particularly compelling.
A few months later, I finally wrangled her into watching it, but on the condition that if it wasn’t good, we’d shut it off halfway through first episode.
So at the halfway point, I paused and looked at her. “Well?” I asked.
She scowled at me. “Why did you pause it?”
I shrugged. “Well, I–”
“Turn it back on,” she demanded.
My wife can be persuasive when she wants to be.
By the time we finished, she was gushing about how fantastic the characters were and how hilarious the dialogue was. She wondered aloud about where the plot would go, and frankly, I wondered too. See, it had been quite a few years since I’d read SAVAGE SEASON, the first Hap and Leonard novel, and while I’d loved it back then, the years tend to fog most details. In this way, I get to discover these stories anew.
So let’s launch into my list of six reasons why you need to stop whatever you’re doing and watch this outstanding show. Tonight.
REASON #1: Season One, Episode Five.
Weird that I’d start with a specific episode, isn’t it? But I am weird, so this sort of fits. Folks, if you’re into Quentin Tarantino movies or David Fincher or anything else that makes your teeth rattle from the suspense, you’re in for a treat. This episode contains a scene that rivals in intensity the opening of Inglourious Basterds or the hypodermic needle scene from Pulp Fiction. I remember sitting there in bed with my jaws clenched and my fists in trembling knots as Hap and Leonard and another character you’ll care about faced probable death and even likelier disfigurement. Friends, this is the first thing you should know–HAP AND LEONARD doesn’t flinch. You always get your money’s worth, but sometimes that means suffering through suspense that’ll make your toes curl.
REASON #2: The Characters.
When it comes down to it, this is why we love stories, isn’t it?
Imagine your favorite writer. You doing that?
Now imagine your favorite writer at the top of his/her game. Then imagine your favorite writer pouring all his/her creativity and humanity into a pair of characters and making them so real and likable that you feel like they could step right through your door and start munching vanilla wafers.
Then imagine a casting director choosing the perfect actors for those flesh-and-blood characters.
Folks, meet James Purefoy and Michael K. Williams.
Before I saw the first LORD OF THE RINGS movie, I read a review in which the critic said something like, “They didn’t cast Ian McKellan as Gandalf. They went out and found Gandalf.” This is how I feel about Hap Collins and Leonard Pine.
I can’t imagine another actor conveying the same mixture of defeatedness and determination as James Purefoy does. Purefoy expresses more with a glance than most actors do with a monologue. In another artist’s hands, Hap Collins might be maudlin or infuriating. But because of Purefoy’s nuanced performance we genuinely care about Hap; we see more in him than he sees in himself. We root for him.
That’s because of James Purefoy. He is Hap Collins.
Michael K. Williams’s Leonard Pine is equally incredible. His sardonic retorts are incisive because he utters them with such surprising restraint. How do you show an audience the wounded rage brought on by a lifetime of facing multiple forms of prejudice? You create a flesh-and-blood character who sticks up for the downtrodden and then refuses to accept the credit. And the moment you think someone–other than Hap, with whom he shares a brotherhood deeper than blood–might get close to Leonard, he shoves them unceremoniously away. Yet we like him even more because of it.
It takes a supremely talented artist to pull that off. Thankfully, that’s exactly what Michael K. Williams is.
REASON #3: Director Jim Mickle and Company
I’ll not bore you with phrases like shot composition and telephoto lens, but I will tell you that Jim Mickle and the other directors of the series have both an eye for memorable images and an instinctive grasp of visual storytelling. The direction and cinematography of HAP AND LEONARD are top-notch and very much like watching a series of one-hour feature films. Take this shot:
Friends, every shot in this series is visually interesting.
Add to that razor-sharp editing, pitch-perfect original music, and (of course) rich, textured writing, and you’ve got a riveting movie every time you sit down for an episode.
REASON #4: Timely, Timeless
An aside: My family and I recently watched the remake of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. We loved it. My kids because it was entertaining, my wife because it was a great story. I loved it for those reasons too, but for me, there was something else happening that set the movie apart from other remakes and CGI extravaganzas.
