Giveaways Inspirations and Influences

Guest Author & Giveaway: Jonathan L. Howard on Inspirations and Influences

“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their…well, Inspirations and Influences. The cool thing is that the writers are given free reign so they can go wild and write about anything they want. It can be about their new book, series or about their career as a whole.

Today’s guest is the esteemed Jonathan L. Howard, author of the delightfully comic and macabre Johannes Cabal books. Jonathan’s books (Johannes Cabal The Necromancer and Johannes Cabal The Detective) chronicle the Faustian titled character, Johannes Cabal’s adventures – dealings with Satan, running a honest-to-goodness carnival of souls, jumping across zeppelins and all other kinds of whatnot. Thea is a newly converted Cabalian (yes, that is what we are calling fans of the Jo-man), and when we received word that Jonathan would be willing to write us an I&I post, we were thrilled.

Ladies and gents, please give it up for the knowledgeable, Dr. Who-lovin’ Jonathan L. Howard!

I Have a Cabinet of Curiosities. I Keep it Here… Right Between my Ears
By Jonathan L. Howard

I remember a great deal about my infancy, which is to say my life before I went to school. It astonishes me when people tell me that they cannot remember a thing before they were six or seven, when I can recall so much. I remember the late Victorian or Edwardian end of terrace house I was born in, and its long garden. It was demolished to make way for a bland pair of five storey blocks of flats, but the fact that there was room for two gives some idea of just how long that garden was. It ended with an earthen bank with some small trees and shrubs to mark the boundary. It was on that bank that I first managed to eat a whole ice lolly without dropping any. As I say, I remember a great deal about my infancy.

I remember the house, and I remember how quiet it was. My father was at work, my brother and sister at school, and my mother was busy around the place keeping it tidy, but I remember the quiet. I couldn’t read, and the only books I remember were not mine. I’m not sure I even had any books. I remember the Children’s Encyclopedia Britannica in twelve volumes plus index and two annual addenda for 1965 and 1966, assorted Ladybird books including one for science experiments, a larger book about technology (it was the ‘sixties, the era of “the white heat of technology” when people were excited about science rather than celebrities), and a thick, battered copy of all the Grimm’s Fairy Tales that I never remember having a cover. I couldn’t read, but I could pore over the pictures in all of these; rockets and goblins, submarines and dragons, fractional distillation columns and lonely towers in the forest. They were all equally wonderful, all – as far as I knew – belonging to a single world.

I wanted to read. There is a photograph of me in the back garden, sitting on a sun lounger and studying the newspaper intently. It was taken without my knowledge, snapped surreptitiously by my mother, presumably because I looked so cute, sitting there, pretending to be daddy. The thing is, I remember that day, and I know I wasn’t pretending to be anyone. I was trying to read by sheer force of will, staring at the words until they would give up their meaning. But they didn’t. I had to wait until I went to school to learn how to perform that miracle. At least I wasn’t lacking in motivation; I picked the skill up very quickly.

Television consisted of three channels, and none broadcast much during the day. At lunchtime the BBC transmitted “Watch with Mother,” which I usually watched by myself. That’s not to say anything against my mother; parenting then encouraged independence at a much earlier age than now, and anyway, just how many episodes of “Andy Pandy” can a woman reasonably be expected to sit through? Not that I was a fan of “Andy Pandy.” I liked watching “Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men,” but I disliked “The Woodentops.” Spotty Dog was forever hiding behind the fence, and it always took the other puppets forever to find him, despite the obvious forest of strings rising from behind the fence and up into the painted heavens. It was also the only place Spotty Dog ever hid, and the Woodentops’ inability to remember that frustrated me greatly.

Years later I discovered that Bill and Ben were voiced by Peter Hawkins, who also voiced the Daleks and the Cybermen for “Doctor Who” in the ‘sixties. Things like that make me happy.

Sometimes BBC2 would transmit “Trade Test Transmissions,” just to have something to show during the day. It’s unimaginable that the modern BBC, hedged around with regulations to prevent it showing anything that might be regarded as advertising, used to blithely transmit short films produced by major multinationals well into the ‘70s. They were interesting though, not least because they were often scientific. I learned how the stained glass windows for the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral (aka “Paddy’s Wigwam”) were manufactured. I learned about the safety protocols for storing inflammable spirit aboard tankers. I watched, fascinated, footage from the Brussels’ World Fair of 1958, full of mechanical contrivances for a better world.

