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Throwback Interview with J.D. Horn 10/27/2016

JD Horn subbed one of the best stories I've published in Unnerving Magazine, and it came in my first open period. Over the years, we've gotten to know each other some. He's also the only author I've digitally met that did me a big, big favor in regards to writing, so it's cool to look back.

New to the world of lowly lit mags, but not new to the publishing world, J.D. Horn has seen tremendous success with his Witching Savannah series.

“The Witching Savannah series is about a set of far from perfect people, most of whom happen to be witches, and all of whom happen to be liars. called , the first book of the series, a “…tightly paced, entertaining series opener…” earned me an official nomination in the Best Debut Author category of the 2014 Goodreads Choice Awards. I landed in 16th place, but considering the amazing competition, I don’t think that’s a shabby showing at all.

“Combined, the first three books in the Witching Savannah series have, since their introduction, sold over 400K units, and have made the Wall Street Journal's best seller list. A prequel to the series, Jilo, came out this spring and hit #1 in Occult Horror on Amazon. The series has been/is currently being translated into Russian (Eksmo), Polish (Wydawnictwo Feeria), Turkish (Pegasus Yayınları), Romanian (Editura Trei), German, Italian, Spanish, and French (Amazon Crossing),” said Horn.

J.D. Horn will also have a fantastic story in the first issue of Unnerving Magazine titled Peculiar Paradise. A supernatural tale of mystery and just desserts. The landscape of this tale plucked from reality.

“Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur (California). I went to graduate school in Monterey, and used to hike there often. The oak grove where I planted the cottage was one of my favorite resting places on the trail. Haven’t been there in forever, but hope to make it back in 2017,” said Horn

It isn’t only scenery that J.D. Horn draws from; he seeks from wells cast by other authors as well.

“My favorite book is The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Dark. Subversive. Hilarious. Frightening. Beautiful.

“Of course Anne Rice. (If there were no Anne Rice, there’d be no J.D. Horn. Well, I’d still exist…probably…but I wouldn’t be writing the things I do.) Stephen King, Peter Straub, Douglas Adams, Neil Gaiman, Charlaine Harris. Michael McDowell, a writer many remember for Beetlejuice. His Blackwater (Caskey Family Saga) series proved seminal to my own writing. I want to be Michael McDowell when I grow up.

“I’ve always loved stories, especially fantastical ones. I was an early reader, tearing into Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes and Bulfinch’s Mythology in second and third grade. (Yes, I was that nerd.) My family also owned a set of Collier’s The Junior Classics from the early 1960s, and though I never paid much attention to the final five volumes, I spent a lot of time with first five, especially volumes 2 and 3, Stories of Wonder and Magic and Myths and Legends,” said Horn.

As much of J.D. Horn’s work takes place in times beyond his experience, he also turns to non-fiction for reference and inspiration, though he makes use of most tools available to him.

“I read a lot of non-fiction, go through newspaper microfiche, visit museums, try to connect with experts who have studied events, and laypeople who lived through them. I try to get things right. I learn what I can, then decide what I should keep and what I should cut. (That’s the tricky part. Figuring out how to convey a time and place, without doing data dumps.)

“Google Earth and Google Maps. It’s so helpful to use these applications to revisit places, and refresh my memory. Again, newspaper microfiche (and the librarians who have been patient with me). People on the street. Just walking up to them and asking what they know about where they live. I get to hear a lot of good stories, even if I can’t use them,” said Horn.

Currently, J.D. Horn is underway on a new contemporary fantasy series set in New Orleans.

“I’m currently working on a new contemporary fantasy series set in New Orleans. My publisher and I are still working on the final titles, but readers can be sure that, like in the Witching Savannah series, there’ll be plenty of magic, twists, and family drama. The new series is a bit darker and grittier than Witching Savannah, though, and strays a bit further into Horror than the Witching Savannah series did. It’s also more of an ensemble piece, written in third person, with multiple, though three primary, POVs," said Horn.

Though the supernatural has mad eup the majority of his work, it isn’t the only focus of J.D. Horn, he has sights on something very different sometime in the future.

“I want to write a straightforward, non-paranormal mystery. I have an idea for a series centering on a group of friends who live in my old neighborhood in Portland. (I moved away, so now it’s safe to write about it.) I had just started working on this idea when I got the greenlight for the New Orleans paranormal series. Hopefully 2018 will be the year I get the mystery series underway,” said Horn.

Every author has different methods, rituals, activities. The culmination of day-to-day life and work ethic usually amount to the finished product. This interest is in the little details, the day-to-day.

“Walk dogs. Make coffee. Consume coffee. Gym. Shower. Coffee. More coffee. Food. Read the news on the internet. Try not to panic. Open latest project. Wonder whatever made me think I could do this writing thing in the first place. Reread the last few pages of what I did the day before. Try to get back into the mindset. Write. Edit. Write some more. Edit some more. Wonder whatever made me think I could do this writing thing in the first place. Walk with my spouse and little dog—the big dog getting a bit too stiff to walk far. Come back. Make notes on what I intend to write tomorrow. Food. TV. Book. Sleep. Repeat.

(Upon completion) “Well, there's finishing as finishing before sending the manuscript off to the editors. Then there's finishing as in when the developmental editor says it's done. Then there's finishing as in when the copy editor has made all corrections, and the book is sent off to be formatted. Each step usually involves going out for saag paneer and samosas. The final stage includes a few moments of stunned silence. I've never really believed I was going to reach this point with any of my books. I'm always a bit surprised when I do,” said Horn.

Modestly, J.D. Horn attributes his success to “A willingness to put my ego aside and listen to my editors. A willingness to take risks. A deep love of storytelling.” I am proud to have the opportunity to include Horn's Peculiar Paradise in Issue #1. I would like to thank J.D. Horn for his time, he was reached via email.

J.D. Horn is the Wall Street Journal best-selling author of the Witching Savannah series (The Line, The Source, The Void, and Jilo), the Witches of New Orleans Trilogy (The King of Bones and Ashes, The Book of the Unwinding, The Final Days of Magic), and the standalone Southern Gothic horror tale Shivaree. A world traveler and student of French and Russian literature, Horn also has an MBA in international business and formerly held a career as a financial analyst before turning his talent to crafting chilling stories and unforgettable characters. His novels have received global attention and have been translated into Turkish, Russian, Romanian, Polish, Italian, German, and French. Originally from Tennessee, he currently lives in California with his spouse, Rich, and their rescue Chihuahua, Kirby Seamus.

J.D. is also the editor for Curious Blue Press.

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