Tag Archives: The Sorrows

Jonathan Janz STEALS My Blog Today! Get the Word on His New Ghost Story!

Today, we’ve got a guest post by the jovial Jonathan Janz, a horror author who is only slightly mad. But I’ll let him post anyway because he makes me laugh and I like his work. Today he’ll be talking about his upcoming House of Skin.

Ok, guest post starts here…………take it away Jonathan:

First of all, a huge thank you to Erin for allowing me to commandeer her blog for the day. And thank you to my doctors for letting me out of my cage. 

My new novel is called HOUSE OF SKIN. Here’s the incredible cover and a brief description of the tale: 


“Myles Carver is dead. But his estate, Watermere, lives on, waiting for a new Carver to move in. Myles’s wife, Annabel, is dead too, but she is also waiting, lying in her grave in the woods. For nearly half a century she was responsible for a nightmarish reign of terror, and she’s not prepared to stop now. She is hungry to live again…and her unsuspecting nephew, Paul, will be the key.

Julia Merrow has a secret almost as dark as Watermere’s. But when she and Paul fall in love they think their problems might be over. How can they know what Fate—and Annabel—have in store for them? Who could imagine that what was once a moldering corpse in a forest grave is growing stronger every day, eager to take her rightful place amongst the horrors of Watermere?”

So that’s the skeleton plot of the book. What I wanted to do today was to give you a glimpse into the novel via a short excerpt. The passage I’ve chosen to share with you today is the moment in which Paul Carver first enters his newly inherited Victorianmansion. Any of you who’ve ever bought (or inherited) a home can probably relate to the anticipation Paul is feeling here. So read on after the photo of MY BETTER SIDE for some free fiction!

When Paul came to an opening in the forest, he made out a wooden mailbox whose carved, ornate letters spelled out WATERMERE.


He signaled despite being the only living soul for miles. When the Civic left the thick gravel and disappeared into the woods, its wheels aligning with the twin tire paths that doubled for a road, he felt an odd twinge of recognition. The hickories and oaks and maples leaned over the road like knights with swords drawn, admitting their king.

And wasn’t that the truth? Unless the pictures the lawyers had sent him had been doctored in some way, Paul was about to take possession of a mansion. He chuckled, giddy with disbelief. He was a modern-day baron, a landed count.

Bushes thwacked the Civic, reeling him back toward reality. He’d need to do something about the flora threatening to overtake the lane. He knew Myles had been an old man, but he still could have employed someone, a local kid maybe, to keep the road from going to seed.

The woods opened up, and all he could do was stop the car and stare. Watermere was beautiful.
 He couldn’t believe that this sprawling Victorian home was his.
 As Paul pulled forward, he took it all in. Though majestic, the house needed work. He noted the way the porch awning sagged, the cracks in the brick façade, the dead ivy. He doubted the old man had spent much time on upkeep in his twilight years. He studied the detached double garage up ahead and wondered whether either side was occupied.

Paul stopped, threw the car into park. Getting out, he entered the side door of the garage. Flicking the switch, he saw it was empty. The closed air smelled vaguely of kerosene. He scanned the wall for the automatic door opener but couldn’t find one. Then, he spotted the rope attached to the garage door lying there on the floor. He crossed to it, bent and lifted.

The garage door roared up on its tracks. It made a frightful racket, but something about the noise appealed to him, as though he were announcing his ownership of the house by startling it awake.

Climbing back into the Civic, he shifted into gear and rolled into the stall. He cut the engine and got out, relishing the simple pleasure of housing his car in a garage. It was the first time, other than parking garages, he’d had the Civic indoors. He patted its roof fondly and went out.

Paul stared up at the house. He’d never imagined he would live in such a place. In fact, he never thought he’d own a house period. His father always told him how silly it was to waste money on rent, but Paul feared ownership, as though purchasing a home in the city would somehow bind him to it for the rest of his life. It was admitting defeat to buy a home near his family, he reasoned, so he kept his crackerbox apartment. Now he understood the pride his father had talked about.

He trotted toward the porch and mounted it in three strides. It winded him. He stood there panting, his belly drooping over his waistband.

He resolved to get into better shape.

Cupping his temples, he pushed his face close to the beveled door window and discerned a foyer made of checkered tile.

A manila envelope lay at his feet. He picked it up and ripped the top open. Bypassing the papers crammed inside, his groping fingers found the key, pulled it out. Taking one more deep breath, he sighed and slid the key into the lock. A dull click sounded. He thumbed the steel button.

Paul went in.


Thank you again to Erin for being so awesome. She really is awesome, by the way—she’s easily one of the kindest and funniest people I’ve met since becoming a writer. I hope you all read HOUSE OF SKIN. You can get it now anywhere e-books are sold like Amazon, or Samhain’s website, or Barnes and Noble… (with the paperback coming in October). And if you want to learn more about my books or me, go to www.jonathanjanz.com.

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Hurry! Download Jonathan Janz’s newest, creepiest HOUSE OF SKIN!

If you’re in the mood for another creepy, fear-filled horror novel to start off your summertime reading this June, try out my buddy Jonathan Janz’s newest release HOUSE OF SKIN! I can’t wait to read it this month myself. I’m sure I’ll probably report back to you to be sure to read only in daylight hours in some public place where there are plenty of people to call for help. 

So before another season of American Horror Story (with super yummy Adam Levine I must say) begins, read HOUSE OF SKIN for yourself and let me know what you think!

Introducing the most awesomest cool cover…

Here’s the synopsis of HOUSE OF SKIN:

“Myles Carver is dead. But his estate, Watermere, lives on, waiting for a new Carver to move in. Myles’s wife, Annabel, is dead too, but she is also waiting, lying in her grave in the woods. For nearly half a century she was responsible for a nightmarish reign of terror, and she’s not prepared to stop now. She is hungry to live again…and her unsuspecting nephew, Paul, will be the key.

Julia Merrow has a secret almost as dark as Watermere’s. But when she and Paul fall in love they think their problems might be over. How can they know what Fate—and Annabel—have in store for them? Who could imagine that what was once a moldering corpse in a forest grave is growing stronger every day, eager to take her rightful place amongst the horrors of Watermere?”