So, when I watched “Stingray” and “Thunderbirds” and “Doctor Who,” it was difficult to say where fact stopped and fantasy started. It was all wonderful and so exciting, fairy tales and scientific romance mixing into one – rockets launching from Woomera and Tracy Island, the TSR-2 racing Fireball XL5.

But, alas, time passes. All too soon I grew up, and put such childish syntheses aside.

Bollocks I did.

When I am travelling by train, looking all moody and artistic as I watch the countryside go by, I am in all probability imagining giant robots stomping around the hill tops while Lovecraftian horrors mine up from the Earth’s core. The North Sea under a stormy sky is a dramatic sight in itself, but at least part of me is watching Godzilla wading ashore beneath the lightning.

Somewhere, Rapunzel is dropping Flying Monkeys with her Barrett XM500 as they assault her tower. Somewhere, a blue goblin is comparing mobile ‘phone specifications. Somewhere, Johannes Cabal, a necromancer of some little infamy, is… Oh, hold on. That’s what I’m supposed to be writing at the moment.

Jonathan L. Howard is a game designer and scriptwriter who has worked in the computer games industry since the early nineties, notably co-scripting the first three Broken Sword adventure games. He lives near Bristol with his wife and daughter.

Thank you, Jonathan!

Now, for the giveaway…

The Giveaway:

Courtesy of the publisher, Random House, we are giving away SIX copies of Johannes Cabal The Detective. The contest is open to ALL and will run until July 17 at 11:59 PM (PST). To enter, leave a comment here letting us know who your favorite necromancer or detective is. Only one entry per person please – duplicate or multiple comments (and we COUNT ISPs) will be automatically disqualified. Good luck!

You Might Also Like


  • Erika (Jawas Read, Too)
    July 16, 2010 at 12:58 am

    Lovely! I have been dying to get my hands on the first in this series since last year. This only makes me pine even more. 🙂

    My favorite detective at the moment is October Daye. She may be prone to accidents, be estranged from her family, and live in a crappy apartment, but she has cats! And knows a Cait Sidhe personally. I’d say that makes her P.I. work even more fascinating. 🙂

  • Carol Thompson
    July 16, 2010 at 1:11 am

    I am busy reading my way through all of Anne Perry’s books so at the moment my favourite detective is Thomas Pitt.

    I love the way she portrays the era for both Pitt and her other creation William Monk.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

    Carol T

  • Zack F
    July 16, 2010 at 1:30 am

    My favorite necromancer is definitely Cabal. My favorite detective is a bet harder to place. I would either have to go with Dashiell Hammett’s agency detective from the Red Harvest, or Finch the title character from Jeff Vandermeer’s last Ambergist novel.

  • Squishy133
    July 16, 2010 at 1:38 am

    Oh I’ve been looking to read these for ages! And this was a fantastic post too, thank you. 🙂
    My favourite detective? Only Murphy from the Dresden Files! I mean, she gets to hang out with Harry all the time, can life get much better than that? I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting any necromancers yet, but I sure know which one I’d love to meet!

    Thanks for the giveaway, this looks great!

  • Cindy
    July 16, 2010 at 1:59 am

    Great post ! That series look very interesting. My favourite detective ? I would like to say Hercule Poirot ( a Belgian like me) or Bigby from the first volume of Fables (but he is so much more than that ^^ )

  • Simcha
    July 16, 2010 at 3:23 am

    Can Thursday Next be considered a detective? If so, then I’m going with her. She is one of my all-around favorite book characters anyways.

  • Mariska
    July 16, 2010 at 3:31 am

    A detective book is my favorite reading. Seems that I shouldn’t miss to read this one ! Enter me in please 🙂

    My favorite detective ? Sherlock Holmes 😉

  • Amanda Isabel
    July 16, 2010 at 3:51 am

    THis was excellent! it got me really excted of diving into this series! MY favouirte necromancer so far is probably Anita Blake. My favourite detective …. maybe Precious from The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.

