A shadow cast

Ben Johnson, a member of Wha? and The Long and Short of It and a rapper under the name Grammatical B, will soon become a published novelist. 

Johnson says his first novel, A Shadow Cast in Dust, is an "urban fantasy" that follows three characters—and is told via three different perspectives—through a complex narrative involving an Old Guard that controls webs with shamanistic magic. The book, which is set mostly in Golden Hill and its surrounding canyons, is being published by Grand Mal Press. It took Johnson a year to write. 

"It's a majorly ambitious project," he says in an interview at Krakatoa café in Golden Hill. "I didn't outline anything; I just started writing. And it changed so hugely and drastically since I started it." 

Johnson said he got into the habit of writing 1,000 words a day, first in pen on paper, as well as on his phone. He later transferred his work to a laptop. He sent his proposal to Grand Mal in May 2013, and right now, the book is in the proofreading stage. Johnson slimmed it to a tight 110,000 words through a few rounds of editing. 

He says that everyone who's read his manuscript has given him positive feedback, and he already has second and third volumes planned. Though he doesn't have a background in creative writing, Johnson says he's confident about the content of his first book.

"I don't care if you think I'm a good writer," he says. "I only care that you think it's a good story. I think it kicks ass." 

Email jefft@sdcitybeat.com or follow him at @1000TimesJeff

Calendar

  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Presented by Pacific Arts Movement, the sixth annual mini film fest features 14 film programs from 10 countries that includes everything from docs to romantic tearjerkers. See website for full lineup and...
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • The former local boy and creator of the highly influential blog, Advanced Style, will be signing and discussing his third book, Advanced Style: Older and Wiser, which features inspiring pictures and stories...
  • C.J. Chenier and Bonsoir Catin headline this annual Cajun inspired festival. Also enjoy 10,000 pounds of crawfish, dancing and cooking demonstrations. Held at Spanish Landing Park, across from the...
  • A Cinco de Mayo party featuring $2 tacos, cocktails and live music from Bostich+Fussible, Javiera Mena and Gepe
  • A spoken word showcase hosted by English instructor Karla Cordero and her City College students. There will also be a special reading from poet Mercedez Holtry, as well as an art and photography show....
  • Widely known as host of "Weekend Update" on Saturday Night Live and for his role in the Showtime dramedy Weeds, Kevin Nealon brings his unique humor back to the stand-up stage
  • New works from over a dozen UCSD undergraduate students. Participating artists include Charity Algarme, Richard Lin, Joseph Maas, Ignatius Nguyen, and more
  • This video art exhibition from UCSD MFA candidate Stefani Byrd features two installations that explore the themes of breath, mediation, and the nature of time. Takes place in the VAF Performance Space,...
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