Sound good? You can pick it up in e-book format starting today, June 5, on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or his publisher Samhain. Looks like right now, it’s cheapest currently from Samhain: http://store.samhainpublishing.com/house-skin-p-6804.html.

Congrats Jonathan!


Jonathan Janz also published The Sorrows last year and you can read that review HERE and my interview with him HERE for all the latest info on his writing. Or you can go to www.jonathanjanz.com.

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Interview and Discussion with Gothic Horror Author Jonathan Janz

The wonderful author Jonathan Janz stopped by my blog for an AWESOME interview you’ll want to check out below! It’s lengthy, but it’s worth it. We discussed so many cool topics.

I just reviewed and discussed The Sorrows, his novel currently available with Samhain Publishing. If you missed this review post Friday, you can see it HERE NOW!! Don’t miss it.

Then read the interview where we discuss the horror genre, being a writer, his book and what else he’s writing….like a new western vampire novella (say what??), and much more.  Let us know what you think in the comment section after the post.  We’d love to hear from you!


Hi Jonathan! Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book blog! We’ve been having a streak of horror and dark related fiction lately and you’re a welcome addition!

Hey, Erin! Thank you so much for having me. How the heck are you, pal?

Erin:  Nothing better to me than reading and writing, so I’m feeling great! Speaking of reading, The Sorrows was both eloquently (yea, I said that—LOL) written as well as pulse-pounding, dark, and foreboding.

Jonathan:  Wow! Thank you for saying those wonderful things about The Sorrows! And it’s wonderful finally getting to sit down to talk with you. You’ve been extremely supportive to me, both professionally and as a friend.

Erin:  I am excited too. Not only are you a great writer, but a wonderful person, friend, and the greatest dad I know! I respect all you pack into a day so thanks for making time here.

I didn’t know what to expect when I first read The Sorrows. Since I haven’t grown up reading much of the true horror masters that many people mention, such as Richard Laymon and Jack Ketchum (I know-GASP-but zip it. I grew up in a Christian home with mom who didn’t like things to go bump in the night. Only in high school and college did I fall in love with Stephen King). 

So for all the adults who don’t have a background in horror, but are still loving reading all the new darker tales that are appearing in fiction lately, can you give us a reference point to what your work could be described as?

Jonathan: Without getting too wordy—that’ll happen later in this interview—I’ll just say that what I write is fast-paced Gothic horror. I love stories that move, but I also love stories that make you feel shivers and check behind you to make sure you aren’t being watched. Or menaced. Many authors seem to shoot for one or the other—a breakneck pace or an atmosphere of dread—but I’ve never seen the two as mutually exclusive.

Erin: Now that we’ve gotten it in a more general sense, go ahead for the horror aficionados and name some authors you think have influenced your work and why. And who are your favorite writers?

Jonathan: Stephen King above all. I read about thirty of his books before I even began sampling other authors. And when I did branch out, the authors I chose were the ones listed in the appendix of Danse Macabre. So I read Hell House and Ghost Story and Lord of the Flies, and those three books all had profound influences on my style and my sensibility. The Haunting of Hill House was another that really showed me what a horror story could do. Other authors that followed and that profoundly influenced my writing were Ramsey Campbell, Richard Laymon, Jack Ketchum, Ray Bradbury, and Joe R. Lansdale.

I spoke about Hell House and Ghost Story being important books in my development, and from that it can correctly be assumed that Richard Matheson and Peter Straub really helped shape my writing. Richard Matheson is like a mad conductor leading words and paragraphs in some dark symphony. If you draw back a bit and really examine the manner in which he orchestrates a scene of suspense, you can appreciate the elegance of his design. “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” contains a few scenes that demonstrate what I’m talking about. It also supports my assertion that horror writers are also great magicians. They’re able to get you thinking about one thing while they’re really setting you up for something entirely different. And the ruse they’re employing is wholly engrossing and necessary—not just distracting windage. But man, when they spring their trap and you find yourself helplessly bound in their machinery, you realize just how sly they’ve been. Matheson is a sly magician as well as a deeply heartfelt writer.

Straub is another story and a tougher labyrinth to navigate. He can seem cold and clinical at times, which is why some don’t love his stuff, but when you stay with one of his works it almost always pays off in a grand way. Ghost Story is my favorite horror novel, and it’s one whose structure I can see in my own work. Both The Sorrows and House of Skin employ a Gothic structure similar to the one Straub used in Ghost Story. In my fifth book, I’ll be using it too—hopefully in a grander way than in any of my previous books. After I read (and marveled at) Ghost Story, I went on to Julia, which was also hugely frightening and influential for me, and then I read If You Could See Me Now, Shadowland, and several others.

Erin:  I am inclined to say that your novel had some part Edgar Allan Poe inspiration. I mean, he would be one to wall someone up right? Do you feel his influence? I feel like some of your novel is a fantastical type of storytelling, more than the screaming in fright type of work.  The way Poe wrote. Do you agree or disagree?

Jonathan: I wholeheartedly agree and feel like screaming THANK YOU for the compliment. Poe is one of my very favorites. I teach his work and have been profoundly influenced by his stories. In fact, the Poe influence goes back to my early childhood. I can remember checking out albums from the library with spooky stories on them. A couple were “The Signal-Man” by Charles Dickens and “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Poe. My mom told me the plot of “The Pit and the Pendulum,” among others, and that also had an impact.

There’s something deliciously scary about the work of the old masters. I eat up any horror written prior to 1940, and I hope some of that shows in my writing. Guys like Poe and Lovecraft have been very important to me, but some of the lesser known (at least to modern audiences) writers like Algernon Blackwood, M.R. James, Arthur Machen, J.S. Lefanu, Oliver Onions, and E.F. Benson have been just as crucial in my learning. One of the greatest compliments I’ve received from readers of The Sorrows is that the passages from Calvin Shepherd, my first-person narrator from 1911 to 1925, read authentically and feel organic to the story. Many readers—including my wife—have told me that those passages are their favorite parts. I’m not patting myself on the back here, but I think to pull that sort of thing off with any kind of success, a writer needs to know his heritage and have a deep respect for guys like Poe, M.R. James, and the rest.

