More Raves for THE NIGHTMARE GIRL and HorrorHound Weekend Approaches

Mornin’, all! Your old friend JJ here, comin’ atcha from my crib. One daughter’s in pre-school at the moment; my wife and son are on a mini-date (I lost any gangsta vibe with the semi-colon, didn’t I?). I’m getting ready to take my middle child (also a super incredible daughter) to my favorite bookstore, a joint called Von’s (on the campus of Purdue University). It’s surreal to walk into Von’s and find my books on an end cap display. It’s also gratifying. I used to frequent Von’s as an undergrad and dream of having my books for sale there. And now they are. So while I stop contorting my arm and distressing my rotator cuff whilst patting myself on the back, now might be a good time to mention that the awesome Tony Tremblay at Horrorworld wrote a fabulous review of THE NIGHTMARE GIRL last week. Here’s one of my favorite parts: “The characterization in the novel is to put it simply, superb. Janz goes beyond making us care about what happens to Joe, his wife, and the policeman Joe befriends…he has us actively rooting for them when the (bleep) goes down.” horrorworld As if this weren’t enough, a brand-new Pod of Horror podcast was just released (which is always cause for celebration), and as well as talking to the talented Ronald Kelly, host Mark Justice also reviewed THE NIGHTMARE GIRL. Here’s one highlight from his outstanding review: “And when the horror arrives, it shakes the rafters.”

Pod of Horror

Pod of Horror

The rest of the podcast is here, and my book is reviewed at around the fifty-one minute mark.

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

More good news… Each year I attend two HorrorHound Weekends: the one in Indianapolis in September and the one in Cincinnati in March. And if I’m not mistaken, it’s March, and HorrorHound Weekend is coming up in only two freaking days! If you’ve never been to one, you need to come. I’ll be signing books and meeting fans, but if that’s not enough for you, a good many cast members from THE WALKING DEAD will be there (including Mr. Norman Reedus), and too many other celebs to mention will be hanging out with fans as well. So come. You won’t regret it. HHW315-NormanReedus

Horrornews Takes on THE NIGHTMARE GIRL and Ginger Nuts of Horror Honors Richard Laymon

Hey, friends. How’s that for a straightforward title? I considered typing the entire text of this post in the title, but I figured that’d be pushing it.

So first, here’s Horrornews.net’s fantastic review of THE NIGHTMARE GIRL. My favorite part?

“The Nightmare Girl is a fantastic novel that I can’t recommend highly enough. There’s a reason people in the horror fiction community are raving about this Jonathan Janz character, and this novel is a prime example. He brings a smooth writing style, never too wordy to slow you down, but with well-crafted sentences that allow the reader’s imagination to wrap them up and see for themselves. This book is scary, it’s tense, and it’s a lot of fun. I can’t help but drink the kool-aid here.”

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

Ginger Nuts of Horror posted a wonderful lost interview this week featuring Richard Laymon, who is one of my primary writing influences. Additionally, they included comments from Brian Keene, Richard Chizmar, many other awesome writers, and me. You can read that part here.

We miss you, Mr. Laymon.

We miss you, Mr. Laymon.

On a personal level, I’m going to get some writing time back soon. For one, my son’s basketball team (which I’ve been co-coaching) finished its season today. Secondly, my next novel (WOLF LAND) is almost ready to go to my pre-readers.

I’ll be working on the following three titles next: THE DARK GAME, THE STARS HAVE LEFT THE SKIES, and THE DISMEMBERED. I’m incredibly geeked about all three of these, but I think THE DARK GAME is going to come first. It’s a story I’m beyond excited about.

Talk to you soon, friends.

Brian Keene Names DUST DEVILS the Fifth-Best Book of 2014

A confession: I love lists.

When I was an adolescent, one of the few books I would actually read (and read and read and read) was THE BOOK OF LISTS. I eventually branched out to THE BOOK OF LISTS TWO, which only fed the list-crazy beast inside of me. I never checked out THE BOOK OF LISTS THREE because by that time I’d discovered Stephen King, and reading about the seventeen worst air disasters in Bolivian history couldn’t quite compare to Carrie White, Jack Torrance, and Randall Flagg.

You Had Me at "Here's"

You Had Me at “Here’s”

But I still love lists and often make them myself. So when folks make lists of horror novels and stories, I tend to perk up doubly. And when one of my favorite horror authors creates a best books of the year list, I sit up rigidly and hungrily examine my laptop screen.

