Fiends & The 50th Anniversary The Beatles Sgt. Pepper Album

50th Anniversary The Beatles Sgt. Pepper Album & Horror
By Michael McCarty

Because it is the 50th Anniversary of the release of The Beatles revelatory album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band”

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
By The Beatles

Everybody is jumping on the bandwagon to pay homage or do a parody of the most famous cover artwork in rock n roll. I, Michael McCarty would not stoop that low, just to get a sale of one of my books…

Okay, actually I did… several years ago with my short story collection:

By Michael McCarty

Published by Wildside Press

My very good friend and frequent collaborator Mark McLaughlin did an excellent job reproducing The Fab Four as Monsters: Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Wolfman and Dracula and the fifth member … me.
(The skeletons in the background Mr. Bones & Mrs. Bones are also on the cover of DARK DUETS, which Mark also did the cover for)


A Little Help From My Fiends by Michael McCarty

The short story collection is one of my favorites too. There are two Beatle themed stories in the book: “When We Was Flab” (co-written with Mark McLaughlin) and “Sgt. Pager & The Killer Robot Band” (co-written with my wife, Cindy McCarty).

The story “The Substitute” inspired THE BLOODLESS series (that trilogy of novels, co-written with Jody R. LaGreca).

There are 20 stories in A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FIENDS and all of them are excellent, written when I was at the top of my game writing shorter fiction.

When the book first came out, Fangoria website, did an online interview with me and the sales soared. Thank you Fangoria.

I even received this nice review:

“Michael McCarty’s ‘A Little Help from My Fiends’ truly shines. His collection of short stories is a lovingly created, watered with blood and harvested at the peak of ripeness kind of work. The approach to the collection is so fresh that — were it a steak — you would note still a bit of warmth and even a faint pulse. You see, each story in this collection is co-authored with another excellent storyteller. Mark McLaughlin, Terrie Leigh Relf and Dave Miller, to name a few, make appearances. Each short story is prefaced with a few words that identify the co-author, point to an interesting tidbit of the tale’s creation, and never fail to show McCarty lauding the co-author while remaining modestly in the background.” — Sylvia Cochran

Over the years, the book has ended up in some strange places:


Scary … you will buy A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FIENDS … LOL



Links to my other Beatles Blog:
Hello Goodbye Interview With Alistair Taylor

Sir Paul McCartney and Alistair Taylor back stage

Peace and Love!!! I hope you enjoyed this blog!!!

So please check out this quirky collection A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FIENDS…. links below



(Amazon Trade Paperback)

(Barnes & Noble Trade Paperback)


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R.I.P. George Romero

George Romero and friends … or is that fiends?

George A. Romero (February 4, 1940 – July 16, 2017) was an American-Canadian filmmaker, writer and editor, best known for his series of gruesome and satirical horror films about an imagined zombie apocalypse, beginning with Night of the Living Dead (1968), which is often considered a progenitor of the fictional zombie of modern culture. Other films in the series include Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Day of the Dead (1985), Land of the Dead (2005), Diary of the Dead (2007) and Survivial of the Dead (2009). Aside from the Dead series, his works include The Crazies (1973), Martin (1978), Creepshow (1982), Monkey Shines (1988), The Dark Half (1993) and Bruiser (2000). He also created and executive produced the television series Tales from the Darkside (1983–1988).

Romero is often noted as an influential pioneer of the horror film genre, and has been called an “icon” and the “Father of the Zombie Film

The Day I ALMOST interviewed George Romero
By Michael McCarty

I came very, very close to interviewing George Romero. I was scheduled to talk to him, but his PR guy, mixed up the times (he was on West Coast time and I’m on Central time)…. so all I got was George calling my answering machine saying, “Mike… are you there?”

(I included the interviews below the MODERN MYTHMAKERS links)

However, Mark McLaughlin and I did interview several of the cast and crew of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD for my mega book of interviews:


Kyra Schon who played the little girl in the movie

John Russo who co-written the script and produced the movie

Russell Streiner who played Johnny in the movie and also produced it

All these interviews and more are in MODERN MYTHMAKERS … right now, the ebook and nook are only .99 cents. Links are below:



By Michael McCarty & Mark McLaughlin

1) How much of the zombie behavior in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was mapped out in advance? Did you establish what behaviors zombies could or could not do?

2) In LAND OF THE DEAD the zombie Big Daddy, among others, exhibits learned behavior – for example – they get used to fireworks. Is that showing the zombies are learning, evolving or doing something else?

3) Tell us about the souped-up Dead Reckoning truck. Where did you get the idea for that?

4) There are no CGI effects in LAND OF THE DEAD. Was this an artistic or financial decision?

5) The world of LAND OF THE DEAD shows a big divide between the privileged and the downtrodden – the haves and the have nots. Do you think the United States is leading toward that direction?

