Every month we feature a different author, publisher or bookseller who has earned the RLK! seal of approval! We will highlight and review their books/company as well as providing author biographies (where available) and publishing information. We hope you enjoy RLK! Spotlight On....

Author Bio:

Brian Lumley was born on December 2, 1937, the son of a miner, in the coal-mining village of Horden, County Durham, UK. In 1946 he received the lowest marks in his English class and, when he told his teacher he wanted to be a writer, was told to follow his father's footsteps and become a miner.

At the age of twenty-one, he was called up for National Service and was assigned to the Royal Military Police. A nightly ritual of watching escapees caught on the barbed wire of the Berlin Wall, where he served as a military policeman during the Cold War, offered him grim motivation to write. Those cold lonely nights he spent reading what he loved - horror. In the mid-1970's he was the Royal Military Police Quartermaster of Edinburgh Castle.

For 12 years until he left the British army, he hammered out the sort of macabre short stories which had so enthralled him as a child. While still serving in West Germany, an American publisher - Arkham House - printed three of his stories. When he left the army he became a shop security guard in Oxford Street, London, still pounding out the horror stories he hoped would one day be his bread and butter. In 1984 he moved from South Devon to Torquay - four years after deciding to write full time.

Heavily influenced by H.P. Lovecraft, many of Lumley's early works were "Cthulhu Mythos" imitations, which didn't endear him to some Lovecraft scholars. The four-volume "Dreamscape" series (Hero of Dreams, Ship of Dreams, Mad Moon of Dreams and Iced on Aran), based upon Lovecraft's dreamquest stories, is a more modern rendition of the idea, featuring a hero who becomes trapped in a dreamworld that includes lighter-than-air islands, gigantic sentient trees and fantastic adventures.

His life as a top-selling horror writer began with Psychomech which was published in the UK in 1984 and eventually became a trilogy. But best-seller status came in 1986 with the publication of the first in the Necroscope series. This was Lumley's breakthrough book. Harry Keogh, the hero of the Necroscope series, uses his unique skill to wage an eternal battle against the vampires who prey upon the living and the dead. The inspiration for Necroscope came when Lumley's father died and he wished he could speak to him again. The idea wouldn't go away, and evolved into the character of Harry Keogh - the man who can talk to the dead.

The instant success of "Necroscope" resulted in four more books in the original series: "Wamphyri!," (Vamphyri!), "The Source," "Deadspeak," and "Deadspawn." This success spawned the massive "Vampire World Trilogy": "Blood Brothers," "The Last Aerie," and "Bloodwars," and most recently, the two volumes of "The Lost Years." In addition, "Necroscope" comic books, graphic novels, a role-playing game and quality figurines have been created from themes or characters in the books.

Other books to Brian's credit are "House of Doors" (a sequel has recently been published in both England and the USA), "Demogorgon," six novels in the "Titus Crow" Series, four in the "Dreamlands" Series, the "Psychomech" trilogy, many other one-off novels, and over 100 short stories, one of which "Fruiting Bodies", won a British Fantasy Award in 1989. Similarly, in 1990, Fear Magazine readers voted him the best established author, and he received the award accordingly. Another short story, "Necros," was adapted for and appeared on Ridley Scott's "The Hunger" Series on Showtime Television Network. Lumley's short fiction has often been selected for "The Year's Best Horror," and at the 1998 World Horror Convention in Phoenix, Arizona, he received the horror genre's Grand Master Award.

Lumley's popularity comes from his ability to combine numerous different genres in his novels, which encompass horror, science fiction, fantasy and even espionage fiction. He has written over 40 novels and collections of short stories. Currently, he is also the President of the Horror Writers of America. He attends a number of conventions each year to sign books and meet his fans, who have consistently grown in numbers, making him one of the most popular genre authors today.



Author interview:

Reprinted from Amazon.com

Life Under the Necroscope: An Interview with Brian Lumley

In the course of his prolific career, Brian Lumley has written more than 40 books and has become perhaps the world's most popular writer of epic dark fantasy.

