If you haven’t heard of my new project, the On Fire anthology over at Transmundane Press, this mini-interview and excerpt series will showcase the amazing authors I get to work with and their writing. Meet K.N. Johnson.
What are your hobbies?
Legend tripping and ghost investigations feed my story ideas. I love visiting new places – especially small towns. I’m partial to painting with acrylics; I’ve made a piece with drywall mud and would love to try encaustic wax. I enjoy reading, moderate hiking trails, and Netflix bingeing. I have a Nikon camera and one of my photographs was actually published in a literary journal.
What are the genre(s) of the stories you write and why?
In general, I write horror. But it’s not the slasher gore most people consider horror. It’s more cerebral, strange, unsettling. I’ve always suffered from vivid nightmares 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 is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
The most difficult stage is when a solid idea bursts forth, and I’ve crafted a detailed first or second draft, but I feel like something is missing. And I scour the story for places to improve character development, plot twists, or the ending.
From “The Clearing” by K.N. Johnson:
She stared into the night at her two planks of cedar. They remained untouched. Rain trickled down the window. Like the complainer, she’d received no messages this summer. Neither herself, nor her sister. Of anyone, they deserved a message. And if the gods despised her for taking a season to mourn, for withdrawing after the gods skipped the boards and carved a message into her sister, well then, they could despise her. But they should honor the one they’d marked. She crossed her arms, watched message after message delivered to the boards of others.
Goran stood, smiling. “That was mine. We got a message, Elka.” He reached his arm behind her. “The gods sent us a message.”
Elka’s eyes widened, and she slid from the bench. Her stomach churned. Unsure how far Iris sat from them, she fought to keep her voice low. “The gods sent you a message. The gods have sent me nothing.”
“Elka.” He frowned, tried to pull her back down to the bench.
“You made a mistake.” She closed her eyes to the vision of her sister slamming into the wall, the memory of her freshly burnt flesh. She pressed her face against the window, wiped at the misty glass. “And you made a mistake thinking the gods told you to give up Iris.”
Goran sprang from his seat, stood like a wall to absorb Elka’s words.
“I did not give up Iris.” Lightning flashed. He paused to compose himself, but his words charged louder than either of them expected. “The gods did.”
A participant called out, “Oh, that one’s mine all right.”
A ball of lightning sizzled in the sky, struck at yet another board. Again, not hers. She couldn’t leave tonight’s ceremony without a message. She sprinted past Goran, past each participant seated with their hands in their laps, the lightning casting blue across their faces, and lunged for the lever near the driver’s seat. She heaved the handle and the door slammed open.
Rain sprayed her face as she marched into the clearing. She ignored the yelling, the admonitions thrown at her from the bus. Small lights dotted the sky, dropped into the woods like specters drifting by parachute. For a moment, blue light flickered behind the tree trunks, turned them into black pillars edging the field. This would be the storm. The one that would bring her a message.
K.N. Johnson’s short story “Frigid” won Mythraeum’s Pygmalion contest and is being developed into a short film by Mythraeum Productions and Loste Films. Filming begins January 2018. Her 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, and Polterguests and the upcoming anthology Terra Nullius published by Kristell Ink.
She serves as an Acquisitions Editor for Mighty Quill Books, an Advanced Reader for Tin House Books, and an Associate Member of the Horror Writers Association. While she hunts ghosts for fun, she’s not sure if she’s ever seen one… but she’s definitely been terrified, her skin chilled by strange sounds and shadows. She enjoys responsible legend trips and takes way too many photos during her adventures. Visit her at http://www.knjohnsonauthor.com.