Erin Comment:  I agree. I also have loved Poe since early literature learning, as well as Lovecraft. If they had put the black and white Addams Family or Twilight Zone in a series books back then too, I’d have loved that. For me, the classic horror of Frankenstein, Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde all had such a creative way of causing fear deep in your bones without graphically cutting off limbs just for effect. Three of my favorite Poe stories are Pit and the Pendulum, The Cask of Amontillado, and the Tell-Tale Heart.  They follow me wherever I go. They cause me to look at my own life and emotions and see if I am “walling up” or “hiding under the floorboards” things in my life I don’t want to face head on. Our own human emotions can be just as scary as anything else out there. We all fight demons in many ways, but the sad thing is that you can’t get away from them by hiding them. You’ve got to face them or they will tick, tick, tick away at you. I like that about horror, it makes you face your fears. 

What do you think about horror in that sense? Why do you feel people love to read horror?

Jonathan Comment: For exactly the reason you state above. You can’t hide your horror away, to paraphrase The Beatles. It’s why I believe horror writers are the sanest individuals in the world, contrary to what most folks assume about us. We writers tend to exorcise each and every one of our fears, worries, neuroses, etc. on the page, which means in every other way we’re basically well-adjusted people.

I also think people are drawn to horror because it makes them feel better about their own lives. Human beings are essentially ungrateful creatures. When all you read about is women going on glorious binges of self-discovery or men successfully foiling nuclear bomb plots, your own life tends to pale in comparison. You get discontented. But when you read about people whose lives are irrevocably messed up or people whose body parts are slowly devoured by a three-headed alien, you tend to appreciate what you’ve got a whole lot more.

Erin:  Where did your idea for The Sorrows come from? Which actually came first, The Sorrows or your upcoming novel House of Skin?

Jonathan: I actually began writing House of Skin about eight years before I put pen to paper on The Sorrows. I wrote probably seven drafts of House of Skin and trashed each one. Then, with The Sorrows, I wrote around 170,000 words and then slowly, painfully winnowed it down to what it is now (around 94,000 words). As I was doing that, I went back and re-wrote House of Skin (which was first called Starlight, then Her Eyes Were Wild) and on the eighth try finally got it the way I’d always suspected it could be. So House of Skin came first and third, with The Sorrows sandwiched between.

My idea for The Sorrows came from an image of a man walled in a tower. You were absolutely right to mention Poe here, as both “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Black Cat” involve walling characters up. But in this case, my figure was in a tower with nothing else but a piano. The song he played was like, yet unlike, Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in C Sharp Minor.” It had that jarring, haunting quality, but it was its own beast too. It was even more sorrowful and sinister. That figure became Gabriel, one of the central figures in The Sorrows.

Erin Comments: Absolutely, again with emotions, music can bring us to tears, make us shake with joy and happiness, and create dread in our inner being. A picture of Dracula playing the organ comes to mind (or was that the Count on Sesame Street?) and how he channeled his inner sorrow into the music and became one with it. It is a way for people who don’t want to feel or don’t know how to feel, to become one with emotion and be able to cope.  

Jonathan Comment: Agreed!

Erin: Speaking on that, I loved The Sorrows for the musical component. I love classical music and how some of the masters have created a level of foreboding and excitement, setting the pace for great cinematic works such as Star Wars, Phantom of the Opera, and Les Miserable.  Where did you get the idea? Wouldn’t it be great to actually have their composition put to music?

Jonathan:  Well, you sort of explained my feelings on the matter with your question. Like you, I love classical music, and a great many film scores are informed by the great classical masters. Some might think this is silly, but I’ve heard it said that if Beethoven or Bach were around today, they’d be writing for the movies. I agree wholeheartedly.

Guys like John Williams, Bernard Herrmann (Psycho, Vertigo), and Hans Zimmer just amaze me with their ability to turn an emotion into a song. That kind of genius is far beyond my understanding, but I try to get at the heart of it in The Sorrows. I know they’re different beasts, but I suspect there’s some overlap in the creative process between writers of music and writers of fiction. Though one’s head is important, a great deal relies on feel and on one’s heart. I used what I knew of music, what I knew of the creative process, and what I learned from others (like my wife, for instance, who is an extremely gifted musician). The feedback I’ve had from both musicians and non-musicians has been very positive, which is really gratifying. You kind of alluded to this, but someone on GoodReads suggested that The Sorrows could be a great multi-media work, complete with a full musical score. I couldn’t agree more. Maybe someday it’ll happen!

Erin comments: Oh, I certainly believe that Mozart helped pull off many an amazing theater production when he was alive just with his musical scores.  He was loved for that and had he not died a mysterious early death, we’d be blessed with so much more from this savant. Music is not something you listen to with your ears and your mind, but feel in your heart. Tim is an amazing singer and when I listen to someone I love sing from the joy of loving to sing, it moves me in ways I can’t even describe. I feel this way with the classic masters of musical score as well and partly a huge reason I never want the stage to go to being a thing of the past.

Jonathan comment: I feel that way about my wife too. She’s incredibly talented and is able to feel the music as well as perform it. Which in turn allows the audience to internalize the experience, as well.

Erin: The historical element added between chapters really added to the story. I liked how the ancient evil doings come back to haunt them.  How did you accomplish this to be so authentic (writing in the voice from generations before)?

Jonathan: Thank you! I touched on this above, but going a bit deeper, I think balance is important with anything in life. So the two things that I feel need to be balanced in this case are a) the authorly courage to stretch one’s boundaries and b) the need to be true to oneself and to always be real. A good reader can hear a false note in a story immediately. That is triply true for a false passage or even a false complete work. So while I believe in trying new things, I also believe that if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.

