Category Archives: A – E

Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison (May 27, 1934 – June 28, 2018) was an American fantasist and author of many genres of fiction as well as incendiary social commentary.  After years of heart trouble, he died this week in his sleep at his home in Los Angeles. He was 84 years old.

Ellison’s best fiction is unclassifiable as anything other than tales written by Harlan Ellison: emotionally charged, full of rage, wit, intelligence, and heart. He was a personality unlike any other in the writing world. Tales of his exploits abound. There are stories of his exploits at conventions, tales of notoriety to be sure, but there are tales of kindness, too.

Full disclosure: I am not doing any research for this article. I have read so much by and about Harlan Ellison that he is a mythical creature in my mind, and this article shall treat him as such. I swear I read somewhere that he ran away at an early age to join a carnival. That he went to New York in the 1950s to join a street gang and wrote novels about his experiences. It seemed he lived something of a transient lifestyle after he left home. He idolized pulp writers, Jack London, and Jack Kerouac, and believed Hemingway’s credo that you should write what you know, so he sought to know everything first hand. He wrote short stories in the windows of bookstores in cities I dreamed of visiting. He was notoriously difficult to work with, both in publishing and television. He had famous run-ins with famous people. His writing was cut-to-the-heart honest and emotionally powerful. Supposedly he was a teetotaler, which I couldn’t ever comprehend. He was admired by some of the greats, and had run-ins with some of the greats. There was no other writer like him. For a long period of time – most of the 1990s in fact – I read his work voraciously. I wanted to be something like him, for it was clear to me that nothing could be exactly like him. I studied his fiction, I wrote as much as I was able following his example.

Alas, I was cut from a different cloth than Harlan Ellison. Most of us are.

Starting in 1990, I collected everything I could find by Harlan Ellison. As I recall, I was introduced to his work by science fiction artist David Martin, who did a lot of work at the time for Amazing Stories and several RPGs. David and I attended the Colorado Springs Science Fiction Writers Workshop for two years between 1990 and 1992. We became friends, and spent some leisure time together, hiking and discussing mutual interests. He pointed me to Shatterday. After that, I hunted down and read all that I could. My favorites from back then are Stalking the Nightmare, Shatterday, Deathbird Stories, and Angry Candy. I was a fan of his earlier science fiction work as well, especially The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World, but nothing really matched those four key collections for me.

Those of you who follow this blog will recall I had a troubled youth and sank into some dire times in the mid-1990s. I lost pretty much everything, and lived by the grace of friends on their couches. I owned a single duffel bag of clothes that I carried with me. In that duffel bag, I carried one paperback: I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. I must have read the book 15 times. It wasn’t his best work in my opinion, but it was all I had for a while. Gentleman Junkie and Strange Wine found me in interesting places personally. Love Ain’t Nothing But Sex Misspelled and Paingod were some other timely titles, meeting me in places where I needed them the most.

There are so many reviews of Ellison’s career out there right now in the wake of his death, I hope you’ll forgive me this indulgence. I really just wanted to share everything that has stuck in my mind about Ellison over the years. All the stuff above, and more. Edward Bryant was a close friend of Ellison’s, and Bryant ran the workshops I attended all those years ago. I recall tales of how Ellison encouraged Dan Simmons in his early days after reading one of his stories. Bryant would talk to his writer friends in the workshop (not me so much) and I’d hear first-hand of those who’d been encouraged, and those who’d been excoriated. As I discovered Kerouac, I recalled that Ellison had sought out and met with Kerouac (am I misremembering this? I can’t find confirmation). I recall that when Ellison heard Fritz Leiber was broke, writing his stories on a manual typewriter in some squalid hotel in San Francisco in the late 1970s, that he reached out to the author he so admired, infuriated that such a great talent could be reduced to such poverty. That’s the other thing about Ellison: he was a great fan not only of the genre, but the short form – he wrote several novels early in his career: crime, troubled youth, science fiction – yet spent most of his writing career crafting short stories, for which he regularly received awards and accolades from the top down.

For actual facts and more information about Harlan Ellison, which really just scratches the surface but is nevertheless entertaining, click here to read his obituary in the New York Times.

