Have you heard of Hart Johnson’s serial A Shot in the Light? I didn’t think so. And I also think that’s a damn shame.
You all already know that I tend to read out of genre. A reminder of why—you don’t want my stuff to sound like everyone else’s. I would also like to believe that, by choosing to read deep and wide, dipping into many different types of writing, things I would normally never encounter if I never strayed from the genres in which I write, I am making my writing voice richer and more varied. If I read a steady diet of newspaper articles, my writing is going to be, by default, like newspaper articles. If I read a constant stream of romance novels, my writing will sound like a lot of books you’ve already read. I’d like to think that those of you with me for the long haul—that is, my wonderful awesome readers who are reading this blog post right now—are with me because I am different. So…hear me out.
Once in a while, even as a reader who has her favorites, you just have to read something different. Johnson’s book is one of those that I’m telling you you should. Have you ever read Stephen King’s The Stand? Yeah, well, I did too…eons ago. I won’t ever read it again because, even though I loved it, it was a mammoth of a book and consumed me for days on end. It was incredible and that story will always stick with me, but it was massive. Johnson’s serial A Shot in the Light has the feel of King’s book only, for me, strangely enough, it feels more hopeful. King had the epic good versus evil thing going on, but it had a mystical feel to it. You know, God talking through Mother Abigail, leader of the good guys, against the gang of dark, led by the guy cast perpetually in shadow, Randall Flagg. Both camps divvied up and set up “base camps,” if you will, in preparation for an epic showdown.
Dare I say, much as I loved The Stand, that I am loving Johnson’s serial even more? Yeah, she has the whole good versus evil thing going on, but it’s tangible. There are no good versus evil forces fighting behind the humans—it is the humans. So, in my mind, that makes it feel real. And her premise (thus far, at any rate), that of the one percent staging a deadly flu virus so that they can get an even bigger hold over the economy and control everything about the working man’s life, feels to me like it could happen. Here. Now. Today. It’s that realism that makes me continue to love the series.
More than that, though, Johnson has an amazing connection with her characters, and she has multiple stories that continue weaving in and out and around each other, and I am blown away by how well she knows those characters and the story. I am a sucker for that kind of precision, because I know I could never tell an epic tale with the scope of Johnson’s series.
You know I don’t plug books (except my own!) very often, because I don’t ever want my peers—my fellow writers who pen books in my genre—to feel that they have to compete for my attention or my readers’ attention. We have a cooperative friendship, and so I don’t want to promote any one author more than another if I can help it. Well, that and…I know you, my readers, will find those romance authors you want to read anyway. You don’t need my help with that. But once in a while, you might be looking for something totally different, and if you are, I’m urging you to try Johnson’s series. You can find the books in the series thus far on Amazon and if you’re dying to see what I’m talking about, you can find her first book here on Amazon: A Flock of Ill Omens.
Rock on, my friends, and happy reading!