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Night Worms Interview with Author John Hornor Jacobs

Night Worms - 8:55 AM

First burning question: Did you start your day off right?

John Jacobs - 

I have not had breakfast, no. But I am drinking coffee

Night Worms - 

How do you take your coffee?

John Jacobs - 

With 2 packets of Stevia

Night Worms - 

That makes me feel guilty. Ha! My coffee routine is indulgent

Night Worms - 

I did do a little research on you bright and early this morning and saw what you do besides writing amazing books. You design book covers as well?

John Jacobs - 

I do a lot of design and animation for work. I used to occasionally design book covers but I had a bad experience with a fairly well-known crime author and stopped. The juice wasn't worth the squeeze.

Night Worms - 

Oh I like the way you said that!

John Jacobs - 

Thank you. It's funny, I don't like a lot of the way I phrase things and I'm always trying to find a better way. "The juice ain't worth the squeeze" is a Wendig aphorism, I think

Night Worms - 

Of course, it is. I got to meet him finally! Not to go too far off-topic but it was amazing

John Jacobs - 

He is a great person. Seriously. Just the best of us.

Night Worms - 

truly

and A LUSH AND SEETHING HELL was my introduction to your work and I was always writing down the way you turn a phrase

You quickly made your way to top-shelf authors for me

Insta-Buy

John Jacobs - 

That's humbling. Thank you. My growth as a writer is on display to the world. I am least embarrassed by ALASH

Night Worms - 

I need to go back and read everything now! If you could tell a new fan where to start with your work, which book would you direct them to

John Jacobs - 

Whenever anyone asks that, I always direct them to my newest book, unless my newest book is #2 or #3 in a series, and then I direct them to the first of the series. 

Umm.

I guess SOUTHERN GODS, since you are more of a horror hound

Night Worms - 

ALASH is the newest then, yes?

Oh I've heard good things about that one

John Jacobs - 

Yes, but THE SEA DREAMS and MY HEART are in the same "universe" 

SOUTHERN GODS is the first appearance of Opusculus Noctis

and I recently completed a novella called MURDER BALLADS that completes the story of the children of SG. It'll come out in my collection next year from Journalstone titled MURDER BALLADS AND OTHER HORRIFIC TALES

Night Worms - 

I love that you have a connected universe, that's exciting for your fanbase

John Jacobs - 

In some ways it's almost pure laziness

Night Worms

I don't believe that for a second, I was blown away by the amount of research and effort you must have put in for ALASH

John Jacobs - 

Why design a whole new house when you can just add a room on this wing?

True, I did work very hard on ALASH, but in other ways I was trying to regain some of the attention and momentum I had with SG by writing about similar themes and returning to horror.

I made a mistake early in my career of switching genres two times

Night Worms - 

would you say that horror is your wheelhouse?

John Jacobs - 

I don't know about horror being in my wheelhouse. Most people find my imagination creepy. Even my fantasy series - it was full of terrifying creatures and demons and the like - I think my strong suit is reading a lot about history that interests me, and kind of condensing that into plot, setting, and character

I am very much a writer of historical fiction, but probably horror first

Night Worms - 

Yes! I loved the historical fiction aspect of your writing. I kept forgetting the characters were fictional people.

One of my favorite novellas now.

John Jacobs - 

When I was writing MY HEART STRUCK SORROW, the part set in modern day, I kept thinking to myself, "This is so fucking easy! I don't have to research anything!"

As a point of pride, I've started including my research sources at the end of books, just to show the effort I put in.

Night Worms - 

Do you find writing stories of that length easy or difficult?

John Jacobs - 

So, MHSS is technically a novel, since it's 65,000 words, but I am really enjoying writing shorter works

Night Worms - 

I love shorter fiction, myself.

John Jacobs - 

I feel like in today's attention-deficit world, the novella is a better medium for a lot of folks.

A novella offers a lot of the strengths of a novel plus the pacing and brevity of a short story. Best of both worlds. I do have a theory about longer, more difficult works, but it would be too much to convey in a chat

 

Night Worms - 

I agree with you. I like to start and finish in one sitting as well

So we have a Twitter question

John Jacobs - 

Hit me with the question

Night Worms - 

@dezzarray wants to know how things are going for you after your explosion incident

John Jacobs - 

Oh shit

Yeah, well, I've lost some hearing in my left ear - maybe 10% impairment. 

