THE NIGHTMARE GIRL: Cover and Synopsis Reveal

Hey, friends. When an editor gets excited, I tend to get excited too. Especially when it’s editor Don D’Auria, a man who has edited the likes of Jack Ketchum, Richard Laymon, and Brian Keene.

The book Don’s excited about is my upcoming January release THE NIGHTMARE GIRL. Here’s the creepy Angela Waters cover:

Fiery Terror

Fiery Terror

And here’s a very short, very rough, very unofficial synopsis:

When building contractor Joe Crawford confronts a young mother abusing her toddler in a gas station parking lot, he sets in motion a deadly cycle of revenge, supernatural terror, and fanatical cult violence. Soon, Joe must fight to save his wife, his daughter, and the abused little boy from an ancient fire cult in THE NIGHTMARE GIRL.

I’ll be talking more about the story soon, but for now I’ll just say that this one, though horror, is also a suspense/mystery novel. It’s also a tribute of sorts to one of my literary heroes, Mr. Joe R. Lansdale. Oh, and the ending was inspired by Quentin Tarantino. I can’t wait for you to read it.

Bryan Smith Kills Again: An Interview about STRANGE WAYS and Other Stories

Bryan Smith is one of my favorite writers working today. He sells a lot of books, but more importantly (to me, at least), he writes really, really well. His prose moves, he knows how to surprise without cheating, and he maintains his narrative energy from the beginning of a story to the end. I was fortunate enough to meet him and sign books with him this summer at Scares That Care, and I hope I get the chance to work with him again soon.

So without further ado, here’s a short interview with a man I’m proud to call a friend. His new novel is called STRANGE WAYS

strange ways

1. STRANGE WAYS is an arresting title. Could you talk about why you chose it and how it ties into the story?

STRANGE WAYS was the original title of an earlier novel I eventually retitled SOULTAKER. The bulk of SOULTAKER was actually written before my first novel was published. I came back to it when I was stuck for something to do as my fifth novel for Leisure Books. I think I changed the title because SOULTAKER felt more to-the-point and was similar to the title of an earlier book I’d written for Leisure called DEATHBRINGER. But I always liked STRANGE WAYS as a title and eventually decided to revive it for this latest book. The only way it really ties into the story, though, is that a lot of strange things begin to happen in this idyllic suburban neighborhood after some new people move in. I took care to emphasize that strangeness in the early chapters so that there’d be at least a somewhat legitimate excuse to use it. The actual origin of the title is a little convoluted. Many years ago, when I wrote the first two-thirds of what would eventually be SOULTAKER, I wanted something that would capture the, well, strange and freaky vibe of the novel. At the time I had the Doors song “Strange Days” on my mind and sort of derived it from that. Later I realized “Strange Ways” was the name of a KISS song from their second record. Both are great songs. Like a lot of horror writers of my generation, I’m strongly influenced by rock music in general.

2. You’re a versatile writer. You’ve worked, at the very least, in three distinct genres so far: horror, crime/action, and urban fantasy (at least, some would call the KAYLA books urban fantasy…though I just think of them as horror). To what do you owe these diverse interests? Is it just “in you”? Is it because you watch these types of movies and read these types of books? Or is it something else entirely?

It’s because my interests encompass all those things and more. Although I love horror, I’ve always wanted to write in other genres, particularly the crime genre. I probably read more crime novels—in particular, vintage pulp crime novels from the 40’s and 50’s—more than anything else. My recent novels 68 KILL and BLOOD AND WHISKEY stem from that interest, and I’d like to do more of that kind of thing in the future. But the bulk of my audience is comprised of horror readers, so I keep most of my focus in that direction. Eventually, however, there will be another crime novel. The KAYLA books are definitely my version of urban fantasy. Some horror people perceive them as horror books, but that’s only because urban fantasy is steeped in a lot of similar tropes. In terms of gore and explicit content, the KAYLA books are pretty tame compared to my straightforward horror stuff. That series came about because I was stuck for something to write after my wife died a few years ago. At first, I wasn’t even sure I had it in me to write again. My wife wasn’t a horror fan, but she did love the urban fantasy stuff, so I decided to take a shot at writing the kind of thing she might have enjoyed. I enjoyed writing those books and may eventually come back to the series.

kayla-and-the-devilfinal

3. Of all the characters you’ve created, do you have a favorite character or two? Why has this character (or why have these characters) stuck with you?

