Scares That Care, Part Two: Kelli Owen, Wrath James White, and Mary SanGiovanni

*Before we get to the main blog post, I feel compelled to mention my new release CASTLE OF SORROWS, which came out earlier this week. More on that soon, but if you haven’t read my smash-hit debut novel THE SORROWS yet, you can buy it here. Then go read the sequel. I think you’ll find them worth your while.

Back to Scares That Care.

The three people in this blog post title have three things in common:

1. They have big hearts; I suspected that going into the Scares That Care convention, but spending time with them all weekend confirmed it.

2. They’re excellent writers. If you’ve been involved in the genre for any length of time, you’ll have heard of all three of them. If you haven’t, it’s time for you to check out their work.

3. I hadn’t met any of them prior to June 27th.

So after spending a weekend with them, here are my thoughts:


Kelli Owen

Kelli is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. She’s extremely bright, and her sense of humor can be very caustic (in a good way). She spent much of that first afternoon showing me exactly how much I didn’t know about marketing, about setting up for an event, as well as my cluelessness about a dozen other topics. On Saturday she nearly murdered me for paying to get my picture taken with Chris Sarandon (aka Prince Humperdinck and Jack Skellington). But Kelli has a way of threatening your life while still showing that she cares about you. That’s an impressive skill. But having survived Kelli’s boot camp, I’m proud to call her a friend.

Many Bothans Died to Get This Picture

Many Bothans Died to Get This Picture

Wrath is bigger than I am. Like, a good deal bigger. I run nearly six-four, and I work out pretty frequently, but Wrath made me look like a malnourished hobbit. However, the coolest thing about him was how easy he was to talk to. It also turns out that we have a strong bond: fatherhood. Talking to Wrath about how it was raising his son (who is now twenty and is becoming a writer himself) was very heartening for me since Wrath did many of the same things I’m doing now (like assigning extra reading and math each day, despite the fact that my son thinks I’m insane for doing so). Anyway, Wrath is as nice as his work is ferocious.


Wrath James White

Mary SanGiovanni is one of the coolest people I’ve met since getting into the industry. She brought her son (a great kid) and was incredibly kind all weekend. I was lucky enough to eat dinner and lunch with her, Brian Keene, and others, and I also got to participate in a panel discussion with Mary (and Kelli) on Friday night. I guess the word that best describes Mary is thoughtful. She’s thoughtful and considerate toward others, and she’s thoughtful in every thing she says. I learned a lot just from listening to her, but most of all, I learned she has a great heart and a sharp mind.

Mary SanGiovanni

Mary SanGiovanni

So if you were hoping I’d have some horror stories to tell from my time at Scares That Care, I’m sorry, but the experience only served to confirm what I’ve already learned about the horror community. Sure, it has its wing nuts, but it’s mainly populated by awesome human beings.

Count these three individuals among the awesome ones.

Scares That Care, Part One: Hunter Shea


Don’t those titles jump off the page at you? I haven’t read HELL HOLE yet, but I did start MONTAUK, and baby, it’s another winner.

montauk monster cover

Hunter Shea is one of the coolest guys I’ve met since I began to, you know, get paid for my work. Brian Keene was kind enough to pair me with Hunter for a reading and Q & A at the Scares That Care convention, which not only gave me a chance to hang out with a good friend, but also afforded me the opportunity to hear the genesis of Hunter’s novel THE MONTAUK MONSTER. It was a fascinating presentation, replete with weird pictures, disturbing trivia about Nazi scientists, and some wild possibilities about what might exist because of our government’s secret activity.

Okay, sure, I was going to read Hunter’s new book anyway, but the presentation bumped MONTAUK up my to-be-read pile several spots. Everything I’ve read by him (including FOREST OF SHADOWS, EVIL ETERNAL, and SINISTER ENTITY) has been spellbinding, and his new release is more than living up to that already lofty standard.


Another thing I really appreciate about Hunter is how easy he is. Um, I mean, how easy it is between us! *clears throat* He’s an easy dude to talk to, and every time something good happens to me, he’s genuinely enthused about it. And when Publisher’s Weekly named THE MONTAUK MONSTER the summer’s best beach read, I was almost as excited as I would have been had it been my own book selected. Almost.

Anyway, thanks again to Brian Keene for pairing me with Hunter (more thanks will be directed at Brian in later posts), and thanks to Hunter for not heckling me (much) during my reading of SAVAGE SPECIES‘s first chapter.

Experience the Terror

Experience the Terror


Tune in for more Scares That Care wrap-up soon…

Oh, and buy my new book! CASTLE OF SORROWS is available now!




So much to say. So little time to say it.

