Interview and Giveaway: John Hornor Jacobs, author of Southern Gods

I’m so thrilled to have John Hornor Jacobs on the blog today! John is the author of the spine tingling Southern Gods, with more to come, and he was kind enough to let me interrogate, er, interview him:) Also, Night Shade books has kindly offered 2 copies of Southern Gods as a giveaway to 2 lucky winners, so be sure to check out the rules at the end of the post.

Please welcome John to the blog!

John, I know that the road to getting published can be a difficult one. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey? Have you always wanted to write?
I’ve always been a bookworm. I think most people who love books at some point want to take a crack writing one themselves. I’ve said this before in other interviews, but it bears repeating: most of us who love literature, love reading books and being subsumed by a novel had some formative experience as a child where they fell madly in love with a novel, so much so that they felt this intense ownership of it. For me, it was The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I felt I had discovered a private word all of my own and when other people mentioned Tolkien’s works, I felt (in a somewhat silly and childish way) that they could never love Middle-Earth as much as I did. I was protective and proprietorial over what to me was such an intensely private and moving experience.

People who have that experience sometimes want to try to give that to other people – a desire that goes beyond just lending books. It’s an arrogance to you can do better than these classics, but nothing has ever been accomplished by being meek and self-conscious.
It might be different for every writer, so I’m just winging this theory. I’m prone to generalizations.

Can you tell us a bit about your brand new novel, Southern Gods?
Southern Gods is a genre blend of crime noir, Southern Gothic, and Lovecraftian narrative traditions. Hopefully it exceeds the sum of its parts.
In essence, it’s the story of a shell-shocked WWII veteran named Bull Ingram who’s hired to find a missing man in Arkansas. But the missing man – a payola agent for Helios Studios – was also searching for something, a bluesman named Ramblin’ John Hastur whose music was reported to raise the dead. It becomes clear very early that Bull will have to unravel the mystery of Ramblin’ John to find his missing man.

What are some of your biggest literary influences?
For a long while I was writing in the shadow of Faulkner, penning long circuitous sentences with massive words like abrogate and shibboleth and incalcitrant, the last of which isn’t even a real word though Faulkner quite liked it. I have a degree in English and it’s surprising how much I’m inspired by Donne, Keats, Yeats, Byron, Shakey, Johnson in addition to more modern writers like Hemingway, Faulkner, O’Connor, Harper Lee, Tennessee Williams, Raymond Carver, Walker Percy. Lately I’ve become enamored of Norman Mailer.
Of course, on the genre front, I love who you might expect: Tolkien, Lovecraft, Heinlein, Chabon, GRRM, Niven, Zelazny, Brust, McCammon, Keene. But I also love crime, so Chandler and Hammett were large influences, not to mention Rex Stout and Donald Westlake.
And then there’s Stephen King.

Who, if you met them in person, would cause you to give out a big ‘ol fan squeee?
Here’s the deal with meeting idols – they never live up to your expectations and it’s usually an awkward meeting for one (if not both) of you. But if I could meet anyone, it would be Paul McCartney. If we constrain it to authors, I’d love to chat with Stephen King, but the likelihood of either of those things happening is probably quite slim.

If I could meet anyone, living or dead, I’d go with Felix Sulla, provided someone could translate Latin for me and I wouldn’t be put to death during the meeting.

We all have one or two authors that, if given the chance, we’ll go on about ad nauseum. Do you have an absolute favorite that you’ll pimp at any opportunity?
Currently, my favorite author is Daryl Gregory, the author of Pandemonium and Raising Stony Mayhall. His books are SF or horror, but they’re intensely personal and elevate the genre into literature. Seriously, these books are amazing, touching, terrifying, sad, and hilarious by turns. An amazing talent. I’m attending World Fantasy Convention in San Diego next month and hopefully I’ll get to meet him there (unfortunately I won’t have any of his books to sign because I’ve given them all away), along with Neil Gaiman, Guy Kay and many more of my favorite fantasy authors. Hopefully, I won’t act like a douche.

You’re super busy, with Southern Gods having just been released, This Dark Earth dropping in 2012,and The Incarcerado Trilogy coming up after that! Whew! When you find some downtime, how do you like to spend it?
It’s true, I’m always busy with something. If I have downtime, I like hanging out with my family, playing with my band, and chilling with the dog. Grilling. Fishing. Visiting my parents and sister. I’ve got a very tight knit family life, thank Cthuhlu.