After discovering a collection by H.P. Lovecraft (while in the midst of a military career), Brian Lumley wrote several novels blending and updating elements of Lovecraft's unspeakable Cthulhu Mythos with his own compulsively energetic style. Upon retiring from the military to write full-time, Lumley created his own mythos, deftly combining elements of horror, science fiction, mystery, and even international espionage. His most famous series, Necroscope, revolves around a vampire hunter named Harry Keogh who can literally speak to the dead. Lumley spoke with Stanley Wiater from his home in Devon, England, where he is working on what he claims will be the final volume of the best-selling Necroscope saga.

Amazon.com: Your American publisher just released Maze of Worlds, the sequel to your 1990 novel, The House of Doors. What inspired you to write this particular sequel?

Brian Lumley: Well, it required a sequel because I left it open-ended when I wrote House of Doors eight years ago. I was happy with the first book, but I just hadn't had the opportunity to come back to it. And having just finished the two "Lost Years" stories in the Necroscope series--having filled in Harry Keogh's life in between that period, that blank period--I needed a change in direction. Just to give me a break, for a little while, from the Necroscope. There's a lot more story to tell about the Necroscope world, but I needed that break just to freshen myself a little bit. So mainly that's why--but I was very pleased with the results.

Amazon.com: At this point in your career is it even possible to do a stand-alone novel? Or do your fans and publishers politely demand that you expand everything into a series, as you've so successfully done with the Necroscope?

Lumley: See, this could be the same for all writers, I'm not sure. But when I do something that pleases me, I'm pretty damn sure it will please the audience. If I write something that makes me want to cry, I'm damn sure that I've got my audience into an emotional mood, too. And if I want to stand up and cheer for the hero, I know they're going to do it as well. I've done other series, but especially with the Necroscope series I have an empathy with my reader. I know what he wants, what he expects. I've reached the stage now where I can write a line and go, "Nah--that's not right. That's not good enough!" So when you're writing, and you reach that stage, it would be silly to leave it after coming to have such a rapport with it, as I now have with that series. Of course, there's also the point that the series does remarkably well...!August Derleth once said to me (I had sent him a story where I killed off Titus Crow, and fortunately it never got published; it's lost): "Never kill a hero.You should take note of what happened to Conan Doyle when he killed off Sherlock Holmes--he had to bring him back." And Derleth was dead right! You don't kill off a good thing. Kill the bad guys by all means. But if you've got something good going, do it!Of course, every writer wants to make a living. And I want to make a living. And people are waiting for these stories. So you're right--it is hard to get out of doing them as series.

Amazon.com: Given your popularity, do you ever feel as if you have someone holding a gun to your head, demanding that you produce X words a day, Z books a year?

Lumley: It has not reached that point. Yet. They don't need to put a gun to my head because the ideas are still there. But I'm not blind to the fact that someday those ideas will come to an end. In fact, I will bring them to an end--myself--with the closure of this new Necroscope series. But there's two books to go yet and then... I don't know. Then I may--I can't say this for sure--but I may well have reached the end of the line, the total line by that time.Of course, a writer has to write for a living. Well, I no longer have to. I know that sounds terrible, but it's true!

Amazon.com: But even though that's the case, why are you still driving yourself so hard?

Lumley: Again, it's not that there's a gun to my head... but there is a body of loyal followers who want more... more of my work. [chuckles] I suppose it's like asking a farmer why he keeps feeding the pigs in his sty when he has enough money in the bank not to do this anymore. But there's a village down the road, and they just love his home-cured bacon. So now you can see why he would do it. What I'm saying is that I'm still feeding my pigs because my readers still want my "home-cured bacon." And while I can cure it, I'll keep on doing it. But the first time I deliver a rancid batch, that'll be the end! I'll know when to quit. I'll know when the ideas aren't fresh anymore. And I'll know when writing doesn't give me a thrill anymore. You know, I've heard of writers saying, "Oh, I don't want them clinging to my every word!" Well, good luck to them. I do--I do want them clinging to my every word!