6) DAY OF THE DEAD came out in 1985 and LAND OF THE DEAD came out in 2005. Why did it take two decades to do the fourth installment of the living dead series?

7) The zombies in your living dead series are of the slow moving variety. The zombies in 28 DAYS LATER, the remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and RESIDENT EVIL are much more quicker. Any thoughts on why those other zombies operate in a faster pace?

8) What was it like to work with Dennis Hopper? Was he a fan of your zombie movies? Dennis is very conservative, while your more liberal. Any political debates on the set?

9) With each successive living dead movie, the female roles seem more active and determined. Was that a conscious decision, or just the way it worked out?

10) These days, low-budget, direct-to-video zombie movies are popping up like mushrooms in a forest after a rainstorm. Does that help or hurt sales and the reputation of your living dead movies?

11) Some of the low-budget zombies pay homage – or actually lift elements from your living dead movies. How do you feel about that – flattered or frustrated?

12) Many of your movies have had run-in with the ratings board, the MPAA. Are they doing their job or protecting the public or are they stifling your artistry?

13) What is the symbolic significance of the featureless white mask in BRUISER?

14) The ending of MARTIN seems to cry out for a follow up. Were you ever tempted to do a sequel?

15) Hollywood remade DAWN OF THE DEAD and DAY OF THE DEAD and is remaking THE CRAZIES. Do you think a remake of MARTIN will take place? Would you dive that project a thumbs-up?

16) Tom Savini was supposed to do the special effects for the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD film, but he was drafted and went to Vietnam. How would the movie been different if he’d done the special effects?

17) MONKEYSHINES was your only movie with an animal main character. How’d you like working with a monkey? How well did the monkey take directions?

18) What was your favorite story in CREEPSHOWS?

19) You’ve directed movies based on Stephen Kings’ works, like CREEPSHOW and THE DARK HALF. Are there any other Stephen King stories or novels you’d like to turn into a movie?

20) Last words?

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Andy Warhol Lives in New Vampire Novel

IA/IL QUAD-CITIES – Quad-Cities author Michael McCarty and his collaborator, New York author Jody LaGreca, have finished their Bloodless trilogy of vampire novels by featuring avant-garde artist Andy Warhol as a character in the final book.

(Photos of Jody LaGreca & Michael McCarty)

McCarty will be selling and autographing all three Bloodless novels at the Quad Cities Planet Comic & Arts Convention at the Holiday Inn in Rock Island, Illinois 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 29.

“The three Bloodless novels – Bloodless, Bloodlust, and the new one, Bloodline – all tell the tale of a 100-year-old vampire,” said McCarty. “Since he’s been around for so long, Jody and I thought the vampire would have encountered famous people and events. In Bloodless, the vampire survives both the sinking of the Lusitania and the explosion of the Hindenburg. In Bloodlust, we learn about the factors that led to Marilyn Monroe’s untimely demise. In Bloodline, eccentric artist Andy Warhol befriends the vampire.” Bloodless, Bloodlust and Bloodline are published by Simon & Schuster as ebooks and as trade paperbacks by CreateSpace.

Last year, McCarty released a different vampire collaboration, Dracula Transformed & Other Bloodthirsty Tales, with co-author Mark McLaughlin, with whom McCarty also co-wrote the novel, Monster Behind The Wheel. “The public’s fascination with vampire fiction has endured because vampires represent a lifestyle of fantasy-fulfillment,” McLaughlin said. “Vampire characters ignore society’s rules – and from time to time, all people wish they could do that. Vampire stories present a harmless and entertaining vicarious experience.”

LaGreca noted that years ago, she spent her leisure time at the same nightclub as Andy Warhol. “I used to go to Max’s Kansas City in New York City, where Andy Warhol hung out,” she said. “I could have easily met him back in the day, since we frequently crossed paths at Max’s and were often face to face. Back then, I used to spend my summers tanning on the beach, so I thought Warhol was shockingly pale and living on the fringe. As an artist, he was ahead of his time and beyond amazing.”

(All three ebooks: Bloodless, Bloodlust & Bloodline)

Like McCarty, the cover model for Bloodline is also from the Quad Cities – actress and comedian Nikki Gillette. “When I worked at Augustana College,” Mr. McCarty said, “my wife Cindy and I knew Nikki. I thought it would be cool to have Nikki be on a horror book cover. I told Nikki, she’s both a cover girl and a cover ghoul.”

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Summer Reading (Top 10 List)

“Summer turns me upside down. Summer summer summer. It’s like a merry go round” – The Cars.

Top 10 Picks

Summer: BBQs, Bikinis and Books … yes books. The temperatures get hot enough to melt Vincent Price’s wax face …

This time of the year you need books that are as hot as the temperature outside. And if you are looking for some recommendations of Michael McCarty books to read for your summertime pleasure, here is my Top 10 Books for the summer.

