Today marks the release of our April titles! To celebrate, we've got a great Q&A with Jonathan Janz, author of the The Dark Game. He talked to us about his new book, his inspirations, his writing practices and his advice for being edited!
We are all very excited for you new book, The Dark Game. What is the book about?
The most famous and reclusive author in the world (a combination of Stephen King and Cormac McCarthy) invites ten young writers to his estate for a shot at literary fame and fortune. Horror ensues.
What would you say are the underlying themes?
Sins of omission. Some of the characters in the story have performed deeply evil actions; others have allowed evil to spread by refusing to act. This story represents a reckoning for their past indiscretions.
Did you base your characters on anyone you knew?
I’ve read about plenty of young writers who garner a huge first advance and then never live up to that early success. These writers inspired Lucy Still, my protagonist. Another main character, Rick Forrester, was inspired somewhat by my early struggles as a writer. Many of the writers were influenced by people I’ve encountered.
Who influenced you most in the writing of the book?
Stephen King and Peter Straub, most of all. Specifically, the book was influenced by King’s style and Straub’s landmark novels GHOST STORY and SHADOWLAND.
Is there any advice you can give someone starting to write?
One, avoid “don’t” and gravitate toward “do.” Two, give yourself permission to suck; you don’t have to be perfect. Three, read and write as often as possible; that’s how you learn. There are no shortcuts.
Where did you write The Dark Game?
I always write in my writing room/home library. It’s amazing. Cozy, surrounded by my books and pictures of my family. It’s the perfect spot to get lost in my fictional worlds.
Did you write it in silence, or to any particular music?
I listen to Baroque music. It invigorates me without distracting me.
Did you find it hard to write? Or harder to edit your own work?
Increasingly, the editing is becoming harder because I’m learning more and becoming more exacting. I have a novel almost completed, but it’s on hold because I’m editing the novel before it. I’m also eager to get going on my next novel because the idea is dynamite. But the editing takes a great deal of time, and
the new novel will therefore have to wait. It’s challenging. I’m psychologically incapable of letting work go out the door unless it’s my best.
What was it like to be edited by someone else?
Cool and sometimes humbling. I love the extra set of eyes, but sometimes there are house rules that can irksome. Then again, they sometimes bring to your attention a tendency you didn’t notice you had, and they make your work better because of that. Personally, I think we all need edited. Good editing saves us from ourselves. I like to think I’m a good self-editor since I do this stuff with students on a daily basis. But with my own work, it’s different. I can never be as objective about my own work as someone else can be.
That sort of detachment can make all the difference.
What are you writing now?
I’m working on a novel called MARLA, or at least I will be when I finish editing CHILDREN OF THE DARK 2. After that, I’ll be working on the other idea I alluded to earlier, which is so exciting that I don’t want to talk about it for fear of amplifying the pressure I’m placing on myself to do the story justice.
Thank you, Jonathan!
Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, which explains everything. Brian Keene named his debut novel The Sorrows "the best horror novel of 2012." The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin, "reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub's Ghost Story."
Check out all of the April Release blog posts!