Amazon.com: And your feelings toward critics?

Lumley: Critics I have no time for! A literary critic is someone who can't write, but who loves to show he would have been a wonderful writer if only he could! I used to actually listen to these guys--I used to listen to them. But you can never do right by them anyway. I remember someone once said, "Nobody ever erected a statue to a critic." It's true! It's damn true.

Amazon.com: Some critics have said that you're still writing in the shadow of the wildly influential H.P. Lovecraft.

Lumley: Once upon a time that was their favorite cry: "Oh, Lumley could be good if only he'd find his own voice." What they didn't realize was that I was in the Army at the time--I've only been out of the Army now for 17 years. But the first thing I did when I got out of the Army was write Psychomech. No sign of Lovecraft! Then Psychosphere. Then Psychamok! Then House of Doors. The Necroscope series.... No Lovecraft, anywhere! Now, after 18 years, not a sign of Lovecraft in my work. Yet I still keep hearing that same old cry. Now, when I was in the Army, writing was my hobby. The Army was my bread and butter. But even those early books found a place with the publishers and got published. They couldn't have been that bad--I got paid for them. I've since been paid for them all over the world. But I always had my own voice. The amazing thing now is that most of those so-called critics who were telling me to find my own voice seem to have lost theirs. Astonishing...

Amazon.com: You have a powerful affection for your fans. How much of an influence are they on your work?

Lumley: Well, in the last 10 years they've had all the influence in the world. Since computerization, since we've been able to get on the Internet, and people have been able to talk to me directly--actually they talk to my wife, Silky. She does all my computer work, otherwise I'd never get any work done! But nevertheless, I see everything. And I answer everything--I answer up to 50 e-mail letters a day. Now, this is not me emulating Lovecraft again, who used to write himself stupid (with correspondence) and never got any work done. These are one-liners: "Thanks for the warm words" or "Hey, your comment really pleased me." Short, but not formulized--they're straight from the heart. I try to answer each one.Fans are a very good reason for continuing, because they get a lot of pleasure from my work. Surely, one of a writer's principal reasons for writing must be to give pleasure to the people who read him. So of course I get a kick out of their letters.

Amazon.com: Yes, but the fans may forget how writers must spend most of their days--alone--all but locked away in a quiet room so as to produce those great stories.

Lumley: You're absolutely right, Stan, but I'm not entirely like that. My office door is open. I have a familiar black-and-white cat who's always in and out of here, and it irritates me, but I couldn't do without him! A long time ago I used to have a budgie who used to sit on my shoulder, or on my typewriter (before there were such things as word processors), pecking away at the keys with me. I always have music playing--usually Ray Charles. There's always something happening; I never, never switch off my telephone, so anyone can call me any hour of the day during work hours.I'll do anything to get outside, go into the garden. I'll hurl a mouse for the cat to go after. I'll walk around, string up a few flowers, have a swim--anything rather than sit at my desk! [laughs] But there's a little guy who sits astride my brain with a whip, and if I'm away from the machine for more than a couple of hours during the day, this little guy's lashing away. There's always that knowledge in the back of my head that I've got those few pages to write! Edgar Allan Poe called it an "imp of the perverse." That which "forces you to do that which does not require to be done, to the defeat of everything else that should be done." It's not in control of me--but I'm not quite in control of it!


RLK! NECROSCOPE COMPETITION!

Thanks to the wonderful people at Hodder Headline, RLK! is able to offer you the chance of winning one of five BRIAN LUMLEY KILLER READ PACKS! Simply read the reviews below and answer the following three questions:

Question 1:
What is the name of the original Necroscope?

Question 2:
B.J. owns a bar in what Scottish city?

Question 3:
Which Lumley short story won a British Fantasy award?

If you think you have the answers email them to us at gerlach@ains.net.au and you'll go into the draw to win one of the following five Hodder Headline Brian Lumley packs - each pack consisting of the four books below:

      


Good luck! Thanks again to the great folks at Hodder Headline! Winners will be announced July 31.


