Thursday, April 7, 2011
Laymon Month: Guest Post by Gord Rollo
Hope this guest blog finds you and yours well. I’m sitting up here in Canada remembering one of my literary heroes and although I can’t believe Richard has been gone for so long already, I find I’m not as sad as I thought I might be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m deeply saddened Mr. Laymon passed away so tragically young and that the horror genre lost one of its truly unique voices, but I’m sitting here smiling at all the endless hours of joy he gave me while I was growing up, and the legacy of great stories he has left behind for anyone else to discover.
I was lucky enough to have grown up in Canada, where the bookstores stocked all the British versions of Richard’s books, long before Don D’Auria at Leisure Books was smart enough to re-release his backlist to all the rabid horror fans in the United States. It was the Headline Books imprint that I always bought, and they had the coolest covers on them – much better than the US versions that would follow. I devoured them as a teenager and it was Richard that gave me hope as a fledgling writer. I’d been reading King and Koontz back then and although I loved all their books too, Richard’s were the first books that I sat back and thought that maybe I could do that too. His books were written for the common man (and woman – lol!) and they weren’t so damn literate that I had to carry a dictionary around with me to get through them. I like that. I liked their simple plots and accessible dialog. I liked how nasty and violent they were too, like all the slasher movies I was getting into, only put on paper like no other writer I’d came across before. In short, Richard gave me hope that someday I could be a writer too, and I’ll always remember him for that.
My favorite books of his are ONE RAINY NIGHT, ISLAND, BITE, IN THE DARK and NIGHT IN THE LONESOME OCTOBER, but my all time favorite book of his that I own is a copy of SAVAGE that came directly from Richard’s private office. I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Laymon in person, but I’ve been fortunate enough since his passing to meet and get to know his lovely wife Ann and their insanely charming daughter Kelly. I mentioned to Ann one night at a book convention that the only novel of her late husband’s that I had never read was SAVAGE, Richard’s unique spin on Jack the Ripper. A few weeks later I received a trade paperback copy of the book in the mail and a note from Ann that she’d spotted it in Richard’s private library and thought she’d send me a copy. That’s the kind of woman she is and a tiny example of why the tight knit horror community loves her and Kelly so much. That copy of SAVAGE is one of my prized possessions in my own library and I’d never sell it, not for any price.
It’s hard to sum up what Richard Laymon meant to me as a writer. His influence on me was enormous but I don’t think the book is closed yet on his accomplishments. For decades to come young writers will look to Richard for inspiration and for entertainment and whenever I’m asked I’ll be happy to share my fond thoughts about him and his work. Rest in Peace, Dick. You deserve it. You truly were one of the all time greats. Thank you for sharing your incredible imagination with me. I needed it back then, and I still need it now. Cheers!
-- Gord Rollo, March 29th, 2011, Great White North.
Gord Rollo was the reason I felt compelled to start reviewing horror fiction. In fact the first review to ever grace the pages of Grade Z Horror was a Gord Rollo novel! He is one insanely talented writer who just so happens to be the author of some of my favorite new horror fiction. His novels Valley of the Scarecrow and The Jigsaw Man showcase Gord's uncanny ability to create some of the most frightening images ever committed to print. Please do yourself a favor and head over to his site and check out his work.