We’re back on the grid after being in the wilds of the awesome Virginia Rappahannock River for several days, and that was after Scares That Care, an experience so amazing that it’ll take several blog posts to tell you about, but I can’t do that right now because I’m hard at work on my work-in-progress, which I haven’t talked about anywhere yet, and I can’t yet for several reasons. So I’ll stop being cryptic and get to the point…

I had a novel released three days ago. It’s called CASTLE OF SORROWS. It’s a sequel to my debut novel THE SORROWS. It’s a novel I love, but…well, I’ll tell you more later, but in case you’ve already started it, you might have noticed something.

The Return of Gabriel

The Return of Gabriel

It’s really dark. Like, incredibly, stunningly, horrifically dark. Stygian dark.

If you don’t like that sort of thing, don’t read it. Because it’s honestly the most ferocious thing I’ve done so far, which, if you ask some folks, is saying a lot. Not many characters survived THE SORROWS, and this time, no one is safe. And I assure you, that isn’t hyperbole.

That’s it for now. Back to writing. Read CASTLE at your own risk.

Brian Moreland Calls CASTLE OF SORROWS “Riveting,” “Enthralling”

If you aren’t yet reading Brian Moreland, you need to. His novels Dead of Winter and The Devil’s Woods are two of the most gripping horror yarns of the past several years, and he’s only getting better. Brian was kind enough to check out my upcoming sequel to THE SORROWS (CASTLE OF SORROWS), and he had this to say…

“Jonathan Janz writes the kind of horror I love to read—entertaining, action-packed, and best of all, scary as hell. The Sorrows and its enthralling sequel, Castle of Sorrows, are two riveting novels that blend the classic storytelling of H.P. Lovecraft with endearing characters and the break-neck pace of Dean Koontz thrillers. I’m a big fan of Janz!”

—Brian Moreland, author of Dead of Winter and The Witching House

The Return of Gabriel

The Return of Gabriel

So what are you waiting for? You can pre-order the digital or paperback version just about anywhere, but you can get the paperback here at the Samhain Horror store for half-price by entering the PAPERBACK50 code at check-out.

CASTLE OF SORROWS releases on July 1st!


My Williamsburg Book Supply and a Word about Authenticity

In addition to a couple of paperbacks I’m bringing to next week’s SCARES THAT CARE convention in the hopes that Brian Keene and Jack Ketchum sign them for me, I’m going to be packing these babies as well:


In case you can’t read all the titles, they are THE SORROWS, HOUSE OF SKIN, THE DARKEST LULLABY, SAVAGE SPECIES, DUST DEVILS, and CASTLE OF SORROWS. The below low angle shot makes them look even more imposing…


And as if that weren’t enough, here’s one more shot of the seventy-five book cache for your viewing enjoyment:


The above books are my six Samhain horror novels. I wrote another novel called BLOODSHOT: KINGDOM OF SHADOWS, but it’s only available digitally (at present). I’ve also written several novellas that are also not (yet) in print, including a new one whose cover I’ll be revealing in a couple days. These pictures were all taken in my writing room, which is also a library, which we also call The Lodge, which also looks out on a beautiful magnolia tree.

Moving on.

The other thing I want to say before I get back to my work-in-progress is this: I know I sound a bit hyper sometimes on here (not that any of you have complained, at least to me), but please know a couple things. Firstly, I don’t have an inferiority complex. I’m not fishing for compliments or hoping anyone pipes up with some sensitive reassurance about how, doggonit, I’m a good writer too! Secondly, even though I am very proud of my work, I haven’t lost—nor do I suspect I’ll ever lose—a childlike enthusiasm for the work of people from whom I’ve learned and continue to learn. My respect for Jack Ketchum is real. My excitement about meeting and talking to Brian Keene is authentic. Those things might be self-evident, but I’ll say them anyway. I want to have a long, successful career. But I refuse to act jaded or entitled or anything other than what I am—grateful and elated and determined.

Enough. Back to writing. Have a beautiful Thursday.



Okay, deep breath…

Jack Ketchum

Just…take it easy…

Brian Keene

…and try not to—

Bryan Smith


TomMonteleoneChrisSarandonTonyToddOhMyGoshOhMyGoshOHMYGOSHHHWOULD YOU BE COOL FOR ONCE?!?!?!?!?!