Books Published:

RATING:

Date of Release: July '99

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (hb)

Review Source:

E-BRANCH: INVADERS

E-Branch is the latest novel by Lumley. Its new and stands alone as the start of a new series but, as with Lumley and his works, it's a bit more complicated than that.

You see, the huge Necroscope series is over - due to the demise of Harry Keogh (the original Necroscope), but E-Branch continues the tradition - the same saga - but just with new characters. So, its a new novel but can also be seen as part of the Necroscope cannon. Hence, it's a new branch - the E-Branch. Confused yet?

It's clear that the team from Britain's E-Branch (ESP) knows at the end that many invaders still live and are breeding, and that Lord Nephran Molinari may be running but can never hide from E-Branch. At the beginning of E-Brach: Invaders, Lord Molinari has taken over Xanadu, a glass-domed pleasure palace in the Australian outback (yes, the Aussie outback!), had all the glass painted black inside and out (to keep out the sun's rays), and filled deep and uncharted caves with his minions - ready, and waiting.

The new vampire slayers on the block are budding telepath Liz Merrick, who can receive but not send, and Jake Cutter, whose abilities will amaze (and we won't spoil it for you here). Soon, Liz and Jake are drawn into the vampire mines, where, with silver bullets and flamethrowers, they work their way out of endless cliffhangers brought about by attacking Wamphyri.

Did the invaders have anything to do with the firestorm from hell, the huge fireball that traveled a hundred miles an hour and burned up the entire Australian town of Dirranbandi in one blazing swoop? Probably! Jake proves to be the new Necroscope, especially when in a dream, using Deadspeak, he contacts the late Harry Keogh and is trained in sidereal mathematics, numbers that will help him slay Wamphyri.

Once again, Lumley has served up the goods. Necroscope fans will find themselves reading as fast as Lumley can type, and new readers will have no trouble fitting in and wanting to go back to the original series to find out more.

Lumley at his best!



RATING:

Publisher: Harper Collins

Review Source:

NECROSCOPE

In the beginning...there was Necroscope.

This is the book that started the legend. This is the book where the new vampire mythos began. This is the book that spawned 9 sequels, each of which will blow your mind.

Lumley shot to bestseller and legend status with this book - it started the Lumley phenomenon - and he hasn't looked back. Necroscope has become a classic novel of vampire terror and is the cornerstone of Lumley's work.

This is classic vampire horror at its best. We follow the story of the evil Thibor Ferenczy, a vampire from the mountains of Romania who is trapped in unlife, as he teaches his human tool, Boris Dragosani, (a Soviet spy who craves the secrets of the undead) to rip secrets from the minds and bodies of the dead and to gain world domination. Harry Keogh, our hero and Necroscope who is the only person on earth who can speak with the dead, seeks to stop them and save both the worlds of the living and of the dead.

This book has everything the vampire reader could want: suspense, action, twists, and more vampires than you could shake a stake at!

The concept of Wamphyri is probably the idea of the decade. They are truly original and the cornerstone of an epic is set. The characters in the book have much depth and writing quality is high. The plot is also extremely engageing and interesting. Vampires are certain never to become old-hat or go out of style with this standard of writing!

Lumley has created a new vampire mythos, mixing ancient Romanian legends into his narrative, and weaving a rich and unforgettable tale of dazzling scenes and vivid personalities. This is the begining of a journey that will stay with you forever.

Buy it and be hooked!



RATING:

Publisher: New English Library (pb)

Review Source:

NECROSCOPE: THE LOST YEARS (Volume 1)

Necroscope: The Lost Years - Volume 1 continues the series of Necroscope but, once again, is a series in itself. This book (and its second volume) actually takes place *before* the Necroscope series - so it's a prequel. Once again, we have a series standing by itself (The Lost Years Vols 1 & 2) but also makes up the Necroscope family. Read them by themselves or part of the series - it doesn't really matter. Reading them first or last makes no difference. But they are superior works, that's for sure.

