I was deeply saddened to learn that Jack Ketchum passed away on the morning of January 24, 2018. He left quite a legacy of real-life horror inspired by his deep humanity. See below the conversation I had with him at Center for Fiction and more about his work. He will be missed.
You might think a true-life crime and horror speculative fiction author, who Stephen King has referred to as, “the scariest guy in America”, would be intimidating. But meeting and speaking with Jack Ketchum was quite the opposite. He is a warm and caring person who uses his skill as a writer to exercise (and probably exorcise) his imagination, expose evil in the world and entertain audiences with a fascination for the darker side of life.
He was generous in sharing his insights about craft and answering a lot of thoughtful questions from the audience:
More about Jack Ketchum
Jack Ketchum is the pseudonym for novelist Dallas Mayr. As a teenager, he was befriended by Robert Bloch (author of Psycho) who became a mentor to him. He supported Ketchum’s work, just as his work was supported by his own mentor, H.P. Lovecraft.
Before becoming a full-time writer, he worked as a private garbageman, a lumber salesman, a copywriter, editor of the paleontological magazine “Fossils,” and as a literary agent for Scott Meredith, Inc., where he served as agent for author Henry Miller. He also worked in off-off Broadway and summer stock as a reviewer, playwrite and director.
In 1980, Jack Ketchum published his first novel Off Season, about a real-life family that lived in a cave and had a lifestyle of murder, cannibalism, and incest. Mainstream reviewers hated it, but fans felt otherwise.
Some of his most powerful novels have been turned into films: RED, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, THE LOST, THE WOMAN, OFF SPRING.
Two short stories were made into short films: “Mail Order” and “Olivia”. By the way, you can hear Jack read an excerpt from “Olivia”. He also wrote a book that is auto- and biographical of influential people in his life called Book of Souls.