If you’ve frequented this blog at all, you know how much I love the books of Brian Keene. He’s an influence on my work, a friend, and someone whose opinion I value a great deal. Which all leads me to Thursday night’s episode of his new podcast THE HORROR SHOW. If you’re not listening to it yet, you need to jump on board. Brian Keene and Dave Thomas have begun something very special, and the show is already clicking despite being so new.

keene_horrorshow_podcast-cover

On Thursday night’s show (Episode 005, available here), Brian unveiled his Top Ten Books of 2014. On the list were many notable and awesome names, and clocking in at number five (right before Stephen King’s MR. MERCEDES snagged the number four slot) was my vampire western DUST DEVILS. Which pleased me greatly. And if you haven’t checked out DUST DEVILS yet, you can right now for only 99 cents.

mr. mercedes

Not only did Brian say very positive things about DUST DEVILS, but he was also kind enough to mention my wife and kids as well. And they in turn smiled from ear-to-ear. If you want to listen to that portion of the show, it happens at around the 12:30 mark.

That’s all for tonight. A big thanks to Brian for reading and saying such positive things about my novel, and thanks to Brian and Dave for producing such an excellent show.

A Wild Vampire Western

A Wild Vampire Western

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to editing WOLF LAND, about which you’ll be hearing quite a bit soon.

THE NIGHTMARE GIRL: Reviews and Book of the Month!

You can always tell when I’m up against a deadline by the scarcity of my blog posts. Sorry about that, but the book I’m currently editing turned out to be a whopper (nearly 160,000 words), and I’ve been working like crazy to downsize it, to shape it, and of course to enhance it. It’s happening, but it ain’t easy, and it’s certainly not a quick process. But it is rewarding, and I have the promise of my next two projects to get excited about (and believe me, the projects in question are ones I’m itching to dive into).

But for now…

THE NIGHTMARE GIRL has been doing marvelously in its first month of release. Between Goodreads, Amazon, and everywhere else, it is garnering uniformly positive reviews, with not a single review below four stars, and the majority of them five stars. Here’s just one of them, courtesy of Nev Murray and the Ginger Nuts of Horror. My favorite part (though the whole thing is outstanding):

“It will scare the crap out of you repeatedly. It will make you laugh. It will give you a lump in your throat at times. You will hold your breath. It also has one of the old classic mad mental endings that will have you rushing to turn the pages.” 

nightmare-girl

As you can see above, the awesome folks over at Dreadful Tales and The Mortuary have selected THE NIGHTMARE GIRL as their February group read. If you get a chance, hop on over to their message board and join in the fun. Dark Mark, Meli, Colum, and the rest of the gang are great people, and I also happen to be partial to the book they’re discussing this month too.

Lastly, the new blog Into the Macabre has featured a couple reviews of my books over the past week: EXORCIST ROAD and THE SORROWS. Thank you to Ken McKinley for reading and reviewing my work!

That’s all for now, friends. Gotta get back to editing.

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

 

 

New Interviews with Me (and THE NIGHTMARE GIRL Takes Flight!)

Hey, folks. Can’t stay long. But since you passed by, maybe you’d like to check out a pair of rather revealing and interesting interviews with me recently posted at the excellent Ginger Nuts of Horror and Wag the Fox websites.

And if you haven’t checked out THE NIGHTMARE GIRL yet, it’s available now. And kicking much booty.

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

Good night, friends.

Adam Cesare Shares an EXPONENTIAL Playlist

Hi there. I’m Adam Cesare and I’m here because Jonathan invited me.

Instead of trying to soullessly shill our books on each other’s blog, we figured we’d come up with quick musical playlists to pair with our recent releases from Samhain Publishing.

exponential

My newest book, Exponential, is a cross-country giant monster story, a celebration of the kind of horror I love reading. I wrote it as kind of a treat for myself, a vacation. It’s a complete one-eighty in terms of tone from my last novel, The Summer Job, which was a densely-plotted thriller that stuck closely to its single protagonist and didn’t contain any explicit supernatural elements.

This playlist is part-soundtrack, part-sizzle reel. Go through, listen to the songs, read why the hell I think they fit my book, and, if you’re properly intrigued, please buy the book and see if you agree with me.

Attitude” by The Misfits (this song’s probably not great for listening to at work, unless you have something you’d like to tell your boss)

Out of my three full-length novels, I like to think of Exponential as the punk song of the bunch. And I don’t just mean that a sneaky way of saying that it’s the shortest of the three. There’s more to it than that.

In Exponential we’ve got no central protagonist (unless you count Felix, the monster, which I kinda do), so add all the creature action and the effect is this fast, in-your-face, fuzzed out feeling. And that tone is the same feeling that this song has, as Muppet-baby-Danzig belts out the lyrics during its under 2-minute runtime.