1) MODERN MYTHMAKERS: 35 Interviews with Horror and Science Fiction Writers by Michael McCarty (Crystal
Lake Publishing) Interviews with Ray Bradbury, Dean Koontz, Elvira, cast & crew from the Night of the Dead film, Joe McKinney, John Saul, Linnea Quigley, Christopher Moore and more.

2) DRACULA TRANSFORMED & OTHER BLOODTHIRSTY TALES by Mark McLaughlin & Michael McCarty (Wildside Press)
Two novellas: Lucy Transformed & the title story Dracula Transformed and nine short stories about Dracula and vampires. Some are scary. Some are funny. All of them are entertaining.

3) BLOODLESS by Michael McCarty and Jody LaGreca (Whiskey Creek Press) (CreateSpace)
A 100-year old vampire survives both the Lusitania and Hindenburg disasters but can he survive raising a family too?

4) BLOODLUST by Jody R. LaGreca and Michael McCarty (Whiskey Creek Press) (CreateSpace)
We learn about the factors that led to Marilyn Monroe’s untimely demise and the vampire’s connection to it all.

5) BLOODLINE by Michael McCarty and Jody LaGreca (Whiskey Creek Press)
The final book to the Bloodless trilogy has the vampire befriending eccentric pop artist Andy Warhol.

Bloodless Series


This YA book is about the horny Mayor’s son who tries to score every chance he gets, but fights monsters instead

Fiends 3

7.) LIQUID DIET & MIDNIGHT SNACK by Michael McCarty (Whiskey Creek Press) (CreateSpace)

My first solo novel about a vampire doing an interview on an all-night gothic radio show: with callers, ads and some listeners who aren’t happy about a bloodsucker on the airwaves

Liquid Diet

8) A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FIENDS by Michael McCarty (Wildside Press)
A terrific short story collection with Beatles robots, vampires, zombies, invisible scientists … you will love it


9) MONSTER BEHIND THE WHEEL by Michael McCarty & Mark McLaughlin (Medallion Press)
A haunted car novel with zombies… scary, sexy and some dark humor too

10) FEAR & DESIRE by S.A. Gambino & Michael McCarty (Wilder Publications)

Adult themed poems to send shivers down the spine and warm the heart

The books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble …. etc etc etc. Below are the links for Amazon










(Trade Paperback)






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Richard Laymon and His Vampire Legacy

Richard Laymon and His Vampire Legacy
By Michael McCarty

Backstory: Just a few weeks before his untimely death, I had phoned Richard Laymon about doing an interview. The focus of the interview was going to be on his vampire books. I said something like: “It will be an up-close, in-depth look at all three of your vampire books.”
Dick chuckled and said, “Actually I wrote four. The first one was a young adult book that is no longer in print. But I wouldn’t want that title to appear in the interview.”
On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2001, Richard Laymon passed away. It was a tremendous lost to the horror community. He was a gentleman and a master writer of horror and humor.
This special report is my tribute to Laymon. Since we weren’t able to do that fateful interview, his books will do the talking. The books that make up Laymon’s vampire legacy – The Stake, Bite and The Traveling Vampire Show – are all still available in print and are well worth seeking out, as you’ll soon learn….

(The late, great Richard Laymon)

The Stake
by Richard Laymon

Publishing history:
Headline Books (UK), 6/13/1991, ISBN: 074723481, 6.99 pounds (paperback).
Zebra Books (US), 4/1995, out of print.
Pinnacle Books (US), 5/2000, ISBN: 0-7860-1258-7, $5.99, 507 pgs.

The review:
His name is Lawrence Dunbar. He is a writer of horror fiction, the author of such spooky books as Dead of Night, Cut, The Beast, Madhouse, and fourteen other thrillers. He is making a comfortable living writing fiction because he is selling his books in both the United States and England.
The Stake starts out with Larry and his wife Jean going on a day trip with their friends Pete and Barbara to the ghost town of Sagebrush Flat, California.
In this abandoned town, the two couples find, tucked away in the shadows of a hotel, the mummified corpse of a young woman. She has a stake buried in her chest – or as Larry would write in his account of the story:
“Somebody hammered a pointed shaft of wood through the heart of a woman. He left her inside a lidless coffin, and hid her corpse beneath the stairway of an abandon hotel in the town of Sagebrush Flat.”
Larry gets dragged by the throat into a ghoulish mystery. Is this young lady a real vampire, finally stopped by a vampire-hunter – or the unfortunate victim of a crazed, deluded killer?
There is only one way to find out for sure, and that is for Larry to pull out the stake.

