December 18, 2015

Hungry Like the Wolf: an interview + giveaway with Jonathan Janz, author of "Wolf Land"

 WOLF LAND by Jonathan Janz

An unholy predator on the prowl!

The small town of Lakeview offers little excitement for Duane, Savannah, and their friends. They’re about to endure their ten-year high school reunion when their lives are shattered by the arrival of an ancient, vengeful evil. 

The werewolf.

The first attack leaves seven dead and four wounded. And though the beast remains on the loose and eager to spill more blood, the sleepy town is about to face an even greater terror. Because the four victims of the werewolf’s fury are changing. They’re experiencing unholy desires and unimaginable cravings. They’ll prey on the innocent. They’ll act on their basest desires. Soon, they’ll plunge the entire town into a nightmare. Lakeview is about to become Wolf Land.

Gef: How old were you when you first found out about werewolves? Was it a movie, novel, comic book, Saturday morning cartoon?

Jonathan: Hmmm...I’d say my first brush with werewolves had to be the original version of THE WOLFMAN, which I saw when I was very young. Though that experience certainly creeped me out, it also created the foundation of humanity beneath the bestial side. Then, the Michael Jackson “Thriller” video came along and made me forget all about humanity and sent me sprinting out of the room. Seriously. That transformation terrified me.

After that, the movies that did it were THE HOWLING, SILVER BULLET, and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. By the time I was an adolescent, I was absolutely hooked.

Gef: What prompted you to take a crack at the werewolf mythos? Is this something you've had brewing for a while or was it more of a spur of the moment idea?

Jonathan: It was definitely brewing for a good long while. I’ve loved werewolves forever and have always known I’d write them at some point. It just took the right plot, which I found when I started thinking about some of the things I used to imagine during high school. Being from a rural small town, I spent a lot of time driving country roads at night. That sort of setting was just perfect for werewolf thoughts, and I used to imagine werewolves in the countryside pretty frequently.

There was also an amusement park where I grew up (Indiana Beach). I worked there during the summer and spent a great deal of time there. So as I thought back about those days and nights, my thoughts naturally trended toward the amusement park too. It all came together in WOLF LAND.

Gef: Wolf Land has a high school reunion as its backdrop. Any literary catharsis with that choice or all fond memories of high school?

Jonathan: Definitely a catharsis, though many of my high school memories are positive ones. See, the thing for me is how much I used to get sanctioned back in high school, and how many wrong ideas got perpetuated. Oh, I had great friends and many good times, but there were also things that bothered me on some level back then that I never took the time to examine or attempt to change. That bothers me now, so WOLF LAND was my way of dealing with that.

Gef: Some of your previous novels have winks and nods to other novels you've written. Any little easter eggs to be found by your more ravenous readership in Wolf Land?

Jonathan: Absolutely! This book goes both backward and forward with references to my work. SAVAGE SPECIES gets a nod in WOLF LAND, which was only fitting since there’s a kinship between the two books. They’re different in many ways, but there are also some similarities. Structurally, they both feature a big bloodbath early on, as well as an ensemble cast with multiple plot strands and points-of-view. Given those connections, I thought it would be appropriate to mention SAVAGE SPECIES.

The other Easter egg is a bit different. I usually don’t talk much about future works in my novels, but in this one I did. There’s a winter novel I’ll be writing some time in the near future called THE STARS HAVE LEFT THE SKIES that gets some early backstory in WOLF LAND. The Easter egg, I guess, will only make sense once the later story is released, but at that point it’ll be something cool to tie the books together.

Gef: Favorite and least-favorite aspect of the werewolf mythos?

Jonathan: I don’t really have a least-favorite aspect, unless you count the defanging that has gone on with both werewolves and vampires over the past couple decades. My favorite aspect of the werewolf mythos? Man, can I say all of it? I love the first “infection”; I love the paranoia that comes from being bitten or scratched. The transformation scene is one of the single most mesmerizing events in dark fiction, and in WOLF LAND, we get several of them. Add to all that the incredible opportunity for guilt and redemption, and you’ve got a whale of a lot of potential. I freaking love werewolves.

Gef: Werewolf vs. vampire: who ya got?

Jonathan: Both are incredible creatures when done right. I like to think I’ve done them justice in WOLF LAND and DUST DEVILS, respectively. The werewolves in WOLF LAND are absolutely monstrous, but then again, so are the vampires in DUST DEVILS. I feel like I’m cheating on them by going with one or the other, so I’ll just say they’re my two favorite creatures.

Then again, I love the Children from SAVAGE SPECIES and Gabriel from THE SORROWS…

Wow. Did I really just cop-out on my cop-out? Whatever meager street cred I had is now gone.

Gef: How have you found your progression as a writer thus far?

Jonathan: It has been incredibly rewarding because it has been characterized by consistent effort and dogged determination. As far as subject matter, I’ve really been all over the dark territories of horror, and I’ve done several different subgenres. I’d like to think the quality of my writing has steadily increased, and I know my process has grown stronger. In addition to improving as a writer, I feel like I’ve become a more capable editor, which is nearly as important as being a good writer. I think the act of going through the novel-writing and editing process makes you better as long as you pay attention, try to learn from your mistakes, and attempt to build on your successes.

Gef: What projects are you cooking up that folks can expect in the near future, and how can folks keep up with your shenanigans?

Jonathan: Well, folks can find me at my website (, my Goodreads page, my Amazon page, on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (always as Jonathan Janz). With regard to new projects, I have two novels and a novella coming in 2016. CHILDREN OF THE DARK is a prequel to SAVAGE SPECIES, though it’s a standalone novel as well. EXORCIST FALLS is a sequel to EXORCIST ROAD, and though the original was a novella, the sequel is a full-length novel. I’ll be releasing an updated, improved version of my first ever novella, WITCHING HOUR THEATRE. Additionally, I have several story ideas in my mind and others partially written, so the foreseeable future looks to be a fruitful, exciting time.

Thank you so much for having me on your wonderful site, Gef. I visit it daily! 

GIVEAWAY: Enter to win ONE (1) print copy signed by Jonathan Janz of WOLF LAND! Use the Rafflecopter form below. There are several things you can do to get multiple entries each day. Forward any questions to Erin Al-Mehairi, publicist, at hookofabook[at]

Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, and in a way, that explains everything. Brian Keene named his debut novel The Sorrows "the best horror novel of 2012." The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin, "reminiscent of Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House and Peter Straub's Ghost Story."

2013 saw the publication of his novel of vampirism and demonic possession The Darkest Lullaby, as well as his serialized horror novel Savage Species. Of Savage Species, Publishers Weekly said, "Fans of old-school splatterpunk horror--Janz cites Richard Laymon as an influence, and it shows--will find much to relish." Jonathan's Kindle Worlds novel Bloodshot: Kingdom of Shadows marked his first foray into the superhero/action genre.

Jack Ketchum called his vampire western Dust Devils a "Rousing-good weird western," and his sequel to The Sorrows (Castle of Sorrows) was selected one of 2014's top three novels by Pod of Horror. 2015 saw the release of The Nightmare Girl, which prompted Pod of Horror to call Jonathan "Horror's Next Big Thing." His newest release is Wolf Land, which Publishers Weekly called “gruesome yet entertaining gorefest” with “an impressive and bloody climax.” He has also written four novellas (Exorcist Road, The Clearing of Travis Coble, Old Order, and Witching Hour Theatre) and several short stories.

His primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children, and though he realizes that every author's wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the clich√© happens to be true. You can learn more about Jonathan at You can also find him on Facebook, via @jonathanjanz on Twitter, or on his Goodreads and Amazon author pages.

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