I have a few favorites. At the top of the list are probably Kayla Monroe from the KAYLA series, Roxie from the KILLING KIND series, and Jessica Sloan from the DEPRAVED books. By this point it’s no secret that I have a fondness for snide, snarky badass female characters. I guess it’s fair to say that I have something of a bad girl fetish. I’m sure there are those out there who tire of me repeating the type, but they’re just going to have to deal with it if they plan to continue reading my books. I may occasionally deviate from the template I’ve used just to subvert the expectations of readers, but I’ll always eventually revisit that kind of character.

KaylaUndead (1)

 

4. Back to STRANGE WAYS…Delphine, Simone, and Zarina are the names of your “Sisters of the Endless Night.” They sound like interesting characters in that they do bad things but might not be without redeeming characteristics. In past novels you’ve demonstrated an ability to present this duality in a believable way. Is this a conscious decision on your part, or do the characters just develop with both positive and negative traits naturally? Are you drawn to characters who can be both cruel and sympathetic?

In general terms, yeah, characters develop that way naturally as I write the books. Most people in the world have both good and bad in them, even those who are largely loathsome for various reasons. Kayla is a lot like that. She’s just not a nice person at all, but she recognizes that and feels bad about it at times. STRANGE WAYS is a different case, though. The members of the coven are pretty much entirely without redeeming characteristics. In part, that’s a result of a desire to veer away from the more reality-rooted recent books I’ve done and write a more straightforward good vs. evil exercise in good old-fashioned horror entertainment. These witches in STRANGE WAYS are quasi-immortals who have prolonged their lives through centuries via mastery of black magic. I do explain that in the early days of their coven they had some moral qualms about what they were doing. However, by the time we meet them in the modern era all of that has long since passed away and they are just purely evil.

5. Lastly, what does the future hold for Bryan Smith? I know you’re kicking around several story ideas. Can you share any insights on future projects? Books your fans might be able to look forward to?

New ideas come to me on an almost daily basis. I’ve had to learn to set aside a lot of them and focus on the ones that have the most obvious potential. A while back I talked about how I wanted to become a modern equivalent to the pulp writers of a bygone era. A lot of the guys who wrote those pulp novels made their living by constantly grinding out new product. It wasn’t unusual for people like Gil Brewer and Carter Brown to write novels in a month or less, and they would often release several novels a year. So that’s been my goal over the last couple years, to relentlessly plow through one book after another with only small breaks between them. So far it’s working for me, and I’ve finally realized my lifelong dream of making a living solely by writing by doing it this way. Some of the upcoming projects I have planned are a zombie novel called SLOWLY WE ROT, a slasher novel called TONIGHT THEY DIE, a third KAYLA book, a haunted house novel, another sequel to DEPRAVED, a crime novel that may or may not be called DIRTY DEEDS, and any number of other things. At some point I’ll be collaborating on a novella with Ryan Harding. I never have any shortage of new projects on the horizon, obviously.

smith

That’s all for now, folks. You can pick up STRANGE WAYS right here.

Thank you to Bryan Smith. And thank you all for reading this interview and for going out and buying a couple Bryan Smith books. Believe me, you’ll enjoy them. The dude truly knows how to tell a story.

Robert McCammon’s THE WOLF’S HOUR

I’ve only read two McCammon books so far (SWAN SONG and THE  WOLF’S HOUR), but I’ve come to a conclusion.

Robert McCammon doesn’t write novels. He writes masterpieces.

I expected that of SWAN SONG, since many folks place it up there with (and, in some minds, above) one of my favorite novels, Stephen King’s THE STAND. After reading SWAN SONG, I felt the praise was warranted. It’s a towering classic of our genre.

What I didn’t expect was for THE WOLF’S HOUR to rival the majesty of SWAN SONG.

A Horror Classic

A Horror Classic

THE WOLF’S HOUR is a completely different type of novel than SWAN SONG (and I would argue that SWAN SONG is very different from THE STAND), but it’s no less impressive. In fact, I found Michael Gallatin (the protagonist of THE WOLF’S HOUR) more interesting than any character in SWAN SONG (which was crammed with awesome characters, especially Josh, the ex-pro wrestler).

I’ll leave the synopsis of THE WOLF’S HOUR to other reviewers—it’s not like this is a new release anyway—and instead limit my observations to a few brief reactions:

1. The aforementioned Michael Gallatin is one of those larger-than-life characters that nevertheless feels grounded in reality. More importantly, McCammon manages to make Michael vulnerable without making him weak. The result is a crackling species of suspense whenever Michael is in danger, which then transforms into a plausible relief whenever Michael triumphs. We believe he can be killed, but we also believe he can overcome. The difficulty of achieving this balance cannot be understated, but McCammon makes it all seem effortless.

