June 6, 2023

Rest In Peace A.R. Morlan (1958-2016)

Author A.R. Morlan was found deceased in her home in Ladysmith, Wisconsin on January 6, 2016. Authorities responded to a call after a former editor received a package of her back catalog with a cryptic, barely-legible hand-written message, which caused concern based on what she knew of the author’s recent troubles. Morlan had died of apparent suicide. She was 58.

Ana Rose Morlan (born Arlette Renée) was known to have financial and family troubles over the years. An obituary in Locus mag online notes that she was frank about her troubles in a 2014 online interview with Nightmare Magazine celebrating Women in Horror. Morlan told the zine:

“The past few years have been very traumatic personally; I’ve had problems with my mother ever since her mother passed in 1999, and a few years ago she moved out, and right after that my father and his family “found” me after losing touch with me for fifty years (it turns out I’d been kidnapped after my mother lost custody of me; rather than turn me over to my father, she and her mother took me out of state, halfway across the country, and he wasn’t able to find me), which created a great deal of stress and unhappiness for me; finding out that I should’ve had another type of life rather than the constant abuse and neglect which I did end up enduring was quite an emotional shock to me. And when my father and his relatives told me that my accounts of what had happened to me were upsetting them—and subsequently ordered me to never mention any of it to them!—I ended up spending several years mired in a PTSD haze, until I finally decided to sever all contact with him and them earlier this year.” The entire interview can be read here.

The condition of her home and the circumstances surrounding her death paint a tragic picture of the last few years of her life. When she was discovered, Morlan’s home was found to contain “200 dead cats, 30 live cats and mounds of refuse.” The online version of the Wisconsin-based Leader-Telegram also reported that she had been charged with misusing her mother’s Social Security funds, and that her elderly mother, for whom she’d been caring, reportedly left the residence with unknown parties in 2011 and has been missing ever since. Cecilia Tan, the editor noted above, claims in a blog post mourning Morlan’s death that the writer’s life was mostly an enigma to her, but that the correspondence she did receive indicated the woman had her troubles but loved her cats and, of course, that she was a writer dedicated to her craft.

Morlan got her start as a professional author in 1985 with stories published in The Twilight Zone’s Night Cry digest and The Horror Show magazine. She was the author of many books, including the horror novels Dark Journey and The Amulet, published by Bantam in 1991. She was a prolific writer, with novels and collections re-released by Wildside Press, and spent many of her latter years writing erotica under the name Renee M. Charles.

Christopher Fulbright

Christopher Fulbright is the author of short stories, novellas, and full-length novels of fantasy and horror. His short stories have appeared in many venues--webzines, magazines, and anthologies--since 1993. Fulbright received the Richard Laymon President's Award in 2008 from the HWA, and his short stories have received honorable mentions in "The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror" and "Best Horror of the Year." He is a former journalist turned technical writer, an unrepentant horror fan, and owner/webmaster of Realms of Night.

View all posts by Christopher Fulbright →

4 thoughts on “Rest In Peace A.R. Morlan (1958-2016)

  1. I’m just now learning of Ana’s passing after doing a web search on a whim. Many years ago Ana was my teacher and mentor. Although I never met her in person we corresponded regularly when I was learning to write fiction for publication. Ana helped me get my first two stories published and gave me a solid foundation in what it took to get published in those pre-Internet days. I regret not keeping in touch over the years. I knew she had an unhappy childhood, but not to this extent. Thank you for remembering her in your blog.

  2. I went to high school with Arlette in the 1970’s, and until recently, I had no idea she was famous for anything other than killing her mother, disposing of the corpse, then just as she was about to be​ arrested for murder, killing herself..

    This is NOT someone who should be honored and revered… This was a deeply mentally disturbed woman who terrorized her neighbors, and had a long history of erratic and criminal behavior…

    1. Hi Thomas – I’m thinking of writing a short story about her, fictionalized of course, and was wondering if you could share some details about how she terrorized her neighbors.

  3. Like Randy above, I corresponded with Ana. She was my mentor and teacher for a short story course I took in the late 1990s. I just now learned of her passing & the circumstances of her final years. I knew she was troubled & suffered from depression but not to this extent. I also wish I had stayed in touch with her. Whatever she did or did not do, she offered positive feedback and encouragement to myself and other writers and has left an impressive body of work. She deserves to be remembered for the best that she did. Don’t we all?

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