  • Hannah
    July 16, 2010 at 4:13 am

    Aww that was a lovely article, reminds me so much of growing up. I might have been in my infancy twenty years later but so much of it still rings true. 🙂

    As for my favourite detective…he’s not literary but I love Jonathon Creek. Cool logic in the face of unbelievable situations and plenty of magic tricks – what could be better? And my second favourite is definitely Adam Dalgliesh from PD James’s detective novels. He’s a Commander in the Met but he writes poetry. How awesome.

  • Karissa
    July 16, 2010 at 4:59 am

    For my favorite necromancer I am torn between Cabal and the early Anita Blake. Both of them have their own strengths and are pretty interesting!

    My favorite detective would have to be Harry Dresden from the Dresden Files books.

  • Lexi
    July 16, 2010 at 5:33 am

    I do not have a favorite necromancer. My favorite detective would be Holmes or Jordan McKell from Icarus Hunt.

  • Missy Ann
    July 16, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Favorite detective is Harry Bosch by & favorite necromancer Dante Valentine from Lilith Saintcrow.

    I’ve read the first Cabal book and it is fantastic and I can not wait to get my hands on book 2.

  • hng23
    July 16, 2010 at 5:40 am

    In a blinding display of coincidence, I just finished reading Johannes Cabal the Necromancer last night! That makes JC my favourite at the moment. My favourite detective is Lord Peter Wimsey; I adore the way his brilliant mind is hidden away behind his rather insouciant exterior.

  • Sandy G
    July 16, 2010 at 6:17 am

    My favorite derective is Luis Mendoza from the old Dell Shannon series.

  • Stacey R.
    July 16, 2010 at 6:29 am

    Hmmm – Cabal sounds interesting. I don’t think these are books I would’ve picked up on my own, but my curiosity is piqued.

    I’ve got to go with Remy Chandler from the Thomas Sniegoski books. If you haven’t read these, DO!

  • April Books&Wine
    July 16, 2010 at 6:56 am

    My favorite Necromancer is Chloe from The Darkest Powers series by Kelley Armstrong. Girl is made of awesome.

  • Marco
    July 16, 2010 at 7:11 am

    let me see my favourite detective would be C. August Dupin by E A Poe or batman 🙂

  • Carolina Felipe de Souza
    July 16, 2010 at 7:13 am

    I’m a huge fan of Classics, so I must say that my favorite detectives are Holmes and Poirot!! They’re excepcional!!

  • beliar
    July 16, 2010 at 7:35 am

    My favourite necromancer is definitely Boris Dragosani from Necroscope by Brian Lumley. One of the most charismatic villains I have seen. And I don’t really have a favourite detective character, though a new film about Sherlock Holmes was darn good.

  • Tran
    July 16, 2010 at 7:40 am

    My favorite necromancer at the moment has to be Chloe Saunders from Kelly Armstrong’s The Summoning Series. She’s spunky X3

  • Mihir
    July 16, 2010 at 7:41 am

    For me this would be easy as my Favourite Necromancer-cum-detective would be Harry Dresden of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.

    Oh & He’s primarily a Wizard who does Detective stuff and as for the necromancy part[Go read Dead Beat] 😀


  • Raelena
    July 16, 2010 at 8:12 am

    My favorite detective is Sherlock Holmes.

  • Casey
    July 16, 2010 at 8:19 am

    My favorite necromancer would have to be Sabriel. The Garth Nix series was my introduction to necromancy and I’ve never looked back.

    Thanks for the article, and the giveaway.

  • Renae Hipple
    July 16, 2010 at 8:24 am

    I got hooked on James Patterson’s Alex Cross novels a long time ago. Ever since “Kiss the Girls.” I love charismatic characters. This one looks interesting, particularly with my new interest in Steampunk…

    Thanks for posting the giveaway!

  • Annette
    July 16, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Favorite detective (with necromancer ability) – Harry Dresden of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files. Nero Wolfe would be my favorite “traditional” detective 🙂

  • Steve
    July 16, 2010 at 10:22 am

    My favorite detectives would have to be Bryant and May from the Peculiar Crimes Unit by Christopher Fowler.

  • LSUReader
    July 16, 2010 at 10:40 am

    My favorite detective is Robert B. Parker’s Spenser.

  • carol
    July 16, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Despite everything, Holmes is still my favorite detective.

  • janicu
    July 16, 2010 at 11:02 am

    Well that sounds like a pretty awesome mental landscape.