A Master

A Master

2. The novel contains set pieces that beg for a big screen treatment. One involves the Paris Opera House. Another takes place on a specially-rigged “death train,” which is one of the coolest settings I’ve read in a good while. These set pieces alone vault THE WOLF’S HOUR into high adventure territory, and they begin to speak to my next point…

3. The story is a true epic. It contains horror, action, romance, adventure, humor, heartbreak, eroticism, and historical flavor. Despite the fact that we know how WWII ended, we feel genuine terror when the Nazi plot is revealed and teeth-chattering suspense when Michael attempts to bring down (literally and figuratively) Hitler’s diabolical plan.

From the above comments it might seem I’m bashing SWAN SONG. I’m not. It’s an incredible work of fiction. And if I had to choose between THE WOLF’S HOUR and SWAN SONG, I’d choose the latter as the better of the two books. But THE WOLF’S HOUR certainly deserves to be mentioned alongside SWAN SONG when folks discuss horror’s best novels.

Masterpiece

Masterpiece

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention McCammon’s writing, which is absolutely superb. The man has a poet’s ear and a carpenter’s exactitude, but he also possesses the sheer brawn to create such a robust tale. McCammon is a masterful writer who has already taught me a great deal. He’s also a riveting storyteller who entertains the heck out of me.

And before you say anything, let me answer you: I know I need to read BOY’S LIFE and plan to do so by year’s end. For now, though, I’m going to savor THE WOLF’S HOUR. It was everything a great book should be.

It’s Time for…HORRORHOUND WEEKEND!!!

Where will Mads Mikkelson (HANNIBAL), Jon Bernthal and Scott Wilson (THE WALKING DEAD), and Linda Blair (THE EXORCIST) all be this weekend?

Hanging out with me!

Mads with His Game Face On

Mads with His Game Face On

If you’re within driving distance of Indianapolis, I’d love to see you at HorrorHound Indy this weekend. I’ll be signing books with some awesome Samhain Horror authors (like John Everson, Tim Waggoner, Mick Ridgewell, Adam Cesare, and David Searls), and I’d love to meet you (or see you again).

Talk to you soon, friends!

HHW-3-14-MAIN

EXORCIST ROAD Chosen as The Mortuary’s Book of the Month

botm-sept-2014

Howdy, friends! The excellent folks over at Dreadful Tales and The Mortuary have selected my brand-new novella EXORCIST ROAD as their September Book of the Month. Here’s the article/review about it on the Dreadful Tales website, and here’s the link to the forum thread in which the story will be examined/discussed/vivisected over the next several weeks. Here’s one of my favorite parts from the Dreadful Tales article:

“With Exorcist Road, Janz ushers in a new era of thrills and violence, the likes of which haven’t been seen since the old school paperback days. I would gladly stand this novella alongside lurid horror gems like Ketchum’s Off Season for its shock factor; the unbridled aggression of Laymon’s One Rainy Night; and the sexually charged nastiness of Tessier’s Rapture.”

One of My Very Favorite Writers

One of My Very Favorite Writers

So a big thank you to Colum McKnight for writing the above words (words that are especially humbling and exciting because of the three authors referenced), and thank you to the rest of the folks at Dreadful Tales and The Mortuary for honoring my story by making it their September read.

And if you haven’t yet picked up your copy of EXORCIST ROAD, here’s one place where you can get it. It’s also available everywhere else ebooks are sold.

Another Humbling (and Exciting) Comparison

Another Humbling (and Exciting) Comparison

Second Review for EXORCIST ROAD: “A novella that will propel him to the top of the horror field”

Howdy, friends! My new Samhain Horror release EXORCIST ROAD is receiving an extremely positive welcome. There will be more news about this novella soon, but for now, let’s focus on its second review, this one from the “Not Too Terrible” review blog. Here is my favorite part:

“Riffing on the exorcism theme, newcomer Jonathan Janz delivers a novella that will propel him to the top of the horror field. What makes Exorcist Road stand out from your random run-of-the-mill horror novella is not just the quality of writing (which is superb) but also the creativity and addition of foreign elements to this story to take its intensity to the next level. This isn’t just a straight forward, priest-is-here-demon-is-exorcised story. Janz adds the “locked room” element and masterfully places Red Herrings throughout the entire book. Those will keep you guessing until the end.”