Interesting real-life tidbits:
There is little doubt that Richard Laymon based Lawrence Dunbar on himself. Like Dunbar, he was writing books in the U.S. and the U.K. (at the time of the printing, his books were doing better overseas then in his own country).
Having met his wife Ann and his daughter Kelly, I would say they are both very similar to the fictional characters, Jean and Lane.
Plus, I have it on good authority that Pete and Barbara are based on friends of the Laymons who would go on trips with them.
I strongly suspect that he chose the name of Barbara, just so he could make a reference to Night of the Living Dead – no proof, just a very strong hunch.
Laymon told me on the phone that he was trying to get Leisure to re-release the book, but Zebra Books still had a contract with the novel. It was re-released instead through Pinnacle Books (a Kensington Publishing company that also owns Zebra Books) and it did very well.

Ranting and raving:
The Stake was one of Laymon’s personal favorites – he mentioned it in numerous interviews as such. I imagine he wrote the book standing up because he was so inspired, so super-charged with the concept, he didn’t want to waste valuable seconds by taking the time to sit down.

Mike’s blurb:
The Stake is Richard Laymon’s biggest and boldest vampire adventure. Don’t make the mis-stake (I know, bad pun) of not reading it.

by Richard Laymon

Publishing history:
Headline (UK), 5/8/97, ISBN: 0747251010, 6.99 pounds.
Leisure Books (US), 6/1999, ISBN: 0-8439-4550-8, $5.50, 378 pgs.

The Review:
Bite was easily one of the best horror novels of 1999. The story begins when the protagonist, Sam, gets a late-night visit from his former girlfriend Cat, who he hasn’t seen in ten years. She comes knocking at his door wearing only a silk robe.
It turns out that Cat is being victimized by a vampire named Elliot, and she wants Sam to hide in her closet with a stake and destroy him.
Sam sums up his own predicament: “Things had started fairly simple: weird but simple. I was supposed to ambush Cat’s vampire and kill it.”
Killing the vampire is the least of their worries. When they try to find a place to bury the stiff in the desert, they run into a psycho biker named Snow White.
The rest of the book is a comedy of errors and terrors.

Interesting real-life tidbits:
Don D’Auria, Leisure Books senior editor of horror and westerns, said this to me about Laymon and the book at the 2000 World Horror Convention:
“I was really thrilled to be able to publish Dick. I loved his stuff and always have. I was one of those people buying his imports (from England, Australia and New Zealand) over the Internet.
“He’s a brilliant writer who couldn’t get a break from the New York publishers just because he was writing horror.
“The first book we did with him, Bite, was one of our top sellers ever. He just needed somebody to publish him in America.”

Ranting and raving:
This book has great comical barbs and a reader-friendly, conversational narrative. Throw in a plot that twists and turns like a chiropractor’s nightmare and you have one weird and wild adventure.

Mike’s blurb:
I loved every page of it. Californian Laymon is a hot writer in England, Australia and New Zealand, and after Bite he finally got some long overdue attention in America.
Bite has bite – buy it!

The Traveling Vampire Show
by Richard Laymon

Publishing history:
Headline (UK), 6/1/2000 (hardback), 12/7/2000 (paperback), 17.99 pounds (hardback), 6.99 pounds (paperback), ISBN: 0747220522.
Cemetery Dance Publications (US), unsigned second edition with artwork by Alan M. Clark, ISBN: 1587670003, $40 (hardcover).
Leisure Books (US), 3/2001, ISBN: 0-8439-4850-7, $5.99, 391 pgs.

The review:
Come and see – the one and only known VAMPIRE in captivity!
Gorgeous! Beguiling! Lethal!

So starts the text of a flyer tacked to power poles and trees all over the rural town of Grandville. It’s a hot August morning in 1963, and with this sexy, scary announcement of a one-night-only, adults-only event outside of town, things are starting to get hotter.
For three teenage friends, this is definitely a performance that cannot be missed. Although they’re underage, and the show is at midnight (they have a curfew), the teen pals are determined to attend at any cost.
The rest of the day, night and book revolve around the trio’s adventures and discoveries. As midnight approaches, so does the terror.

Interesting real-life tidbits:
Laymon re-read Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes and Stephen King’s novella The Body, just to make sure his story would not be too much like theirs.

Ranting and raving:
Take Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, Stephen King’s The Body (which was turned into the movie, Stand by Me), Robert McCammon’s Boy’s Life, Dan Simmons’ Summer of Night, and the movie Matinee – then throw in plenty of horny adolescent fantasies (these are teenagers, after all – that’s what’s on their minds all the time) and a generous sprinkling of humor and nostalgia (à la the early Sixties).
Toss all that into a high-speed blender and grind it together and you’ll end up with a macabre masterpiece like this. Richard Laymon won a posthumous Bram Stoker Award for this book.

