Category Archives: A – D

H. P. Lovecraft

Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) was an American poet, journalist, editor, and author. Lovecraft certainly needs no introduction to horror fans; virtually every big name in the genre cites his work as an influence. Numerous film adaptations have been made from his stories, and countless filmmakers, authors, comic creators, and songwriters have borrowed his concepts for their own works. He is one of America’s literary giants, with many volumes and editions of his work in print over the decades, from early collections published by Arkham House to his canonization in the Library of America.

Despite his fame and stature in the modern pantheon of horror authors, Lovecraft met with little success during his career. Compared to his contemporaries — particularly the other authors in what has come to be known as the Lovecraft Circle — he was not very prolific as an author of fiction, and the sales of his stories never netted enough money to make ends meet. He had approximately 60 works of fiction published during his lifetime or shortly after his death. Of those, six were novellas or novelettes, and only one was a full-length novel. He also collaborated with other writers, which yielded another 30 or so short stories. Some of his collaborators (not including posthumous collaborations) included C.L. Moore, Robert E. Howard, Frank Belknap Long, R.H. Barlow, E. Hoffman Price, Robert Bloch, and Harry Houdini. Lovecraft frequently wrote and received letters from long-distance colleagues. He was a poet, as well, with many interests that informed his work. As a journalist, he had many scientific and philosophical articles to his credit.

Lovecraft’s life was beset with difficulty from the beginning. He was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. His father became “acutely psychotic” and was admitted to a mental hospital when Lovecraft three years old. He was reportedly a sickly child. His Wikipedia article says he may have been afflicted with some form of parasomnia, possibly night terrors or sleep paralysis. He was raised by his mother and his two aunts. Despite seldom attending school due to his illnesses, he was by all accounts an exceptionally brilliant child interested in science, particularly astronomy. Lovecraft’s maternal grandfather was a successful businessman, and it seems much of the money off which he and his mother lived came from what was left over from his estate after his death in 1904. Lovecraft’s mother was committed to a mental hospital in 1919 for “hysteria and depression.” She died in 1921.

In 1924, Lovecraft traveled to Boston for a convention to meet with a group of amateur journalists. There he met his soon-to-be wife Sonia Greene. They were married the same year and moved to Brooklyn, New York. The marriage lasted several years, but it seems they were separated most of the time, as Greene had moved to Cincinnati for a job opportunity, and Lovecraft eventually returned to Providence. He remained in Providence, living off increasingly meager funds until his death. He died from cancer of the small intestine in 1937.

Lovecraft’s friend and fellow author Frank Belknap Long wrote a book-length memorial, Howard Phillips Lovecraft: Dreamer on the Night Side, which was published by Arkham House in 1975. A great deal of other biographical material exists, of course. The Wikipedia article on Lovecraft seems solid and well-informed.

My personal introduction to Lovecraft’s work came in 1985 at the tender age of 14, when my uncle introduced me to some old pulps that he’d found kicking around St. Louis bookstores. I was already an avid reader of Edgar Allan Poe, Stephen King, and lots of stuff in between. In 1986, I saw the Stewart Gordon/Brian Yuzna adaptation of From Beyond. I suspect Lovecraft would have regarded the film with disdain (probably a kind assessment) for its sexual themes and overt slimy-monsterishness. I loved it. In fact, From Beyond remains one of my favorite films. While it was clear to me that Lovecraft had a style and tone distinctly different from horror fiction being published in the 1980s, I enjoyed the film for the way it used Lovecraft’s ideas in a modern way that appealed to me as a teen. It was a perfect union, and I have to believe it did a great deal for the popularity of Lovecraft’s work at the time. Nevertheless, while his fiction was a stark contrast to the films, I still loved his stories for their creeping fear, hinted-at eldritch horrors, shadowy treatment of arcane subjects, and general comic menace. The descriptions and images hung with me. His work and ideas were an inspiration. Lovecraft quickly took a place next to Stephen King on my bookshelf.

