On October 1st, 2016, best-selling horror author J. Thorn released a monster of a project that includes the first five books in his answer to X-files meets Hell: AMERICAN DEMON HUNTERS. His original American Demon Hunters novel is accompanied by four novellas written by different genre authors handpicked by Thorn himself (Bettina Melher, John L. Monk, Zach Bohannon, and Chad Lutzke), each creating their own demonic scenarios utilizing a consistent group of hunters bent on ridding the world of demons.
The series has no set order in which to read the books; just pick one up and dive in. This also includes saving Thorn’s own novel for last if you so desire (think of it as a prequel). Before the launch of the book series, Horror Novel Reviews asked the author and Horror Writer’s Podcast host some questions regarding the series and what readers can expect.
Horror Novel Reviews: For those who haven’t read any of them yet, describe the American Demon Hunters books.
James Thorn: They’re definitely written for fans of horror and dark fantasy, although I believe they have a much wider appeal, especially given the recent interest around Stranger Things. The idea that “portals” or “gateways” exist between worlds has long been a favorite genre convention of both science fiction and horror writers, and I’m no exception. I wanted to create a believable world with complex characters with a plot that was fairly simple to grasp.
HNR: Tell us about the genesis of your original AMERICAN DEMON HUNTERS novel.
Thorn: I’ve used demons and portals before (THE PORTAL ARCANE SERIES and THE HIDDEN EVIL SERIES), and so the American Demon Hunters series combines the best of both.
HNR: Your original AMERICAN DEMON HUNTERS novel presents an eerie and unique setting: A real abandoned observatory in Cleveland, Ohio. Any dark and disturbing local lore concerning the observatory you can share?
Thorn: Nothing that I can confirm. But the dilapidated and abandoned observatory is just a few miles from one of Cleveland’s oldest and largest cemeteries (Lakeview Cemetery). It didn’t take much for my vivid imagination to put those together in a suspenseful and thrilling way. Kealan Patrick Burke designed the cover and he used one of the original photographs we took on site. That abandoned observatory is not a stock photo.
HNR: Tell the readers a little about the authors you chose to write novellas in the American Demon Hunters world and why you chose them.
Thorn: I hand-picked four wonderful writers to help me launch this world. My intention was to create something like Kindle Worlds, but I wanted to be part of the creative process because I love it. Kindle Worlds stories are written and published without any collaboration between the writer and the owner of the world. Also, I wanted to make sure there were certain consistencies in the storytelling and therefore I’m the one that makes sure that happens. You can read the novel or any of the novellas in any order and not have anything spoiled. That was deliberate but not easy to orchestrate. Future writers in the American Demon Hunters world will have an easier time, as they’ll be able to read everything first. Bettina, John, Zach and Chad did not have that luxury. They all did an incredible job without a clear plan, which is not easy when writing fiction. They’re not only great writers but my friends and I’m thrilled they’re part of all of this.
HNR: What sets each book apart from the next in the ADH series?
Thorn: The novel gives the reader the back story of Hank, Corey and Sonya but that information is not critical for reading the novellas. The novellas are like “X-Files” episodes in that the three main characters from the novel face a new challenge in a new American city.
HNR: You tackle a lot of collaborating projects, many of which seem quite the load to carry; have you ever started one that you immediately regret based on either the working relationship with the involved party/parties or because of the extensive amount of work involved?
Thorn: I don’t live with regrets. Every decision I’ve made, positive and negative, has made me who I am. That being said, some collaborations resonate with readers and sell thousands of copies and others don’t. There’s really no way of ever knowing why that happens. I learn something about craft or marketing in every collaboration so I never regret doing them. I’m thoughtful and deliberate when I work with another author. Collaborations are not something I enter into lightly but they are always worth it.
HNR: Is this it for the ADH series or do you ever see yourself expanding it in the future?
Thorn: My hope is that the four novellas launching with the novel are just the beginning. I anticipate adding more to this world as time progresses. However, I work closely with each author from the planning process through the revisions. In fact, I do all revisions on the manuscripts so I have to be careful not to take on more than I can handle. I’m still just one guy.
HNR: If you had to compare an existing TV series, book, and film that comes close to the ADH series what would they be?
Thorn: AMERICAN DEMON HUNTERS definitely has an “X-Files” vibe to me. I’ve heard others liken it to THE DRESDEN FILES and Stephen King’s PET SEMATARY.
HNR: What kind of audience do you think will enjoy the books.
Thorn: It’s not always easy to anticipate which readers will enjoy a particular story but I would bet that any fan of horror, dark fantasy, mystery or paranormal suspense will really enjoy it. And fans of demon stories will love it.
You can find out more regarding each book in the American Demon Hunters series here.