    Dante Valentine has been a favorite amongst fictional necromancers.

  • Caroline
    July 16, 2010 at 11:56 am

    My fave detective is Skulduggery Pleasant! The books are hilarious, and you could consider Valkyrie almost a Necromancer…

  • Angelique
    July 16, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Aw man, I gotta go with Nancy Drew as my favorite detective. I LOVED those books so much when I was a kid =)

  • SaraC
    July 16, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    My favorite detective is definitely Harry Dresden.

  • Marie
    July 16, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    My favorite necromancer right now is Lilith Saintcrow’s Dante Valentine.

    My favorite detective is Laurie King’s Mary Russell (the wife of Sherlock Holmes).

  • Kaethe
    July 16, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    I’m afraid I don’t have a favorite necromancer (yet) by my favorite detective is Poe’s C. Auguste Dupin.

  • Pamelia
    July 16, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    My favorite detective is also Harry Dresden.

  • Mara
    July 16, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    I see Harry Dresden is really popular around here. :mrgreen:

    I know he’s not a character from a book, but my favourite detective is Adrian Monk. I guess it’s because of that OCD thing, sometimes he reminds me of myself. If I had to go with books, I’d pick Eve Dallas from the In Death series, for her determination and strong moral code. Eve is awesome.

    Great post, now I want to read the story of “Rapunzel dropping Flying Monkeys with her Barrett XM500 as they assault her tower.”

  • Ruth (Book Focus)
    July 16, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    (Btw do you mean July 17 for end-date, not June 17?) 🙂

    Favourite detective… would have to be… maybe Yelena from Maria V Snyder’s STUDY series? I know she isn’t a detective by job, but it’s more or less what she ends up doing, in a kick-ass kind of way.

    But actual detective… I gotta go with Sherlock Holmes. 🙂 Maybe not the character himself but the very intelligent and intricate ways of figuring out what’s going on, his stories are always interesting!

    Email: kiwibooklover at gmail dot com

    Thanks for the giveaway 🙂

  • Doreen R
    July 16, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Holmes…..hands down. Awesome giveaway.
    Thanks. 😯

  • Stephanie K.
    July 16, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    My favorite necromancer is Jamie Vegas from the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong.

  • Dottie
    July 16, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    My favorite necromancer is Anita Blake from Anita Blake Vampire Hunter by Laurell K. Hamilton. Harry Dresden from the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher is my favorite other worldly detective. 😛

  • Lynn
    July 16, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    My favorite detective is Cara Black’s Aimee Leduc. She’s so cool! And the Paris settings always play a part in the solution of the mystery.

  • Victoria Zumbrum
    July 16, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    My favorite detective is Sherlock Holmes. Please enter me in contest.

  • Jasmine A S
    July 16, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    I really loved this post, especially the inclusion of Doctor Who. 😀 Science and fantasy are always mixed in my mind, and I agree that they should be so in books more! 😀

    As for my favourite detective, who will hopefully win me a copy of a book, I’ll have to go old school and say Miss Marple. She knows how to make the right friends, carry soap water for a weapon, and notice everything. Useful skills. 😀

  • Stephanie Hough
    July 16, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Your book sounds really interesting!!! My favorite detective is easily Sherlock Holmes, because he is epic, brilliant, and his occupation is “consulting detective” so he doesn’t just keep awkwardly stumbling upon case (which hinders my suspension of disbelief), like some literary sleuths do.

  • kemendraugh
    July 16, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    My favourite TWO detectives, since I couldn’t decide, are Basil from the Great Mouse Detective, and Sherlock Holmes, who is by far the best. (but Basil is just too close to my childhood heart to discard)

  • Llehn
    July 16, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Fav necromancer is Anita Blake 😀

  • Haley V
    July 16, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    My favorite necromancer is Garth Nix’s Sabriel and her father Abhorsen. It may be a little Alice in Wonderland-esque but I enjoyed it all the same.

  • vvb
    July 16, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    cool interview. alas, i’m one of those who don’t recall memories before age 5. my fave detective is inspector Jacques Clouseau ;-D

  • Melanie L
    July 16, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    My favorite necromancer is Anita Blake, too.

  • Laura
    July 16, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    These books sound absolutely fascinating! My favorite detective? I agree with kemendraugh.