Used to be a Cop” by Drive-By Truckers

There’s no main character in Exponential, it’s more of an ensemble piece. Like Ocean’s Eleven with way more blood and broken bones.

The cast of characters includes professional gamblers, junkies, mysterious corporate hitmen, and, as this song would indicate, an ex-cop.

David Nez, the cop in the book, is a nicer guy than the one we’re presented with in this song but still: it fits.

Since this is my favorite band, here’s an alternate DBT song that would fit for a couple of the other characters: “Margo and Harold

Every Which Way But Loose” by Eddie Rabbitt

eddie rabbitt

Jonathan and I agreed that we were going to try to stay close to five songs each, so I really had to deliberate about whether I wanted to include this track or C.W. McCall and Chip Davis’s “Convoy”.

But I guess if I was going to choose one theme song from a 1978 film prominently featuring truckers, car chases, and chest hair: it was going to be this one. And yes, I know that Convoy is actually based on the song, but when I think Convoy, I think Kristofferson and McGraw, not the song.

The song’s connection to Exponential? That’s tenuous. I just like the tone of these films, the way that they present the American West (and its highways and truck stops). I imagine that both of these songs are somewhere on the jukebox of the bar that features prominently in the book.

Man. I’m only just realizing that an orangutan sidekick would have made Exponential ten times better.

Beware of the Blob” by The Five Blobs.

Yeah. This is an obvious one. Samhain’s cover art for the book even ended up being a riff on the poster for the 1989 remake of The Blob.

I don’t want to draw too straight a comparison, though, as I feel like my monster, Felix, has a different enough physiology. Something about him (telling you what would be a spoiler) makes him a lot more mobile than The Blob, better acclimated to the road-trip structure of Exponential.

Blood Like Cream” by Red Fang

If the monster was going to have a theme song, how could you go wrong with that on-the-nose title?

This Portland-based metal act has put out three albums, all of them pretty great. The video for “Blood Like Cream” (like all of their videos) has a flippant “I hope this goes viral” feel to it that may undercut the song for some, but then again: how many metal acts can you unreservedly recommend to fans of Portlandia?

adam c

Thanks to Jonathan for having me. Please join me over at my blog to watch Mr. Janz do the same thing for The Nightmare Girl and see if he has decent musical taste to go with his abundant talent.

And thank you, Adam, for rocking this blog post so wonderfully. If you’d like to see my playlist, you can hop over to Adam’s blog to check it out.

THE NIGHTMARE GIRL: Available Now!

My new novel THE NIGHTMARE GIRL is available everywhere, friends, and I hope you check it out. Here’s the cover:

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

And here’s the synopsis:

Playing with fire has never been more dangerous.

When family man Joe Crawford confronts a young mother abusing her toddler, he has no idea of the chain reaction he’s setting in motion. How could he suspect the young mother is part of an ancient fire cult, a sinister group of killers that will destroy anyone who threatens one of its members? When the little boy is placed in a foster home, the fanatics begin their mission of terror.

Soon the cult leaders will summon their deadliest hunters—and a ferocious supernatural evil—to make Joe pay for what he’s done. They want Joe’s blood and the blood of his family. And they want their child back.

And that’s all for tonight. Have a great rest of the weekend, friends.

Take care.

Snow Falls in Indiana; THE NIGHTMARE GIRL Arrives at Your House

I don’t think I’ve ever used a semi-colon in a blog post title, and you know what? It felt good. Darn good. Liberating. A gleeful punctuational rebellion aimed at the new establishment’s anti-semi-colon prejudice. THEY CAN’T KEEP US DOWN!!!!

*blinks, glances around*

Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, what I’d like to get into YOUR system is—

That sounded creepy, didn’t it? Like, really creepy. As in, you’re picturing me in an open-throated, open-chested white silk shirt with tufts of bushy chest hair and some tinted shades leering at you like an extra in Boogie Nights. Or maybe it didn’t get creepy until that last line.

At any rate, THE NIGHTMARE GIRL drops at midnight, and friends, I really want you to check out this story.

I’ll talk more about it soon, but for now, here’s the gorgeous cover:

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

Joe Crawford and the Fire Cult

And here’s the link where you can buy it for only $3.85 (digital) or $11.20 (paperback). Or just get it anywhere else books are sold. They should have it. If they don’t, demand that they stock it, and if they refuse, they’re probably the same zealots who oppose the semi-colon.

Have a good night. I’ll be practicing my semi-colons and grooming my chest hair.*

*I don’t actually have chest hair. NOW I’ve freaked you out!

