Thursday 2 February 2017

Graham Masterton and Me - A Reflection (of sorts)

Many moons ago (I was still at school so I'm guessing it would have been around 1982/3) a friend of mine offered to lend me some of his brothers books. I'd read a bit of horror before, mainly James Herbert and Shaun Hutson but he gave me a book by an author I'd never heard of before. That author was Graham Masterton and the book was The Manitou. I can safely say that The Manitou was the first book that I found really scary and it got me hooked on the works of Graham Masterton .

I don't remember the exact scene that gave me the chills but I remember the night itself well. My mum and dad had gone out for the evening, my sister was out at a friend's and it was just me and our dog, Clover, in the house. I sat in the corner in the rocking chair with just the standard lamp to illuminate the pages and read...and read...and read. I was totally wrapped up in the story until some little noise made me jump, made the dog jump and I looked up! The rest of the room was pitch dark and...was that something over there in the corner, just on the edge of sight? (It wasn't, obviously, but for that few, brief moments it could well have been). No horror author had bothered me like that before - and I enjoyed the scare.

From then on I tried to get hold of any Masterton novels I could. They were creepy, gory, scary tales in the main but also clever at times. I loved the Night Warriors series, featuring a bunch of heroes that fought demons and evil in the world of dreams. I eagerly awaited the next in the Manitou series - and they never disappointed. The one off stories (of which there were many) often delved into the demons and spirits of history, not the 'same old, same old' that a lot of horror writers of the time seemed to be churning out.

Skip ahead a few years and 'younger' Andy was in hospital for day surgery to fix a broken nose. Obviously I had to take a book with me to pass the time until the op and it just happened that there was a new paperback available guessed it Graham Masterton. That book was 'The Devils of D-Day'. I finished it in that one day and I don't know if the pre surgery meds had anything to do with it (they probably did) but that remains to this day the most visual of his novels for me, the one that feels more like I lived the story than read it.

With Masterton I felt like it was an above average chance that the next novel would be more late nights and a certain pause before turning the lights off. Not all were brilliant but for the most part they were just what this horror fan needed.

A lot of the earlier books are now harder to get hold of but thankfully his publisher, Head of Zeus, are making a whole bunch of GM's earlier novels available including 'The Heirloom' (featuring what can only be described as a haunted/possessed chair), 'Ritual', 'Black Angel', 'Prey' and The Sphinx (which I've been wanting to re-read for as long as I can remember). These will be available from 1st June 2017 and I, for one, am certainly looking forward to revisiting them.

So, I guess I've been reading Masterton for 34 years or more now and I like to think that his brand of horror, demons from history and folklore, has influenced the path my reading has followed as far as the horror branch has gone.

Thank you Mr. Masterton, and long may your story telling continue

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