Which leads me to this: everything I wrote in The Sorrows, be it the contemporary sections or the journal entries from the 1910s and 1920s, was one-hundred percent authentic. It all felt good and real and true. Hemingway had it right. You have to search for the truth of the story (and the characters), and once you’ve found that, the writing will come naturally.

It felt totally natural to me to write as Calvin, despite the fact that he was a repressed, somewhat sinister servant from the early part of the twentieth century. I became him and wrote as he would have. I say all that simply and probably make it sound simplistic, but what made that possible for me was the copious reading I’d done (and continue to do) of guys like Blackwood, Machen, etc. Again, I’m not suggesting that I’m some incredible writer or anything; rather, I’m saying that because that voice was in me (likely because of the unintentional preparation I’d done), it all flowed naturally. Readers like you seem to feel the same way, which makes me happier than you know.

Erin comments: You should be happy, you did a wonderful job. Besides horror, my main reading love is history. In fact, besides degrees in Journalism and English Lit, I also have a BA in History. So I did feel as if you wrote those sections with great historical presence without it feeling phony. I loved feeling the emotions from those characters and I think I even related more to them than I did to some of the contemporary characters.  And I always love books with historical elements. The best part of your book to me was the historical secret component. And why was everything in the past so much more sinister than today?

Jonathan comment: It wasn’t more sinister by design, but now that I think about it, I do have to say you’re right about that. Perhaps it has something to do with the role of fatherhood then as opposed to now. I know there have always been bad fathers, and there are plenty of bad fathers today. But I feel like society at large is growing slowly more aware of how little is expected from dads when it comes to parenting. Ben Shadeland is a responsible, loving, caring father. His relationship with his son is the emotional core of the novel. Robert Blackwood, the composer in the early 1900s sections, cares nothing for his children because his only focus is his career. My impression is that kind of thinking was wholly acceptable back then, and while many still think it’s okay to win bread and stay the heck away from the child rearing, hopefully we’re learning that men have a sacred duty and opportunity to nurture their children too. Just my opinion.

Erin comments: A good opinion and in my book, the right opinion. And there are less servants and nannies in this day and age!  Oh, less mansions with graveyards too.

Erin:  There is quite a bit of female abusive in this novel. I think you explained once in something I read about why this is and how the outcome justifies it. As a survivor of domestic abuse myself, it was hard to read at times, but I see what you were going for in the novel. Can you talk a little about that from your novel standpoint? Also, why do you feel that dark, brooding tales always seem to prey on women in a sexual way, but haunt men mentally?

Jonathan: I don’t want to correct you or to sound disrespectful (because you know I respect you a great deal), but I feel I should clarify this point so my meaning is clear. I don’t feel that the fates of the abusive characters justify the presence of the abuse. The truth is nothing can justify or alleviate or lessen the lasting impact of abuse (in fiction or in life). I don’t feel like Lee Stanley (the director of the movie in The Sorrows), for instance, got what he deserved in the story. He physically, mentally, and emotionally abused at least two women and brought about both of their deaths. The depths of his depravity and viciousness are really beyond comprehension. So while he does experience a decidedly horrific fate (which I won’t here give away), that end doesn’t erase the torture that those women endured.

The same thing holds true in life. I think I’m a pretty forgiving guy, but when it comes to abuse…honestly, it’s very hard for me to forgive. A child is beaten or molested, and then the perpetrator is murdered in prison. Sure, some would say justice was served, but the child is still scarred and damaged, and no vengeful act can undo that damage.

I’m a husband and a father, and because of the powerful emotions I have for my family, I often find myself thinking rather monstrous thoughts about those I see on the news who would harm a woman or a child (or anyone, for that matter). Jack Ketchum deals with these issues better than any writer I’ve read in stories like The Girl Next Door and The Woman, and I think he’d agree with what I’m about to say…

What it comes down to for me is telling the truth. What is the truth of that story? What is the authentic behavior or word or thought of that character? And whatever those answers are dictate the trajectory of my stories. Sure, I might detest something a character does or says or thinks, but just because it’s contrary to my belief system doesn’t mean I should change it or soften the blow in any way. That would ring false and would compromise the story. Men who abuse women and children are the vilest scum in creation, but if they show up in my stories, I have to honestly record the truth about them, even when it makes me sick. And I did feel ill at times writing and editing segments of The Sorrows. There’s a scene with Eddie Blaze—you’ll probably remember the one, Erin—where he does something so reprehensible that our feelings for him are forever changed. I felt shaken as I wrote that scene, but I felt like I recorded it honestly. And for that reason, I think it rings true.

I don’t know if I’ve answered your question or not, but I hope I’ve shed some light regarding my thoughts on the issue.

Erin comments: No disrespect taken. I want people understand that male authors don’t always agree with the violence that their male characters sometimes dole out to the female characters. I know where your heart is, but I wanted the readers to hear it. I had the pleasure of getting to know you some before completing the book, so I knew that you didn’t condone the actions; however, I wanted to address it here for my readers who are feminists like me. Many men are crude and abusive and controlling, like your characters, and though what happens to them doesn’t make up for the pain an abused person continues to feel, it does make it feel like “what goes around comes around” and life forces didn’t let them get away with it.

Jonathan comment: Thanks, Erin. It’s an extremely sensitive topic, as we’ve talked about, and I probably over-explained a little. Like you said, I just wanted people to know my true thoughts on the matter. I’m glad I made at least a little bit of sense!

Erin:  Do you want to talk a little about your writing experience? How long have you been writing? How did you get discovered and what does it mean to you to now be a published author?

Jonathan: My writing experience has been working, failing, working, failing some more, learning, getting rejected, learning more, getting rejected a lot more, getting rejected a hundred more times, experiencing a minor success, then getting rejected several hundred times more.

I’m not exaggerating.

The fact is, this is a grueling business. Unless you’re extraordinarily gifted—and those folks are rare—you’ve got to have an iron will and an indomitable spirit. I’m not the most talented writer in the world, but I do have determination. No one will ever be able to break my spirit or define what I can or can’t do. Whether I succeed or fail, I’ll always fight.

