Two nights ago, the Spawn rang me from Flagship, a pretty common event. This particular call, however, was driven by academic needs.
“Dad, what do you know about regional horror fiction?”
“Well, there’s Lovecraft’s New England and King’s Maine, but there’s also some Appalachian stuff that’s pretty good.”
“How did you know I was going to ask about that?”
“I didn’t, but since you were going to ask anyway, you might want to check out Manly Wade Wellman.” I spelled it out for her, told her about the John the Balladeer stories, and told her we had some of the books, which had been part of my dad’s library, and are now here at my office. I also suggested she check out Karl Edward Wagner, who lived in East Tennessee and North Carolina, though I never really thought of him as an Appalachian writer — honestly, I haven’t read that much of his work, though I think I should. (Later, when I looked Wellman up on Wiki, I saw that Wagner was Wellman’s literary executor — maybe that’s why I made the connection.)
So yesterday, I found that a Baen collection of Wellman’s John stories has been published online, from what I think is a legit site (apparently the Beauregard Parish, LA public library), with an introduction by David Drake to the electronic edition. It has been at least a couple of decades since I had read them, so that’s how I spent part of my afternoon. The horror/dark fantasy stories (most, but not all of them) are a bit dated, even tame by today’s splatter-heavy standards, but still possess a real power to creep the reader out. And this morning, I found a couple of the collections here on my office shelf, which I’ll hand off to the Spawn when she comes home for my birthday this weekend.
I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions that the Spawn is the fourth generation of SF/Fantasy/Horror readers in Clan Mondo; still, it tickles me to get to share the stories with her that I know my dad liked so much.