Interview: John Hornor Jacobs On Writing and Writing Life | More2Read
 

John Hornor Jacobs On Writing and Writing Life

John Hornor Jacobs’ first novel, Southern Gods, was published by Night Shade Books and shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Award for First Novel. His second novel, This Dark Earth, was published in 2012 by Simon & Schuster. His young adult series, The Incarcerado Trilogy comprised of The Twelve-Fingered Boy, The Shibboleth, and The Conformity, was described by Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing as “amazing” and received a starred Booklist review. His Fisk & Shoe fantasy series composed of The Incorruptibles, Foreign Devils, and Infernal Machines has thrice been shortlisted for the David Gemmell Award and was described by Patrick Rothfuss like this: “One part ancient Rome, two parts wild west, one part Faust. A pinch of Tolkien, of Lovecraft, of Dante. This is strange alchemy, a recipe I’ve never seen before. I wish more books were as fresh and brave as this.”

His fiction has appeared in Playboy Magazine, Cemetery Dance, Apex Magazine and his essays have been featured on CBS Weekly and Huffington Post. Jacobs resides in the American South and spends his free time when not working on his next book thinking about his next book.Visit him at www.johnhornorjacobs.com.



The Interview:


Lou Pendergrast

What are the origins and inspiration for the novella, The Sea Dreams It Is the Sky?

John Hornor Jacobs

Well, I’m revisiting some of my earlier works – Southern Gods, in particular. In Southern Gods, the Opuscules Noctis plays an integral role in the plot. In that book, lots of bad things happen and if I remember correctly(it’s been 10 years since I’ve really been deep in the text of that novel) it gets destroyed in a fire at the Vatican. But there are copies out in the world, obviously. As the movie poster read back in the 80s “…evil never dies…”

In a broader sense, I was inspired to write this novella because I had been reading a lot of Roberto Bolaño, and non-fiction books about Chile and thePinochet regime, and the idea of America as a Cthulhian god popped into my head. So I pursued that idea where it led me.


LP

Why Spanish poetry and South America?

 

John Hornor Jacobs

At the time I was immersed in Borges and Bolaño and that is what occurred to me. Also, for the idea of America as a Lovecraftian god to work, it would have to be set outside of the US, at least initially. Now I’m getting an idea for another story.


By Farisori (Barrio de Sant Antoni)


 LP

What world and time is this tale set?

 

John Hornor Jacobs

As this book is very much a Russian doll of a story – stories within stories – the framing narrative takes place in 1987, and the testament of Avendaño takes place in 1974. It is set in the same universe as my first book, Southern Gods.



LP

Cosmic horror what does that mean?

 

John Hornor Jacobs

I’d define cosmic horror as horror where the fear and dread are derived from a dawning realization that mankind is small, insignificant, and exists in a malevolent universe. You’d think free will in that situation would be irrelevant but the opposite is true.


LP

When you started writing road and now the present a published novelist, what has writing meant for you? Has it changed? What do you hope to achieve with your writing?

 

John Hornor Jacobs

I think most people that fall in love with books at a young age want to, at some point, add their voice to the choir of writers and storytellers who have come before. Writing is a weird act of extreme ego that soon becomes humility and contrition. You have to have a sense of pride and self to want to commit YOUR story to paper and join with all the stories that came before. But when it actually is going to go to publication, you have to enter the house of editing and feedback and sensitivity reads with humility. Otherwise you’ll never get published.

I hope, at some point, to write a book that connects with a larger audience. I’m comfortable in my life, my kids are almost grown and out of the house, I’m a business owner with a steady income, I’d like to see one of my books reach beyond the small audience I currently have. Not out of any desire of fame or wealth, but I feel that the work I put into each book deserves a wider reach than they currently have. However, it’s a very crowded arena now, more books are published each year than the last, and it’s very hard to gain an audience. So, we’ll see. I’ll keep writing as long as publishers are willing to keep publishing my books. And maybe even beyond that.


LP

What authors have inspired to write and why?

 

John Hornor Jacobs

The two books that had the most impact on meat a young age were The Lord of the Rings and Dracula – so I’d say that Stoker and Tolkien were pretty formative for me. More recently, I’ve become totally enamored of Nicholson Baker, Glen Duncan, and Hilary Mantel, and will follow anywhere those writers choose to take me.



LP

When, where, and with which tools do you write?

 

John Hornor Jacobs

I write usually at night, after work, but because I own a good portion of my business – I’m a partner in an advertising agency – I write at work and my partners understand if I don’t have any work to deal with I’ll be writing.

I don’t write longhand, as some writers do, all of my work is in Scrivener for the first draft and of course, once it moves to editing, I write in MS Word because that’s what you edit in with publishers.

Scrivener’s Core Concepts from Literature & Latte on Vimeo.


LP

You have published novels, any side jobs, and work in magazines?

 

John Hornor Jacobs

I am a senior designer and partner at an advertising agency, so I do a lot of creative work that gets seen. For a while I was doing a lot of animations for Twitter. My work has appeared all over, in Time Square, on late night television shows, in magazines. But you’d never know I had created it. I’ve won countless Addy Awards on the local, regional, and national levels (US). Recently had some of my design work in Lürzer’s Archive magazine.

On the writing front, last year I had a story published in Playboy Magazine – the first issue with nudity back in. I’ve written a short novel, pseudonymously, about American football players.


LP

When will you be publishing your next work, and any ideas what it may be about? 

 

John Hornor Jacobs

The deal I made with Harper Voyager for The Sea Dreams It Is The Sky is a weird one. The Sea Dreams comes out on the 30th of October only as one book, and will live for maybe a year, and then we’ll pull it down and it will come out in hardback with another short novel (not a novella) that has similar themes though totally dissimilar in story, setting, structure. That hardback containing the two short novels will be called A Lush and Seething Hell.

The second novel in that book is called My Heart Struck Sorrow, and it’s about a man from the Library of Congress in the 1930s (loosely based on Alan Lomax) who becomes morbidly fascinated with the lost “infernal” verses of the folk song “StaggerLee.”

 With both of these novels, I’m keeping in the horror genre but I am making an effort toward the“literary” end of the horror spectrum, because that suits my tastes more.

 Currently I’ve returned to my big, haunted, historical southern novel. I’m also working on a screenplay (slowly) and intend to write more short fiction, just to remind myself I can. I’ve got a collaborative project that is Dracula related coming in the new year.


LP

Thanks for this time chatting about the writing 

 

 John Hornor Jacobs

Thank you for having me!

 


johnhornorjacobs.com  |  Twitter  |  Facebook



 


Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 02 November 2018