Ruby Jean Jensen (March 1, 1927 – November 16, 2010) was an American author of horror and suspense, one of the stars of the Zebra Horror line in the 1980s and early 1990s. Jensen began her career in the world of Gothic romance in 1974 when she sold her first novel to Warner, “The House That Samael Built.” That was her first professional sale, but not her first venture into the world of fiction. She started writing when she was quite young, completing her first novel at age 11.
She met her husband of 50 years, World War II Army veteran Vaughn, in Northern California. After they were married, they moved to a farm in Vaughn’s home state of Nebraska for a few years before finally settling in Arkansas in the late-1950s. Vaughn’s long hours working the farm left Jensen with time alone, during which which she read voraciously and began to write again in her spare time. Her first novel as an adult was rejected, which left her discouraged for some time, but she eventually picked up her pen again to aim at the Gothic market. She wrote a handful of Gothics that were published by Warner and Manor Books before the genre’s popularity waned in the late 1970s. Her early entries in the occult horror and suspense field were published by Leisure Books and Tor before she finally found a long-time home at Zebra Books. Throughout her career in publishing, Jensen published over 200 stories in women’s magazines and more than 30 novels in the Gothic, horror, and suspense genres.
All of the information in this article comes from a fantastic online biography page published along with her obituary at Find a Grave – Memorials. It is chock full of information about Jensen’s life. I consider it required reading for her fans. I reached out to the family for an interview, but they did not respond. Alas, the aforementioned biography is a treasure trove of details.
The scans below have passed through my library at some point. I also included some books I photographed in the wild.
To their credit, it looks like her family has re-released all of her novels in affordable ebook editions for a contemporary audience. Check out the Ruby Jean Jensen page on Amazon here.
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