On your blog, I was reading about your lake house in Arkansas, Rob-Bell, which has been in your family since before the Civil War. It’s absolutely beautiful from what I can see in the pictures! What’s one of your most favorite memories about spending time there?
When we were younger, my sister and I would water-ski all day long, or as long as our dad would pull us around the lake. Sleeping on the kid’s sleeping porch without air-conditioning in the blazing heat. Homemade peach ice cream. Picking blackberries, fingers stained. But, the memories I most cherish are the ones I’m now making with my daughters, fishing with them, swimming in the lake, exploring the grounds. I’m very lucky to have Rob-Bell.

If you could pack your bags and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go, and why?
Ambergris Caye in Belize, the town of San Pedro. It’s a remote, beautiful island on the second longest barrier reef in the word. I’d like to drink rum and fish and dive for conch shells and nap in a hammock and nurse a sunburn with a cold bottle of beer and eat ceviche.

What’s one of the most daring things you’ve ever done (that you’ll admit to?)
Started my own business. Now that’s risky.

Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
My agent has begun the submission process for my newest novel, called The Incorruptibles. It’s another mash-up novel. This time, western/fantasy/alternate history with a little demonpunk thrown in for good measure. You can check out the pitch on the books page of my blog. It’ll be the first in a series of three books and hopefully we’ll know its publishing home in the next six months or so. Possibly. Everything in publishing takes a long time.

Stalk John: Website | Twitter

Read my review of Southern Gods

1. Giveaway is for 2 copies of Southern Gods to 2 winners.
2. Giveaway is open to US/Canadian Addresses onlly
3. To enter, please leave a comment or question for John along with your email address. Following the blog is not required, but is always appreciated!
4. Giveaway ENDS 9/30/11
5. Giveaway books kindly provided by Night Shade Books

About Southern Gods:
Recent World War II veteran Bull Ingram is working as muscle when a Memphis DJ hires him to find Ramblin’ John Hastur. The mysterious blues man’s dark, driving music – broadcast at ever-shifting frequencies by a phantom radio station – is said to make living men insane and dead men rise. Disturbed and enraged by the bootleg recording the DJ plays for him, Ingram follows Hastur’s trail into the strange, uncivilized backwoods of Arkansas, where he hears rumors the musician has sold his soul to the Devil. But as Ingram closes in on Hastur and those who have crossed his path, he’ll learn there are forces much more malevolent than the Devil and reckonings more painful than Hell…

In a masterful debut of Lovecraftian horror and Southern gothic menace, John Hornor Jacobs reveals the fragility of free will, the dangerous power of sacrifice, and the insidious strength of blood.


  1. This book sounds really good and is already on my wishlist. It seems Night Shade Books is putting out some really good stuff! I recently finished No Hero by Jonathan Wood and really liked it. They’ve recently put out many that I want to read, obviously including Southern Gods! Loved the interview!

    Thanks for the giveaway and chance to win!
    Proud GFC follower and Facebook fan!

  2. Great interview and the book sounds like a blast. If John can arrange an interview will Sulla, I can help with the Latin, although my medieval accent may get ME executed.

  3. What a treat of an interview today. I hopped over from twitter this morning to see what the buzz was about and have to say, I am liking Southern Gods. Thank you for the giveaway opportunity and taking the time to share with us today a bit of yourself. I really enjoy interviews and reading the work of authors who share. Of course I am a follower, cause all of us awesome folks are 🙂


  4. Great interview! I always love seeing who inspires an author.
    Will definitely be adding this to my TBR!

  5. Cool interview. I’ve read a couple very complimentary reviews for this book already, so it’s on my watch list. As for a question:

    Vampires, werewolves, & zombies have had their moments in the spotlight for quite some time, but what long abandoned horror monster/cliche deserves a comeback?

  6. It is nice to read a Blog like this. I have read a lot of the authors that Jacobs mentions as inspirations and would love to give this book a read.

    Thanks to the folks at Night Shade for supplying a couple of giveaway copies.

  7. Very interested in reading this one, being a fan of Deep Blues and Lovecraft myself!

  8. Great interview! I’ve had Southern Gods on my wishlist since I first heard of it a few months ago. I’d be curious to know how much inspiration Mr. Jacobs drew from the story of Robert Johnson and other Delta blues performers.

