Tag Archives: zebra horror novels

J. N. Williamson

Jerry Neal Williamson (April 17, 1932 – December 8, 2005) was an American author of horror fiction. His first novel The Ritual was published in 1979. Serving under Dean Koontz as president, Williamson became the first secretary of the newly formed Horror Writers of America in 1987.

Williamson was a prolific writer, particularly during the horror boom of the 1980s. In an interview with Steve Gerlach, Williamson said he was publishing a novel a month in 1981 and part of 1982. Although I can’t say for sure, every bibliography I have seen of Williamson’s work seems to be missing some titles. It’s safe to say that Williamson published about 50 horror novels in his lifetime, over 100 short stories, and edited several anthologies, including the acclaimed Masques series. His novella The Night Seasons was nominated for a World Fantasy Award in 1987. He later expanded the story into a novel published by Zebra in 1991. The Horror Writers Association gave him the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.  He died in 2005 in Noblesville, Indiana.

To view a list of titles currently available, click here.

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These scans are from the library of Christopher Fulbright.


Spotted in the Wild

Daniel Ransom

Daniel Ransom was one of the pen names of crime, horror, and western author Ed Gorman. Gorman was vastly influential and prolific throughout his career. He forged relationships with many writers over the years, serving as a mentor and friend to many. When he passed away in late 2016, the loss was felt deeply within the writing community. He was, of course, also highly regarded as an author, and many felt he never received the level of recognition or popularity that his work truly deserved. He was the author of over 140 books and was a frequent contributor to top genre magazines. He was co-founder and editor of Mystery Scene magazine, which published its first issue in 1985 and is still being published today. Gorman edited or co-edited more than 100 anthologies, including the five-volume run of The World’s Finest Mystery and Crime Stories.

Gorman wrote nine novels as Daniel Ransom. The first Ransom novel was Daddy’s Little Girl, published by Zebra Books in 1985.  This was followed by two more from Zebra, Toys in the Attic and Night Caller in 1986 and ’87.  Gorman landed a deal with St. Martin’s for his next few novels, including The Forsaken (1988), The Babysitter (1989), and Nightmare Child (1990). His last two horror novels as Ransom were The Serpent’s Kiss and The Long Midnight, published by Dell in 1992 and ’93.  He later wrote a couple of science fiction novels as Daniel Ransom for DAW books in the mid-1990s.

Ed Gorman lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. An informative obituary appears on the Cedar Memorial site, and a nice tribute was published after his death in the local newspaper, The Gazette. He passed away on October 14, 2016 at the age of 74.

Many of these books were reissued as by Ed Gorman in new ebook editions. To view a complete list of Daniel Ransom books available on Amazon, click here.

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

Rick Hautala

RickHautala_authorphotoRick Hautala (February 3, 1949 – March 21, 2013) was an American horror author from Maine. He had over 30 books published in his lifetime. His debut novel Moondeath was released in 1980 by Zebra books. The cover bore a quote from Stephen King; according to Hautala’s obituary, he and King were classmates at the University of Maine in Orono, where Hautala earned a Master’s Degree in English Literature in 1974.

Hautala wrote 12 novels for Zebra throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including his 1986 million-copy bestseller Night Stone, which was the first novel to feature a holographic image on the cover, a gimmick Zebra used on several other horror novels during that time. He went on to co-author the five-book Body of Evidence series with Christopher Golden for Pocket Books, and wrote several books published by Berkley under the pen name A.J. Matthews from 2001 to 2007.  Hautala was also a prolific writer of short stories which appeared in many popular magazines and anthologies, including Cemetery Dance, Deathrealm, Stalkers, Masques IV, 999 and Night Visions 9 to name just a few. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Horror Writers Association in 2012. I had the pleasure of interviewing Rick Hautala in February 2013, focusing on his years writing for Zebra books; the interview was published in Cemetery Dance #72.

Many of Hautala’s books, including an autobiography, have been issued in electronic editions by Crossroads Press. Click here to see a list of what’s available.

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

Jack MacLane

MacLaneJack-CriderBill-authorphotoJack MacLane is a pseudonym of the American mystery author Bill Crider, who wrote five horror novels for Zebra Books in the horror hey-day. His first horror novel for Zebra was Keepers of the Beast, published in 1988. He followed up with four more novels including Goodnight Moom (1989), Blood Dreams (1989), Rest In Peace (1990), and Just Before Dark (1990).  They have been re-released in recent years by Crossroads Press in ebook editions.

Bill Crider is a prolific author with more than 50 novels to his credit, mostly mysteries.  His first novel, Too Late to Die, was published in 1986 and won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel. It also kicked off his popular Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, which runs to this day. The latest book in the series (as of this writing), Between the Living and the Dead, was released in hardcover by Minotaur Books in August 2015.

Crider is a noted book collector and scholar of noteworthy accomplishments. He earned a Masters Degree from the University of North Texas in Denton, and earned a Ph.D. from The University of Texas in Austin, writing his dissertation on the hardboiled detective novel. He taught English at Howard Payne University in Brownwood, Texas for 12 years, and then served as the Chairman of the Division of English and the Fine Arts at Alvin Community College. He currently lives in Alvin, Texas with his wife and their three cats. You can find his website here.

To browse the list of Jack MacLane titles currently available, click here.

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

William W. Johnstone

JohnstoneWilliam-authorphotoWilliam W. Johnstone (October 28, 1938 – February 8, 2004) was an American author of over 200 novels in many genres who met with early success in horror, but went on to become a bestselling author of men’s adventure and western series fiction. His 1980 novel The Devil’s Kiss launched his career as a full time writer.  He wrote more than 20 horror novels through the mid-1990s before refocusing his efforts on action/adventure series and westerns, eventually hitting the USA Today bestseller lists.

Johnstone’s life was as interesting as one of his novels. The bio on his official website says that he was “born in Southern Missouri, the youngest of four children. Raised with strong moral and family values by his minister father, and well-tutored by his school teacher mother, Bill quit school when he was fifteen. He was kicked out of the French Foreign Legion for being under age and joined the carnival. But still valuing his education, he returned home to finish his high school education in 1957. He went on to work as a deputy sheriff, did a hitch in the army, and began a career in radio broadcasting, where he worked daily on his verbal and storytelling skills for the next sixteen years on the air.”

It’s interesting from my perspective to see that Johnstone was raised with a strong moral background; in discussing his horror novels, I have a friend who categorizes his work as Protestant Horror, i.e. all the people who do bad stuff and mess with evil get their just desserts, and the good guys tend to come out okay in the end. In any event, these are some of my favorite 1980s Zebra horror covers. Alas, there are no artist credits given in the books.

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.

Ronald Kelly

KellyRonald_authorphotoRonald Kelly is an American horror author from Tennessee.  Kelly earned his stripes in some of the most celebrated small press magazines of the horror hey-day, including Grue, Noctulpa, Deathrealm, Thin Ice, 2AM, Eldtrich Tales, New Blood, and was one of the earliest contributing authors to Cemetery Dance magazine at its birth in 1988. The following year, he sold his first novel Hindsight to Zebra Books.  He enjoyed success as a horror author through the mid-1990s, his short fiction appearing in many major anthologies, with seven more novels released through Zebra/Pinnacle, before the company all but shut down its horror line in the late 1990s.  He took a hiatus from writing for a number of years, but returned to the genre with his special brand of Southern horror with the release of a short story collection, Midnight Grinding, and a new novel, Hell Hollow, published by Cemetery Dance Publications in 2009 and 2010.

To view a list of his novels and stories available in print and ebook formats, please click here.

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