Posts Tagged ‘Carolrhoda Labs’


This Dark Earth by John Hornor Jacobs

July 9, 2012 by  •
This Dark Earth by John Hornor JacobsThere are some things beyond comprehension, and saying that the evil upon us is just a virus, or a bad decision from an army general that ended our world, will never excuse or forgive it. – Jim ‘Knock-Out’ Nickerson

Later, no one could really say for sure where the end of the world began. It rolled into White Hall, Arkansas that fateful June day like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. People were beset by violent seizures and spasms, overcome by cannibalistic urges. An electromagnetic pulse instantly turned back the clock on progress two hundred years, bombs fell, and radioactive ash covered the land like snow.

And then the dead began to rise.

Those who were fortunate to escape the initial infection and subsequent military attempts to obliterate it banded together into pockets of existence with varying degrees of resemblance to what society once was. One such group, Bridge City, consists of a fairly organized group of both civilians and former military personnel. Together they work to reestablish some purpose and meaning in their lives, and to fend of the “shamblers” who continually arrive outside their gates.

Fast forward three years.

Gus, the then ten-year-old genius who conceived of Bridge City, is clearly destined to eventually become the group’s leader. Already intellectually far more advanced than most, growing into a young teenager during a time when doing “wet work in the murderhole” – aka killing shamblers – is part of normal daily activity has also hardened him physically as a man. Unfortunately Gus will not have the luxury of growing into the job as leader, as the biggest challenge to face Bridge City looms on the horizon…and it’s not from the shamblers. (more…)

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Flaws and Ambiguity by John Hornor Jacobs

July 6, 2012 by  •
Monday I’ll be reviewing This Dark Earth, the latest novel from rising star John Hornor Jacobs, but today am excited to welcome him back for another guest post (you can read his first here).

John Hornor JacobsIn art, it’s called chiaroscuro, the play of shadows and light. In graphic design, it’s called positive and negative space. In photography and film it’s called contrast. In music it’s called tension and release or dynamic tension. Every art form has its version of it.

In writing, it’s creating flawed and ambiguous characters. In the same way that the pregnant pauses in a musical piece add weight to the passage, in the same way that it requires shadows to create a sun-dappled field, believable, empathetic characters require flaws because real people have flaws and are aware of them. I can think of twenty decisions – amoral ones even – I’ve made that I regret.

I can’t speak for other authors and how they create believable characters, but I often present mine with dilemmas in which they must choose between self and the greater good. They’ll often put a check mark by the SELF box. And, if I’ve done my job correctly as an author, the reader will agree with them, in some ways making them complicit in the choice. (more…)


Southern Gods by John Hornor Jacobs

September 30, 2011 by  •
Southern Gods by John Hornor JacobsDo not call up what you cannot put down. – The Little Book of Night

Things would have gone so much easier for Bull Ingram if only someone long ago had heeded that warning. Instead, when the WWII vet is hired to find a missing man in rural Arkansas things get really weird, really fast.

Turns out it’s not only a missing music scout that his employer, a Memphis DJ, wants Ingram to find. He’s also charged with tracking down a pirate radio station that plays the haunting music of a mysterious blues man known as Ramblin’ John Hastur.

Whispers and rumors hold that Hastur’s music is evil, the result of him selling his soul to the devil in exchange for his gift. A hard man and former Marine, Ingram isn’t daunted in the slightest by such mumbo jumbo and sets off to earn his pay.

Meanwhile, a woman, Sarah, and her young daughter have fled an abusive situation and found their way back to Sarah’s childhood home, a sprawling plantation in rural Gethsemane, Arkansas. It slowly becomes clear that something is very wrong in Gethsemane, and that the darkness shrouding the old plantation goes far beyond family secrets thought long hidden and buried.

Exactly how the darkness Ingram is following and the darkness following Sarah and her ancestral home are connected is expertly woven together by debut author John Hornor Jacobs in one of the most intense and enjoyable books I have read this year. (more…)


Storming Heaven by John Hornor Jacobs

September 29, 2011 by  •
Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing Southern Gods, the powerful debut novel from author John Hornor Jacobs, but am very excited to welcome him today for an amazingly frank guest post about the creeping ambition that begins with the desire to write “a simple tale, well told.”

Storming Heaven by John Hornor JacobsAudacity.

It’s funny, for a guy who claims to think no one can teach another person how to write, I sure do write about the act of writing a lot, like a snake devouring its own tail. What’s the point? Go write a manuscript and then we’ll talk.

But still. There are subjects that niggle, that pester. There are half-formed thoughts immaterialized in my haunted house of a noggin. And I feel like I should explore them, head up into that ghostly attic with a flashlight and poke around. And so I shall, at Elizabeth A. White’s expense.


When I first began writing, I was happy to just finish my first manuscript, SOUTHERN GODS. All I wanted to do was to see if I could complete a novel. And once I do, hey, I’ll be totally happy. That will be enough. That’s all I want. But, then, once the book was complete, something twisted in me, and the worm of ambition shifted and burrowed into my liver and I thought, I just want to SEE if I can get it published, because that’s how the worm of ambition works, it adjusts our goals only slightly as it seats itself firmly in the flesh, tugging at the fibers and sinew, sinking into the organs. All I want is to be published. It’s fine, even, if it’s a small press. I’ll be totally happy with that. Once that happens, I can die happy. But just having a stack of papers with a novel printed on them isn’t enough. And then, when the first publisher accepted my book, and my friend John Rector asked if I’d signed anything and I said no and he replied, “Let me introduce you to this agent I met and I think you’d be a good match,” the worm twisted in me again and suddenly new vistas opened before me to plunder. I wanted more, then, than just a small press deal. I wanted an agent. I wanted to my books to be in stores. (more…)