Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Blue Amberol Turns Again by K.N. Johnson from A Haunting of Words

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The authors will be awarding a $10 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Welcome to K.N. Johnson, the author of "The Blue Amberol Turns Again." Why do you write in your genre? What draws you to it?

I’ve always been intrigued by the cerebral, strange, and unsettling. I’ve had vivid nightmares since childhood and those inspire scenes and plots for my stories. My upbringing included family issues like alcoholism, mental illness, and fundamentalist religion, so no matter what I tried to write, it always came across as dark and creepy. Horror is my natural voice.

What research is required?

I participate in ghost investigations to get in touch with the fear that comes from unknown things moving in the dark. I also legend trip and those places often inspire my story locations. I’m big on research. I love to sprinkle in science as much as folklore. For this particular story, I was inspired by blue amberol cylinders I found in a Louisville, Kentucky, antique store called Joe Ley Antiques. There are stories all over that place.

Name one thing you learned from your hero/heroine.

Since I jump time in “The Blue Amberol Turns Again”, there are two families, two heroes.

From Pa Turner, I was surprised to learn about the Border War between the United States and Mexico from 1910-1919. This war led to the permanent border wall. Reading about this reminded me how history repeats itself, like a rolling cylinder.

From Max Fielding, I learned more about steampunk rock - particularly a British band named The Men That Will Not Be Blamed for Nothing. They’re very tongue-in-cheek and even released a single on a wax cylinder in 2011! I highly recommend giving their song “Sewer” a listen - it’s a hilarious lament about a father’s grave being moved for a sewer installation.

Do you have any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?

I use two monitors. One is for Word, the other is for researching or setting a mood. Sometimes, I’ll play music to get into the right mindset and sometimes just sounds. I’ve spooked my cats by playing a bird’s call over and over and exhausted my family with the recording of an ocean buoy ringing and ringing… that was for “Below Deck”. For “The Blue Amberol Turns Again”, I played “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” when I wrote about the Turner family, and “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes when I wrote about the Fieldings. Jack White’s music jolted me back to modern times with a sense of urgency.

Oh, and sometimes I use food! When I wrote “Frigid”, I ate so many frozen banana slices I made myself sick.

Are you a plotter or pantser?

I’m a rough plotter who leaves room for pantsing if the characters take me there. I try to scribble out a storyline with a beginning, middle and end with ridiculous notes like “build suspense here” or “something scary here”. When I begin typing, though, the characters take more shape and throw me twists I wasn’t expecting.

Look to your right – what’s sitting there?

A tall cherrywood bookcase. The top shelf is filled with several volumes of the Best American Short Stories series while the bottom shelf holds hardcover home decorating books. My shelves are cluttered with handmade ceramics by my daughters, a jack o’ lantern, and a little skeleton hanging on a rubberband.

Anything new coming up from you? What?

“Regolith” is my first dark science fiction story - it’s coming out in the Grimbold Books anthology Terra Nullius. “The Clearing” is a speculative fiction story coming out in the Transmundane Press anthology On Fire. And, I’m finally working on my own full project with the working title: Field Notes from Supernatural Locations. It will include bits of history and stories from all of my legend trips and ghost investigations. I’m hoping to include a few photos, too.

Do you have a question for our readers?

What keeps you up at night? What things are you surprised to find frighten you?

From Scout Media comes A Haunting of Words—the third volume in an ongoing short story anthology series featuring authors from all over the world.

In this installation, the reader will experience a multi-genre journey beyond traditional haunts; from comedy, to drama, fantasy, romance, and horror, these stories put eclectic spins on the every-day ghost tale. Whether you are running from the ghost of a vengeful mother, falling in love with an apparition, touring with a deceased famous musician, saving a newborn from a possessed crib, or having a specter cat as a sidekick, these stories of hauntings and apparitions will warm your heart, send shivers down your spine, and tickle your funny bone.

Whether to be enlightened, entertained, or momentarily caught up in another world, these selections convey the true spirit of the short story.

Enjoy an Excerpt from "The Blue Amberol Turns Again" Meg skulked to the door as well and yelled as she left. “I’m taking a break, too.”

Max rolled his eyes. Kids. Didn’t they want to witness the reveal, the great moment of discovery? He crawled beneath the cobwebs sagging from the ceiling and reached a small stack of boxes.

Meg and Jack reappeared, their eyes wide as they crammed against the doorframe. “There’s music. Old music coming from the house.” Meg gripped her brother’s shoulders. He hummed and tried to sing. “Long way to … where’s Tippa Larrey?”

Despite his efforts, cobwebs clung to Max’s black t-shirt. He cupped his hand around his ear. In the distance, the distinct strain of an old song wobbled, the male tenor belting out about it being a long way to go. He shifted his body, closed his eyes to focus on the faint music, and felt his knee sink into a soft plank of wood with such speed, he failed to grab anything to stop his long, long fall.

About the Author:
K.N. Johnson’s short story “Frigid” won Mythraeum’s Pygmalion contest and is being developed into a short film by Mythraeum, LLC and Loste Films. Filming begins January 2018. Johnson’s work has appeared in Proximity Magazine and Incandescent Mind literary journal. Her short stories are included in the anthologies A Journey of Words, A Haunting of Words, Below the Deck - Tales from the Cellar and Polterguests. Her dark science fiction story “Regolith” will appear in Kristell Ink’s upcoming anthology Terra Nullius. “The Clearing” will appear in the anthology On Fire published by Transmundane Press. For more: https://www.facebook.com/knjohnsonauthor.

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  1. Great interview! And I love "The Blue Amberol Turns Again". It's one of my favourites in A Haunting of Words, and I learned something new from it; I had never heard of an amberol until I read your story.

    1. Oh, thank you! I did quite a bit of research for this story because of that old blue amberol. I still imagine it rolling across my own floor!

  2. Very creepy story. I loved the simultaneous timeline between the current occupants in the house and the older residents. Was it hard to keep the parallel straight when you were writing it?

    1. Thanks! To keep the different eras straight, I’d leave my desk for a bit in between scenes. I had a list of slang words and fashion photos from the early era so I didn’t slip up. It surprised me how many inventions actually overlap because not everyone could afford the “newfangled” stuff right away - sometimes people waited before investing in new things because they thought it would be a passing fad.

  3. I enjoyed reading your post, thanks for sharing :)

    1. Thank you - I hope someone checks out that funny song by the steampunk band!

  4. Who is your favorite author of all time? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980@hotmail.com

    1. Oh, that’s a tough question! I do enjoy Stephen King and his son Joe Hill’s work, but I’m just as likely to enjoy classics and non-horror, too. I love the short stories of Flannery O’Connor. Good luck in the giveaway!

  5. Yeah, I am totally stealing the two monitors idea, but will not eat that many bananas. :)

    1. LOL! Yes, the two monitors work out great, but the bananas were a real stomach-turner... too much of a good thing!

  6. congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

    1. Thank you for stopping by & good luck in the giveaway!

  7. A great interview. The writing quirks are fun.


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