Category Archives: Dell

Richard Matheson

Richard Matheson (February 20, 1926 – June 23, 2013) was an American author and screenwriter. He is primarily known for his work on the seminal TV show The Twilight Zone and his early work in the suspense field, namely his short story collections and his classic novel, I Am Legend.

Matheson was born in Allendale, New Jersey and raised in Brooklyn, New York, where his earliest stories and poems appeared in the Brooklyn Eagle in the mid-1930s, earning his first publication credit at eight years old. After high school, he served as an Army infantryman in World War II. After the war, he attended Cornell University and graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in 1949.

Matheson’s first professionally published story, “Born of Man and Woman,” appeared in 1950 and prompted the author to move to California hoping for a shot at working in the motion picture industry. Matheson enjoyed the horror films of Val Lewton and, later, enjoyed the mutual admiration of Ray Bradbury. As more of Matheson’s fiction saw print in everything from Weird Tales to Playboy, he landed a book publishing deal for his first collection of science fiction stories, Born of Man and Woman, in 1954. His novel I Am Legend was published the same year.

The door to Hollywood opened in the late 1950s when Universal Studios bought the rights to film his 1956 novel The Shrinking Man. Matheson wrote the script, which served as a springboard to his work on The Twilight Zone. Joining a roster of talented authors that included his friend Charles Beaumont, Matheson wrote 14 scripts for the show over the next five years. That led to later work on TV shows such as Thriller, Star Trek, Night Gallery, Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe adaptations, an adaptation of Fritz Leiber’s novel Conjure Wife (Burn Witch Burn), and a 1971 script based on one Matheson’s stories that became Stephen Spielberg’s feature-length directorial debut, Duel.

Even while Matheson was busy with television and motion pictures, he never neglected his prose fiction. He continued to sell short stories collected in several books in the 1960s, namely the Shock series, Shock! (1961), Shock II (1964), Shock III (1966), and Shock Waves (1970).

Matheson began to steer away from horror in the 1970’s. His romantic time travel novel Bid Time Return won the 1975 World Fantasy Award and was later filmed as Somewhere in Time with starring Christopher Reeves. This led him toward mainstream work, and eventually westerns. Matheson’s influence is hard to quantify, but many authors who achieved popularity in later years named him as an inspiration, including Stephen King.

I have fond personal memories of discovering Richard Matheson’s fiction. In the mid-1980s, I spent summers at my aunt and uncle’s house (as I’ve no doubt mentioned elsewhere). My aunt used to attend a Tai Chi class in St. Louis in Forest Park on Saturdays. I rode into the city with her and waited on the steps of the Missouri History Museum reading a reprint edition of Shock! Years later, as an aspiring author, I was at a Dallas convention with a friend and professional writer. I shared with him that I planned to attend a panel with editors from a major publishing house as guests, hoping to pick up some valuable tips. Since we talked shop, he knew of my fondness for Matheson’s work. He gave me friendly smile and said, “I attended a con once where Richard Matheson was on a ‘How to Get Published’ panel. He said there is no secret to success in writing except putting your butt in a chair and doing it. Someone asked the question, and he responded [paraphrased no doubt] ‘While you’re here at this convention, someone else is at home writing. That’s what I recommend.'” Having attended many conventions in past years I can say with 100% certainty that’s the best writing advice anyone has probably ever given at a convention: go home and write. Conventions don’t get you published, writing and submitting your work does.

The biographical information in this article came primarily from an interview in Faces of Fear by Douglas Winter, plus an article in Dark Dreamers by Stanley Wiater, and a 1994 New York Times article “New Jersey Q & A: Richard Matheson; An Influential Writer Returns to Fantasy” by Albert J. Parisi.

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

Twilight: Where Darkness Begins

In the early 1980s, Dell launched the Twilight series with the tag line “Where Darkness Begins” as a counterpoint to Bantam’s popular Dark Forces series. The series included 26 books and ran from 1982 to 1987. A complete list of books in the series, in the order they were published, is online here. Two notable books from this series are Nightmare Lake by Richard Laymon writing as Carl Laymon, and Richie Tankersley Cusik’s Evil on the Bayou, which was her first published novel before she went on to write YA thrillers for Archway and the Point Thriller line.

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.

To browse the list of Twilight: Where Darkness Begins titles currently available on Amazon, click here.