As a collector, my first set of Lovecraft books were paperbacks published by Ballantine, with the black covers and a different strange head on every title. Over the years, I collected the earlier Ballantine Adult Fantasy editions, and finally, as a grown up with a real job, purchased the definitive Arkham House hardcovers. Presented here in the gallery scans is the wonderful paperback artwork of Gervasio Gallardo, published in the Adult Fantasy line around 1970. John Holmes did the “strange heads” series of art around 1973. Later paperback editions feature art by Murray Tinkelman, including pen and ink drawings on the inside covers, published around 1976. The Arkham dust jackets shown here feature art by Tony Patrick, and the edition of Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos included below was published during the time when J. K. Potter did most of the cover art for Arkham House.

For a list of H. P. Lovecraft books currently available in all formats, click here.

The following scans are from the library of Christopher Fulbright.

Mark Ronson

Mark Ronson was a pseudonym for the New Zealand-born British author Marc Alexander, who wrote a long list of non-fiction books about the history of Britain, including its mystical and haunted places, and a book called To Anger the Devil, a biography of Reverend Dr. Donald Omand. Omand was a renowned exorcist and vicar retired from the Church of England. He reportedly performed exorcisms not only on people, but on haunted places, including Loch Ness and the Bermuda Triangle.

Not much biographical information can be found on Marc Alexander, except that he wrote non-fiction, wrote fiction as Mark Ronson, and was born in New Zealand in 1929. This information comes courtesy of A Dictionary of Literary Pseudonyms in the English Language.  He wrote a handful of novels that were originally published by Hamlyn in the UK between 1978 and 1981 — BloodthirstGhoul, Ogre, and Plague Pit. They were re-released in the U.S. by Critics Choice, which almost exclusively reprinted UK horror novels for American audiences in the late 1980s.

To browse the list of Mark Ronson titles currently available, click here.

Except for the UK edition of Ogre, which came from Amazon.co.uk, these cover scans are from the library of author Christopher Fulbright.

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.

Edward Lee

LeeEdward_AuthorPicEdward Lee is an American author best known for novels of extreme horror that play gleefully with erotica and gore. Many of his works have a Lovecraftian bent or cosmic underpinnings, while others have a tendency toward backwoods hillbilly-horror. He has written works that fit snugly into the bizzaro subgenre, as well as straight horror, weird fiction, and a 4-book cycle of fantastic horror beginning with City Infernal.  Lee is the author of over 40 books and many short stories which have appeared in such venues as the famous Hot Blood series, Best American Mystery Stories, and numerous mass market and specialty press anthologies through the years. His novel Header was adapted for a movie and released on DVD by Synapse Films in 2009.

His first two novels, Night Bait and Night Lust, were published in 1982 in mass market paperback by Zebra Books under the pseudonym Philip Straker. In an old web biography he noted in retrospect that he had no idea how those books got published. Nevertheless, hardcore fans of Lee’s work consider these works highly collectible, especially Night Lust, which can be difficult to find in good condition and fetches high prices in the secondary market. Lee’s first novel under his own name was Ghouls, published by Pinnacle in 1988. His next three books are some of my favorites by him: Coven, Incubi, and Succubi were picked up by Berkley and published under their Diamond imprint in 1991 and 1992. His later novels were published by Zebra, Pinnacle, Leisure, and a host of specialty publishers including Cemetery Dance and Necro Publications. Necro is the primary publisher of his works today.

Lee grew up in Maryland and served in the Army in West Germany in the late 1970s. His website says that he spent time after that as a police officer in Maryland and attended the University of Maryland majoring in English, but quit before graduating to pursue his dream of becoming a full time writer. Lee eventually did fulfill that dream; he quit his job at a security company to write full time in 1997. He lives in St. Pete Beach, Florida.

To view a list of Edward Lee’s novels and stories available in print and ebook formats, please 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.

Fritz Leiber

fritzleiber-authorphotoFritz Leiber (1910 – 1992) was an American author of horror, science fiction and fantasy, credited with coining the phrase “sword and sorcery” and forging new paths in that genre with his immortal tales of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, a pair of heroes whose first adventure appeared in one of the earliest issues of Unknown in 1939.  His first novel, Conjure Wife, a notable horror classic, also had its first appearance in that relatively short-lived magazine helmed by the venerable John W. Campbell. Leiber followed up with a second novel, the now-classic Gather, Darkness!, which appeared in Astounding in 1943. His first collection, Night’s Black Agents, was published by Arkham House in 1947, continuing a long career that won him accolades, admirers from all genres, and a huge number of awards.  He won six Hugos and several Nebulas. He won the World Fantasy Award in 1975 for “Belsen Express” and again in 1977 for Our Lady of Darkness, a novel he wrote after a dark period in his life following the death of his first wife, when he struggled with depression and alcoholism.  He was given a Gandalf Grand Master Award by the World Science Fiction Society in 1975, and the World Fantasy and Bram Stoker awards for Lifetime Achievement.