A few notes about my Ellison collection as it exists today: I have two signed books, Memos from Purgatory and Angry Candy.  I sought to complete my collection of the Pyramid and Ace editions, but I’m not there yet. I bought my copy of Love Ain’t Nothing But Sex Misspelled from SF author John E. Stith, who gave me good writing advice that I didn’t follow and was an all-around nice guy. My hardcover editions are worn and well read. While the scans below by no means represent all of the Ellison books that have passed through my hands over the years, these are the ones I ultimately kept hold of, with few regrets.

Much of Ellison’s work has been reissued in electronic editions by Open Road Media. To browse the list of Harlan Ellison titles currently available on Amazon, click here.

These cover scans are from the library of author Christopher Fulbright. The featured image for this post is from the Deathbird Stories cover art by Barclay Shaw.

Joseph Payne Brennan

Joseph Payne Brennan (December 20, 1918 – January 28, 1990), was an American writer of westerns, horror, and poetry. He graduated from Hillhouse High School in New Haven and lived most of his life in Connecticut. He attended the Junior College of Commerce, but his father became ill and passed away during his sophomore year, so he left school to support his mother and sister. He served three years in the Army during World War II. A guide to his papers at the John Hay Library at Brown University include military documents from 1943 to 1946 showing he was transferred to Europe and received commendations from General George Patton. He received four battle stars, one of them for his participation in the Battle of the Bulge, the last major German offensive on the Western Front during December 1944 and January 1945.

He worked at the Yale University Library before and after the war, where he remained employed until his retirement in 1985. His first professional sale was a poem to the Christian Science Monitor Home Forum in 1940. He had focused primarily on poetry up to that point, but soon branched out into the world of fiction. Brennan wrote 26 western stories for the pulps before he changed gears and came into his own as an author of supernatural horror in the early 1950s. He sold his first horror story “The Green Parrot” to Dorothy McIlwraith at Weird Tales in 1952. He followed up with one of his most celebrated stories, a novelette entitled “Slime,” which appeared in the March 1953 issue, featuring his story on the cover with art by Virgil Finlay. He appeared in Weird Tales regularly until that incarnation of the magazine ceased publication in 1954.

Brennan published his own magazines beginning in 1955, Essence and Macabre, the latter geared toward keeping the spirit of Weird Tales alive. He published 23 issues of Macabre over a span of almost 20 years. At the time, Brennan regularly corresponded with August Derleth of Arkham House fame, an author in his own right. Derleth published the first collection of Brennan’s horror stories, Nine Horrors and a Dream in 1958. That collection was later published in paperback by Ballantine Books in 1962. The Arkham House edition of the book is expensive; the paperback edition is scarce. It is a jewel of my collection. I keep holding out hope that someone will reissue the title so I can read the stories in the middle of the book without cracking the spine.

Brennan was a prolific author of short stories and poetry. According to the Grant edition of The Borders Just Beyond, he wrote several thousand poems and approximately 500 short stories. His stories appeared in over 100 anthologies, including the iconic Pan Book of Horror Stories, the Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories, Whispers, Night Visions, Charles L. Grant’s Shadows series, Dennis Etchison’s Masters of Darkness series, and Ramsey Campbell’s Fine Frights, to name just a few. His work also appeared in such esteemed publications as The New York Times, Esquire, The Chicago Review, and The Yale Literary Magazine. Brennan’s 1980 collection, The Shapes of Midnight collected many of his classic tales with an introduction by Stephen King.

Brennan’s stories were adapted for both radio and television, and he was recognized by fans and contemporaries as an important author at a time when horror fiction evolved from the pulp years into the modern era. The television series Thriller, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Tales from the Darkside ran episodes based on his work. Brennan appeared at the 1982 World Fantasy Convention as guest of honor, where he was given a special convention award for lifetime achievement. He also achieved great success as a poet, receiving the Hartshorne award, the Leonora Speyer Memorial Award, and the International Clark Ashton Smith Poetry award. In all, as far as I can tell, nearly twenty collections of Brennan’s work were published in his lifetime.

More information about Brennan can be found in the Brown University’s “Guide to the Joseph Payne Brennan papers,” stored online here.

To browse the list of Joseph Payne Brennan titles currently available on Amazon, click here.

These cover scans are from the library of author Christopher Fulbright. The featured image for this post is from The Shapes of Midnight cover art by Kirk Reinert.