As a young man, Harry Keogh discovered that he was a Necroscope--that he could talk to the dead and transport himself instantly to any place in the world. Harry also discovered that vampires stalked the earth, and that they were a thousand times more terrible than anyone ever imagined. Now, Harry finds himself searching for his wife and son, who disappeared in the midst of Harry's war against the undead monsters that plague mankind, not realizing that through his search, he has become a pawn in the battle between two powerful vampires who intend to kill him also.

Keogh is inexperienced, nieve, and still on Earth in this series. He's seeking his lost family, and is caught in the murderous rivalry between two potent vampires. This set of ingredients produces a story that certainly succeeds at keeping the reader turning pages.

These volumes help clear up any sections of Necroscope that may have been misunderstood earlier in the series and fills in all the gaps in the life of Harry, and the various vampire lords that survived in our world. It explains the things that shaped and helped flesh out the man known as the Necroscope - our Harry Keogh. This book is a must read for the Necroscope fan, but I suggest new readers begin with the original series and read them in order.



RATING:

Publisher: New English Library (pb)

Review Source:

NECROSCOPE: THE LOST YEARS (Volume II)

Okay, hold onto you hat for this one! This is Volume II of Necroscope: The Lost Years but, as discussed above - also falls into the Necroscope cannon, so Lost Years II is also Necroscope book 10. Confused yet - well, this novel has everything. And I mean Everything! Follow us, if you dare....

Volume two continues to fill in the lost years of Earth's greatest vampire hunter, Harry Keogh. When Keogh died and was reanimated in the body of brain-dead Alec Kyle, Harry's wife Brenda, unable to live with a total stranger, disappeared with their immensely powerful infant child. Three families of vampires banished to Earth from Starside, an alternate world, have been warring for millennia. Harry goes on leave from ESPionage, Britain's parapsychological intelligence group, to find his wife, but ESP hypnotically blocks his mind so that alien powers can't tap his hidden talents.

Take a breath...

It doesn't work: B.J. Mirlu, 200-year-old vampiress with whom Harry's in love, seizes control of his will, and, between B.J. and ESP, Harry loses large portions of his memory. During this lost period, a werewolf kills a rapist who's attacked a girl who works for B.J. at a bar B.J. owns in Edinburgh--an incident serving to reveal the plans of the two other vampire factions intent on destroying B.J. and those around her. The renewed vampire war couldn't come at a worse time: She and her moon-children guard the aerie where her master, the dog-Lord Radu, has been immersed in a vat of resin since the Black Plague, from which it's taken him 600 years to recover!

Now his resurgence is at hand, and, if still infected, he'll move into Harry's body and rebuild it in his own image. B.J. is torn between her love for Harry and the possibility of her becoming a full-blown Wamphyri! But can Harry survive Radu's resurgence? Can the star-crossed B.J.?

This is the pulse-pounding conclusion to this two book series which combines love, hate, ESPionage, and an entirely new world of a Vampires never before matched. Lumley entices you and and will keep you on the edge of your seat with a hunger for more.

Lumley answers all the questions about the beginnings of the Necroscope and his powers. We are allowed to learn what makes harry Koegh tick. This installment is a wonderful addition to the already acclaimed series.



RATING:

Publisher: New English Library (pb)

Review Source:

THE HOUSE OF DOORS

You never know what lies behind a locked door.

And for a group of scientists and spies, a trip to the House of Doors will spell the end of thier lives.

The House of Doors waits, silent with its dozen doors of mystery and terror. Each one could lead to death - but one leads to freedom.

Trapped inside, our heroes soon determine that the menaces they battle are formed from their own subconscious fears...those terrible horrors which are impossible to control or eradicate. Hellfire, eternal damnation, death, and worse assail the House's victims. They must fight to survive and solve the riddle of the house - before it kills them all.