Leiber’s work was an influence on many writers, including Harlan Ellison, Ramsey Campbell and Neil Gaiman to name just a few. Leiber is widely acknowledged to have had a hand in shaping modern fantasy, and used fantasy motifs in modern day settings long before urban fantasy was a popular sub-genre. While his numerous novels and novellas were mostly fantasy and science fiction, he also wrote amazing horror stories collected in many volumes throughout the years. He lived out his later years continuing to write and receiving royalties from TSR, who licensed rights to use characters from his world of Lankhmar in Dungeons & Dragons.

Born in Chicago, Leiber earned a Bachelor of Psychology degree from the University of Chicago and went on to study at the Episcopal General Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. According to a brochure from Easton Press, he served as a minister at two Episcopalian churches in the early 1930s. Some of his other professions included college professor, airplane inspector, and associate editor of Science Digest.

Leiber was a chess enthusiast, an avid cat person, and a poet. Following in the footsteps of his father who was a Shakespearean actor, Leiber appeared in a handful of films in the 1930s, a 1970 horror film Equinox, and a 1979 documentary based on the non-fiction book The Bermuda Triangle by Charles Berlitz. He was married twice and died suddenly in 1992 of “organic brain disease,” according to Wikipedia.  His autobiography, written in the early 1980s, can be found in the 1984 Ace edition of his collection Ghost Light, shown below.

You can hear Fritz Leiber’s wonderful and poignant live reading of Clark Ashton Smith’s “A Night in Malneant,” which I found quite moving, thanks to Will Hart at CthulhuWho1. Alternatively, in the event that blog should disappear, you can download the file here, or listen using the media player below.

 

Many of Leiber’s works are still in print and available in ebook formats. To see what’s out there, click here.

The cover scans below are from the library of author Christopher Fulbright. The featured image for this post is from cover art by Jack Gaughan.

Michael McDowell

Michael_McDowell_authorphotoMichael McDowell (June 1, 1950 – December 27, 1999) was an American author of genre and non-genre works, best known for his horror novels and his original screenplay for Beetlejuice, the 1988 movie directed by Tim Burton.

His first novel The Amulet was published by Avon in 1979, followed in 1980 by Cold Moon Over Babylon. Both novels helped establish McDowell as a serious contender in the burgeoning horror market, with an engaging voice and a talent for writing wholly effective Southern gothics. His 1981 novel The Elementals is what I consider to be a classic of modern horror; it’s one of a select few novels that sent genuine chills down my spine. His 6-part epic Blackwater series chronicled the horrors of the Caskey family, and firmly cemented McDowell’s place in the pantheon of writers of the true Southern gothic. McDowell wrote several other novels throughout the 1980s, including horror novels Katie, Gilded Needles, and Toplin, published as part of the Dell Abyss line. Toplin was also issued in a signed, limited hardcover edition by Scream Press, included in the gallery below. McDowell wrote a three-book literary saga chronicling the lives of Jack and Susan, ranging from the years 1913 to 1953. He also wrote several novels under the pen names Axel Young and Nathan Aldyne, plus several series titles under the names Preston Macadam and Mike McCray, and the novelization of the movie Clue.

McDowell met with success in Hollywood with his Beetlejuice screenplay, as noted above, and went on to work on The Nightmare Before Christmas and the adaptation of Stephen King’s Bachman novel Thinner. He wrote many episodes of popular suspense and horror shows popular throughout the 1980s and 1990s including Tales from the Darkside, Tales from the Crypt, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Monsters, and Amazing Stories.