A Demon...and a Serial Killer

A Demon…and a Serial Killer

Before I forget, did I mention I’ll be doing a book signing this weekend at a major convention? More on that tomorrow…

The First EXORCIST ROAD Review: “You’ll be flying through the words and pages”

Hey, friends! My novella EXORCIST ROAD came out yesterday, and the first review is already here. Joe Hempel of Top of the Heap Reviews had this to say in his five-out-of-five star rave:

“Jonathan Janz works his magic once again by creating characters and situations you can relate to even within the realm of exorcism.”

And…

“It’s one of those books that you’ll have to stop and catch your breath while reading. The shots from the demon are so rapid fire, and so evil, that you’ll be flying through the words and pages.”

A Demon...and a Serial Killer

A Demon…and a Serial Killer

Gotta run now, but I’ll be posting tomorrow about another five-star review that was just posted at another review site. And if you haven’t taken the plunge yet, I urge you to do so. You can purchase EXORCIST ROAD here.

Have a safe night, friends.

Lock Your Doors. EXORCIST ROAD Drops at Midnight…

A Demon...and a Serial Killer

A Demon…and a Serial Killer

We’re a few short hours away, folks. I can’t wait for you to check this one out. Like my other three novellas (OLD ORDER, THE CLEARING OF TRAVIS COBLE, and WITCHING HOUR THEATRE), EXORCIST ROAD is told from a single point-of-view. Like those stories, this novella takes place over a very short period of time. But unlike them, this one very quickly crosses over into the realm of the supernatural.

The realm of demonic possession.

exorcist 04

But like all my stories, I think you’re going to find some interesting characters in EXORCIST ROAD. They’ll have to face not just one, but two inexorable forces of evil: a uniquely monstrous demon and an unspeakably sadistic serial killer.

Jason Miller The Exorcist

The story was inspired by my three favorite “possession” stories: William Peter Blatty’s THE EXORCIST and LEGION, as well as John Farris’s SON OF THE ENDLESS NIGHT. You can buy EXORCIST ROAD anywhere ebooks are sold, and at the moment it’s only $3.15 at the Samhain Horror online store.

The-Exorcist-the-demon-approaches

Have a good night, friends. I’ll leave you with the below image…

the_exorcist_2_by_theunforgiven14-d3bolmf

 

The Exorcism Begins in Three Days…

EXORCIST ROAD is coming. If you haven’t heard about this brand-new plus-sized novella, here’s the description:

Possessed by a demon…or by the urge to kill?

Chicago is gripped by terror. “The Sweet Sixteen Killer” is brutally murdering sixteen-year-old girls, and the authorities are baffled.

A seemingly normal fourteen-year-old boy has attacked his entire family and had to be chained to his bed. His uncle, police officer Danny Hartman, is convinced his nephew is possessed by a demon. Danny has sent his partner, Jack, to fetch the only priest in Chicago who has ever performed an exorcism.

But Jack has other plans tonight. He believes the boy isn’t possessed by a demon, but instead by an insatiable homicidal urge. Jack believes the boy is the Sweet Sixteen Killer. And he aims to end the reign of terror before another girl dies.

A Demon...and a Serial Killer

A Demon…and a Serial Killer

This story combines the ferocity of the demonic possession sub-genre with the mysteriousness of a classic whodunit. I think you’re really going to enjoy this one, folks.

Get it here for only $3.15.

Sweet dreams.

 

 

 

 

 

On the Eve of EXORCIST ROAD’s Release, Pope Francis Approves Exorcisms

THE EXORCIST. LEGION. SON OF THE ENDLESS NIGHT.

Some of the best horror novels of the past half-century have examined demonic possession and the rites of exorcism. The topic itself is extremely complicated and even more controversial. Clearly, however, the concept of exorcism is a fascinating one that continues to enthrall readers and moviegoers everywhere.

demonic1

As the title of this post mentions, Pope Francis has just reinstituted exorcism, calling it “a form of charity that benefits the sufferer.” Whether demonic possession is real or not, and whether or not exorcism is “a form of charity” are fiercely debated questions.

In my very-soon-to-be-released novella EXORCIST ROAD, two priests attempt to exorcise a fearsome demon inhabiting a fourteen-year-old boy. If you enjoy a spine-tingling tale and have ever enjoyed a story about demonic possession or exorcism, I hope you check out EXORCIST ROAD. And even if you haven’t read or seen an exorcism story, now is a great time to pick one up.

A Demon...and a Serial Killer

A Demon…and a Serial Killer

I have to go now. I’m editing one novel and writing another. I’ll be telling you about both of them soon…

Classic

Classic