Starting this month's author Q&As, we have Jonathan Janz. He talks about his favourite satyr stories, influences of the book and what's to come! Be sure to check in tomorrow for more writing inspiration!
What is the book about?
This one is about the attractive, swirling vortex that evil can become. Whether the evil is from the island itself, the creature who rules it, or an underworld gang, the evils in this story are seductive and magnetic, and more often than not, they tend to undo those who fall prey to them.
What are the underlying themes?
One idea I examine quite a bit is how obsessive people are about unhealthy pursuits. Often, people’s basest urges are the ones that call them the most urgently.
Did real life experiences bring about any of the plot of this tale?
There’s a minor character in the tale who’s a weightlifter. I’ve lifted some in my life and know that sort of subculture fairly well. What we put into our bodies can be problematic, and it’s always something that’s frightened me about the culture of lifting weights and bodybuilding. Some of the people I’ve met helped inspire the weightlifting character.
What about the setting stimulated your imagination?
The island (the Sorrows) always calls to me. It was the setting of my first published novel, and since it’s a real place (Craigeivar Castle in Scotland, though in my novel it’s placed in the Pacific), it’s exceedingly easy to imagine and return to. I love the idea of a windswept castle not far off the California coast. I love the notion of the woods there and the solitary structure rising from the center of the island.
What are some of your favorite satyr stories?
Though I’m sure I’m forgetting some books, the two that come most readily to mind are Arthur Machen’s THE GREAT GOD PAN and Brian Keene’s DARK HOLLOW. There’s so much potential in the satyr, and both of these works and authors utilize that potential to great effect. Machen wrote tantalizingly about what lies behind the veil of reality, while Keene expanded the notion of what a satyr could be and dramatized how the creature could interact with our world, as well as the kind of damage it could inflict on people (emotionally, as well as physically).
Who influenced you most in the writing of the book?
Arthur Machen, Peter Straub, Brian Keene, and Richard Laymon influenced the novel the most.
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 to Jonathan for taking the time to talk to us about character influences and telling us about Castle of Sorrows. You can pick up this new FLAME TREE PRESS edition of his book, along with the other July releases now. It will be available in paperback, hardback and ebook. Check out our website for details.
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. You can learn more about Jonathan at http://jonathanjanz.com. You can sign up for his Shadow World newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/cKLKt5. You can also find him on Facebook, via @jonathanjanz on Twitter, on Instagram (jonathan.janz) or on his Goodreads and Amazon author pages.