In the carport of the house, there's some blistering on the ceiling where the flames licked the ceiling, but nothing dire. There's a crack in the frame of the kitchen door, either where the shockwave hit it or my shoulder did when I was racing to get something to extinguish the flames. There are some scorch marks on the ground.

It's really remarkable, not just I survived, but how little damage the house and I took.

Night Worms - 

Jeeze, John. This could have had more seriously dire results--we're lucky you're ok

John Jacobs - 

Yeah, my wife reminds me of that on the reg

And she is, of course, right

Night Worms - 

I do remember reading that whole situation and not realizing it was so close to being fatal

How scary

John Jacobs - 

yeah, it was close, but I came out totally unscathed. I am a godless heathen, but it just wasn't my time, I guess. I am due for more suffering in this life - that is my lot.

Night Worms - 

On that note:

You did say "theory about longer, more difficult works but too long for chat”...can you give us a taste of these theories? It sparked my curiosity

John Jacobs - 

Okay. So, everything we read, we carry with us the rest of our lives. Even the books we hate. Like, I really DID NOT LIKE China Mieville's PERDIDO STREET STATION, however, I think about it all the time

So, with longer, and more difficult works - and when I say more difficult, I mean either in concept, or language, or structure, or all of the above 

The more effort you have to put into a work before you hit that spot where, yes, you're invested, it's like a sine wave. The higher it goes, the more likely you are to abandoning a book. But if you last long enough, the wave shifts

And as hard as it was to "get into" the book, the more you're invested once you are. Roberto Bolaño's 2666 is like this. It's a difficult work. Susanna Clarke's JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. MORRELL is, really, pretty dull for the first 75 pages and you really have to stick with it, but once you're "into it" you're REALLY into it

A lot of epic fantasy is like this, as well.

Night Worms - 

This is really meaty stuff because you're right, I kept hearing how great Jonathan Strange was but I didn't last long enough. Same with The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. It was slow and I bailed but had I hung in there with it, which felt like a more serious commitment, the pay off would probably be rich

John Jacobs - 

It's a difficult balance to achieve, really, and in the end, it's due to differences in authorial intent

Like, if you're wanting to tell a ripping yarn, fast-paced, like a thriller, you're going to want it to be as easy for the reader as slipping on their favorite pajamas. That's why most thrillers are written at an 8th grade level of vocabulary. I'm not slamming thrillers. It is HARD to write that smoothly and simply

John Jacobs - 

But more difficult a book is, the more likely it will become part of the reader's DNA.

Like, you may hate Faulkner, a lot of folks do, but you never forget him if you've read his work. And as I writer, I'd rather fuck up your DNA than be a nice comfy set of pajamas.

Night Worms - 

*chills*  I love that

John Jacobs - 

While I do worry about my books and their accessibility to readers, I don't worry about it too much.

Night Worms - 

The right audience gets, you and that's what matters. Real quick because we have like 15 minutes...Can we look forward to something in 2020 or the end of this year?

John Jacobs - 

Yes, I've mentioned MURDER BALLADS AND OTHER HORRIFIC TALES coming from JournalStone. It'll have a novella that is, in essence, a sequel to SOUTHERN GODS. Plus a bunch of horror, SF, and crime stories. That'll probably be in 2020 and it'll have a cover by Jeffrey Alan Love who did the art for ALASH. Anyway, I've returned to writing a big historical haunted novel about Ozzie Munk, the kid in MHSS that freaks out when he sees Harlan Parker

Night Worms - 

Oh, I love that! It's those little connections that are such a delight when reader's find them. That's exciting. I feel that way about ALASH. You slayed me-others will feel the same. it's an important book

John Jacobs - 

Well, I hope you're right! I'm very proud of my work in it. But sheesh, it's the easiest time in the world to get published and it's the hardest time to sell books. But I am so happy it struck a chord with you

Night Worms - 

It did. Thank you so much for chatting with me today.

John Jacobs - 

Thank you. Any other questions you might have, I'm happy to answer.

On my book release, I'm doing an event at White Water Tavern where we're gonna perform a version of Stagger Lee with some of the infernal verses and I'll livestream that

Night Worms - 

I do NOT want to miss that

John Jacobs - 

Yeah, I'll be chatting it up on Twitter. It'll be a Periscope feed.

I'll make sure you know.

Night Worms - 

Awesome! That sounds fantastic

Thanks again, enjoy the rest of your day

John Jacobs - 9:59 AM

You too!

http://www.johnhornorjacobs.com

 


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