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.
notes1 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.