Mike’s blurb:
This is a coming-of-age story with fangs – another vampire masterpiece by Richard Laymon.

Leisure Books:
Cemetery Dance:

If you like this blog … please … please…. PLEASE …. check out my book I KISSED A GHOUL, which is a tribute, to the late, great Richard Laymond

(The original cover for I KISSED A GHOUL)


(The new cover for I KISSED A GHOUL)

(Larry Nadolsky’s tribute to I KISSED A GHOUL … hopefully, someday a graphic novel — if any publisher is interested)




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Richard Matheson At The Movies

Richard Matheson At The Movies
Fifty Years of Richard Matheson Films: A Critical Overview


By Michael McCarty

Richard Matheson’s name is synonymous with classic creepy cinema and television, including masterpieces for The Twilight Zone and for TV movies produced by Dan Curtis, such as The Night Stalker, Trilogy of Terror, and the early Steven Spielberg vehicle, Duel. Also, Matheson has written a number of screenplays based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Here are some of the best Matheson movies based on his own books for the last fifty years:

(Richard Matheson)

The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
Just a year after the publication of The Shrinking Man, Matheson wrote the screenplay from his own book. The script turned giant-monster movies of the 1950s (The Amazing Colossal Man, Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, and numerous behemoth bug flicks) on their heads. Scott Carey (played by Grant Williams) is a victim of the effects of silvery flakes of atomic radiation. As he begins to shrink smaller and smaller, his new size causes everyday objects to take on sinister meaning, and he must fight for his life in an increasingly hostile world.
The movie was directed by Jack Arnold, who did such great genre films as It Came from Outer Space, Tarantula, and Creature from the Black Lagoon, with special effects by Clifford Stine. This is a philosophical thriller and a timeless science-fiction classic.

The Omega Man

The Last Man on Earth (1964), The Omega Man (1971), I am Legend (2007)
The Last Man on Earth is the first adaptation of I am Legend – without the use of Matheson’s own screenplay. Hammer Films originally purchased the rights to the novel and hired the author to work on the screenplay. However, the British censor’s office let it be known the movie would be banned in England. Hammer stopped the project.
Besides Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire, Matheson’s novella I am Legend is one of the most intriguing, imaginative, and influential vampire stories ever written (George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was inspired by the work).
Vincent Price is the sole survivor of a mysterious plague that has turned the rest of the planet’s population into vampires. After sunset, he barricades himself against the bloodsuckers that surround his home. During the day he gathers garlic, makes stakes, and destroys vampires.
Price was perfect for the role. I especially enjoy the scenes with him playing loud jazz music and drinking plenty of alcohol to drown out the noise of the vampires trying to break in. His past, however, still plagues him. It’s a creepy, atmospheric thriller that works despite its low budget. The best moments occur when Price is just driving along dismal streets cluttered with the dead.
The Last Man on Earth is recommended, but more recommended is Matheson’s novella. In 1971, the film was remade with a bigger budget and in color as The Omega Man with Charlton Heston, but the movie was even further away from Matheson’s material.
The third adaptation of I am Legend has more of a budget than The Last Man on Earth and The Omega Man combined. Will Smith plays humanity’s sole survivor in an isolated New York City battling the infected, who are more like the zombies in 30 Days Later or 30 Months Later than the vampires in the other two films.
The beginning is sort of a rip-off of 12 Monkeys. In a post-apocalyptic America, lions are roaming freely in New York City. The movie does get better from that point. Will Smith does an incredible job, the special effects are outstanding and at the heart of the film, this version’s background is probably the closest to the actual story. But even so, I am Legend, the Richard Matheson novella, is still the best of the bunch.

The Legend of Hell House (1975)
A multi-millionaire hires a team of scientists and mediums to investigate his newly acquired haunted mansion. The creepy homestead has been the site of several grisly deaths and may hold clues to the secrets of the afterlife. Pamela Franklin, Roddy McDowall, Clive Revill, and Gayle Hunnicutt play the investigators who roam the dire dwelling and battle various manifestations (some great special effects by Roy Whybrow) emanating from–
Oops! Almost gave away the surprise ending!
Matheson wrote the screenplay from his novel Hell House, a suspenseful supernatural screamfest. Make plenty of popcorn if you rent this video.

Somewhere in Time (1980)
Christopher Reeves (in his first post-Clark Kent role) plays a playwright who falls in love with a beautiful woman – the lovely Jane Seymour – depicted in an old portrait. Through self-hypnosis, he goes back in time to 1912 to discover what their relationship might have been.
A romantic science-fiction tale, Somewhere in Time actually made a star of a building – the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island in Lake Michigan, where the movie was shot. This highly atmospheric tearjerker is based on Richard Matheson’s novel, Bid Time Return.

