Date of birth: 6/28/61
Date of death: Pending
Place of debut: Waupun Memorial Hospital, Waupun Wisconsin
Hometown: Lamartine, Wisconsin
Current lair: Brownsville, Wisconsin
Espousal: Julie (send sympathies directly)
Minions: 2 cats, Siegfried the Dragonslayer (Ziggy) and Loki
Occupational chronology: clothing sales, newspaper circulation mgr, shoe sales, advertising dispatcher, advertising sales, classified advertising manager, freelance copywriter, Advertising Operations Manager, Real Estate Agent, Assistant Editor of The Horror Zine webzine
Looming over all of the above: Writer of Dark Fiction
Enjoy this sample from "Harm None," a short story which appears in Bell, Book & Beyond, published in 2000 by Design Image. Copyright 2000, Dean H. Wild.
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|Spook movies essay
Spook Movies and Monster Books -- An Autobiographical Essay
Where did it start -- this fascination with all things dark? What led me to put pen to paper and spell out tales of murder, insanity, depravity and the multitudinous shapes that evil can assume? The household I grew up in was located in the tiny town of Lamartine, Wisconsin. It was a place where weekend guests were frequent, where the nights grew late with crackling old record albums played loudly, where grocery store pizzas sweltered in midnight ovens and cheap beer (brought home in twin cases, upon which I was privileged to sit during the ride home from the liquor store) flowed from clanking brown bottles in an endless stream. Amid all this was the television, ever flashing, relentlessly yammering, becoming an unremarkable thread in the cacophenous tapestry that was home. But late night television in the late 1960's, when three network channels were the be all and say all of the broadcast world, had developed a quirky characteristic. One local affiliate or other would favor the witching hour, that magical breech between Saturday and Sunday, with the telecast of a worn, spliced and sometimes unintelligible horror film that was rarely intact and seldom shot in color. When these films came on- "spook movies" is what my mother used to call them -- I found myself drawn to the glowing tube in the corner of our living room, distracted from play with my visiting friends, to sit and witness the carnage offered there. I was young when it began, all of six years old, and I remember not weathering the emotional storms brought about by such spook movies very well in the beginning. It was a bittersweet fascination, wanting to watch but knowing it would become too unbearable for me. And then, on a rare, quiet Saturday night in early summer, my mother sat on the couch with me and we spent that particular witching hour watching Fredric March contort from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde and back again. We did not discuss, just watched while a midnight breeze carried scents of rain into the living room windows. When the film was done, I went off to bed not cringing or afraid, but even more fascinated than ever by the lurking shadows and echoing screams that the world of horror offered up.
That following Christmas I was given a gift that would change me forever -- a book. It was oversized with a glossy hard cover and it contained the stories of both Stoker's "Dracula" and Shelley's "Frankenstein." These versions were severely abbreviated, and illustrated in full color on every page, but it was then I realized I did not have to wait for Saturday night to get a taste of grim storytelling. Not when there were "monster books" (another of my mother's terms) in the world. Another gift that next summer -- a rummage sale typewriter- clinched the deal. At the age of seven I created my first written piece- the story of a phantom chasing a girl across ocean-swept rocks- which ran nearly a page and a half. Grisly Halloween costumes and Aurora monster models followed. My fascination continued to a point where adults began to wonder when I was going to outgrow "the monster thing." I heard them say it, and my answer, though unspoken, was- Never.
I began gobbling down vast amounts of fantasy and horror literature -- HG Wells, Jules Verne, Algernon Blackwood, Edgar Allan Poe. My spare time reflected what I read. I would present my own short stories to my grade school classes, reading my latest tale of terror aloud when the teachers would grant me the time. As the late seventies rolled around and my high school days found me no less entrenched in the grim and grisly, a friend acquainted me with the works of a increasingly popular fellow named Stephen King. New books were out there, I realized, written by new authors. And new authors had to come from somewhere. New authors could even come from Lamartine, Wisconsin, couldn't they?
I saw my first cash sale as a writer at the age of eighteen, when "Famous Monsters of Filmland" bought an article from me. Thank you, Forrest J. Ackerman. I will never forget the thrill of opening your envelope on that fine summer day. I still think of it when new envelopes come.
I have continued to write, always learning, always fine-tuning what I know, or think I know. There were years in a row where I sent none of my work out -- life has a wicked way of preoccupying us sometimes- but since this last century has turned, I have found a new drive and dedication to my craft. Shadows, it seems, loom just as long and large on moonlit nights as they ever did, and a scream will still carry well in the waiting air of the witching hour. I will never deny what an impact late night spook movies and all those monster books have made in my life. Their resonance has carried me into adulthood, into marriage and up to the brink of middle-age. The time to outgrow such things has either eluded me or passed without my notice, but I think I did well to have it pass me by. I have a lot of work ahead of me, and as long as blood rushes though my veins and the essence of Halloween drfits through my head, as long as my brain processes and fires and allows me the luxury of asking "what if", my pen will never stop doing the monster thing.
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