Monday, August 01, 2011

GUEST POST - John Hornor Jacobs' SOUTHERN GODS

A while ago I got the opportunity to read the manuscript for John Hornor Jacobs' fantastic book SOUTHERN GODS, which hit shelves last week. It's the story of WWII vet Bull Ingram who gets hired to track down a blues musician in the backwoods of Arkansas in the early fifties. Seems he's been making quite a scene through a pirate radio station. Rumor is he's sold his soul to the devil to make his tunes.

Turns out he's sold himself to a lot worse than that.




This is Lovecraftian Southern Gothic. It's got blues and family, horror and magic. I love this book. It doesn't shy away from horrors of family any more than it shies from the gibbering, squamous, eldritch-horror-from-the-stars type.
I asked John if he'd like to pop on over and say a few things about the book. 


Take it away, John.

***

Second guessing yourself as a writer or author ain’t a good feeling. I don’t know about you guys, but now that my book is out, I do think, occasionally, “Should I have included that?” It’s not an all-the-time worry. But the question crops up at certain points as I go along my merry way.

Times when my mom, or her friends, or the family priest, tell me they’re excited to read Southern Gods. A little voice in the back of my head goes, “Oh shit, they’re gonna think I’m a monster. A godless monster.” Then another little voice, this one more insistent, says, “Hell YES! Another sale. GET MONEY.”

But I do worry about how folks will think of me after reading it. Will they think me a psychotic gore-loving freak? A sex-fiend? A perv?

There’s a pretty graphic sex scene in Southern Gods. While I don’t keep the camera on it long enough to describe the inevitable gooey end, i.e. the money shot, I’ve been told by people I respect that the sex wasn’t needed. A British author of considerable note said, “If I had any complaint about your book it’s that the sex scene was unnecessary. Was it truly needed for the story?”

I say yes. Those characters needed to have a little fun before the things I put them through. And, of course, the story had been building – rising even – to that point. Their dialogue afterwards deepens the readers understanding of them as real people and also furthers the plot. The money shot, however, wasn’t needed, so I didn’t write that. It might have been titillating, but not gratuitous. Heh. Titillating.

My gay friend who read the book said, “John, the sex scene went on for like…uh…thirty pages!” I checked. It’s a little less than two pages.

Do I care if people think me skeevy? Hell yeah I do. I’m only your average everyday business-as-usual typical male skeevy, not some slavering, moist-palm overcoat-wearing-jumping-out-of-bushes skeevy.

Yeah, I worry about stuff. The violence? Again, I think about my mom’s polite and powdered ladies of the Little Rock Country Club – wonderful women all – and their expressions when they get to the point when Bull is doing some revenant clobbering, or some money collection. They’ll probably like the sex. I worry about what they’ll think of me when they get to the end.

Hmmm. The end.

Without giving anything away, I do some things to characters at the end of my book – characters I’d grown to love in the telling of my tale – that were cruel and horrific. But not gratuitous. Never that. Writing the end was hard. I had to consider writing it in a way that was less harsh, more happy. In the end, I had to make the choice to keep the initial ending I wrote because, simply, bad things happen to people. Things do not work out as you want and there’s value to that lesson. Hell, from what I understand from my crime writer friends, that’s what noir is all about. To put these characters through hell and then pull the punch at the end would be doing myself a disservice. And, by proxy, my readers.

But I still worry what people will think of me.

Shit, not much I can do about that now.

I hope you buy a copy and make your own decisions. But remember.

I AM NOT A MONSTER. At least not in real life.

TOTALLY A Monster
SOUTHERN GODS is available in paper, audio and even on them new-fangled Kindle devices.


4 comments:

Julie said...

I was thrown by that scene, and I thought, "What the fuck?" until I read what happened next.

Then it clicked for me.

I will tell you, I enjoyed this so much, but for sure I won't be handing it to my mom. Bless her heart.

Sabrina E. Ogden said...

I was looking forward to reading this over the weekend until I noticed I had left my copy at the office. So... this weekend belongs to me and Southern Gods!

Buzzregog said...

Was looking for it on the Nook, hopefully soon.

Stephen Blackmoore said...

Hey, Buzz.

John mentioned something about that on twitter earlier today.

"From the publisher: SOUTHERN GODS should be up at BN.com today, but if you're dying to get it on the Nook NOW, go here. http://bit.ly/oEfQXP "

Hope that helps.