Thursday, October 29, 2009

Friday Forgotten Books- Darkly The Thunder by William W Johnsonte

William W Johnstone was a writer of mainly paperbacks in the horror, action adventure and western genres. He is best know for his series Out of the Ashes, a political after the bomb series that like much of his work dealt with two great themes: The battle between good and Evil and what I like to call the Baby Boomer Culture War . These conflicts play out in a series of stories that involve people who are flawed, and know it, doing their best to do the Right thing and save the day even when the cost is great. At least with all of Johnstone's books that I read (which was everything I could get my hands on until about 1996) all of these conflicts would play out with the "good Guys' nominally winning the battle, and the 'Bad Guys' slinking off to fight another day.1

I started out to write a double post about the first of the Out of the Ashes books and the first of Jerry Ahern's Survivalist series, and in doing a little research discovered that Mr. Johnstone had in fact passed away in 2004. I was unaware of this, largely due to the fact that as a reader I had moved on from his work in the late 1990s. There was a point in my life when Johnstone was not only my favorite writer, but one that I felt was highly under rated, and mostly due to the fact that his political leanings were further to the right that most, and that he was discriminated against for the reason.

The news of his passing and the fact that it had been kept from his readers was a little jarring to me, until I realized that his name had become a house brand and the powers that be saw the need to keep the cash flowing in. Johnstone appealed to a segment of readers who had long ago been disenfranchised from a lot of other writers and a lot of main stream fiction because of a perceived (and often times real) leftist bent.

Ok, On with the show, I'd hate to think that I just spent two paragraphs justifying my selection for this week, a little horror novel called Darkly, The Thunder

(that very 1990 cover looks fairly silly in hindsight)
THE ROOT OF EVIL The ominous rumblings of thunder - dark thunder, was how retired head of police Al Watt thought of it - had started thirty years before on the night that Sand was killed. A good man, that Sand, and when he died, the forces of darkness had taken root in Willowdale, Colorado. Now the isolated little town, nestled in the Rockies, was about to give birth to an evil beyond comprehension, beyond imagining..a reign of terror so insatiable that Al Watt could do
nothing to stop it.

I sold a lot of my William W Johnstone books long ago (and as a lot of them were out of print I think I accutally made money on a lot of them), however I did hold on to a couple. Out of the Ashes, The Rockabilly books and my copy of Darkly the Thunder. Loosely connected with Johnstone's Horror books (the so called Satan Influenced series) the book deals with a evil that has re-emerged from the past, an old wrong is brought to light and all kinds of things go bad.

This was a book that really spoke to me when I was a 17 year old outside living in a complex world where there wasn't any real black and white. Johnstone's books spoke to the outsider and misfit in me. There was something in his writing that was accessible, fun, and had a drive that I couldn't put down. It was an escape from the world which I lived in and was desperate to escape from. On element of Johnstone's books that I think get's overlooked is the role of the outsider. He clearly has a right leaning point of view, but at the same time he's not comfortable with the political right as a group and mistrusts them more in many ways than the left. This leaves his protagonists on the outside of the culture, mostly looking to live quiet lives where they are just left alone.

Johnstone was also a primary force in my really looking at writing as being more than just what I was being force fed in school. He wrote about things he cared about, he entertained and he somehow made a living at it. At the end of his career he turned to writing Westerns, and to the end (and apparently past the end) was turning them out a couple a year. There was also a romance novel that I suspect mirrored his real life. I bet

I have been sitting on this post since last July, wondering if I really should write about someone who I can only imagine will not appeal to the group of readers and writer who follow the Friday forgotten posts. However, here is it.


1 The Baby Boomer Culture War is simply the vicious and unending split between the Right Wing and Left Wing members of the baby boomer generation. As a cohort they seem unable and unwilling to let go of the events of the late 1960s and move on. This culture is still wrangling about Vietnam, The ERA, Gay Rights, Abortion, Gun Control and so called Family Values. The level of dysfunction is such that name calling, open hatred and dogmatic identity politics are the order of the day.

1 comment:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Don't worry about the audience. Pick book you want to remember.