McDowell was born and raised in southeastern Alabama. According to Douglas Winter’s Faces of Fear interview, he moved to Boston after graduating high school in 1968 to attend Harvard and study English. After graduating from Harvard with a Master of Arts degree, he earned a PhD in English from Brandeis University. He was working as a secretary in 1977 when he saw a trailer for the movie The Omen, which inspired him to try something different and ultimately write The Amulet, which sold in a two-book deal to Avon. The sale gave him enough money to quit his job and write full time. After many prolific years and much critically acclaimed fiction to his credit, McDowell was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. After the diagnosis, Wikipedia reports that he taught screenwriting classes while working on commissioned screenplays. He died in 1999 in Boston. Tabitha King, who shared an affinity with her husband for McDowell’s work, completed an unfinished novel left behind among his papers; Candles Burning was published in 2006.

For anyone looking for more information about Michael McDowell, I recommend Douglas Winter’s 1985 book, Faces of Fear. You can also hunt down Fangoria #40 from 1984, which featured an interview with McDowell by Stanley Wiater. Better yet, check out this website – Cold Moon Over McDowell – a seriously dedicated fan site with lots of great stuff to explore.

The fine folks at Valancourt Books have reprinted, or have plans to reprint, much of McDowell’s horror fiction. To view a list of McDowell’s books available in print and ebook formats, please 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.

 

 

Dennis Wheatley

Dennis WheatleyDennis Wheatley was an English author of thrillers, adventure fiction, occult fiction, crime, and non-fiction. He was one of the most prolific and bestselling authors of his time in the UK, selling millions of copies of his novels from the 1930s through the 1960s. The official Dennis Wheatley website states that “by the time of his death in 1977, it is estimated that Wheatley had sold in excess of fifty million copies of his books worldwide.”

I was introduced to Wheatley’s works through two Hammer horror films, The Devil Rides Out and The Lost Continent. (They also adapted another novel from his Black Magic series, To The Devil — A Daughter, in 1975.) In a scene in the film version of The Lost Continent, one of the passengers on the ship is reading a Wheatley novel, which prompted me to seek out his work.  That led me to my favorite of his novels, The Devil Rides Out, which was originally published in 1934. The book is an enduring classic of the genre — it is truly timeless, as Wheatley pulls no punches; when reading, it is easy to forget the book was written over 80 years ago.  It is a vastly satisfying mix of grand adventure, horror, and the occult.

In the 1960s, Bantam reprinted a handful of Wheatley novels in the U.S. but as far as I know, they did not get far along in the series. Next to my Hutchinson hardcover edition of the The Irish Witch, the Bantam printings are the only Wheatley books I now own, although I once had an opportunity to pick up roughly 40 of his adventure and mystery paperbacks for a reasonable price but turned away (and have regretted it since).  Nonetheless, these Black Magic novels fit nicely in the collection, and are quite satisfying.

I urge readers to search for more information about Dennis Wheatley. The site noted above notes the lamented unavailability of his work in bookstores over the past couple of decades, and points a finger at his unflinching handling of the occult, satanism, sadism toward women, and in particular, his tendency to proclaim the “superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race above all others.” Due to the changes in publishing in recent years, much of his work is back in print, or available in electronic editions. Despite any perceived flaws in personal philosophies that made it into the pages of his stories, he is still an important author and deserves to be remembered for his significant contributions to the genre.

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.

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.

Michael Moorcock

Michael-Moorcock-authorphotoMichael Moorcock is an English author of fantasy, horror, science fiction, and sword and sorcery. Among his best known works are those in the Elric of Melnibone series, which he wrote throughout the 1960s and 1970s. He is the author of over 100 books and remains one of the most well-respected living authors of fantasy. He made his first professional sale in 1959 to New Worlds magazine.  Elric of Melnibone made his debut two years later in the “The Dreaming City,” which was published in the June 1961 issue of Science Fantasy.

He has been an editor and author working in numerous genres. He was an early member of the 1960s-era Swordsmen and Sorcerers’ Guild of America (SAGA), alongside luminaries Fritz Leiber, John Jakes, Andre Norton, Jack Vance, Lin Carter, and others.  The London Times lists him among the greatest British authors since 1945. He has won the Nebula Award, the British Fantasy Award, the August Derleth Fantasy Award, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel, and a long list of lifetime achievement awards from major genre organizations. He was born in London in 1939 and has lived near Austin, Texas since 1994.

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. Most of these are the work of artist Michael Whelan.