    Thanks for the giveaway!
    sonya (at) sonyaclark (dot) net

  9. Sounds like a really great read. Look forward to cracking it whether I win one of the copies (Hoping. Hoping.) or not.

  10. I’m very excited to read this. The mix of Cthulhu, the Deep South, and the blues are irresistible.

  11. Pingback: Interview and Giveaway at Night Shade Books

  12. I have heard this is the book to read right now, thanks
    teressaolvier at gmail dot com

  13. This looks like a great book! Thank you for the chance to win! edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom

  14. I love discovering new authors and John sounds like someone I’m about to discover. I love learning about history and especially like the WWII era. My own books are historical fiction with their base in actual historical events. Looking forward to reading Southern Gods(hope I win); I promise to leave a review as well. Best of luck on the book!!

  15. I just wanted to say that how you feel about Lord of the rings is how I feel about the Dune books. I did not read them as a kid though

  16. oh heres my email vbarton24 at gmail dot com

  17. Hi John,
    The premise and the cover puts me in mind of the legend of blues singer Robert Johnson. I would want to meet Paul McCartney and Stephen King too, but if I did, I know I would start crying.

    Thank you for the giveaway.

    midnytereader (at) @gmail (dot) com

  18. I too am a Tolkien lover. My Dad was definitely the promoter of book reading, but as I look back he did it in subtle ways. He must have thought if he made me do it, I wouldn’t. LOL I found The Hobbit in my Christmas Stocking one year in grade school, at once I fell under the spell of Tolkien and books from that time forward.
    John, who influenced your love of books, a parent, teacher or did you just get lucky and find them on your own?
    Southern Gods, sounds like an interesting read, it’s now on my to read list. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.


  19. Sounds like my kind of book. Mixing blues with Cthulhu is very interesting.
    Thank you and thank Night Shade Books for the

  20. Would very much like to read this. Thanks for the wonderful giveaway

  21. WOW. Southern Gods sounds like my kind of book. The cover definitely has a creepy feel. How did you come up with the cover design for Southern Gods?

  22. Please enter me in contest. I would love to read this book. Sounds good.

  23. Oh wow, I love the premise of this book! Completely different from the kickass herioine type books I’ve been reading lately. Plus I’m from the south wo that males this a must read!

    Poisnivyred AT

  24. Wow, this is by far the most interesting book I’ve heard about it some time.

  25. Pingback: Review: Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs | My Bookish Ways

  26. This book sounds extremely interesting, really like the fact that Bull is a WWII Vet. Can’t wait to find out more about these characters.

  27. It seems like we are in the age of the “mash-up” novel, as you call it John. I would guess it stems from exposure to many forms of media besides just books. Do you have any TV and/or movie influences or memories that colored Southern Gods, or perhaps your upcoming book, The incorruptibles?

    Also, when I read what you setting is and see the guitar player on the cover, I think of Manly Wade Wellman’s Silver John stories. Have yuo read and are you a fan?

    Best Regards,

  28. Gail – My father was instrumental in my reading tastes. He started me off with Greek mythology, the Illiad and the Odyssey, and from there we found ourselves pretty quickly in Middle Earth.

    Jennifer – I didn’t design the cover for Southern Gods. That was all my publisher’s doing. The cover art is by an amazingly talented artist from Australia named Roderigo Luff.


  29. I, too, started my own business, so I know what you mean when you say it is the riskiest thing you’ve done! Your book looks awesome, John, and I am really psyched to read it 🙂
    jwitt33 at live dot com

  30. Love the idea of this book and really want to read it… sounds awesome

  31. Southern Gods is definitely on my TBR list now and I’m VERY intrigued by your next project’s description!

    pherlaithiel at gmail dot com

  32. Sounds like my kind of reading. Love the cover, too!
    Thanks for the interview and the offer.

  33. Thanks for the giveaway! Loved your pictures of Rob-Bell–both old and the new. It’s looks like a VERY relaxing lakehouse! Being from southern Kansas I can totally relate to the uncomfortable heat and humidity in the summer AND being without air conditioning. Glad to see the house has been “modernized”!! But I must say I like the premise for your book and look forward to reading it.


  34. I’ve been wanting to branch out into different genres in my reading. This looks and sounds like something I’d love to sink my teeth into! I’ve got it marked as to-read on Good Reads!

  35. I’m in. I like me some Night Shade.

  36. Thanks for running the contest. I’m excited about this book.


  37. Pingback: Interview Round-Up – John Hornor Jacobs

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