Nerves

These are obvious lessons, but they’re ones I find myself continually learning as I continue on my writerly walk:

Haunted Mind

Haunted Mind

There is no finish line.

There is no such thing as “making it.”

There will always be challenges.

For me, there will always be fear. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown. Fear of trying something new (and failing). Fear of rejection.

The Gauntlet

The Gauntlet

I will always need to face my fears and overcome them.

I will always be a perfectionist.

I will always be more sensitive than most people and care more than I should.

I will always need to remind myself to relax, to smile, to laugh, to breathe.

Reach

Reach

The above statements are facts. I sometimes have trouble admitting or accepting them, but facts they remain.

It’s how I’m wired.

Carry on.

What Do Hunter Shea and Kristopher Rufty Have in Common?

So other than the fact that both Hunter Shea and Kristopher Rufty are my friends, what do they have in common?

They’re both fantastic writers?

Yep, that’s true.

They were part of the big Samhain Horror launch back in the fall of 2011 and have become two of the imprint’s most popular authors?

Okay, that’s also true.

They’re both fine Americans, fans of Neo-Dada art, and have never been in my kitchen?

*heaves sigh* Okay, those things are all true, too. At least I’m pretty sure they’ve never been in my kitchen. But I know for a FACT that Hunter and Kristopher are such fanatics for Neo-Dada that they made a pilgrimage to the Genpei Akasegawa exhibit in Brussels last spring.

Where Horror and Neo-Dada Collide

Where Horror and Neo-Dada Collide

But the OTHER thing they have in common—the thing I’m absolutely delighted about—is that they’re both big fans of my latest novella, the supernatural thriller EXORCIST ROAD. Hunter calls it “the best fiction book on possession since THE EXORCIST.” Kristopher said it was “the first book in years to give me genuine gooseflesh.”

A Demon and a Serial Killer

A Demon and a Serial Killer

And if that wasn’t cool enough, Kristopher was kind enough to interview me on his blog. You can find the whole gory affair right here. And Hunter included EXORCIST ROAD in his Horrortober reading list. He talks about my novella here.

That’s all for tonight. Talk to you soon, friends in art.

 

 

Audiobook News! SAVAGE SPECIES! THE DARKEST LULLABY! TOO MANY CAPS AND EXCLAMATIONS!!!

Hey, friends. A whole lotta blog silence over the past twelve days, but believe me, I’ve been working. Editing one novel. Writing another. Brainstorming a third.

But today I’ve got some really fantastic news about my first two audiobooks.

SAVAGE SPECIES has been out for a while now, and it’s a fabulous production. Even better, I got word yesterday that it’ll be popping up on Audible.com and several other places soon. Which rocks. And the coolest thing is that the whole thing is only $9.99, which is incredibly cheap for an audiobook, particularly one as rousing and entertaining as this one (Was that narcissistic? A little? A LOT?!). Randy Hames absolutely rocked the reading, so I hope you’ll check it out soon.

Listen to the terror...

Listen to the terror…

Speaking of Randy Hames…

The guru of Audio Realms Publishing (a super guy named Fred Godsmark) was able to procure Randy’s gritty, nuanced, transfixing verbal services for my second audiobook THE DARKEST LULLABY. The cover is pictured below.

darkest lullaby SQ

I haven’t yet heard THE DARKEST LULLABY, but I’ve already heard great things from the folks who have heard it. If hearing that makes any sense to you. And this one too will be showing up on Audible.com very soon. I’m guessing its price tag will also be pretty dang reasonable.

So that’s all for tonight. I hope all is well with you, friends.

The Monster Men and I Take on Vampires!

Last week I appeared with Hunter Shea and Jack Campisi on their wonderful MONSTER MEN show. Well, that interview/discussion turned into two interviews/discussions, and the second installment is available to watch now. It’s about vampires. And my novel DUST DEVILS. Because it contains vampires.

A Wild Vampire Western

A Wild Vampire Western

In addition to that, we talk about FRIGHT NIGHT.

fright night

‘SALEM’S LOT

salems-lot-artwork

FEVRE DREAM

Dark Brilliance

Dark Brilliance

I AM LEGEND

Richard-Matheson_I-Am-Legend

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

let the right one in

THE LIGHT AT THE END

TheLightattheEndKindleCoverII

And two dozen other vampire-related topics. So check it out, friends. It’ll be time well spent.

Pod of Horror: “Janz is horror’s next big thing”

Happy weekend, friends! It’s lovely here in Indiana. No, really. And great news about one of my novels only makes the weekend lovelier.

Pod-of-Horror

One of my favorite podcasts is Mark Justice’s wonderful Pod of Horror. After naming my SAVAGE SPECIES one of the top three novels of 2013 (along with Stephen King’s JOYLAND and Bentley Little’s THE INFLUENCE), Mark decided to review my recently released novel CASTLE OF SORROWS in the brand-new installment of PoH (#71, just click “Download”). Here’s one highlight:

“Is it scary? Let me put it this way. Janz has been taking his horror steroids. He’s juicing on Richard Laymon and Jack Ketchum, with a hint of Edward Lee.”

And this…

“CASTLE OF SORROWS ups the ante for all future Janz novels. It’s his scariest and most disturbing, by far.”

And then my favorite part:

“Janz is horror’s next big thing.”

The Beast Returns

The Beast Returns

That’s all for now, folks. Next up, news about my just-released novella EXORCIST ROAD.

A Demon and a Serial Killer

A Demon and a Serial Killer

 

I Survived the Monster Men!

I’ve met a great many people since I started this writing gig, and Hunter Shea and Jack Campisi are two of the coolest ones. Hunter is an outstanding author you should already be reading, and Jack is a writer you’ll be reading in a few years. They host the show MONSTER MEN and were kind enough to invite me as a guest. The results, though terrifying, can be viewed right here.

monster men

In our interview we discuss my works, my struggles, my hopes and dreams. They got things out of me that have never been revealed before. So check it out, friends. You’ll never be same. Chances are, you’ll be emotionally scarred and irrevocably diminished in several fundamental ways. But you will be affected. That I guarantee.

And after you watch the carnage, why not check out my new novella EXORCIST ROAD? I’ve got a feeling you’ll enjoy it.

Or be scarred by it too.

A Demon and a Serial Killer

A Demon and a Serial Killer

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!

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