*shuddering exhalation*

Sorry about that. It’s only been happening once or twice an hour, which is an 86% reduction from yesterday’s debilitating wave of fanboy attacks. By the time the convention rolls around next Friday, I’ll only be geeking out a few times a day. I’m hoping one of the attacks doesn’t occur while I’m talking to Jack Ketchum about THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, which is one of my favorite horror novels, or RED, which is another one of my favorite books, or OFF SEASON, which scared me so badly that I didn’t think he could do it to me again until I read THE WOMAN, you remember THE WOMAN? The part where you find out what’s hidden in the oh my gosh OH MY GOSH OHMYGOSHOHGOSHOGOSHHHHHH—




I guess I really do need to go back tomorrow for more treatments. The ointment they place under the electrodes really does take away some of the sting, and the buckets full of freezing water pretty much numb my facial muscles, and, well…

I hope you join me at Scares That Care. I’ll be there with copies of my six Samhain Horror novels, including my soon-to-be-released sequel CASTLE OF SORROWS. So…see you there!

(If I make it through my therapy.)

Jack Ketchum Fanboy

Jack Ketchum Fanboy

Hunter Shea and His MONTAUK MONSTER Attack!

Howdy, friends! The below post comes courtesy of Hunter Shea, who’s not only a good friend of mine—he’s also an outstanding writer.

*Jonathan scurries out of the way, cedes the floor to Hunter*

As a horror/thriller writer, I often feel like Vincent Price’s character of The Inventor from Edward Scissorhands. I create my ‘monsters’ with love and good intentions. What they do when they escape my lap – erm, laptop – or how the villagers – uh, readers – react to them is entirely out of my hands.

A lot of authors refer to their manuscripts as their babies or their children. I once referred to my first book, Forest of Shadows, the same way to my agent. She almost had a cow. “Good Lord, don’t call it that! You have to edit it and do horrible things to make it just right. I wouldn’t wish that on a baby!” Her visceral reaction was enough to get me to kick the habit.

I do consider my brain my lab, my laptop the long table upon which I piece together my creations, offering them up to the thunder and lightning gods, along with the help of a ton of scary crap culled together from Tesla’s workbooks. Cue the sparks and oscillating zapping noises.

I even have my own personal Igor, who is better known as my first reader and editor, or even best known as my sister. No, she doesn’t have a hump (hump, what hump?), and she’s a heck of a lot smarter. The funny thing is, she’s not a horror fan. Anything that’s gory or squeamish or violent is to be avoided at all costs. Unless, of course, it’s all within the pages of my latest manuscript waiting for her eagle eye to spruce it up before I send it to my publishers.

Which is why I was a tad nervous when I handed over my latest invention, The Montauk Monster, to go under Igor’s microscope. I, The Inventor, went a little mad, weaving my creatures together, stitch by ugly stitch. I did have real life beasts that have washed up on New York’s shores to draw on, but naturally I took things in a darker direction.

montauk monster cover

I wrote the book like one of those classic old time cliffhangers, with each chapter moving as fast a bullet train. There’s violence, and blood, and terror and suspense. Would Igor be overloaded? She was my litmus test. If she could survive my creation, the world would be safe…just a little more afraid of being near the water.

I’m happy to report that both Inventor and Igor were on the same page, so to speak, and have no reservations about unleashing our monsters on an unsuspecting world. The Inventor is pleased (and will be alive to see what the villagers think). The question now is : do you have the guts to take on The Montauk Monster?

Hunter Shea is the author of the pulse-pounding new thriller, The Montauk Monster, named as one of the Best Reads of Summer by Publishers Weekly.

His horror novels to date are : The Waiting, Sinister Entity, Swamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal and Forest of Shadows. His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on. Hunter is also the proud and slightly demented co-host of the Monster Men video podcast. A native New Yorker all his life, he waits with Biblical patience for the Mets to win a World Series. You can read about his latest travails, preview and purchase his books, watch Monster Men episodes and communicate with him without the need for a Ouija board at

Hunter Shea Covers - 2 rows


So you click on this link and you enter your email address and you choose SAVAGE SPECIES: NIGHT TERRORS.

And as easy as that, you’ve got a free audiobook. Pretty awesome, huh?

Then, if you decide you want the whole she-bang (Why does that look so incredibly inappropriate?), you click on this link and get the entire SAVAGE SPECIES novel for under ten bucks.

Listen to the terror...

Listen to the terror…


Have a great day, friends. Gotta get back to my work-in-progress…

Bach’s “Sheep May Safely Graze” or The Song That Reduces Me to a Trembling, Weeping Mess

Confession time. Oversharing time. Look away in embarrassment time.

But that’s why I’m here, right? To make everybody uncomfortable?