To say any more would give away the plot twists, so a general review will have to do. Such a big book and so many characters is bound to get a little confusing, and this is precisely what happens. Still, if you can battle through the who-did-that-happen-to and the wasn't-he-over-there-but-I-thought... problems, House of Doors is a rollercoaster ride into terror that will leave you screaming. Just when you think you have a grip on the plot, it slithers away from you, twisting and turning and leaving you further in the dark. The extent of the detail is amazing and allows the reader to get a perfect mental picture of the horror that takes place. The plot is a perfect horror and science-fiction mix.

Highly recommended, as is its sequel: House of Doors (Second Visit). Lumley couldn't resist the temptation to go back either, it seems.



RATING:

Publisher: Penguin

Review Source:

FRUITING BODIES AND OTHER FUNGI

Brian Lumley is famous for his sprawling horrific novels that are at least 600 pages long, and are usually part of a thrill-ogy (or more) of books.

It is heartwarming to know that Lumley can also turn his hand to short fiction. The stories he crafts in this collection are weird, bizarre and certainly well worth the read!

Fruiting bodies spills 13 horror tales all over you. Most are modern mainstream horror stories, but there is a touch of Lovecraft here and there. Most of the stories come from having previously been printed in magazines such as Weird Tales, Fantasy Tales, etc., and a few have been anthologized.

Each one is a gem in itself, but outstanding is the title piece (which won the British Fantasy Award), a tale that's enough to make a collection like this worthwhile, not to say must-have. It tells of an underground fungus that's eating up all the houses in a seaside English village. But not only is the dry, fibrous, papery cancer eating up the houses, the sea as well is eating up the cliff on which the village stands, at the rate of seven feet a year: only a few rot-ridden, fungoid houses are left standing, and only one ancient villager still lives there.

The tales cover nearly a 20-year period in Lumley's career. The earlier stories are somewhat more densely and carefully told, if not actually precious, such as 1976's ``The Man Who Photographed Beardsley''--about a high-fashion pornographer into the post-snuff image. Though ``Fruiting Bodies'' takes the prize here, the lengthy ``Born of the Winds'' has Lovecraftian vibes that carry you forward by sheer dint of curiosity and was nominated for the World Fantasy Award. "The Viaduct," is the story of two young boys who learn the truth about fear and death. There is also an Introduction by Lumley in which he discusses violence in horror fiction.

Worth the price of admission alone - a good place for new readers to test the dark waters of the Lumley soul.



RATING:

Publisher: New English Library (pb)

Review Source:

A COVEN OF VAMPIRES

Thirteen is an unlucky number for some.

But not Brian Lumley.

Here he presents thirteen short stories based on the vampire theme. Those who think the old vampire horror story is dead should read this book to learn otherwise. It's terrific to see Lumley is able to pull off great twists and turns and characterisations in short stories as well as novels, and many of these stories will certainly keep you up at night.

Whilst a few of the stories can be found in other collections - this is by far his best short story work. Linking all the stories to a vampire theme works beautifully and they read like an enthralling novel.

You can see Lumley's influences throughout: Richard Matheson, H.P. Lovecraft, Weird Tales, EC Comics, Christopher Lee and every type of vampire is covered. From an Arabic version of the ancient Greek Lamia, a lovely and curvaceous member of the Riviera beach elite, a railway-traveling band of seeming devil worshipers, a Cousteau-like marine scientist, a simple young German signpainter, and the revenant Vlad Tepes Dracul himself - Lumley even manages to add to the Cthulhu Mythos cycle and throw in parasitic leeches as well!

This is a great introduction for those who have not read Lumley before, for lovers of Lovecraft and for Vampire readers in general. A great collection!



Websites:

Visit the Official Brian Lumley website now for more information.


Where to buy:

Availability:     

For those who order online, try:

Amazon UK!   Buy Laymon & Others Here!   




 RLK! Spotlight On...
Past Features

 June: Michael Connelly, Author Click here to view.
 May: Stephen Laws, Author Click here to view.
 April: Gemma O'Connor, Author Click here to view.
 March: Simon Clark, Author Click here to view.
 February: Obsidian Books, Publisher Click here to view.
 January: John Case, Author Click here to view.

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