I’m a dreamer. I find inspiration all over the place. The movie Ratatouille inspired me just the other night. I love the way that Chef Gusteau believes that anyone can cook. I love the way that Remy the Rat combines a fighter’s spirit with a poet’s heart. If you’ve got those two things, you’ve got a great combination.

Erin Comments: Ratatouille is one of my favorite movies. J  I am so glad you are so determined!! But what makes you want to write only horror? Do you ever hope to write anything else?

Jonathan comment: I’ll always write horror, but it’s certainly not the only thing I’ll ever write. I’ve worked on some things already that blur and blend genres. One novella that’ll be done within a few months (hopefully) is a western vampire story. Another story—and this is kind of secret—I wrote several years ago is a combination thriller/horror/crime novel. It’s called Garden of Snakes, and it’s actually a full-length, completed novel. I need to go back and do some work to parts of it, but overall I really love the book. I just shelved it for a while because I was working on other projects (like The Sorrows and House of Skin).

Eventually I plan on doing some sci-fi, some fantasy, some western, and some thriller/mystery/suspense. I even (like most authors) have some ideas for kids’ books.

Erin:  I know that your family is very important to you. You and your wife have 3 small children, you work another full time job, and you don’t want to miss a minute of your kid’s growing up moments. So how do you find the balance? What habits do you need? What motivates you to keep writing? How do you find the time?

Jonathan: Well, this is going to sound cheesy, but it’s true. I talked earlier about truth in writing. Even more, I believe in truth in living. If you polled a hundred “family men” and asked them what matters the most in their lives, they’d of course say their wives and their children.

But how do they actually live? Do they veg out in front of the flat screen watching football all afternoon, or do they wrestle with their kids? Do they sit there jacking around on their IPhones when they’re with their wives or do they actually, you know, talk to their wives? How about their careers? Do they put in extra hours so they can put more money into their kids’ 529s, or do they put in extra hours so they can belong to a posh country club and drive nicer cars?

In short, I think most men live for the wrong things and are absolutely full of crap when they say they care most about their families. For my part, I simply want to live truly and authentically. My wife and my kids are the best things in my life, and they deserve the best of me. Sure, sometimes I get distracted thinking of a story idea, and yes, I occasionally catch myself checking my email when I should be talking to my wife. But at least I’m aware of it, and I try to do better. That’s got to count for something.

Erin comments: I totally agree. I live my life the same, and I’ve got a great partner and friend in Tim who totally parents as you do. We are PRESENT for our children, not just in the same room. And to each other as well. People don’t always like it, but it’s not their life and life is much too short.  That said though, for aspiring authors who do want to write and raise a family, what is your advice for still finding time to write and market while you are present for your family and have a full-time job?

Jonathan comment: Well, providing they do have their priorities straight—rather than giving lip service to them—I’d say they need to work with their significant others to carve out a reasonable schedule. And don’t wait for inspiration to strike. You wait for that, you’ll never get anything written. You’ve gotta write whenever you can, and you’ve gotta know that it’s not always going to be good. Mike Myers (Shrek, Austin Powers) once said something I really took to heart: “Give yourself permission to suck.” Once you do that, you’re really liberated to get working. There’s no law that states you’ve got to show people everything you do—in fact, you better not do that because much of it probably will suck—but because you’re not paralyzed by doubt or rationalizing inaction by pretending that inspiration is necessary, you’ll also do some really good work too.

Erin comments: I know what you mean about lip service due to personal reasons, but there are good people out there that do parent well like Tim and I. We both have a hard time finding any time at all to write. I think it was easier when the kids were smaller. Now they are just into activities and we never feel there is any time to put writing first for an hour or two because we do want to enjoy every moment with them. I suppose at some point it will iron out a little. I do like to hear different techniques by different authors; I think many other authors struggle with the same scenario. None of us make writing a priority. Probably some of that is the sense of it making us feel selfish.

Erin:  What other interests do you have (and I know you’ll say your family of course)? So what else besides your family and writing do you enjoy?

Jonathan: Books, of course. I love books. And I should have said my grandparents and my mom before that, but I didn’t want to sound too boring. I love movies a great deal. I lift three or four times a week and run two or three times…most weeks. I enjoy taking care of our house, working in the yard (which is rendered much more enjoyable because of Frank Muller’s wonderful audio versions of Stephen King’s Dark Tower books). I’m a huge nature freak—the world truly awes me. When we travel, I really enjoy that, though as you can attest to, Erin, it’s hard to travel with really little ones. I love going to church, though I hate it when people use religion as a means of wounding others and separating themselves from their fellow man.

I’m big on multi-tasking, which means I’ll often watch a Cubs game or a basketball game as I’m lifting or running. I can’t just sit and watch those things because I don’t feel productive enough. It’s kind of a sickness, really, the need to achieve and accomplish. But at least I’m never bored. Boredom is an emotion I’ll never be able to understand. There’s too much to do, too much to experience to ever be bored.

Erin: What things do you use for inspiration in your writing? I always have to ask horror writers that, because I pray it’s not their everyday life (I mean like seeing arms get sawed off or something!!) Ha!

Jonathan: It says on my bio that I grew up between a graveyard and a dark forest. Perhaps for that reason, for as long as I can remember I’ve found mystery and potential menace everywhere I look. I hear darkness in music. I’m planning a novel at some point based on a Metallica song. I see characters’ faces in my mind’s eye. I’ll imagine a scenario out of the blue that will blossom into a full-fledged story idea.

Poetry often inspires me. House of Skin was inspired by a course I took at Purdue on the Romantic poets. Words from Byron, Shelley, and the rest spawned the basis of that novel. One of the epigraphs at the beginning of the book is by Keats.

I ascribe to Stephen King’s belief that stories are found things. A writer doesn’t conjure or create a story—he discovers it, digs it up, and dusts it off as best he can without harming it. If he does a good job at exhuming it, the tale might be worth something. That’s what I try to do. Once I find it, I listen. The characters control everything.

Erin: Your next novel coming soon to e-book and then paperback is called House of Skin.  That just sounds creepy!! Is it a sequel to the The Sorrows, or a stand-alone? Give us the scoop, what’s it about?