I have a powerful physiological reaction to certain songs. I’ve always been extremely sensitive and incredibly susceptible to…well, everything. Certain weather makes me shiver with delight. The mere mention of a movie can transport me back to my exact feelings the first time I watched it. A piece of art will transfix me, and I’ll be unable to look away (even when the museum has closed and the security guards are threatening physical violence). Books, poetry…well, they wallop me in any number of ways: maniacal laughter…a seeming fugue state in which I’m lamenting the state of mankind…tears of joy or heartbreak.

Percy Shelley, Soul-Toucher

Percy Shelley, Soul-Toucher

And music does it to me too.

There are several songs that hit me hard. I’ll write about others one of these days (like Journey’s “Only the Young,” Jim Croce’s “Time in a Bottle,” and Bon Jovi’s “Never Say Goodbye”). But Bach’s “Sheep May Safely Graze” as played by Yo Yo Ma hits me so hard I can scarcely breathe. And I only wish I were exaggerating.

Only the Young

Only the Young

You see, for some reason, even though it has no lyrics the song reminds me of my son. Bubba, we’ll call him. I guess it’s a well-known fact that the father-son bond is a deep and important one. But the bond between my son and me is so deep it penetrates the earth’s core, erupts through some crowded street in China, and burrows its way into deepest space. And every day it goes deeper, so much so that no number of light years could ever hope to outpace it. I love my Bubba so much it aches.

So…about that song.

I have an incredibly vivid and active imagination, and sometimes a song will spark it, will enflame it, will consume it. Until a full-fledged movie is playing in my mind. My inner eye takes over, and I might as well not be physically present. I listen and imagine and stare off sightlessly as the movie unfolds.

So what do I see when my I hear Yo-Yo Ma’s version of “Sheep May Safely Graze” (I won’t even try to type the actual Bach title)? I see this:

IMG_0372 2

And this:


Only it’s in motion. Here is my little boy on my hip as we wade through a creek in Santa Rosa, California. There is Bubba staggering around in his diaper, his chubby arms thrown out for balance, his chubbier legs in constant but jerky motion. I see my boy falling asleep against my shoulder in a cab after our first Cubs game. I see him crying when he tripped and split his forehead open on a piece of the driveway I should have fixed before it hurt him. I see his sweet little smile as he makes a joke at age two, his hopeful look at my reaction. I see his frustration as he tries to learn how to read at age five. I see him all over the place, everywhere, the images on a vivid, haunting loop in my mind. And God, do I love him. So much that I can hardly stand it.

That song. Man…that song.

You and Yo Yo Ma...You two cut me deep, man

You and Yo Yo Ma…You two cut me deep, man

I’ll stop now and let you listen to Bach and Yo Yo Ma. It probably won’t do to you what it does for me. And I realize a large contingent of my readers might be cocking its collective eyebrow at me and telling me to chill out, dude, it’s just a song.

And it is. But also, it isn’t. It’s more. Much, much more. It’s a pair of calipers that plunge into my chest, pierce my heart, and drag it out into the open where I can’t conceal it, can’t hide it, can’t do anything but ache and try to breathe and wish I could take a version of my baby boy at every age and carry all those versions with me for eternity. Because I love him so much it destroys me.

I won’t even get into the song’s title—which I didn’t know until I went to write this blog post—and how symbolic it could be. I’ll just say to those of you who are affected by art, by nature, by music…

You know what I mean.


CASTLE OF SORROWS Arrives (at My House)

It’s always exciting to receive a box full of books; it’s especially exciting when those books are yours. And by yours I mean mine. Because tonight it’s all about me. And our neighbor, who brought over some desserts for us because that’s just how she rolls. My wife is a master dessert-maker, too, so don’t think I’m putting down her baking skills. Because she, well, she’s really awesome at baking those—

How did I get on this subject anyway?

Back to me and my new book.

My six-year-old daughter comes in with a box that weighs more than she does and thrusts it into my hands. I already know what it is, so together she and I dig into it like a couple of gluten-free fanatics digging into some gluten-free food stuffs. Okay, that sucked spectacularly, but at least I avoided the kids-on-Christmas-morning cliché, right? Maybe? Please?

The Return of Gabriel

The Return of Gabriel

So CASTLE OF SORROWS comes out in less than a month. It’s my darkest novel yet. My longest too. And my first sequel. I’ll be signing copies of it at Scares That Care. And you can pre-order it now.

So that’s enough of that. I need to get to sleep soon (translation: by one A.M. because of my perpetual insomnia), so I better wrap this up. Have a good night, friends, and I hope you get some baked goods from someone special. And I hope they’re gluten-free, if you’re into that. And if you’re not, I hope they’re nothing but gluten. Like gluten pie. Or Snickerglutens.

Peace. Regardless of your stance on the explosive issue of gluten. Can’t we all just get along?