What Dreams May Come (1998)
Oscar-winner Robin Williams does a brilliant job in this dazzling special effects-laden fantasy about how love can survive death, and how Heaven and Hell can’t stop true romance. Cuba Gooding, Jr. also does a remarkable job in his supporting role. The special effects are mind-blowing, sometimes overshadowing this classic story. The title is a William Shakespeare reference (Hamlet, Act 3, scene 1). Overall, a class act worth checking out.

Stir of Echoes

Stir of Echoes (1999)
Kevin Bacon plays a blue-collar man in Chicago. After being hypnotized at a neighborhood party, he sees things he can’t explain and hears voices he can’t ignore. Echoes of past crimes haunt his mind. He plunges into a shattering encounter with a dead girl, and his world is never the same again.
The film was eclipsed by the success of The Sixth Sense, which was released about the same time. Stir of Echoes is the creepier of the two. It is a chilling classic based on Matheson’s novel, A Stir of Echoes.

Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, William F. Nolan, Dan Curtis, Elvira, Forry Ackerman and many more are interviewed in MODERN MYTHMAKERS: 35 Interviews With Horror Writers & Filmmakers
Barnes & Nook:

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Interview With Alan Dean Foster

I’ve done several interviews with Alan Dean Fosters over the years for my books: Giants of The Genre, More Giants of the Genre, the first edition to Modern Mythmakers and Esoteria-Land.

I am excited and honored that Alan Dean Foster wrote the introduction to Modern Mythmakers. (Link at the bottom of the page.)

I’m reprinting the Estoeria-Land interview since the book is now out of print. Enjoy….

The Approaching Storm:
Science-Fiction Master Alan Dean Foster

By Michael McCarty

2008 marked Alan Dean Foster’s fortieth anniversary as a professional writer. He has written in a variety of genres including science-fiction, fantasy, horror, detective, western, historical, and contemporary fiction. He is the author of the New York Times best-seller Star Wars: The Approaching Storm and the popular Flinx & Pip novels, as well as novelizations of several movies, including Star Wars, the first three Alien movies, The Black Hole, Alien Nation, The Chronicles of Riddick, and Transformers.
His novel, Cyber Way, won the Southwest Book Award for Fiction in 1990 – the first science-fiction work ever to do so. His novel, Shadowkeep, was the first-ever book adaptation of an original computer game. In addition to publication in English, his books have been translated into more than fifty languages and won awards in Spain and Russia.
The science-fiction writer is also an adventurer, having camped in French Polynesia and traveled to exotic spots in Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa. He has roughed it in the “Green Hell” region of the Southeastern Peruvian jungle, ridden forty-foot great white sharks in the remote waters off Western Australia, explored New Mexico’s LeChugilla Cave, and white-water-rafted the length of the Zambezi’s Batoka Gorge.
Foster and his wife, JoAnn Oxley, reside in Prescott, Arizona, in a brick house that was salvaged from a turn-of-the-century miners’ brothel. He is presently at work on several new novels and various media projects, including the upcoming release of the short-story collection Exceptions to Reality and Quofum, a Commonwealth book.
You can visit his website at

The Monkey Man... Alan Dean Foster and friend

The Monkey Man… Alan Dean Foster and friend

MICHAEL McCARTY: Your writing career began when August Derleth of Arkham House bought a long Lovecraftian letter of yours in 1968 and published it in the magazine, The Arkham Collector. How did you go from that to becoming a science-fiction novelist? And what do you think H.P. Lovecraft would make of modern times?

ALAN DEAN FOSTER: Having finally sold a story after a dozen misfires, I subsequently sold a couple more. I then decided to try a novel, thinking that, if nothing else, it would make good party conversation twenty years down the line (“What are you doing these days?” “Oh, I’m working on a novel….”). It [The Tar-Aiym Krang] sold, however, and I was off and running.
Lovecraft would hate the 21st Century. Too far from his preference, the 18th.

McCARTY: How did you get into writing movie adaptations? Which ones do you consider your best and worst?

FOSTER: Back in the early Seventies, someone at Ballantine Books had bought the book rights to a truly awful Italian film called Luana. Ostensibly about a female Tarzan, à la Sheena and others, in reality it featured a bunch of actors who spent most of the film walking through brush, talking silly. The female Tarzan of the title was only on screen for a small portion of the film’s length, and was portrayed by a dainty Vietnamese girl. A long way from Irish McCalla or even Tanya Roberts, much less the figure created by Frank Frazetta for the film’s advertising campaign.
Judy-Lynn del Rey, who had taken over editorship of the science-fiction line at Ballantine, was aware that I knew my way around a film script (I have an M.F.A. in film from UCLA) and asked if I would be interested in trying to make a book out of it. Given how little there was to work with (for one thing, there was no copy of the screenplay in English), I am happy about how it turned out.
Novelizations tend to be only as good or bad as the source material. I’m particularly happy with those for Alien and Dark Star, because so much of the stories take place within the minds of the characters and within single starships. I think Transformers also turned out well, since it gave me the opportunity to get inside the characters’ heads and a bit away from the nonstop action of the film.
I’m not very happy with Krull, but again, you have to consider the source material. I’ve never turned down a novelization that I later regretted, though I’m sorry the producers of Alien 3 forced me to cut much of what I originally wrote, exploring individual characters and their backgrounds, struggling to rationalize the obscenity of Newt’s death, and more.

