Fantasy & Gothic Blog

FLAME TREE PRESS | February Releases | Jonathan Janz Q&A

Posted by Matteo Middlemiss

This week marks the release of our February titles! To celebrate, we are releasing Q&As with each of the authors so make sure you check back each day this week to get to know the writers and their books a little better. To kick of our Q&As we asked Jonathan Janz about his new to Flame Tree Press title, The Nightmare Girl.

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What is the book about?

It’s about a good man who gets punished for doing the right thing. He, his family, and everything he loves are jeopardized by a group of very bad people. Specifically, he runs afoul of an ancient Irish fire cult that believes in renewal through fire (especially human cremation).


What would you say are the underlying themes of the book?

No good deed goes unpunished, I suppose, would be a major theme. So too would the difficulty a parent feels in balancing healthy fear with outright paranoia when it comes to his child’s safety. Lastly, the question of when violence is necessary is central to this story.


What about the setting stimulated your imagination?  

The setting is basically my house and my neighborhood. Joe, the protagonist, lives in my house, and the climactic scene takes place at the house next door to ours. It made the writing of the book fairly easy in that regard. And a little scary.


What are some of your favorite books about cults?  

Rosemary’s Baby would have to be near the top. In fact, Brian Keene called this novel “Rosemary’s Baby on crack.” Another would be the John Farris novels Sacrifice and All Heads Turn When the Hunt Goes By. Also of interest would be the film The Wicker Man.


Who and what influenced you most in the writing of the book? 

Joe R. Lansdale is one of my primary inspirations, and this book is partially an homage to him. That means I tried to capture the flavor of his Hap and Leonard novels, as well as some of his other suspense books like COLD IN JULY and LEATHER MAIDEN. The combination of suspense, humor, and western/southern sensibility added a great deal of texture to this story. Fans of Hap and Leonard will also spot a few Easter eggs (including a cookie-eating scene featuring Joe, Daryl, and Michelle--my characters--that was directly inspired by some of Lansdale's scenes featuring Hap, Leonard, and Brett Sawyer, Hap's main love interest). 

Regarding images and other literary works, I studied quite a bit about fire and its role in cultures, cults, and mythology. I also studied a lot of Celtic mythology, as it was pertinent to the book. In addition to being inspired by certain visual representations of the goddess Brigid I found online, I learned a bit about fire worship from MAN, MYTH, & MAGIC, which are indispensable resources I often reference in my writing. In fact, the epigraph at the beginning of THE NIGHTMARE GIRL comes from MAN, MYTH, & MAGIC. 


Is there any advice you can give someone starting to write? 

You will only succeed if you love it, if you burn to write. If you’re not passionate about it, you need to get out, because that passion and determination will keep you going when things go badly. And they will go badly. You’ll be rejected, you’ll be discouraged, you’ll be told you’re not good enough. You’ll likely experience soul-sucking self-doubt. But if you love it enough, you’ll stay with it. That’s how you climb. By not quitting.


Where did you write? 

Like most of my novels, this one was written in my home, in my writing room. It’s an inspiring setting filled with books and an aura of magic.


Did you write in silence, or to any particular music?

I write to Baroque music. It’s the perfect fusion of mystery, passion, and energy, and listening to it, the words just flow from my fingertips to the page. It also drowns out the ambient noise that I sometimes find distracting.


What are you writing now?

At the moment I’m editing a post-apocalyptic novel (the first of a planned series) and working on the second CHILDREN OF THE DARK book.

Thank you Jonathan!

Thank you to Jonathan for taking the time to speak to us about his writing practices, his inspirations and telling us a little about The Nightmare Girl. You can pick up this new FLAME TREE PRESS edition of his book, along with the other February releases, from Thursday the 14th February 2019. It will be available in paperback, hardback and ebook. Check out our website for details.The-Nightmare-Girl-ISBN-9781787581319.99.0

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." 

Since then Jonathan's work has been lauded by writers like Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee, Tim Waggoner, Bryan Smith, and Ronald Kelly. Novels like The Nightmare Girl, Wolf Land, Savage Species, and Dust Devils prompted Thunderstorm Books to sign Jonathan to an eleven-book deal and to give him his own imprint, Jonathan Janz's Shadow Side. His novel Children of the Dark received a starred review in Booklist and was chosen by their board as one of the Top Ten Horror Books of the Year (August 2015-September 2016). Children of the Dark will soon be translated into German and has been championed by the Library Journal, the School Library Journal, and Cemetery Dance. In early 2017, his novel Exorcist Falls was released to critical acclaim. 
Jonathan's 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.

Check out all of the February Releases blog posts!


Topics: Flame Tree Press, Flame Tree Press Authors

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