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Robert McCammon

Robert McCammon
Robert McCammon received a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Alabama in 1974. After graduation, he wrote advertising copy for Birmingham businesses and newspapers. He lives in Birmingham with his wife and daughter. Despite this strong association with the South, its history and traditions played little substantial role in his early work but have become evident in later novels. Learn more at Robert McCammon’s website or the Matthew Corbett website.

Baal: Exploring early McCammon

Baal by Robert McCammon

The first Robert McCammon book I ever read was Swan Song, a post-apocalyptic horror story about the choices people make when there are no rules. Baal, published in 1978 and reissued by Subterranean Press, explores many of the same themes. I expected this book would have some historical interest for me, as a look back at how a mature writer got his start. To my surprise I found compelling writing and a character I cared about. At the age of twenty-five, when he sold this book, McCammon could write. He could create suspense, and ask the tough questions.

In the case of Baal, the character who engaged me was James Virga, a theology professor in his sixties, who teaches at a college in Boston. Virga compares himself, lightly, to Job in the Old Testament, faithful to God even though bad things have happened to him, the ... Read More

Bethany’s Sin: Dated but emotionally compelling

Bethany’s Sin by Robert McCammon

Robert McCammon originally published Bethany’s Sin in 1980. Subterranean Press is reissuing it just in time for Halloween. This horror novel covered familiar territory even in 1980, with its “perfect little village with a dark secret,” but McCammon’s good characterization managed to make it fresh, and there are a few twists along the way.

The book opens with an archeological dig in Turkey, where an unnamed woman makes an extraordinary discovery. The next section deals with an American soldier, a prisoner of war, being tortured by the Viet Cong. Specifically, Evan Reid is being tortured by a woman.

Years later in the present (1980), Evan, his wife Kay and their daughter Laurie move to Bethany’s Sin, a charming little village in Pennsylvania. Kay has a job as a math teacher at the local community college and Evan is going to try hi... Read More

The Night Boat: A fine piece of horror fiction

The Night Boat by Robert R. McCammon

The Night Boat was Robert R. McCammon’s third published novel, first appearing in 1980. Now Subterranean Press has brought it back as a (sold out) limited edition, and also made it available in e-book format for the first time. It betrays some of the faults of a then-new writer, but also has considerable power in its portrayal of Nazi submariners, as terrifying 35 years after the end of World War II as they were in the days when they lurked in the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean — if not more so.

David Moore, the principal protagonist of the novel, lives on Coquina Island in the Carribbean Sea, where he owns a small hotel on the largely undeveloped island. He is a scuba diver as well, and, as the book opens, he is diving alone on the edge of a shelf, in an area known as the Abyss... Read More

The Wolf’s Hour: Still vivid after 20 years

The Wolf's Hour by Robert McCammon

As the Allied forces plan for D-Day, rumors surface within covert operations that the Nazis may have a final, deadly ace in the hole. With so much depending on the Allied invasion, the very best agent must be sent deep into enemy territory to thwart whatever it is that the Nazis have in store. What makes this British spy so special is that Michael Gallatin is a werewolf.

The Wolf’s Hour was originally published just over two decades ago and I read the mass market paperback way back then. Over the years, some parts remained so vivid that I would randomly recall them at the oddest of times. I’ve had it on my mind to reread it for a long time, just to rediscover why this novel has stuck with me like it did. So I jumped at the chance to review Subterranean Press’ illustrated reprint. This edition also contains a new novelette, The Room at the Bottom of the ... Read More

The Hunter From the Woods: Mediocre compared to McCammon’s other work

The Hunter From the Woods by Robert McCammon

Robert McCammon’s werewolf WWII British spy, Michael Gallatin, is back in a collection of short stories that surround the events in McCammon's best-selling book, The Wolf’s Hour:

“The Great White Way” — Young Michael Gallatin has left the Russian forests and his pack. He finds refuge with a gypsy circus but is soon entrapped in a deadly love triangle.
“The Man from London” — Michael has been adopted by a small Russian village. In turn, as a werewolf, he provides them with fresh meat and protection. A secret agent has come all the way from London to recruit Gallatin into British special operations and the war has come with him.
“Sea Chase” — In the guise of a sea-man, Gallatin has been assigned to watch over a weapons engineer and his family as they try to escape Nazi Germany aboard an old freighter.
... Read More

I Travel by Night: Relish the work of a master of dark fiction

I Travel By Night by Robert McCammon

Trevor Lawson is a vampire, made by a scavenger on a Civil War battlefield. Now, more than 20 years since he was turned, he continues to fight his nature as hard as he can. It is becoming progressively more difficult for him to look at a crucifix or suffer even the indirect rays of the sun. But he nonetheless battles other vampires, even as the silver of his bullets burns his fingers as he loads his gun.