McCARTY: What can you tell us about Quofum, your upcoming Commonwealth novel?

FOSTER: Those who have read the Commonwealth stories may remember a brief early reference to the world called Quofum that is rumored to wink in and out of existence. This not only makes it hard to find, it makes it hard to rationalize. Doing so one day led to a storyline that, while not featuring Flinx, bears directly on who he is and the final resolution of his situation. Del Rey was going to publish it after Flinx Transcendent but, when made aware of how it relates to Flinx’s story, very thoughtfully rescheduled it to appear prior to Flinx Transcendent.

McCARTY: You have an upcoming short-story collection, Exceptions to Reality. How did you put together such a collection?

FOSTER: Exceptions to Reality is my seventh collection of short work. After a few years, there is usually a sufficient backlog of published stories to comprise a collection. In a couple of instances these are composed of related tales (“Montezuma Strip,” “Mad Amos”). At the request of Del Rey, the last two collections of each featured an original Flinx & Pip story. These, like the novels, all fit into a continuous chronology of the Commonwealth, which readers can keep up with on my website.


McCARTY: What are the advantages and disadvantages of writing a series?

FOSTER: They’re pretty much one and the same. The advantages include not having to create entirely new worlds or a new background, and if you wish you can utilize some or all of the same characters over and over. The disadvantages are those same things. It’s very hard to keep readers interested in the same characters and the same settings book after book.

McCARTY: In 2009, you will be publishing Flinx Transcendent, a climax to the Flinx & Pip saga after thirty-seven years. How do you feel about parting with these characters after writing about them for so long?

FOSTER: I actually can’t answer this one without giving away part of the story.


McCARTY: You have written a few Star Wars books in your time. You ghostwrote the original adaptation of Star Wars, and you’ve also written Splinter of the Mind’s Eye and The Approaching Storm. The Star Wars phenomenon has been a part of popular culture now for over three decades. Why do you think everyone still loves Star Wars?

FOSTER: A good movie is a good movie, regardless of the subject matter. Further, Star Wars provides a vision of an alternate future that is easier for the general public to grasp than much written science-fiction. The underlying themes are not complex (deliberately so), and the films are made with respect.

McCARTY: You’ve written over a hundred books and hundreds of short stories. How do you keep your writing fresh? How do you maintain an active fascination for the genres? Is there a fear you’ll run out of ideas eventually?

FOSTER: To a professional writer, everything and anything is a subject for a story. As to keeping fresh, after decades it becomes difficult. I try to challenge myself from time to time by tackling a genre in which I rarely work, such as historical fiction or even songwriting. As to the genres, well, it’s impossible to be bored by science-fiction, or to run out of ideas. The problem is too many ideas, not a lack of them.

McCARTY: Tell us how you discovered martial arts, and that aspect of your life. What was it like having Chuck Norris as a teacher?

FOSTER: When I was in the sixth grade, my parents, wanting me to be able to defend myself on the schoolyard, signed me up for a year of judo. I enjoyed it, but not sufficiently to continue. When I finished college, I was looking for something to do besides weekend basketball to keep myself physically fit. Karate seemed interesting, so I thought I’d give it a try. At that time, Norris had a string of dojos, or schools, scattered around the Los Angeles area. He would rotate between them, occasionally giving instruction, but he also had administrative work to deal with. As I progressed upward through the basic grades, my principal instructor became Aaron Norris, Chuck’s brother.
I attended dojos in both Santa Monica and Sherman Oaks. Steve McQueen used to come into the one in Sherman Oaks for private lessons with Chuck. I suspect he may be the one to have talked Norris into giving up his teaching business to enter show business.

McCARTY: What was the inspiration for your book, Primal Shadows?

FOSTER: I’ve made three trips and spent a number of months in Papua New Guinea. It is in many ways the most interesting place on Earth … certainly the most primitive. The people, the terrain, the wildlife, are utterly fascinating, as is the history of the place. So fascinating, in fact, that I saw no need for science-fiction embellishment, and when finally setting a story there, decided to do it as a contemporary novel and not as science-fiction. I’m very proud that people who have lived there find it an accurate and involving portrait of the country.

