Author Interview: Stephen Graham Jones

The Only Good Indians is a tale of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition. We spoke with author Stephen Graham Jones about the inspiration for the novel, his audiobook compulsion, and more.

“I loved this book. Jones has a unique narrative voice, allowing ‘the entity’ to step in and take over unexpectedly, amping up the horror. Also, each character has a distinct voice that brings them to life. Jones combines the culture and traditions of the Blackfeet and Crow people with the social truths of their contemporary life. It is refreshingly different from any other horror novel I’ve read. This book is gruesome and honestly scary. I couldn’t put it down.”

Kristine Jelstrom-Hamill, Buttonwood Books and Toys

Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.

I’d just moved into a house with a living that had this high vaulted ceiling, with this one light that seemed to be on its own schedule, and would not listen to any switch. So of course I dragged a ladder in to figure this out. Up there, I looked down through the spinning blades of the fan I hadn’t thought to turn off, and wondered what I could be seeing. Turns out, it was a novel I was seeing.

In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise listeners about your audiobook?

It might be the first Blackfeet-written AND Blackfeet-voiced audiobook.

Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?

I listened to this one, just to hear what Shaun Taylor-Corbett did, and I was so impressed with how he differentiates the characters by…tone, delivery, accent—really, it’s like he knows who they are, and how they speak. And then the magic happens.

Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?

Compulsive audiobook-er, yes. Favorite production of ever…maybe Bryan Cranston‘s reading of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. Though I’m a sucker for oral histories in audiobook form, too—they seem made for listening. Max Brooks’s World War Z, Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum’s I Want My MTV, Elizabeth Hand’s Wylding Hall.

What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?

I hear stories a lot from readers that they way they found my books was either on a recommendation shelf at their local indie or they were hand-sold it by a person behind the counter at the indie. Probably when they were walking around. That’s how I imagine it, really. That’s how it usually happens with me.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

I do the dedication and the author’s note, but, after listening to Shaun Taylor-Corbett, I wonder if he couldn’t have done my voice better than I did.

Header photo by Gary Isaacs

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