Those other vampires — the Dark Society — want him dead. And he wants to get close to them, not solely to destroy them, but also because he believes that the female who turned him holds the cure for his vampirism. He gets his opportunity when David Kingsley comes to him with news of a kidnapped daughter and a plea that Lawson personally retrieve her, as the ransom note demands. And so Lawson heads for the swamps of Louisiana with the demanded ransom of 666 gold pieces, to a town called Noct... Read More

The Listener: An exciting and emotional drama with a great setting

The Listener by Robert McCammon

Robert McCammon’s The Listener (2018), a finalist for this year’s Locus Award for Best Horror Novel, takes us to New Orleans during the Great Depression. There we meet:

Pearly, a good-looking huckster selling over-priced fakely-engraved Bibles to poor and grieving widows
Ginger LaFrance, a sexy and completely unscrupulous grifter who is tired of her current partner in crime and ready to choose a new one
Donny, Ginger’s violent and crazy nephew
Curtis Mayhew, a young black man who earns a decent wage as a redcap with the Union Railroad
Orchid, Curtis’s mother, a woman who feels that her health has been declining since the death of her husband years ago and who worries about her sons’ insistence that he can hear voices in his head
Nilla and Jack,... Read More

Magazine Monday: Nightmare, June 2013

Issue 9 of Nightmare opens with “The House on Cobb Street” by Lynda E. Rucker. There is a long italicized quotation from a purported learned treatise about the house at the top of the story, reciting the history of so-called Cobb Street Horror, but noting that the witnesses have refused to speak to the author. Another italicized segment comes from the blog of Perry “Pear Tree” Parry, referring to a video of Felicia Barrow, speaking of Vivian Crane, who has disappeared. The entire story has the aura of a scholarly piece, even when, the reader’s curiosity piqued, the story proper finally begins with the ominous words, “Vivian wakes.” Vivian can hear the house around her as if it is a living entity, and she believes it is preparing itself, as a cat stalking its prey readies its muscles for the pounce. Vivian is a college professor, teaching Faulkner while living in a haunted house, one she knew was haunted from the moment she entere... Read More

Magazine Monday: Nightmare Magazine, August 2013

Matthew Cheney’s “How Far to Englishman’s Bay” leads off the eleventh issue of Nightmare Magazine. Max, the protagonist, impulsively decides to close up his bookshop and permanently leave his home on the day he turns 50. Max drives miles away from his home, finally deciding he’s lost and stopping to ask directions. It’s here that his story has its denouement in an odd bit of horror that seems unrelated to what went before, all the detail about his leaving, its effect on a friend, giving away his cat, gathering snacks — a full half of the tale. Is there a moral to this story? Perhaps: that we should not be so concerned with the years that have gone before that we forget to plan for those that still lie ahead. Or maybe that being self-centered is bad. Or maybe that obesity can have unexpected consequences. It’s a strange story that doesn’t coalesce into a focused tale.

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Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury: Four great stories make it easy to recommend

Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury edited by Sam Weller & Mort Castle

Thanks to our recent book chats here, I’ve reread a bit of Ray Bradbury lately, so I was well primed to pick up the 2012 tribute anthology edited by Sam Weller and Mort Castle, entitled Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury, which collects 26 contemporary authors who were asked to write a story inspired or informed by Bradbury. The task was sufficiently non-restrictive that the stories run a gamut of style and type: horror, fantasy, dystopia, science fiction, as well as several with no fantastical element whatsoever, which may surprise those who know Bradbury only through classic novels like Fahrenheit 451 or Something Wicked This Way Comes, or collections suc... Read More

