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.
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.