 

Mason Burgess

Mason Burgess is a pen name for Canadian horror author Gregory Zawidoski, who wrote three novels for Leisure Books in the mid-1980s. There is no biographical information in any of the novels published during that time, but his debut novel Child of Demons (1985) bears a copyright under his real name, which led me to a Google search, where I found confirmation in the Lotus archives of the pen name, and — surprisingly — a website for the author. A new Mason Burgess novel, Skinned Babies, was released in 2015 and, as of this writing, can be picked up for a mere $788.29 from Amazon.

Prior to his latest effort, the horror novels published under the Burgess name were Child of Demons, Blood Moon (1986), and Graveyard (1987). Burgess’s Web site says “Blood Moon became a national best seller in the span of only three weeks.” He has Facebook and Twitter accounts which were only updated for a few weeks to promote his new book, and then nada since 2015.

Burgess’s bio cites his influences as Poe, Lovecraft, M.R. James, Bloch, Bradbury, Matheson, and Stephen King. It also notes that he has written a number of other books (fiction and non-fiction) under various other pen names. A search for him or other books under his own name of Gregory Zawidoski nets nothing, so one can only guess at some of the other names under which he has written. The public catalog of the U.S. copyright office only has two records in its database associated with Zawidoski’s real name, Blood Moon and Graveyard, and two spellings of his last name (alternatively listed as Zawidowski), so honestly, I have no idea which spelling is correct. All I can say for sure is, this is the guy who wrote these three novels from Leisure in the mid 1980s, and he re-emerged to publish a new horror novel in 2015 … only to disappear again. Here is a link to his Amazon page for more information on his books and their availability.

These cover scans are from the library of author Christopher Fulbright.

 

Jack Cady

Jack Cady (March 20, 1932 – January 14, 2004) was an American author of short stories and novels. Cady’s writing career began in 1965, when his short story “The Burning” won the Atlantic Monthly First Award and went on to appear in Best American Short Stories 1966.  Cady had a lot of success early in his career with literary fiction. He won the American Literary Anthology Award for 1970 and his 14-story collection The Burning won the 1972 Iowa School of Letters Award for Short Fiction, judged that year by Joyce Carol Oates. The collection was published in hardcover by the University of Iowa Press.

Fortunately for everyone who is a fan of genre fiction, he did not limit himself to the anti-genre confines of the literary world. His first novel, The Well, was unabashed horror fiction, published in 1981, and one of my favorite novels in the genre.  I wrote a brief review of The Well on my blog back in 2012 when I discovered Cady’s work, which was akin to finding a new room full of amazing stuff in a place you’ve lived for 30 years.

Cady’s range is wide, his style deep and fearless. He had a great deal of life experience before his first published work — he served in the U.S. Coast Guard, worked as a warehouseman, high tree climber, auctioneer, truck driver — and that shows in his work. Cady eventually settled in Port Townsend, Washington and taught writing at the University of Washington and Pacific Lutheran University.

He wrote 12 novels in all — two under the pseudonym Pat Franklin for Diamond (Berkley) in the early 1990s. His 1992 collection The Sons of Noah won the World Fantasy Award. His short story “The Night We Buried Road Dog” was published in the January 1993 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and went on to win the Nebula Award. In addition to The Burning, he had five more collections published during his lifetime. He also wrote a non-fiction treatise called The American Writer: Shaping a Nation’s Mind. He died of bladder cancer at the age of 71.

Many of his books have been re-released in recent years. To see everything currently available, click here.

These scans are from the library of Christopher Fulbright.

 

Jere Cunningham

Jere Cunningham is an American author and screenwriter. His first novel, Hunter’s Blood, was published as a Fawcett Gold Medal paperback original in 1977.  Cunningham followed up later that year with a horror novel, The Legacy, another Fawcett paperback original (a novel increasingly difficult to find in good condition). His third novel, The Visitor, was published in hardcover by St. Martin’s in 1978 and picked up for a paperback edition published by Berkley in 1979. The artwork of the paperback edition borrowed a concept from other popular novels that preceded it (namely Carrie and the hardcover edition of The Other), by featuring only the title and a face — this time the face of a doll behind broken glass. The first page of The Visitor featured the obligatory and inaccurate comparison to Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.