John Saul

johnsaul_authorphotoJohn Saul is an American author of horror novels and thrillers. His first novel, Suffer the Children, was published in 1977 by Dell and became an instant bestseller. Even so, he wasn’t really an overnight sensation — Saul spent many years earning his stripes writing novels that were rejected by publishers. In an interview with Stanley Wiater in Dark Dreamers, Saul said he had 10 unpublished novels under his belt before his first big win at the publishing game.  After Dell rejected one of those books — a comedy murder mystery — they suggested to his agent that Saul should try his hand at writing a psychological thriller. And so Suffer the Children was born; Dell bought the book on the basis of an outline alone and gave the book a huge push with television advertising, which was pretty much unheard-of for a paperback original in those days. The book hit all of the major bestseller lists and launched one of the most enduring careers in modern American thriller history.

Saul followed up his debut with the equally successful Punish the Sinners in 1978, Cry for the Strangers in 1979, and Comes the Blind Fury in 1980.  When his 1981 novel When the Wind Blows was scheduled for publication, Saul admitted he was worried because Mary Higgins Clark had a novel called The Cradle Will Fall slated to appear at the same time. The publisher assured him there was nothing to worry about. Indeed, they were right — retailers displayed the two titles side-by-side on release.

While Saul is one of the great bestsellers of the horror and thriller genres (I feel like there’s a blurry line in-between), he was seldom mentioned in the same breath as King, Koontz, and Straub. It seems to me that Saul remained an outsider from that crew, even during the height of the genre’s popularity in the 1980s. I noted the other day that Saul had provided a cover blurb for Robert McCammon’s 1987 epic Swan Song, and realized this is maybe the only blurb I ever saw from him on any horror fiction of the time. Saul did not attend conventions, or belong to any writers organizations. He claims to not be much of a horror fan for the simple reason that it scares him — although he enjoys writing it very much.

Despite his professed aversion for the popular works of the genre, it can’t be disputed that John Saul has done very well writing them. To-date, 37 of his novels have been New York Times bestsellers.  He was born in California, but has spent much of his adult life in the Pacific Northwest, and now splits his time between there and a second home in Hawaii.

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

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

Guy N. Smith

GuyNSmith_authorphotoGuy N. Smith is a British author of horror, nonfiction, soft porn, and Disney novelizations. You may need a moment to digest that, but while it seems from Smith’s writing career that he was primarily interested in the business of making money from his writing (which is by no means shameful), it’s likely that he took no path that didn’t seem fun as well as potentially lucrative.

A prolific writer, Smith has over 100 published books to his credit, most of those in the horror field. His first novel, Werewolf by Night, was published by NEL in 1974, just as the horror genre was gaining steam for the boom years soon to come. In 1975, he wrote novelizations for four Disney movies including Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and Song of the South. He also wrote a series of Sexy Confessions books under a number of pen names. His best known works are likely the Crabs novels, the popularity of which enabled him to write full time starting in 1976 after the first book in the series, Night of the Crabs, became a bestseller and was later adapted into the film Island Claws in 1980.

Much of Smith’s writing is firmly in the vein of pulp fiction. Many of his works spawned sequels or series. His novel The Sucking Pit became sort of notorious for its sexual content and gore. A mention in Stephen King’s Danse Macabre didn’t hurt. A special hardcover limited edition of The Sucking Pit was released by Hard Gore Press in 2011.

Smith was born in Staffordshire. His mother was the historical novelist E.M. Weale and his father was a banker. Smith spent 20 years in the banking business before we was able to support himself with his writing. In 1999, after many years writing for the Shooting Times, he reports on his website that he became gun editor of The Countryman’s Weekly. Smith’s personal interests translate to longer-form nonfiction as well. An avid hunter and pipe smoker, he wrote many nonfiction books about hunting, trapping, shooting, gamekeeping, and tobacco culture.  A BBC News report says Smith won the British pipe smoking championship in 2003. He and his wife have four adult children and live in a remote part of Shropshire near the Welsh border.

Virtually all of Smith’s books have been reissued as ebooks and many are still available in print.  To view complete list on Amazon, click here.

Please note that Realms of Night has an eBay page with occasional horror auctions. Follow our page and save us as a favorite seller for updates.

The cover scans below are from the library of author Christopher Fulbright.