More books by Robert McCammon

Matthew Corbett — (2002- ) Publisher: The Carolinas, 1699: The citizens of Fount Royal believe a witch has cursed their town with inexplicable tragedies — and they demand that beautiful widow Rachel Howarth be tried and executed for witchcraft. Presiding over the trial is traveling magistrate Issac Woodward, aided by his astute young clerk, Matthew Corbett. Believing in Rachel’s innocence, Matthew will soon confront the true evil at work in Fount Royal… Evil Unveiled. After hearing damning testimony, magistrate Woodward sentences the accused witch to death by burning. Desperate to exonerate the woman he has come to love, Matthew begins his own investigation among the townspeople. Piecing together the truth, he has no choice but to vanquish a force more malevolent than witchcraft in order to save his beloved Rachel — and free Fount Royal from the menace claiming innocent lives.

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Speaks the NightbirdThey Thirst — (1981) Publishers Weekly: Prince Vulkan, master of the vampires, has loosed his army of the undead on Los Angeles in this seamlessly written horror novel by the author of Mine. Vulkan’s plan is to replace humankind, city by city, with the living dead. Four people stand in his way. Homicide detective Andy Palatazin, a Hungarian immigrant who fled this scourge as a child, is determined to stop it now. Young Tommy Chandler, whose parents were killed before his eyes, wants revenge. TV star Wes Richer hopes to save his beloved by tracking Vulkan to his lair. Father Silvera, a dying priest, believes that God has chosen him to destroy the vampire prince. Wreaking death and carnage, Vulkan proceeds to a final confrontation between the forces of good and evil. McCammon delivers terror with skillful ferocity as he pays tribute to masters of the genre and raises the standards for the craft a notch or two.

Mystery WalkMystery Walk — (1983) Publisher: Two young psychics do battle with an ancient evil. Billy Creekmore was born to be a psychic. His mother, a Choctaw Indian schooled in her tribe’s ancient mysticism, understood that the barrier between life and death is permeable. She knew how to cross it, and used that knowledge to help the dead rest easier. She passed that power on to her son, and he has spent his whole life learning how to communicate with the dead to prevent them from meddling with the living. Though his powers are the same, Wayne Falconer’s background could not be more different. The son of a prominent preacher, he would be disowned if his father learned he was using supernatural powers in service of the church. Though they don’t know each other, Billy and Wayne share a recurring dream — and a common enemy. When a nightmarish monster descends on their community in Alabama, mankind’s fate will rest in their hands.

Mystery Walk, Usher's PassingUsher’s Passing — (1984) Publisher: The House of Usher is built on death itself — and now it has a new master… For generations the House of Usher has grown wealthier and more powerful on the invention and sale of murderous military weapons. But another evil has lived and grown within the House of Usher — a legacy of depravity and bloodshed that goes back for generations, and stains the hallways of the family mansion. One young heir, Rix Usher, is reluctant to return home. But the House of Usher has chosen “him” to take the reins from his dying father… to learn the house’s terrible secrets. Joining in a ritual of fantastic evil, he will be forced to unleash the dreadful powers of Usher…

Speaks the NightbirdSwan Song — (1987) Publisher: Facing down an unprecedented malevolent enemy, the government responds with a nuclear attack. America as it was is gone forever, and now every citizen — from the President of the United States to the homeless on the streets of New York City — will fight for survival. Swan Song is Robert McCammon’s prescient and “shocking” (John Saul) vision of a post-Apocalyptic nation, a grand epic of terror and, ultimately, renewal. In a wasteland born of rage and fear, populated by monstrous creatures and marauding armies, earth’s last survivors have been drawn into the final battle between good and evil, that will decide the fate of humanity: Sister, who discovers a strange and transformative glass artifact in the destroyed Manhattan streets… Joshua Hutchins, the pro wrestler who takes refuge from the nuclear fallout at a Nebraska gas station… And Swan, a young girl possessing special powers, who travels alongside Josh to a Missouri town where healing and recovery can begin with Swan’s gifts. But the ancient force behind earth’s devastation is scouring the walking wounded for recruits for its relentless army, beginning with Swan herself…

Speaks the Nightbird, StingerStinger — (1988) Publisher: A UFO crash sends a small Texas town into uproar. The sun rises on Inferno and Bordertown: patches of civilization carved out of the tough Texas earth, watching each other and waiting to see which dies first. The copper mine is finished, and both towns — one for the whites and one for the Mexicans — are wasting away. Now a pair of mysterious visitors is about to make them shrink faster. The black ball lands first. A small sphere, snapped off of an alien ship as it plummets through the atmosphere, it explodes onto Jessie Hammond’s truck. When Jessie’s daughter picks it up, the object possesses the young girl’s body and begins trying to communicate. As Jessie tries to rescue her daughter, something far more deadly sets down in the desert. An interstellar war has come to Texas, and Inferno is going to burn.