Jonathan:  House of Skin is a stand-alone novel, so you can read it without any foreknowledge. It does, however, connect to The Sorrows in a very cool way. For those who haven’t read The Sorrows, the main characters in that book are composing music for a horror film. The horror film just happens to be House of Skin. So you get references in The Sorrows to House of Skin (some of the characters, a bit of the plot, a couple of scene allusions). Neither book is at all reliant on the other, but it’s still fun to see how they connect.

Talking about House of Skin…I’ll go ahead and share the synopsis that Don D’Auria (Samhain Publishing) created for the novel:

Myles Carver is dead. But his estate, Watermere, lives on, waiting for a new Carver to move in. Myles’s wife, Annabel, is dead too, but she is also waiting, lying in her grave in the woods. For nearly half a century she was responsible for a nightmarish reign of terror, and she’s not prepared to stop now. She is hungry to live again…and her unsuspecting nephew, Paul, will be the key.

 Julia Merrow has a secret almost as dark as Watermere’s. But when she and Paul fall in love they think their problems might be over. How can they know what Fate—and Annabel—have in store for them? Who could imagine that what was once a moldering corpse in a forest grave is growing stronger every day, eager to take her rightful place amongst the horrors of Watermere?

Erin’s comments: That sounds so good; I really can’t wait to read it. J

Jonathan’s comment: Thanks, Erin!

 Erin:  What else can we expect from you in the near future? What else are you currently writing or plan to write?

Jonathan: I recently found a fantastic agent named Louise Fury. She procured a deal for my third novel within two days of signing me. It’s called THE DARKEST LULLABY, and it will be published by Don D’Auria and Samhain Horror in early 2013. I’ll be posting more about the novel on my blog soon, but for now I’ll just say that it’s a combination of ghosts, demons, and vampires, and it has a Paranormal Activity/The Shining/Rosemary’s Baby vibe. Not saying it’s on par with those masterpieces, but you get my point.

I’m nearing completion on my fourth novel, which has the working title NATIVE. It’s by far the bloodiest, most action-packed thing I’ve written. In a strange way it’s also a lot of fun. Extraordinarily dark fun, but fun nonetheless.

I’ll also be starting work on a fifth novel this summer. I’ve never been as excited to start a book as I am with this fifth one, so I can’t wait to get cracking on it. While THE DARKEST LULLABY and NATIVE have mostly linear stories (with regard to time), my soon-to-be-started project will return to the Gothic present/past structure of THE SORROWS and HOUSE OF SKIN. All of the books, of course, have my sensibility, for whatever that’s worth, but I really like how each one has a different personality. Once I finish with the fifth book and a couple other projects I’ve been working on (a western vampire novella, for instance), I might begin a sequel for either THE SORROWS or HOUSE OF SKIN.

Erin Comments: Congratulations on just securing an agent and also on your third novel being purchased. It also sounds tremendous. I have a lot of reading coming up for you! BUT really, a western vampire novella…..mmmmm….you ARE thinking outside the box.

Jonathan’s comment: I really love the story. It’s something very dear to my heart, and though it’s dark and scary and full of tension and action, it’s also one of the most moving things I’ve written. I just have to finish it.

Erin:  Just to shake things up, if you could have a starring role in any movie, what would it be?

Jonathan: Wow! Setting aside the obvious worry about having to feign interest in a woman other than my wife, I’d really like to play Ben in THE SORROWS. Physically Ben and I are pretty similar, and I think it’d be neat to do the things he does. I mean, how many movies allow you to write a music score for a horror film, get into several physical altercations, love a beautiful woman (I’d be replaced by a body double for that scene, of course), and descend into a basement with an ax to do battle with a mythological monster?

Erin: What are your favorite movies?

Jonathan: Off the top of my head, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, It’s a Wonderful Life, Jaws, The Shawshank Redemption, The Big Lebowski, Rear Window, The Empire Strikes Back, How to Train Your Dragon, Good Will Hunting, Ratatouille, It Happened One Night, Tootsie, Pulp Fiction, 3:10 to Yuma, The Incredibles, and too many others to mention. I love great movies in all genres and watch them whenever I can. I also teach film, so I get to share my love of movies with my students.

Erin comments: I love movies. How awesome you get to teach film. Did you know the Shawshank Redemption was filmed where I live? I can show you photos sometime of the places. J Anyway, great movie. And the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is another favorite of mine and a complete classic. Also Rear Window, the older version, and also the remake with Johnny Depp wasn’t bad. All the Star Wars movies are high on my list too. Tootsie, not so much I guess. But throw in Rain Man and I can’t stop laughing. I love Disney movies and fairy tales, and it’s not just because I’m a girl!

Jonathan’s comment: I’m not at all surprised you enjoy most of those films. And I’m a little jealous about the Shawshank thing!

Erin: I am a HUGE geek and LOVE comics. So did comics influence you growing up? Do you like a particular comic? And if you say you don’t like comics, we will cease to be friends. Kidding.

Jonathan: Uh-oh. Well, I did read comics, but not as much as you or some of my other writer friends (I’m looking at you, Hunter Shea). As the above answer might suggest, I was more influenced by film. And by the woods and graveyards and other landscapes around me. I’d consider myself a book and movie geek, but I don’t have enough experience to consider myself a comic book geek. But I do love comic book movies. Do I get to keep being your friend?

Erin comments: Nope, we’re done. I am so unhappy. Ok, I suppose I’ll let it slide. To me, comics are some of the best written stuff. Action, concise text, heroes, villains, and the art. I love the art. In fact, I am Wonder Woman. There I confessed my secret. Well, look at all the films impacted and inspired by comics?! Have I convinced you yet?

Jonathan’s comment: Consider me convinced.

Erin: Where can readers, fans, and interested parties get to know the very funny Jonathan Janz?

Jonathan: My blog (http://jonathanjanz.com/) is the best place to find me. You can email me directly at jonathanjanz@comcast.net or follow my Twitter feed (@jonathanjanz). I’d also love for you to friend me on Facebook (just look up Jonathan Janz, and there I’ll be!).

