The Staccato Sound of Random Promotion

That's the blog quandary- how much time do you spend talking about the sort of personal experiences that people actually find compelling, and how much time do you spend talking about your writing career (which is fascinating pretty much only to yourself)? I shoot for balance. I do. I let you know about Benchley's influence on my childhood in the last blog. But this new one is pretty much all business. But it is good stuff. Here goes...

After I fired up the computer this morning I discovered:

1. An interview with me (done by Steve Vernon aka Mick Lebowski) will appear in upcoming Issue #56 of Cemetery Dance. CD's always been a sort of horror mag Grail for me, so I'm hugely excited about this.

2. The Bookgasm reviewer that read ANGEL DUST APOCALYPSE ended up digging it. The new review is three down, just under the new one for Bryan Smith's DEATHBRINGER. (If you're checking this out a bit after February '06, here's a perma-link to the review.)

3. ANGEL DUST APOCALYPSE has been nominated by Girl on Demand for POD-dy Mouth's Needle Awards. This means that of the 1,400 some titles considered, and fifty reviewed, ADA was one of the top five commercial titles. The awards are being judged by prominent NY agents and editors, and a copy of whatever wins has already been requested by 27 agents and editors so far, including esteemed folks at Bantam, Crown, Tor, Penguin Putnam, William Morris, Trident Media, ICM, Inkwell and many others. I don't have many illusions about the viability of a collection winning, but I'm still very honored by the nomination.

So that was my morning. My bagel could have been made from musk ox and it still would've tasted great.



Another Hero Gone

"The great fish moved silently through the night water..."

When I was five years old I wanted only one thing for my birthday- to finally watch the movie Jaws. I'd already developed a shark fixation thanks to National Geographic specials and a coloring book dedicated to the toothy beasts. They were the only thing cooler, in my book, than dinosaurs. I had a brutal case of fear-based fascination that made my first swimming lessons terrible- who knew where sharks could pop up. I even had the awesome Jaws game, wherein two people compete to hook various items from the rubber-band rigged mouth of a plastic great white. Lift one item too abruptly or get one of the final pieces and SNAP!

But I still hadn't seen the film. The big one. THE shark movie.

So, on my fifth birthday, when I heard the first bass-heavy strains of the score- yup, I knew the iconic music long before seeing the movie- coming from my parents' living room, I knew I'd got my birthday wish. And for the next two hours I sat in my mom's lap and watched what was to become one of my favorite films of all time.

It was about two years later when I discovered a ratty old copy of the paperback among my dad's books. I dived right in, of course. Having already seen the film thirty-or-so times by then I was a bit shocked when Hooper and Mrs. Brody became intimate, and even more shocked with what happened to Hooper later in the book. And the Quint-incites-a-frenzy scene was priceless, if a bit too dark for Spielberg's film. Sure the ending lacked the cinematic POW! of the movie version, but it was still a deeply rewarding read and one that introduced me to Peter Benchley's potent world of oceanic thrillers.

Benchley's writing often merged captivating facts about marine biology with pulpy thrills, and still managed to excite even when he basically re-wrote his own Jaws with a giant squid instead of a carcharodon carcharias in Beast. His books read effortlessly and always satisfied. His later take on sharks as less malevolent creatures (Shark Trouble) was equally interesting, and will hopefully one day reach an audience as wide as Jaws has had. He was a man deeply concerned with humankind's abuse of the ocean, and you could sense in his later work a desire to exorcise the damage his early work may have had on cultural perception.

Had Benchley never written Jaws? Well, I wouldn't have shelled out serious cash for a framed original theatrical poster (including the "...may be too INTENSE for younger children" note next to the PG rating). I wouldn't own four copies of the book including the awesome illustrated Reader's Digest condensed version that I "procured" from a hotel lobby. Steve Alten would have no career. I wouldn't have wasted so much time on the Jaws NES game. Shark Week wouldn't drop me into a TV-coma. Spielberg may not have ended up where he is today, and the phrase Summer Blockbuster might not have entered the lexicon. I never would have contemplated a career in marine biology. I'm sure there are other things I'm missing. The influence of his book was huge.

His passing at age 65 is indeed sad, a literary voice and caring steward of the sea lost, but there is a sense that his work will endure for some time. Jaws has deservedly become a part of the thriller canon, and I hope it will continue to delight readers throughout the next century.

Peter Benchley, RIP. Thank you for the stories.



p.s. If there is indeed some sort of Writer's Valhalla as I'd like to imagine, I hope Peter's knocking back a cold one with Selby and Hunter right now. My heroes need to stick around a little longer.

p.p.s. On the lighter side of things- Tom Piccirilli, author of one of my top five books of last year, A Choir of Ill Children, has offered up this awesome blurb for Siren Promised:

"Using Alan M. Clark's gorgeously dark fantastique artwork to springboard the lush, compelling, often raw storyline forward, Johnson and Clark have created a unique literary atmosphere full of dread and wonder. This is a synergistic fusion of major talents that seethes with the black, beautiful energy of nightmares made real."--Tom Piccirilli, author of HEADSTONE CITY and A CHOIR OF ILL CHILDREN

So that's cool.



The GOD I'm referring to, of course, is the lovely Girl On Demand, the anonymous Penguin Putnam author behind the ever-popular POD-dy Mouth blog. Somehow I was lucky enough for her to select ANGEL DUST APOCALYPSE as one of her "treasures" to be saved from the pulp mill that is Print on Demand, or POD (my publisher, Eraserhead Press, utilizes POD technology instead of the more traditional offset printing to create its books).

The review (visible on the main page now or on the right-side archives if you're reading this after February) can be seen here: Girl on Demand on ADA

My favorite bit?

"Johnson is probably a few books away from doing for horror what Jonathan Lethem did for science fiction. Plain and simple? Forget horror; this is good fiction. From stem to stern, each story will amaze you--and I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts you'll read them all more than once."

For those who enjoy Girl on Demand's industry insights, you might also want to check out this blog: Agent 007

My right ear itches. And now, thanks to the miracle of blogging, you know about it. Oh, the verdant digital age, so rich with promise!