RIP The Scariest Guy in America: Jack Ketchum

RIP Dallas Mayr aka Jack Ketchum

I was deeply saddened to learn that Jack Ketchum passed away on the morning of January 24, 2018.  He left quite a legacy of real-life horror inspired by his deep humanity.  See below the conversation I had with him at Center for Fiction and more about his work.  He will be missed.

A Conversation With the Scariest Guy In America

NowWriteSFFHorIconLaurie Lamson, editor of the new Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror book of writing exercises, had a conversation at Center for Fiction in New York City on April 15, 2014 with one of the contributors:  Jack Ketchum.

You might think a true-life crime and horror speculative fiction author, who Stephen King has referred to as, “the scariest guy in America”, would be intimidating.  But meeting and speaking Laurie&Dallassmwith Jack Ketchum was quite the opposite.  He is a warm and caring person who uses his skill as a writer to exercise (and probably exorcise) his imagination, expose evil in the world and entertain audiences with a fascination for the darker side of life.

He was generous in sharing his insights about craft and answering a lot of thoughtful questions from the audience:

More about Jack Ketchum

JackKetchum-Copyright_Steve_Thornton
photo by Steve Thornton

Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym for novelist Dallas Mayr.   As a teenager, he was befriended by Robert Bloch (author of Psychowho became a mentor to him. He supported Ketchum’s work, just as his work was supported by his own mentor, H.P. Lovecraft. 

Before becoming a full-time writer, he worked as a private garbageman, a lumber salesman, a copywriter, editor of the paleontological magazine “Fossils,” and as a literary agent for Scott Meredith, Inc., where he served as agent for author Henry Miller. He also worked in off-off Broadway and summer stock as a reviewer, playwrite and director.

offseasonIn 1980, Jack Ketchum published his first novel Off Season, about a real-life family that lived in a cave and had a lifestyle of murder, cannibalism, and incest.  Mainstream reviewers hated it, but fans felt otherwise.

His next publication was Hide and Seek and more of his successful novels include She Wakes, Cover, Road Kill (aka Joyride), Only Child (aka Stranglehold), Ladies’ Night, and Triage (a collection of novellas) with fellow writers.  In 1990 he published Offspring, the sequel to Off Season.

TheCrossingsHe concentrates mainly on real-life monsters, but also writes otherworldly and surreal stuff, like a dark Western novella The Crossings, and “The Haunt”, a short supernatural tale.

So far, Jack has won the Bram Stoker Award for his short stories “The Box” and “Gone”, and his collections Closing Time and Peaceable Kingdom.

thelostSome of his most powerful novels have been turned into films: RED, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, THE LOST, THE WOMAN, OFF SPRING.

Two short stories were made into short films: “Mail Order” and “Olivia”.  By the way, you can hear Jack read an excerpt from “Olivia”.  He also wrote a book that is auto- and biographical of influential people in his life called Book of Souls.

Celebrating Susan Vreeland 

The life of New York Times best-selling author and Now Write! Fiction contributor Susan Vreeland will be celebrated this week in San Diego (see details below.)

Susan Vreeland is the internationally-known author of art-related historical fiction and four of her books are New York Times best-sellers.

Lisette’s List presents one woman’s yearning for art at a time when her family’s collection of paintings had to be hidden in the south of France from Nazi art thieves.

Clara and Mr. Tiffany reveals the talented woman who conceived of and designed the well-loved Tiffany leaded glass lamps.

Luncheon of the Boating Party depicts Renoir’s masterpiece, the personalities involved in its making, and the joie de vivre of late nineteenth century Paris.

Life Studies is a collection of stories of Impressionist painters told by people who knew them, as well as contemporary individuals encountering art in meaningful ways.

Girl in Hyacinth Blue traces an alleged Vermeer painting through the centuries.

The Passion of Artemisia illuminates Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi.

The Forest Lover follows rebel British Columbia painter Emily Carr in her encounters with native peoples and cultures.

What Love Sees tells the love story of a blind couple who refuse to accept limitations.

Four of these books have been winners of the Theodor Geisel Award, the highest honor given by the San Diego Book Awards.

All are welcome this Thursday, September 21, 12:30PM at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park, San Diego.