Erin comments: Note, there are a TON of people named Jonathan Janz on FB, so look for The Sorrows avatar.

Jonathan’s comment: Good call!

Erin:  Where can your books be purchased?

Jonathan:  You can get the e-books or paperbacks pretty much anywhere, but here are a few links to get you started…

LINKS REMOVED as no longer valid.


Erin:  It’s ALWAYS a pleasure talking to you, Jonathan. I absolutely adore you for your friendly, light-hearted and jovial manner and respect you for all you do to pursue your dreams. I wish you the best of luck and hope to see you at the blog again soon.

Jonathan:  Thank you so much, Erin, for having me on your blog and for being so incredible to me. I’m thankful to have met you. Your kindness and sense of humor always brighten my day!

Erin: Thankful to have met you too, my friend. 


Bio of Jonathan Janz, Author

Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard. In a way, that explains everything. The Sorrows is his first novel, which published with Samhain Horror in late 2011 and his second, House of Skin, is set to publish with Samhain Horror this year (2012). Just this week his third book, The Darkest Lullaby, sold as well.
He has also written two novellas (Old Order and Witching Hour Theatre) 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 cliché happens to be true.

One of Jonathan’s wishes is to someday get Stephen King, Peter Jackson, Jack Ketchum and Joe R. Lansdale together for an all-night zombie movie marathon. Of course, that can only happen if all four drop their restraining orders against him.

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The Sorrows, by Jonathan Janz, Uses Elements of Storytelling at their Finest!

Old-fashioned storytelling. Fast paced plot. Well-developed characters. Awesome elements of horror. The Sorrows from Jonathan Janz delivers it all! Read on for exciting information and review of this book!

I read Janz’s novel, The Sorrows (his debut with Samhain Publishing’s new horror line), a few months ago and it’s been percolating for review for enough days that I just had to complete it before it crept anymore inside my head and made me go mad. That’s right, this book hooked me and I am not about to find the time to go to the insane asylum anytime soon so I’ll need to let the beast onto the page and hope it doesn’t rip it to shreds! Ok, it’s typed on a screen, I know. So how about I just tell you how great this book was instead and subdue the monster.

First, the book teaser for The Sorrows:

The Sorrows, an island off the coast of California, and its castle have been uninhabited since a series of gruesome, unexplained murders in 1925. But its owner allows film composers Ben and Eddie and a couple of their friends to stay in Castle Blackwood. Eddie is certain a haunted castle is the setting Ben needs to find musical inspiration for a horror film.  But what they find is more horrific than any movie. 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.

So what did I think about The Sorrows?

First of all, don’t you love Samhain covers? It draws the reader into the book before they even open the pages.  But that isn’t all that is great about this book. 

Following in the line of some of the great horror novels I’ve read lately, this one was right on par with the newer horror novels I’ve been enjoying that are full of mystery, suspense, fantasy, superb storytelling, and of course, an element of fear. Not a former reader of Richard Laymon or Richard Matheson myself (ummmm….both named Richard?), two writers I’ve heard Janz being attributed to in writing style, I will just have to tell you my own thoughts. (And yes, please don’t judge me for not reading any other master of horror other than Stephen King. I led a very sheltered life growing up.)

Reminiscent with the storytelling of Edgar Allan Poe, with a jolt of modern-day horror flick to round out the plot, The Sorrows certainly introduced several different styles.  I did (and do) read a lot of Edgar Allan Poe and Janz integrates influential lines and references to Poe that give it the dark, eerie, calculated feel of Poe text. I loved that about this book. I really liked how he worked this fantasy story, which was about an ancient family secret, and melted it with the contemporary plot of two present day film composers being sent to the island to write  a musical score for a horror movie. (The horror movie which in fact is his next book House of Skin, coming this year).

Set the scene with an ominous castle on a fog infested island, a real jerk of a guy who likes to exploit women, another guy who is struggling with his musical muse, and two women with self-esteem and/or revenge issues and you’ve got the making of one screwed up house party.

Once they get to the island (which took a little bit of time, I suppose setting up characters and building the scene, but wish it had moved a tad faster), I am reminded of the show Harper’s Island. If you watched it, the show was killer (no pun intended) and reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, but set on an island village where each person slowly gets knocked off until we find out who is the murderer. The Sorrows reminded me then, not being a longtime horror connoisseur, of an Edgar Allan Poe tale meet Agatha Christie meet Harper’s Island, with some violence and explicit sex rolled in.  And yes, be warned of the explicit sex. There is quite a bit of it.

It did have an element of old-fashioned horror movies, like Alfred Hitchcock who I adore, but also with some cheesiness of the type many people love from those 80s horror films. In addition, there is a touch of the normal issues and disputes among people and in relationships, as well as some romance, all while they are fighting a supernatural demon who can easily fool you by seeking out your weaknesses and using them against you. And there is an interesting story behind this fearful demon that you’ll not want to miss. 

If there was much blood, I didn’t notice it because the plot propelled me forward through the story. That’s how I like my horror.  It’s the way Stephen King does it, right?  Storytelling is an art and horror should be a slow burn type of fear or dread, not just gore. But yes, there were acts that would have been bloody for sure had I been a character in the story watching it unfold before my eyes.

 The story also jumps between chapters taking on characters from generations before, and an old family dilemma at the castle, to the present day activity. This adds an element of history, secrecy, and mystery to the book. In fact, I loved this part of the book the best and its ultimate resolution.

 As you can read from what I’m saying, there was A LOT going on in this book, so you’ll read faster just to keep up. Plus you won’t want to put it down once your mid-way through because you are going to want to find out what secret this castle is keeping, whose involved, and how it ends for everyone.
Well done, Jonathan Janz! I like the old-fashioned horror story feel to your novel and I can’t wait to read more of what you plan to publish in the future.
Readers, stay tuned for an exclusive interview on my site with Jonathan Janz coming this Sunday, May 13! He answers all kinds of my probing questions. I can’t wait for you to see his deepest, darkest inner thoughts about The Sorrows, writing, horror, and much more. And he’s always hilarious, so I can’t wait for you to check it out.
Bio of Jonathan Janz, Author
Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard. In a way, that explains everything. The Sorrows is his first novel, which published with Samhain Horror in late 2011 and his second, House of Skin, is set to publish with Samhain Horror this year (2012). Just this week his third book, The Darkest Lullaby, sold as well.
He has also written two novellas (Old Order and Witching Hour Theatre) 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 cliché happens to be true.