Even though the story is a timeless one, it is also a timely one. There are scenes in which fear of The Other are given center-stage. Specifically, the moment in which Gaston incites the crowd against the Beast resonated with me because of how persuasive Luke Evans’s character is shown to be and how willingly the villagers follow his hateful lead.
In this way, HAP AND LEONARD is similar: timeless and timely.
I don’t like movies that preach to me, and I don’t like to be told how to think. But darn it, I want stories to tell the truth, even if they’re about people who never existed doing things that never happened.
HAP AND LEONARD tells the truth. You can’t watch it and fail to miss the social commentary. But what’s so marvelous is how organic it is to the plot. There’s nary an impassioned plea for equality or a strident call to action to be found.
There’s just basic human decency juxtaposed with unreasoning prejudice.
Kind of like our world.
REASON #5: It moves.
Pace is all-important in storytelling, and folks, HAP AND LEONARD rockets along like a Japanese bullet train. In every episode I’ve seen, I only realize it’s ending when we’re a minute or so from the credits. If you’re new to this blog, you might not know I’m an author and a teacher of film and creative writing, so yeah, I’ve studied a few books and movies in my life. But even though I read and watch just about everything with an analytical eye, I’m always transported by HAP AND LEONARD. It’s not just great art–it’s fantastic storytelling.
REASON #6: Heart, brains, and laughs.
Now might be a good time to bring things to a close by returning to His Ownself, Joe R. Lansdale. The best individuals in every field make the difficult look easy. Michael Jordan in basketball. Eddie Van Halen on the guitar.
Joe R. Lansdale in writing fiction.
The fact is, though you don’t see Mr. Lansdale on the screen, you still see him on the screen. Jim Mickle and his team are smart enough not to mess with a good thing, and thus far, the television show has borne a remarkable resemblance to Mr. Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard books.
That’s a darn good thing. Because Joe knows how to make you laugh, bite your nails, engage your intellect, and pluck your heartstrings. Sometimes he does all that in a single paragraph. If you don’t think such a feat is possible, I challenge you to pick up one of his novels. Heck, start with SAVAGE SEASON, or if you’d rather remain unspoiled for the TV show, check out THE BOTTOMS or PARADISE SKY or LEATHER MAIDEN. I’m of the opinion you can’t go wrong with a Joe R. Lansdale novel, and I suspect you’ll feel the same way after you read him.
So watch HAP AND LEONARD.
It’s one of the best shows to hit television (and Netflix!) in the last decade.
And if you’re not convinced yet, I’ll leave you with Pollyanna McIntosh. You don’t want to get on her bad side.
March 18, 2017
The outstanding book reviewer Shane Douglas Keene, writing for Hellnotes, just finished my new novel EXORCIST FALLS and had this to say about it:
“His best book to date.”
“Absolutely punishing in its intensity.”
“His characters are all delightfully alive and exquisitely broken.”
“Every new thing he brings us is a sublime example of the supreme talent he has and the uncanny ability to immerse us so fully in the story that we come out the other side feeling like Geppetto after he escapes the whale.”
Friends, I’m honored and elated by this review. You can read the whole glorious thing right here. Then you can grab a copy of EXORCIST FALLS (which includes the novella EXORCIST ROAD) in digital or paperback form.
And just in case you haven’t gotten a gander at the beautiful Matthew Revert cover art, you can find that below. I’ve had several reviewers and fans purchase wall art and t-shirts featuring the cover, a decision with which I wholeheartedly agree. Revert is one of the best cover artists working today, regardless of genre.
That’s all for tonight, friends. Sleep well.
March 14, 2017
Hey, friends. It’s nutty around the vacation home right now. The wife’s in France on a free trip. The kids and I are rocking Disney and Universal Studios.
And EXORCIST FALLS is celebrating the eve of its release. What better a way to prepare for the big day tomorrow than with a glowing, fantastic video review?
Erik Smith, the kingpin of The Low Budget Review Show, just gave EXORCIST FALLS a six-out-of-five wooden cross review, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Especially gratifying was the way he talked about the book’s mixture of characterization, twists, and body horror.