Boy's Life, MineMine — (1990) Publisher: Robert McCammon captivates readers and stretches the boundaries of imagination with every new book he writes. There are now over 5 million copies of his books in print, and his last three novels, The Wolf’s Hour, Stinger, and Swan Song, were New York Times bestsellers, earning him accolades as one of the most innovative storytellers of our time. In Mine, McCammon takes the reader beyond terror . . . into one woman’s shocking world of madness and obsesion.

Boy's LifeBoy’s Life — (1991) Publisher: In me are the memories of a boy’s life, spent in that realm of enchantments. These are the things I want to tell you… Robert McCammon delivers “a tour de force of storytelling” (BookPage) in his award-winning masterpiece, a novel of Southern boyhood, growing up in the 1960s, that reaches far beyond that evocative landscape to touch readers universally. Boy’s Life is a richly imagined, spellbinding portrait of the magical worldview of the young — and of innocence lost. Zephyr, Alabama, is an idyllic hometown for eleven-year-old Cory Mackenson — a place where monsters swim the river deep and friends are forever. Then, one cold spring morning, Cory and his father witness a car plunge into a lake — and a desperate rescue attempt brings his father face-to-face with a terrible, haunting vision of death. As Cory struggles to understand his father’s pain, his eyes are slowly opened to the forces of good and evil that surround him. From an ancient mystic who can hear the dead and bewitch the living, to a violent clan of moonshiners, Cory must confront the secrets that hide in the shadows of his hometown — for his father’s sanity and his own life hang in the balance….

Gone South Robert McCammonGone South — (1992) Publisher: It was hell’s season, and the air smelled of burning children…. With “one of the most arresting first sentences in contemporary writing” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), Robert McCammon unfurls his visionary masterpiece of survival, redemption, and the astonishing transformations love can create. GONE SOUTH chronicles a desperate man’s journey through a desperate land, in “a gothic picaresque that mixes gritty plot and black comedy…a smoothly constructed and satisfying story” (The Wall Street Journal ). Flooded by memories, poisoned by Agent Orange, Dan Lambert kills a man in a moment of fear and fury — and changes his life forever. Pursued by police and bounty hunters, Dan flees south toward the Louisiana bayous. In the swamplands he meets Arden Halliday, a young woman who bears the vivid burdens of her own past, and who is searching for a legendary faith healer called the Bright Girl. Looking for simple kindness in a world that rarely shows it, bound by a loyalty stronger than love, Dan and Arden set off on a journey of relentless suspense and impassioned discovery…over dark, twisting waterways into the mysterious depths of the human heart.

Robert McCammon The Five

The Five — (2011) Publisher: Subterranean Press is proud to present Robert McCammon’s first contemporary novel in nearly two decades, a tale of the hunt and unlikely survival, of the life and soul, set against a supernatural backbeat. Robert McCammon, author of the popular Matthew Corbett historical thrillers (Speaks the Nightbird, Mister Slaughter), now gives us something new and completely unexpected: The Five, a contemporary novel as vivid, timely, and compelling as anything he has written to date. The Five tells the story of an eponymous rock band struggling to survive on the margins of the music business. As they move through the American Southwest on what might be their final tour together, the band members come to the attention of a damaged Iraq war veteran, and their lives are changed forever. The narrative that follows is a riveting account of violence, terror, and pursuit set against a credible, immensely detailed rock and roll backdrop. It is also a moving meditation on loyalty and friendship, on the nature and importance of families those we are born into and those we create for ourselves and on the redemptive power of the creative spirit. Written with wit, elegance, and passionate conviction, The Five lays claim to new imaginative territory, and reaffirms McCammon’s position as one of the finest, most unpredictable storytellers of our time.