One of Jonathan’s wishes is to someday get Stephen King, Peter Jackson, Jack Ketchum and Joe R. Lansdale together for an all-night zombie movie marathon. Of course, that can only happen if all four drop their restraining orders against him.


Filed under Book Reviews

#SpringHorrorRAT Challenge 2!! How many can you list to win The SORROWS by Jonathan Janz?

Are you all having fun with the read-a-thon? Getting some pages under your bookmark (haha…you know, like items under your belt). Anyway…..I have another challenge. I will try to post a mini-challenge every day. The last challenge was a one-day only challenge. With the rest of them, I’ll post the challege each day and participants can have until Sunday at 11:59 p.m. to enter any of them and all of them. That way you can do them when you have time or over the weekend!! Does that sound like a better idea?


Since this is a read-a-thon for SCARY-themed books, and in honor of me checking out Stephen King’s newest novel The Wind Through the Keyhole, let’s do one about scary books by the master himself!

Check your bookshelf (that can be a combination of physical bookshelves throughout your house, GoodReads or Shelfari shelf, Kindle or Nook shelf, etc.) and SEE WHO CAN LIST THE MOST AMOUNT of STEPHEN KING BOOKS. You have to own some version of any book to list it. Then star the ones you’ve already read on your list. For fun, double star your favorite. Whoever ends up with the most wins! If there is a tie, I will do a tie breaker.

You can list these on your blog and then paste the link in the comments under this blog. If you don’t blog, you can list them in the comments.  You’ll get 5 entries for that. For any people who have starred over 10 of them, you get +2 extra entries.

If you follow me on Twitter @ErinAlMehairi, you get +2 extra entries (new followers only). If you tweet this contest, you get +2 more entries. ANOTHER +2 for following @jonathanjanz on Twitter.

If you follow my blog, you get +2 extra entries (new followers only). You can do this by going to the home page and signing-up to receive my blog by email. Or if you already follow, you can like this post for +2.

You get +2 points also if you follow me on GoodReads (http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4763588-erin-al-mehairi).

So what’s the prize?? ENTER to WIN a SIGNED copy of The Sorrows, by Jonathan Janz. See previous post for information on this book, but it’s worth it. Published by Samhain Horror, it’s a creepy old tale with explicit talk (just warning you) and evil deeds. I’ve read it and I really liked it. It’s one of those old tales with a modern twist.

For everyone else, I will randomly select from anyone who tries to do the challenge (and extras apply for more entries) so that you don’t feel left out from not having a long list. That random person will win Stephen King’s Just After Sunset, courtesy of ME! 🙂 If you have it already, just let me know to take you out of drawing.

Any questions, @ me on Twitter with hashtag #SpringHorrorRAT (and talk it up to me with that too) or leave a comment below in the comments section.

This contest runs until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, April 29 so you have plenty of time to do it and all the others.

Same rules apply: Must be a signed-up member of Spring into Horror Read-a-Thon at Castle Macabre. Print books only mail to U.S. so only U.S. participants can enter for this one.

Happy Reading!


Filed under Book Reviews, Read-a-Thons

What Stories Creep Around the Mind of a Horror Writer? Revisiting Dead of Winter by Brian Moreland

During October, we had some frightful fun with the horror genre and I posted a review of the book Dead of Winter, by Brian Moreland. Remember that one? Scary as it was, it was my favorite book of 2011. It’s not for the faint of heart…it’s  chilling and there is gore, but it’s one of the most well-written novels I’ve read. The history component is also superb and I love how he mixes different genres.

With all that said, I’m revisiting my blog with Brian again today, because since my post in October, Dead of Winter has released in PAPERBACK!!! Now is your chance, if you don’t have an e-reader or prefer paper, to grab a copy! And if you are reading
e-books, of course you can get that version too.  Here’s the link to Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Winter-Brian-Moreland/dp/1609286634/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1331266041&sr=1-2

I’m also revisiting the topic, because my INTERVIEW #2 with Brian Moreland, something that I promised months ago (*hand on head*), will be published next week!! Learn how his Grandfather influenced his debut novel Shadows in the Mist. Catch what twisted plot his newest novel might unravel.  And you never know what I might ask, right? So you won’t want to miss it.  Read my last interview below at the link if you haven’t already, check out his book (or even read it), and then come back for another amazing interview session.

Have any questions YOU want to ask Brian? Email them to me at hookofabook@hotmail.com and I’ll be sure to add them in (leave your first name, and the state you’re from, with the question)!!

Here is the LINK to the BLOG POST with BRIAN from October, including the exclusive, amazing interview I did with him in which he really delves into what makes him tick as an author and reveals more than you can imagine to readers. Check out the review (and remember it is NOW IN PAPERBACK too), then keep reading for the interview:

REVIEW of DEAD of WINTER and INTERVIEW:  https://hookofabook.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/dead-of-winter-by-brian-moreland-is-dead-ringer-for-book-of-the-year/

Want to learn more about Brian Moreland and/or his books? Check out his site at www.BrianMoreland.com.

What else is coming up?? More spine tingling fun!

And watch also for another HORROR review coming soon by Brian’s fellow Samhain Horror Publishing novelist Jonathan Janz, author of The Sorrows.  I’m halfway through this book and it’s Ah-MAY-Zing!!  Wait till you hear what I ask him about the character development of his female characters!

The Sorrows debuted this year in e-book and also just became available this month in paperback!!!! His next novel, House of Skin, will come out this year too! Check him out at www.jonathanjanz.com and be sure to watch for my exclusive interview with him coming soon!

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