Have a great day, friends. If you need me, I’ll be zooming around Space Mountain with my little maniacs.
February 25, 2017
Howdy. I posted a couple months ago that eight of my novels were about to become unavailable for a while. Though there was a delay in that process, it looks like it’s now happening. The long and short of it is that my first publisher (Samhain Publishing) is closing, which means that the rights to my first eight books are returning to me.
I feel very bad for the people affected. Samhain employed some incredible human beings that I’ll always consider friends. They’re smart, talented, and hardworking, and I know they’ll find great positions elsewhere.
[image error]Ghostly Horror
As for my books…
Everything is up in the air. For some writers this would be terrifying, but frankly, I’m excited about it. I continue to speak with numerous publishers about all sorts of possibilities. I might end up selling four books to one publisher and four to another. I might sell each title to a different company. I might even sell the whole octet to a single company if the terms are right. The point is, each of these possibilities excites me.
A fact: Publishers close.
Another fact: Readers stay.
I still have the Booklist Top Ten Book of the Year CHILDREN OF THE DARK for you to read. In less than a month, a spine-tingling combination novella/novel called EXORCIST FALLS will be released. There’s a horrific superhero novel titled BLOODSHOT: KINGDOM OF SHADOWS, which has a fantastic hero and some wicked vampires. There are several of my novellas currently available, including OLD ORDER, WITCHING HOUR THEATRE, and THE CLEARING OF TRAVIS COBLE.
And that’s only what’s currently available.
Later in the year, a nearly-novel-length novella titled THE DISMEMBERED will be published by one of my favorite companies. My agent and I have a big project almost polished (my favorite novel yet, by the way). Last weekend I completed another book, and though I’ll be editing this one over the next couple months, I’ll also be starting a new novel in late March and another one in July. For those of you keeping track, that’s three novels I’ll have finished by year’s end, and that’s not even counting the book my agent has.
Have I mentioned the short story that’ll appear in the Brian Keene-edited J.F. Gonzalez CLICKERS FOREVER tribute anthology later this year?
In short, I’m not idle. Even without my Samhain books, there is and will continue to be plenty of my work available for you to enjoy.
Having said all that, any of you who are interested in any of my eight Samhain books (listed below) and want to get them now rather than waiting until some undetermined moment in the future should grab them in the next four days (the publisher closes at the end of February, from all I can gather).
I’ve had several readers worry that digital purchases made prior to the closing will disappear once the company closes. This will not happen. Once you’ve purchased the book, it’s yours forever.
The titles (with links to purchase them in paperback or ebook):
SAVAGE SPECIES (which connects to CHILDREN OF THE DARK)
That’s all for now. Readers find authors they enjoy and stick with them. I’d read Stephen King’s books no matter what publisher’s name was on the spines. I’d read J.K. Rowling or Joe R. Lansdale or Jack Ketchum or Elmore Leonard or Brian Keene whether they were printed by Harper Collins or scrawled on a pile of crumpled cocktail napkins.
I suspect those of you who like my work will follow me too.
For those of you who fall into that category, thank you. I appreciate it more than you know.
February 4, 2017
Hey, friends. I have a new novel about to launch on March 15th, but this is no ordinary release. Not only is my full-length novel EXORCIST FALLS coming from Sinister Grin Press, but included in the same volume will be the novella that started it at all, EXORCIST ROAD, for the first time ever in print.
Here’s the glorious Matthew Revert cover:
In case the notion of two books in one sounds daunting (for those of you after a brisk read), the total word count will end up around 104,000. For a point of reference, CHILDREN OF THE DARK was 93,000 words, and WOLF LAND was about 118,000.
You can preorder EXORCIST FALLS right here for Kindle, and soon the paperback will be available everywhere as well. Oh, and the synopsis:
Chicago is gripped by terror. The Sweet Sixteen Killer is brutally murdering young women, and the authorities are baffled.
