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'Blown Away' author will sign books in Oklahoma City
His first large tornado didn't come along until May 21, 2011. Seeing a monstrous twister drop toward the highway near Ada didn't inspire fear so much as an adrenaline rush. He hadn't yet grasped the toll tornadoes take on real people. It was still exciting, not terrifying.
That changed the next day. On May 22, 2011, an EF-5 tornado three-quarters of a mile wide howled into Joplin, Mo., killing more than 150 people and ruining thousands of buildings.
“That's where the reasons and emotions really kind of changed,” he said. “Joplin was by far the worst thing that anyone in the storm chasing community had ever seen. It was the worst tornado in 60 years. To see the horror of that and the devastation and the suffering that went with it really changed my perspective.”
At the end of the 2011 season, which spawned record numbers of tornadoes, Johnson decided to compile his photos into a book. Its memorable cover was designed to attract book browsers.
“I did a marketing analysis across the whole genre,” he said. “There are probably a dozen or so books out there about storms and storm chasing and stuff, but they all have the same cover: a picture of a tornado. We wanted to have something that danced a little bit on the bookshelf and was maybe more of a personal journey.
“I've included, for the photographers in the crowd, information about how the photos were shot and what we used. People always ask me what F-stop I used and things like that, so that information is in there.”
The book, produced by Indie Ink Publishing, is rather gorgeous. Photographs, some taking up full pages, capture tornado development and raw damage, as well as the frightening majesty of one of nature's most powerful forces. Johnson's writing takes readers inside the storm.
Buy signed copies tonight at Full Circle. The book also is available for $34.95 at www.indieinkpublishing.com/blownaway.
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