THE NIGHTMARE GIRL Arrives on Tuesday!

Hey, friends. Short and sweet tonight.

I have a new novel coming on Tuesday, and it’s getting rave reviews. In fact, despite the fact that it’s not out yet, it was already named the third-best novel of 2014 over at Horror After Dark.

The cover:

Fiery Terror

Fiery Terror

The plot:

Playing with fire has never been more dangerous.

When family man Joe Crawford confronts a young mother abusing her toddler, he has no idea of the chain reaction he’s setting in motion. How could he suspect the young mother is part of an ancient fire cult, a sinister group of killers that will destroy anyone who threatens one of its members? When the little boy is placed in a foster home, the fanatics begin their mission of terror.

Soon the cult leaders will summon their deadliest hunters—and a ferocious supernatural evil—to make Joe pay for what he’s done. They want Joe’s blood and the blood of his family. And they want their child back.

And the glorious full-page back-cover ad in Famous Monsters of Filmland:

10392382_10205424527117343_4069282404629778405_n

Friends, some are saying this is my best novel yet (it’s number eight, for those of you keeping track).

I hope you read it. I hope you care about the characters. I hope it scares you. I hope you root for the good guys and detest the bad guys.

At any rate, it’s almost here…

A Reminder: Everyone Has Issues

Hey, all. Before I say this, please know that I’m not minimizing anyone’s struggles (quite the opposite), claiming that all issues present equal difficulties (they don’t), or making a veiled cry for help (I’m not).

But here’s something I’ve learned.

Everyone has issues.

If you’re like me, you tend to believe you’re insane, that everyone else has it together, or that you’re bizarre or weak because of the problems you face. However, the longer I live the more I realize that every single person struggles with something. Sometimes that struggle is physical, often it’s psychological. In a great many cases, it’s emotional.

Like that woman next door. The one with the perfect family, the striking good looks, and the brand new BMW?

She struggles with depression. Even worse, she has no idea why she’s depressed because she believes she should be happy and doesn’t realize the issue is chemical rather than situational.

That man you pulled up next to at the stoplight. The one in the sensible gold Honda Civic. He looks confident, together. Everyone must surely look up to him.

sad-woman

But he’s having debilitating headaches that make it impossible for him to enjoy life. The tests don’t show anything, but he knows how he feels, and he suspects—correctly or not—that he has an inoperable tumor.

That lady you passed this morning on the sidewalk? The one with the fancy new leather gloves? She’s a germophobe. She scrubs her hands so often and so violently that her skin is in a constant state of raw irritation.

The girl at the drive-thru, that smiling sixteen-year-old with the sunny disposition? She’s struggling with her sexual identity and is getting cyber-bullied because of it.

That grandmother you said hello to at the supermarket, she’s estranged from her only daughter, and she cries herself to sleep every night. She misses her grandchildren, but she’ll never get to know them. So she cries some more.

4216-man-sad-crying

The little kid walking home from school, he struggles with intrusive thoughts. He’s also terrified of getting a bad grade on his spelling test. What’s more, he feels like he’s a coward because he feels so afraid all the time.

The little boy’s older brother went through a phase in junior high when he sought attention through negative behavior. Now he’s a freshman, and though he wants to do better and longs for others to give him a chance, he’s still branded a troublemaker by his peers and teachers, and he wants nothing more than to go back and live his life differently. But he can’t.

I say all these things not because they’re related or similar but because I think two helpful things occur when we remember that others have problems too.

One, we realize that we’re not weak or dumb or crazy or lesser creatures than others. Remembering that everyone is struggling with something teaches us that struggling is universal. We’re not broken. Or if we are, there’s nothing wrong with our brokenness.

Secondly, remembering that everyone struggles with something is a constant reminder that we need to show compassion whenever we can, that we need to try to understand before we condemn. Knowing that others struggle encourages us to practice empathy.

sad-child-portrait

Personally? I’m that little kid who struggles with intrusive thoughts. I’m besieged every morning with a nightmarish newsreel of my mistakes, and believe me, there are plenty of mistakes in the reel. I’m afraid of hurting people’s feelings, afraid of letting them down. Afraid of making a mistake and regretting it and then having to be haunted by it every night as I struggle to fall asleep. I have insomnia. I get furious with myself. I cry at least three times a week because I love my children so deeply, and I don’t want them to leave me. Then I feel guilty for feeling that way because it feels selfish.

I’ve got issues.

So do you.

Let’s be kind to one another. Let’s try harder to understand.

Let’s love.

Have a good night, friends. Take care of yourselves.