McCARTY: The Mocking Program is a fascinating novel. What was the inspiration for that one?

FOSTER: I had written two novellas and three novelettes utilizing the same setting and main character, police inspector Angel Cardenas. Betsy Mitchell, then editor of the science-fiction line at Warner Books (and now with Del Rey/Ballantine) asked for a novel employing the same. The Mocking Program was the result. As to direct inspiration, living as I do in Arizona, I am intimately aware of the issues that dominate border relations with Mexico, and felt they should be explored in story. Since nobody else I was aware of was doing so, I felt compelled to take a crack at it.
I outlined a second novel, Steel Yu, but by that time Betsy Mitchell had moved on to Del Rey and the new regime at Warner expressed a powerful lack of interest in the book, so it has yet to be written.

McCARTY: A number of your books featured ecological elements. Are you an environmentalist? What are some of Earth’s most pressing problems, and what can be done to solve them?

FOSTER: I live on this planet. I’m stuck on it. To live here and not to be an environmentalist is to be an irresponsible passenger … though there are all too many people who are quite comfortable living as slobs and fouling their own homes. As to specific environmental problems, most can be traced to the elephant in the room that no one wants to do anything about: the fact that there are simply too many people on the planet. The ship is overloaded.
Short of solving that overlying conundrum, the most immediate problems we have to deal with are the fact that the demand for cheap and easily obtainable fossil fuel has now exceeded supply. It’s nice that Richard Branson can run a 747 on bio-fuel, but I hold out greater hope for the electric vehicle and, in particular, France’s MDI compressed-air engine technology. We need to rapidly develop more solar and wind capacity. It’s absurd that Denmark can do it and the U.S. cannot … though that is changing in regard to wind power.
Pollution: too many non-biodegradable containers, insufficient conservation of water (if 80 percent plus goes to agriculture, that means saving 20 percent would allow for a doubling of supply to every other consuming source), and chemical pollution.

McCARTY: Some of your villains’ downfall is a lack of respect for alien species. What is it about this theme that appeals to you?

FOSTER: There is a regrettable tendency for us as individuals as well as a species to consider ourselves superior to others. Having traveled extensively, I know that it’s usually the small things that get you. The dangers that are overlooked. You’re far less likely to die by being eaten by a shark or a lion than you are from contracting a disease or internal parasite. There are all kinds of superiority. Wells recognized this when he had his invading Martians defeated by common germs. The U.S. may subside as an international power not due to defeat in war, but by having our economic vitality sapped through a combination of stupid policies and outright corruption.

McCARTY: In your Spellsinger series, your protagonist is summoned into a world populated by talking creatures where his music allows him to do real magic. Do you think music is magical? What are some of your favorite types of music and musicians?

FOSTER: Not magical, but universally understood. I’ve never been anywhere where people, regardless of culture or background, did not respond to music. As to favorites, I prefer classical music and heavy metal. I’m also fond of “world” music. Don’t respond to country or jazz, I’m afraid. Classically, I have a preference for modern romantic composers who, sadly, don’t get played. Tournemire, Klami, Tubin, Vincent, Braga-Santos and especially Havergal Brian. Musicwise, my picks would be AC/DC, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, Metallica … Rammstein if one can overlook their political overtones. Very low-key…

McCARTY: As a world traveler, you’ve visited some exotic locales. What are some of your favorites, and what places haven’t you visited yet that you are still planning to see?

FOSTER: Favorites? I’ve already mentioned New Guinea. Anywhere in the Pacific. Prague, St. Petersburg, Rome, London, Vienna, Heidelberg … I could list cities endlessly. I adore Turkey and India. Africa is always surprising. Australia is like being home, but with different slang. New Zealand is the most beautiful country I’ve ever visited. The Arctic is rejuvenating. South America is an unending cornucopia of wonders and charming people.
See? Like my wife says, I have no taste. I like everyplace. As to those not yet visited … mainland China, Tibet, southern India, Myanmar (under a different regime), Patagonia, Zambia, Ethiopia, the Middle East … another endless list. I hope to be in North Africa later this year.

McCARTY: Last words?

FOSTER: Two quotes from Erasmus: “If I have a little money, I buy books. If I have anything left over, I buy food,” and, “To stop learning is to start to die.”

McCARTY: Thank you Alan Dean Foster for doing the interviews with me over the years and many thanks again for doing the introduction for MODERN MYTHMAKERS (link below):

Modern Mythmakers Cover


The book features 35 interviews with such writers and filmmakers as Elvira, Ray Bradbury, John Carpenter, Dean Koontz, John Saul, The cast & crew of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, Joe McKinney, Peter Straub, Linnea Quigley, William F. Nolan, Christopher Moore and many more….

(Kindle & Trade paperback)

(Nook & Trade paperback)

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