    I have loved Sherlock Holmes since I was a child. (Courtesy of The Great Mouse Detective.)

  • enyl
    July 16, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    My favorite detective is Ellery Queen.

  • Fif
    July 16, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    An exorcist rather than a necromancer but still a detective, my favourite is Mike Carey’s Felix Castor.

  • Misha Mathew
    July 16, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    My favorite detective is Hercule Poirot. Nothing can beat his “little grey cells”. haha.
    Please enter me if its international

  • Sue R
    July 16, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    I am torn between John Taylor (Nightside) and Harry Dresden (Dresden Files).

  • Giada M.
    July 17, 2010 at 3:48 am

    My favorite detective is absolutely Sherlock Holmes!
    Thank you for this awesome giveaway! 🙂
    Giada M.

    fabgiada (at) gmail (dot) com

  • Megan
    July 17, 2010 at 4:24 am

    Does Sam Vimes count as a detective?

  • debp
    July 17, 2010 at 6:05 am

    I think my favorite is Alex Cross, from James Patterson. The character is well developed and believable.

  • Greg
    July 17, 2010 at 7:04 am

    Never heard of this writer but loved reading his comments and so many of the shows he grew up with were part of my childhood. I have to find his books somehow. And look a contest to do so…

    Favorite necromancer would have to be the duo of Bauchlain and Korbal Broach from Steven Eriksons Malazan series. A favourite detective … Richard Morgans Takasi Kovaks

  • muggins
    July 17, 2010 at 7:35 am

    Hmm… detective… Well, there are so many, who to choose? Lawton’s Frederick Troy? Pratchett’s Sam Vines? Evans’ Grace Smith?
    Nope. It has to be Fat Andy – Detective Superintendent Dalziel himself. Not so much a copper, more a force of nature.

  • Mel S
    July 17, 2010 at 9:47 am

    I love Felix Castor from Mike Carey’s series. Offically I guess he’s an exorcist but he investigates mysteries and definitely plays with the dead…does that count? 🙂

  • Jade
    July 17, 2010 at 10:15 am

    My favourite dectective(s) are the Hardy Boys. I know all the classics like Sherlock Holmes are, well, classical unsung heroes 😆 , but I love the brothers for being both modern and classic [I’m sorry to use this word so often]. Language developed over the years, so it’s not as odd to read if anyone, especially children, picks up one book on them.
    I’ll stick by them no matter what 😀

  • Barbara Elness
    July 17, 2010 at 10:20 am

    I enjoy mysteries and I’ve got quite a few favorites. But my all time favorite detective has always been Sherlock Holmes, he’s just so brilliant.

  • Christine
    July 17, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Favorite necromancer by far is Sabriel from Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom trilogy. I loved the descriptions of the seven bells, and their function… and the dividing line between the old and new kingdoms. Plus, she’s pretty kickass.

    Love for the opportunity to win this, as I’ve been hearing great things about this series!

  • TXDee
    July 17, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    So far, Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden is my favorite wizard/detective. There’s a touch of vulnerability behind his formidable skills–which by the way don’t keep him in rent very well–and he seems to have a talent for solving mysteries while getting into trouble himself. I think I like him for just being less than perfect all the time.

  • Lulu
    July 17, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Holmes is excellent, but I think Miss Marple deserves a shout out at least. 🙂

  • Nicole
    July 17, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    My favorite detective is Morelli from the Stephanie plum Series by Janet Evanovich. I am completely taken back him 🙄 . He is a HUNK :mrgreen: and not only that but he is does his job well. So… a toast to you Detecive Morelli you are my favorite detective. Hooray!!!!! 😀

  • Ellaanabeth
    July 17, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    My favorite necromancer is Georgie from Ilona Andrews’ On the Edge series. A cute little seven year old with big blue eyes that can ressurect everything from dead werewolf grandfathers to little baby birds? Kodiak moment!

  • Breanne M.
    July 17, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    I have no idea what the time difference is… but I hope I’m ok? If not, I apologize!

    My favourite(and only one I can think of at the moment) is probably Jamie from Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series.


  • Alexandra D.
    July 18, 2010 at 3:25 am

    My favorite detective is Nancy Drew. 🙂

  • Rachel Green
    July 19, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Missed the deadline but ‘Miss Marple’

Leave a Reply