When the police are called to an affluent home in the middle of the night, they learn that a seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy has attacked his family. The boy exhibits signs of demonic possession, and even more troublingly, he knows too much about the Sweet Sixteen killings. Father Jason Crowder, a young priest assigned to the case, must marshal his courage in order to save the boy and the entire city from the forces of evil.
But this is a darkness mankind has never encountered before. It craves more than blood. And it won’t rest until it possesses Father Crowder’s soul.
This volume brings together the original novella that started it all—Exorcist Road—and an all-new full-length novel (Exorcist Falls) for a shattering experience in supernatural terror.
I hope you check it out, friends. I think this one will give you nightmares.
January 14, 2017
For some authors, creating a large body of work doesn’t mean quality has to suffer. Unfortunately, there are readers and critics who make exactly that assumption. As a result, when you’re as prolific as Stephen King, you’re prone to the following dangers:
–Folks using verbs like “spewing,” “spitting,” “cranking out,” or “vomiting” in reference to the frequency with which you’re published.
–More books mean more opportunities for criticism. In that vein, many readers tend to forget ten great experiences with an author and fixate on a few bad ones and proclaim, “That’s it! I’m done with him!” If an artist takes the James Cameron route of creating something new every five or six years, there are fewer opportunities for fans to repudiate him. King affords himself no such luxury. He keeps “cranking them out,” which means he receives all the exasperation and faint praise associated with being prolific.
–The notion that you’re somehow “grandstanding,” and that the author who gazes moodily into the distance for six months without typing a single word is somehow more serious about his or her craft.
When you keep all this in mind, you begin to understand that for an artist who cares, producing work prolifically is actually a sign of great courage. And—though this should go without saying—the product of a stalwart work ethic. Stephen King refuses to coast on the reputation of his considerable body of work, and what’s more, he refuses to stop growing.
If I had penny for every time I heard someone swearing off Stephen King because (Insert Title Here sucked), I’d have enough money to buy a masterpiece like THE BAZAAR OF BAD DREAMS.
And it is a masterpiece, friends.
You see, those who fell off the King Fan Wagon back in ’83 or ’96 or ’09 are probably perfectly happy reading other authors, and I’m the last person to condemn someone else’s taste.
But in this author’s humble opinion, those who’ve forsaken or have not been reading King are missing some of the best work of his career.
I don’t know if King has ever been better at crafting stories than he is now. For proof, just look at a few of the delights included in these pages:
“Ur,” a surprisingly old-fashioned tale where you root for the good guys and fear the hand of Fate.
“Bad Little Kid,” a nasty little chiller that had me avoiding windows in the fear I’d discover the sinister child staring back at me.
“Morality,” a story that shook me with its casual monstrousness and its eerie plausibility. I wish I could forget it, but I can’t.
“A Death,” which left me stunned and a bit abashed because of the way I’d so thoroughly identified with the protagonist lawman.
“Summer Thunder,” one of the best apocalyptic tales I’ve ever read, and certainly one of the saddest. My God, I hope we never suffer a nuclear holocaust.
“Cookie Jar,” a yarn that moved me to tears and reminded me forcibly of my grandfather.
“Batman and Robin Have an Altercation,” which veered into territory I did not expect and featured a perfect ending.
And “Drunken Fireworks,” the sort of hilariously wild throwdown only King could pull off.
For those of you still reading King–for you Constant Readers–you’ve already experienced these stories or you someday will. You know exactly what a gift Stephen King is.
For the rest of you? There are many authors in the world, and I hope you find one who brings you the same kind of happiness Stephen King brings me.
Long days and pleasant nights to you all.
December 29, 2016
Hey, friends. It’s great to see you again. I’ve blogged less this year, and I reckon that’ll continue into 2017. The bright side, however, is that I’m using that time to work on my novels.
I should start by mentioning how sad it is to lose Carrie Fisher, who when I was a child became my very first crush, and who during my adulthood became someone I admired and respected. It’s a good feeling to learn that someone whose movies you love is also a very cool person, and that’s what happened the more I learned about Carrie Fisher. But that also makes her death sadder. She was taken from us too soon, but she made a great deal of her sixty years, and she certainly impacted me.
We’ll miss you, Carrie.
