Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Horrors! I'm a Horror Writer. (Not Horrible -- Horror, Horror!)

The grouping on the left was sold on eBay a few years back for $1,800, meaning each issue was $100. That is a pretty good markup for magazines that had a newsstand price of $.75 when originally published in the 1970s. It was listed as "The Stephen King Collection", because it contained some of Stephen King's earlier stories. Mr. King had exactly twice as many stories within these volumes as yours truly. I wonder if it would have added value as the "Stephen King and Larry Eugene Meredith Collection"?

Probably not.

I seem to be garnering fame on the coattails of more famous authors, Stephen King, Agatha Christie, Robert Block, Nero Wolfe and Clark Ashton Smith. My name has more recently been popping up on its own. For instance the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, where I am an entry along with 70,966 other writers of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. Plus my short story "Conjured" ("Startling Mystery Stories", March 1971) was mentioned in a book examining the horror comics and pulps of the 1960s and 1970s, World of Eerie Publications (2010, Feral House) by Mike Howlett.

I got a complete two-page synopsis review of my short story, "The Last letter of Norman Underwood" in Brien J. Frost's, Essential Guide to
Werewolf Literature (2004, University of Wisconsin Press). It is nice to be elevated to the level of "Literature".

This variation on the werewolf tale of mine originally appeared in "Magazine of Horror" in January 1969, nearly 11 years after I had written it at age 16 and it was the first horror story I sold, unless one considers my anti-Vietnam War "Poem to the Boys on the Flat" a horror story as well, which was published in "Psychedelphia Period" in 1968. "The Last letter of Norman Underwood" was also published in a Spanish anthology in 1968, La Chica de Marte y Otros Relatos (The Mars Girl and Other Stories, Gemini, 1968) with the title "La ultimo carta de Norman underwood".

A story I sold to "Magazine of Horror" in 1969 (published January 1970), "The Writings of Elwin Adams", also showed up in an European anthology a few years after publication in the United States. In this case the book was published in France, 13 Histoires  D'Objets Malefique (Marabout, 1975, Andre Gerard - Editor).

Now as a matter of fact, horror stories make up a small portion of all my writing, both published or unpublished. Even among my fiction they are less than a quarter. So how did I get branded as a horror writer?

Well, duh, for bringing it up so much myself, like in the first half of this essay. Honestly as a teenager it was all I aspired to. Yes, my highest ambition was to be a hack pulp writer, which I suppose I accomplished. It is easy to step over a bar set low enough, but the real challenge in life is to set a bar you have to reach up for and pull yourself over.

I didn't write strictly terror tales then either, but most were and the others tended to be about juvenile delinquents or guys with hot rods. But still, how did this innocent, Christian lad get hooked on this darker fiction in the first place?

Partly it was a story we read in our fourth grade class at East Ward Elementary School. It was Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart". That is the first story I can remember really gripping and intriguing me. It drove me to the library looking for more Poe, but I failed in my effort for I was restricted to the Children's Room and Poe was considered too adult, too upsetting for a nine-year-old.

Somewhere about that same time I saw a dramatized version of Poe's "The Gold Bug" on TV and this
whet my appetite even more, although "The Gold Bug" isn't a horror story per se. I did manage to get a paperback of some of Poe's stories and when I got a bit older I badgered my family for more. My grandmother found me a ten volume set, The Richmond Edition, The Woks of Edgar Allen Poe, published in 1904. Volume six was missing. I still have them, so they are now 110 years old. It appears volume eight has also went missing. Volume Ten's cover has really faded and that was a favored volume. It contained all of Poe's verse, which turned me on to poetry.

My friend, Stuart Meisel gave me a paperback that he assured would scare me. It was The Lurking Fear, a collection of short stories by H. P. Lovecraft, and it did scare me, but it also inspired me.

But I think there was more to my choice of content then just Poe and Lovecraft, plus the Universal monster movies recycling through our local theater at the time. I think much had to do with the monsters lurking in my own life, the bullying and abuse I faced most days at school, the fear of my father and the times of loneliness. I suffered from nightmares nightly.

Creating supernatural menace put me in charge of the demons and allowed me a world I controlled. Perhaps the demons within, those desiring vengeance on my tormentors, had an outlet not in some violence against anyone real, but in a bizarre world where vampire and werewolves and other outer-worldly creatures recked havoc on fictitious surrogates for my enemies.

Either become a writer or a serial killer; I think I made the right choice.

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