It seems The Visitor met with enough success that Wyndham Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, made a compelling offer in picking up his fourth novel, The Abyss. In an interview with Robert Morrish, posted on his blog Twilight Ridge, Cunningham said Simon & Schuster promised a large budget for promotion and a large first printing for the hardcover, but never delivered on all of their promises. Ballantine picked up rights for the paperback edition, which was published with a complimentary blurb from Stephen King.

Throughout the early-1980s, Cunningham was publishing short fiction in a number of top notch venues, including Night Cry magazine, Omni, and the Modern Masters of Horror anthology edited by Frank Coffey. He received top billing on the anthology cover along with Stephen King, John Coyne, and George Romero. Despite the fact that Cunningham seemed well-regarded and on the verge of a breakout, he turned down a $75,000 deal from Ballantine for his next novel Horror Story, which was never published. In a quote from the Morrish interview cited above, Cunningham explained his decision, which stemmed from a run of promises broken by publishers, and requests for rewrites that he felt compromised his vision.

“I looked at the situation and said ‘I’ve already put a year into writing this book. It’ll take me six months more to rewrite this book. I can’t afford to live on $75,000 for the period of time that this would involve’—there was the year-and-a-half  I’d already have put into it, and then probably another year to write the next book, so I was looking at a period of about two-and-a-half years, during which I’d have to live on $75,000. I put that book in a box and didn’t sell it. I decided not to write novels anymore if that was the best I could do financially.”

Cunningham and his family left their home in Memphis, Tennessee and moved to Hollywood, where he pursued a career writing for the film industry. Blessed, talented, lucky, or all of the above, Cunningham did very well in Hollywood. He had sold film rights to Hunter’s Blood, which was a small budget independent adaptation, and had several works optioned. His biography at IMDb says he went on to write for many major studios, including Disney, Warner, Imagine, and HBO. His last novel published as Jere Cunningham was Love Object, released by a small press in 1985.  Cunningham recently returned to writing novels under the name Jeremiah Pearson with The Villeins Trilogy, a historical epic set in the early 1500s that begins with Brethren, which was published in 2013.

To browse the list of his titles currently available in print, click here.

These cover scans are from the library of author Christopher Fulbright.

 

Carol Ellis

Carol Ellis is an American author of young adult and children’s fiction. Her first novel, My Secret Admirer, was published in 1989 by Scholastic as part of their popular Point Thriller line. She wrote several more Point Thrillers over the next few years; Camp Fear, The Stalker, and The Window, to name just a few. She went on to write over fifteen novels in all, including a few titles in the Zodiac Chillers series published by Random House in the mid-1990s, and two titles in The Blair Witch Files series for young adults, published by Bantam between 2000 and 2001. Not much else is available online about Mrs. Ellis, who, according to Wikipedia, was born in 1945 and lives with her husband in New York.

To browse the list of her titles currently available in print and eBook editions, click here.

These cover scans are from the library of author Christopher Fulbright.

A. Bates

A. Bates is the pseudonym of American author Auline Bates, who got her start writing fiction in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Her early teen thrillers were published by Scholastic as part of their popular Point Horror imprint.  The covers shown below are four of her earliest works, including her debut novel Party Line. She went on to write several more thrillers for teens and middle grade readers, many of which are available in new electronic editions. She lives in Colorado with her husband.

To browse the list of her titles currently available in print and eBook editions, click here.

These cover scans are from the library of author Christopher Fulbright.

Ehren M. Ehly

EhrenMoreenEhly_authorphoto2Ehren M. Ehly (March 16,1929 – December 26, 2012) was the pseudonym of Egyptian-American author Moreen Le Fleming Ehly. Her first novel, Obelisk, was published by Leisure Books in 1988, followed shortly by Totem. Both novels feature what I believe to be the best cover art Leisure ever published, with two die-cut covers and stepback art leafs by the artist B. Perini, shown in the scans below.

