Home All Articles Music Notes from the Smoking PatioThe Long and Short of It’s Ben Johnson to publish a novel

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

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