Now, to the first piece of news: I’m going to be sending out my first-ever newsletter in early January!
I know that might not be exclamation mark-worthy. After all, I’m the last living author without a newsletter. But I figure it’s time, and I’m thinking it’ll be a fantastic way to keep in touch with my readers. So…keep an eye out for more information on the newsletter right here on this blog (including how to sign up!).
Second piece of news:
This website is going to look very different soon. In fact, I’d say it’ll be different enough to call it a new website. The address will stay the same, however, so one of these evenings when you drop by it’ll all look shiny and beautiful.
News Item #3:
I have a new novel coming in a few months. In March, to be precise, which’ll put it exactly a year after CHILDREN OF THE DARK. And that brings me to…
News Item #4:
CHILDREN OF THE DARK has exploded this year, and as we near the end of 2016, it’s only gaining steam. Here are a few of the year-end lists COTD has made so far:
[image error]Hardcover Edition
Okay. That’s enough for now. More news coming soon, friends. Take care and be safe!
December 25, 2016
Friends, I’ll be honest. I’ve been putting off writing about this, not because it’s not important, but because it is.
A company named Samhain Publishing was a major part of the beginning of my writing career. Editor Don D’Auria gave me my start there when he acquired THE SORROWS, my debut novel. From the time that paperback came out early in 2012 until the fall of 2015, most of my published works were born under the Samhain name.
Eight novels, one novella.
On January 1st of 2017, those books will no longer be with Samhain (to put it succinctly, they’re discontinuing their horror line). Which means, at least briefly, nine of my books will no longer be available.
Just so we’re on the same page here (heh heh), here’s the list of books to which I’m alluding…
I’ve had many conversations over the past year with publishers, fellow writers, and my agent about what should happen to these books, but strangely, I’ve felt no rush to place them with new publishers. I have no doubt they will be placed, but only with the right publishers for the right terms. As of now, there are a great many possibilities with each book, but here’s what I can tell you right now:
After December 31st (yeah, in like, five days) these nine titles will be unavailable to purchase and/or read.
2. One of the nine titles is spoken for (yes, verbally, because as of this writing, the books are still under contract with Samhain, and Samhain, to their credit, are still paying royalties) and will be coming very soon in a very special way. Ambiguous enough for you?
3. Another title is spoken for (by the same company mentioned in #2) and will be, I’m pretty certain, republished in 2017.
4. So that leaves seven more books. I’ve been speaking with numerous publishers about these books, and one publisher is almost certainly going to acquire multiple titles. This is a different company than the one mentioned in #s two and three above. Man, do I feel cryptic.
5. Some books will be different than they were when they were published by Samhain, a few in very small ways, some in rather profound ways. The covers will likely all be new.
6. None of what I’ve said above will negatively impact my deal with Thunderstorm Books (for the Jonathan Janz Shadow Side series, which has been an immense success).
7. I’m being very cautious about all of this. Some might say too cautious. But I love these books dearly and want to make sure they’re treated the way that they deserve to be treated.
[image error]Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult
That’s enough for now. So…if you want to read the above nine titles, and you don’t want to wait, you probably ought to grab them this week. Here’s my Amazon author page.
More soon, friends. There’s a great deal happening, and it’s all great stuff. I’m planning a monster update-packed blog post for later in the week to catch you up on everything.
For now, take care.
December 5, 2016
The Children are coming for you, Germany.
Thanks to my agent Louise Fury and all the fine folks who work with The Bent Agency on foreign rights, the following news was just announced on the agency website:
“Jonathan Janz’s CHILDREN OF THE DARK sold in Germany to Voodoo Press.”
Voodoo Press has already published the likes of Bentley Little, Edward Lee, Jeff Strand, and many other writers I respect, so I’m delighted that they’ll be creating the German-language edition of CHILDREN OF THE DARK.
Voodoo Press and Bentley Little
There’s a lot going on right now, and as a result, I haven’t been blogging much. But rest assured it’s all good stuff. 2017 is shaping up to be the best year yet.
Thanks, friends, and I’ll talk to you soon.