James Herbert, Creed and Me

Posted on March 20, 2013

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On Wednesday 13th March 2013, I was meant to be going to Brighton and the Waterstones booksellers for an evening with James Herbert, the Grandmaster of Horror but I pulled out because a friend of mine wanted me to meet him down in the bohemian city by the sea for a belated birthday celebrations two days later on the Friday.

James Herbert courtesy of www.panmacmillan.com

James Herbert courtesy of http://www.panmacmillan.com

Now without going into too much detail the day was a mitigated disaster and I learned that day to go with gut instinct and never to change your mind. This was not the first time that this has happened with the same friend. I remember feeling that it was a mistake and that I would regret it as I did on another occasion with another Brighton resident, the late great Gary Moore; guitar hero, legend and one of my personal musical hero’s. This was with the same friend.

A week before Gary Moore was meant to be starting new material and a new tour on the cards, he died aged just 58. I was gutted. His music inspired me and drove me on as did his live shows and in the world of literature, James Herbert was someone I aspired to so it came with shock and a saddened heart that I learned of his death today at the sprightly age of 69.

My first horror author that I actually read was Stephen King and it was Salem’s Lot which freaked me out as a 10-11 year old, but it was James Herbert just a few years later that sent me on a collision course with the horror genre and inspire me onwards with my passion for books and more besides.

The first book I read of his was called Creed, a story of a paparazzi photographer who takes a picture of something he shouldn’t. Something supernatural. And it is this that draws him into a world of all manner of things. It blew me away and from that day I read everything that I could find of his, awaiting publication dates for his latest work and any adaptations that may be made of his work like Fluke and Haunted.

James Herbert's latest and last novel, Ash, courtesy of www.panmacmillan

James Herbert’s latest and last novel, Ash, courtesy of http://www.panmacmillan

Recently, the BBC adapted The Secret of Crickley Hall to great acclaim from fans and critics alike, even from the master himself. I recommend it highly should you wish to look it up.

I am still in shock and felt he had many more stories to tell but alas, time waits for no man as the saying goes. It is a strange feeling growing up with those that we love on television, film, music or in Herbert’s case, literature and they are taken away from us. We feel as if we own them, that they are our property in some way and also that they are immortal but the sad truth is that they are just like the rest of us and cannot go on forever.

As I look at his latest novel now, not yet read as I just brought it a few hours ago, I wonder what other stories he would’ve told if he had another ten years on this floating rock of ours? Has he jotted down a load of ideas ready to be written that will sadly disappear with time? I know it is strange but I do feel a large part of who I am has been ripped away today because of inspiring people like him who set me on the course that I am on today. I grew up watching Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and many others in the late 70’s and early 80’s as a small child. Hammer Horror was a must see on a Friday and Saturday night. The films were before my time, a decade or three before I was born but I grew up taking them all in and still love them now so it was with a great hunger that I devoured James Herbert’s novels. He put me on the path to other authors of the genre like the brilliant Shaun Hutson, Stephen Laws and Ramsey Campbell to name but a few. Unlike Stephen King’s characters in his later work, I actually remembered and cared what happened to the protagonists and willed them to live.

I hope that his legacy lives on and that he is never forgotten. If you have never read anything of his before or have not for a while then I urge you to do so as soon as possible.

Rest in Peace James Herbert, 8th April 1943 – 20th March 2013. The true master of the modern supernatural novel.
My heart goes out to his family and friends at this difficult time. May they find peace and solace knowing he was loved by many across the world and was an inspiration to many.

James Herbert OBE courtesy of www.thisishorror.co.uk

James Herbert OBE courtesy of http://www.thisishorror.co.uk

You can find out more about him on he following links and a list of his work is also included (I have marked my favourites with a * if you trust my judgement):

http://www.james-herbert.co.uk/

http://jamesherbert.com/

The Rats
The Fog*
The Survivor
Fluke
The Spear*
Lair
The Dark
The Jonah
Shrine
Domain
Moon*
The Magic Cottage*
Sepulchre
Haunted*
Creed*
Portent*
The City
The Ghosts of Sleath*
’48
Others
Once*
Nobody True
Secret of Crickley Hall*
Ash*
By Horror Haunted
Dark Places
Devil in the Dark

Other written work includes the short stories:

Maurice and Mog (1987)
Breakfast (1989)
Halloween’s Child (1990)
They Don’t Like Us (1997)
Extinct (2003)
Cora’s Needs (2003)

Trust me though, read them all! Haunted, Ghosts of Sleath and ASH are all continuous of sorts but can be read in a different order. Rats, Lair and Domain are a trilogy and fantastic and what catapulted him to fame.

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