Time to welcome fellow Samhain Horror author Jonathan Janz back to the blog. His debut The Sorrows marked the arrival of a striking new voice in horror fiction. Read on for the (ahem) Skin-ny on his new novel House of Skin and more! Let’s flay!
1.Your 2nd Samhain novel House of Skin just released, congrats! What’s the Skinny on this book?
First of all, thanks so much for having me on today, Frazer! You know I’m a fan, and hopefully those readers who enjoyed the exploits of The Skin Mechanic in your excellent The Lamplighters will also enjoy my monstrous villain Annabel in House of Skin.
To answer your first question…I’m not saying I’m the equal of these writers, but those who love horror will know the names Peter Straub and Richard Laymon. House of Skin is the kind of story that would have occurred had Straub and Laymon collaborated. First of all, the pace of House of Skin is very brisk, and pacing was one of Laymon’s best attributes as a writer. There are also real-life villains who bring about some nastily violent sequences, which was another staple of Laymon’s books.
But the overall story and structure of House of Skin harkens back to the early books of Peter Straub. Ghost Story, Julia, and Shadowland influenced this book in many important ways, so if you enjoy the Gothic framework (where the past ultimately meets and influences the present), you’ll love this novel.
2. How does it differ from The Sorrows? Or are both books similar in style?
Stylistically, they have several similarities (Gothic structure, fast pace, etc.); there are, however, some important differences. The Sorrows contained six main points of view, as well as the flashback sequences. House of Skin only really uses three main points of view in addition to its flashbacks, which means you get into these characters’ heads to an even greater degree (though, of course, I felt like you got to know my characters in The Sorrows quite intimately as well).
Another difference between The Sorrows and House of Skin is the nature of the villain. In The Sorrows, I think the audience comes to feel some sympathy for the main villain, although they ultimately despise and fear him in the end. In House of Skin, I doubt that anyone will feel anything but horror at Annabel and the terrible events she brings about. Of course, there is a strong element of eroticism with Annabel, which might make readers desire her the way the characters do…but readers will hate her even more than they’ll desire her.
3. How did House of Skin evolve & become your 2nd Samhain book?
Well, it was the second book I submitted to Don D’Auria, the editor you and I (thankfully) share at Samhain, but it was also the first book I ever tried to write. I say “tried” because when I first attempted to capture the basic story (which had been with me since my early twenties), I didn’t have the chops to pull it off. I wrote and threw out seven drafts of the novel, which went by a few different names. After I wrote The Sorrows, I felt like I had grown enough as an author to take another stab (hah!) at this book. What resulted was House of Skin, and I’m extremely proud of the way it turned out.
4. Say you could wear another’s Skin for a day… Who – or what – and why?
Whoa…that’s a weird, wonderful question, Frazer. I think I’d wear Alexander Payne’s skin; he’s the screenwriter and the director of Sideways, The Descendants, and other great films. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how he tells a story. If I could wear his skin, I assume I could also share his brain, and in doing so I could take with me his abilities and amazing traits as a storyteller.
5. What’s up next for Jonathan Janz?
My third book will be published by Samhain Horror in early 2013. It’s called The Darkest Lullaby and has a bit of Paranormal Activity and Rosemary’s Baby in it, which I find to be very cool. After that I’ve got something very strange and wonderful planned, but since I’m still editing it right now, I don’t want to jinx myself by talking about it.
In addition to novel #3 (and hopefully novel #4) coming out in 2013, my first three novels are likely going to be published in audio form next year as well, which I’m really jazzed about.
I’m currently working on my fifth novel, which will likely turn out to be the first book in a trilogy. I’ve never done a sequel before, so if this one keeps going as well as it has thus far, following it up will also pose a new and exciting challenge.
Thanks muchly for dropping by and sharing your thoughts, here’s wishing you all the very best for your new releases and projects, can’t wait to read ’em!
Thank you so much for having me back on your blog, Frazer! I can’t wait to read Panic Button and anything else you cook up!
Keep up on all the latest Jonathan Janz-based goodness at his official site: www.jonathanjanz.com