Among her primary influences was H. Rider Haggard; she was impressed by Haggard’s novel She at an early age. She picked up the pen to write her own fiction in the mid-1980s. Ehly used her vast knowledge of Egypt and ancient pharaohs to inform her work on Obelisk, and leaned on her first-hand knowledge of Middle Eastern culture for much of her work. I personally discovered Ehly’s work as a teenager in high school, when my girlfriend at the time gave me a copy of Ehly’s novel Evil Eye for Christmas in 1989. Ehly’s fiction falls in the category of 1980s pulp horror; it is entertaining and well informed by her life experiences. Her last novel, Star Prey, was published by Zebra Books in 1992.

Ehly was born in Egypt, spent much of her youth in London, but then moved back to Egypt and spent many years in Cairo and Heliopolis, the city of her birth. She graduated from St. Claire’s College in Egypt, taught kindergarten classes for children of royalty, diplomats, and politicians, and worked for the British Middle East Office in Cairo. An athletic woman in her teens and “a noted beauty” according to her obituary, she won the Miss Egypt title in 1949 in the presence of King Farouk at the Auberge des Pyramides. She met her future husband Robert, a United States Marine, at a sporting club in Cairo, however, they were soon separated when Ehly and her mother fled Cairo during the Black Saturday riots in 1952.  They were later reunited while he took leave in London. The story of how they ended up married includes some apparent trouble getting Ehly into the United States, so some of Robert’s friends in the service arranged for him to appear on the television show Truth or Consequences, judging a beauty contest, in which Ehly was a surprise contestant. Her obituary reports that, “On stage, models and starlets were to pop out of oversized advertisement product containers. Moreen popped out of a huge Pet Milk can, much to Robert’s surprise and joy.” The show’s host, Ralph Edwards, reportedly helped navigate the bureaucracy of paperwork and legalities so the couple could be together.

After the two were married, they settled in the U.S. and lived for a brief time in Louisiana before settling in California.  She worked for many years at Sears & Roebuck, had three children and seven grandchildren, one of whom was named Ehren, who became a U.S. Marine.

I really encourage readers to click through and read Moreen Ehly’s personal story as related in her obituary on the O’Connor Mortuary web site. She had a truly interesting life that transcended her work as an author. Many thanks to her daughter, Juliet Vanderlinden, who referred me to the site.

All of Ehly’s work is currently out of print. To view a list of her books available second-hand, please click here.

These cover scans are from the library of author Christopher Fulbright.

Richie Tankersley Cusick

CusickRichieTankersley_authorphotoRichie Tankersley Cusick is an American author of horror and suspense, working primarily in the YA market.  She wrote many books for the Point Thriller and Archway YA Horror lines throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, plus two adult horror novels Scarecrow and Blood Roots, which were published by Pocket Books. Her debut novel was Evil on the Bayou, released as a title in Dell’s Twilight line in 1984. The Twilight series was a direct competitor of Bantam’s Dark Forces series which was popular with teens at the time. Cusick wrote the novelization for the 1992 movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and other media tie-ins.  She has more than 25 published novels to her credit, and is still at work in the field of fiction.  She was born in New Orleans and now lives in Missouri.

To browse the list of her titles currently available in print and eBook editions, click here.

These cover scans are from the library of author Christopher Fulbright.

Nightmare on Elm Street Books

In the late 1980s, St. Martin’s Paperbacks published a couple of omnibus Nightmare on Elm Street movie novelizations. The first was a compilation of novelizations of parts 1, 2 and 3.  The second, including parts 4 and 5, was written by Ray Garton under the pseudonym Joseph Locke, which he used to write a number of other young adult horror novels around the same time.

St. Martin’s also published an anthology of original novellas and novelettes edited by the late great Martin H. Greenberg in 1991. The anthology, Freddy Krueger’s Seven Sweetest Dreams, featured stories from Brian Hodge, Tom Elliot, Bentley Little, William Relling, Jr., Philip Nutman, Wayne Allen Sallee, and Nancy A. Collins.

The novelization of Wes Craven’s New Nightmare was published in 1994 by TOR, written by David Bergantino.

These books were the early precursors of the popular Black Flame series of A Nightmare on Elm Street novels released by Black Flame in the mid-2000s, all highly collectible.

To browse the list of Nightmare on Elm Street titles currently available in print and eBook editions, click here.

These cover scans are from the library of Christopher Fulbright. Please note that Realms of Night has an eBay page with monthly horror auctions. Follow our page and save us as a favorite seller for updates.