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.