BRIAN LUMLEY: A Brief Bio-Bibliography
Born 2nd December, 1937, Brian Lumley came into the world just nine months after the most obvious of his forebears – meaning of course a "literary" forebear, namely, H. P. Lovecraft – had departed from it. By his pre-teens Lumley had read Dracula and some other horror classics, but having followed the adventures of Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future in the British Eagle comic, his first love was Science Fiction. Then, in his early teens – as a result of reading Robert Bloch's Lovecraft pastiche Notebook Found in a Deserted House in a British SF magazine – he became more surely attracted to macabre fiction, an attraction that has lasted a lifetime.
Later still, in his early twenties while serving with the Corps of Royal Military Police in Germany, on finding a collection of stories by Lovecraft himself, Lumley began searching for every available item of the author's work. This culminated in his contacting HPL's publisher August Derleth in Sauk City, Wisconsin, in order to purchase the one or two volumes still missing from his collection. Then, after Derleth had read various "extracts" from the Necronomicon and other fictional "Black Books" of the so-called Cthulhu Mythos, which Lumley had included in his letters, he asked if the aspiring author had anything solid he could use in a book he was preparing for publication, to be entitled Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. Thus Lumley began writing in earnest. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Derleth included stories by Lumley in a number of Arkham House anthologies and went on to publish three of the author's books. One was a short novel with the title Beneath the Moors; the others were collections of short stories and novellas: The Caller of The Black and The Horror at Oakdeene. These stories, set mainly in Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos milieu, echoed HPL's literary style: a somewhat archaic, adjectival mode of writing which, during the course of Lumley's military career, he would gradually eschew in favour of his own very distinctive style.
Despite that Lumley completed a full term of 22 years with the RMP – during which time he rose to the rank of Warrant Officer and, in his final years, served as the WO Chief Instruction (the DI) at the RMP Depot and Training Establishment – still he managed to write and see published his three Arkham books plus the first of the six paperback novels in his Titus Crow series, and the stand-alone novel, Khai of Ancient Khem, while he was still a soldier. But by then: "it was time for the serious stuff!"
Having "retired" from the Army in December 1980, Lumley became "a professional author" (he had never really considered himself that way before) and of necessity began to write in earnest. he still had a projected series of four books in H. P. Lovecraft's "Dreamlands milieu" to complete, during the writing of which he began the Psychomech trilogy, the very first of his works (with the exception of a handful of short stories) to be published in the United Kingdom.
Then came his breakthrough book. In March to September 1984 he wrote his dead-waking, ground-breaking horror novel Necroscope®, featuring Harry Keogh, the man who can talk to dead people. Not at first realizing, however, how successful this book would be (for it would eventually become a best-selling series), in late 1984 early 1985 he wrote the stand-alone novel Demogorgon. Also in '85 to early 1986, he completed his "Dreamlands" series with a book of short stories and novellas called Iced on Aran; which will explain the gap between the writing of Necroscope and Necroscope II: Wamphyri! After Wamphyri!, however, Necroscope III: The Source, took only five months to complete in 1987, and with the first two volumes having seen initial paperback publication in the UK, finally the trilogy was picked up by TOR Books, USA. Except it wasn't going to stop at being a trilogy!
Such was the appeal of the Necroscope books that TOR published the so-called trilogy in the space of just twelve months: September 1988 to September 1989 -- by which time Lumley had written Necroscopes IV and V: Deadspeak and Deadspawn. And in just five years, 1984 to 1989, the financial problems which the author had experienced on leaving the Army were well and truly behind him. Bestsellers in the USA, his books had already passed one million sales and were heading for two million.
But still the story wasn't finished; in fact it wasn't half-way there yet! Such had been the success of the first five volumes, and such was the demand from readers, that Lumley went straight on from Deadspawn to commence writing the massive Vampire World Trilogy, which he considers his finest, most ambitious and important work. Begun in 1991, finished in 1993, Blood Brothers, The Last Aerie and Bloodwars between them contain some three-quarters of a million words of horror, fantasy ... even a little of the author's first love, Science Fiction.
In 1994, just short of six years since publishing the original Necroscope, TOR began reprinting the entire series in hardcovers: a rare event in the modern publishing world. And Blood Brothers was the first Necroscope – or more properly the first series spin-off – to be published in hardcovers from the outset. The rest of the volumes in this incredible series have all followed suit. Their titles are:
The Lost Years and Lost Years Two: Resurgence – the Invaders Trilogy: Invaders, Defilers and Avengers – and the novellas: Harry Keogh: Necroscope and Other Weird Heroes – and, in the Summer of 2006, Necroscope: The Touch. Harry and the Pirates – a volume of Necroscope novellas – appeared in 2009, and one final novella is promised.
Thirteen countries and counting have now published, or are in the process of publishing these and others of Lumley's novels and short story collections, which in the USA alone have sold well over three million copies. In addition, Necroscope comic books, graphic novels, a role-playing game, quality figurines, and in Germany a series of audio books have been created from themes and characters in the Necroscope books, and Lumley has added his "real" voice to Dangerous Ground, a Downliners Sect rock-&-roll album released in the UK in 2004.
Lumley's works other than Necroscope – such as his SF-ish novel The House of Doors and its sequel Maze of Worlds; also a dozen collections gathered from his more than 130 short stories and novellas, most notably Fruiting Bodies & Other Fungi, whose title story won a British Fantasy Award in 1989 – have seen or are seeing print in many European countries as well as the USA, and all the while his reputation is growing apace. As far back as 1990, the readers of Fear Magazine voted Lumley "Best Established Genre Author" for The Source, and his short story Necros (not a Necroscope spin-off!) was adapted for Ridley Scott's The Hunger series on the USA's Showtime Television series. But best of all, in 1998 as Guest of Honour at the World Horror Convention in Phoenix, AZ, he received the genre's most coveted Grand Master Award in recognition of his work. Moreover, the original Necroscope has now been optioned (and four times re-optioned) for a major film, and the original trilogy will be included in the deal if there's a follow through.
From 2000 through 2007 fans of Necroscope and Lumley's other works convened at the annual KeoghCon, and there celebrated with the author and his wife Barbara Ann, who is known to one and all as "Silky;" where each successive year forged stronger bonds between the members of this much extended "family" of friends and fans. (As for the last word, "fans:" Lumley prefers to refer to these people -- his friends -- as "dedicated readers.")
Widely travelled, Brian Lumley has visited or lived in the USA, France, Italy, Cyprus, Germany, Malta, Canada, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, not to mention a dozen or more Greek islands. He still makes regular visits to the Mediterranean, indulging a passion for moussaka, retsina, just a little ouzo ... and Metaxa, naturally! In addition – as icing on the baklava – Necroscope and its sequels, along with others of his books, are now appearing in Greek translations.
UPDATE LATE 2009: Recently, both “Subterranean Press” in the USA and “Solaris” in the UK have published two companion volumes of Lumley’s previously uncollected Cthulhu Mythos tales: The Taint and Other Novellas and Haggopian and Other Mythos Tales. Other books from Subterranean include a very special edition of Necroscope®, Brian Lumley’s Freaks, Screaming Science Fiction, A Coven of Vampires, The Nonesuch and Others and Necroscope: The Plague-Bearer (forthcoming).
In March 2010 Brian received the most prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writers Association. This was presented to him at the World Horror Convention in Brighton, UK.
As for the future: "Well, the future is always uncertain." But with several books from an extensive backlist awaiting reissue, it certainly isn't over yet!
When they're not travelling, the Lumleys keep house in Torquay, Devon, England...