Sunday, June 13, 2010

On Her Majesty’s Order

I was delighted to see that bestselling horror writer James Herbert was included on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, being given an Order of the British Empire (OBE). The 67-year-old Herbert, who debuted as a novelist in 1974 with the now classic The Rats, said he was “totally staggered and deeply honored” by this presentation, adding that he’d never imagined receiving the OBE for penning his sort of fiction.

I met Herbert earlier this year at the World Horror Convention (WHC) in Brighton, England. It was a wonderful event, and the first time that convention and the Bram Stoker Awards banquet were held in England. In the 1970s and early ’80s, I was heavily involved in horror and science-fiction fandom, so it was great to bump into some of my older colleagues and contacts, including not only Herbert but also Ramsey Campbell. In fact, Campbell was the very first author I had the chance to interview (along with my friend John Parker) back in the ’80s for David Anthony Kraft’s Comics Interview magazine.

I was impressed that Herbert remembered me, specifically from an occasion on which I asked him about his 1978 novel, The Spear. That story had to do with the battle against a neo-Nazi cult in Great Britain, one that boasted apocalyptic plans. Herbert was certainly brave to have written such a novel, during a virulent resurgence of right-wing extremism in England under the banner of the National Front. Herbert told me that at the time he’d received a covert warning: “publish this book, and you’ll get your legs blown-off.” But he ignored the threat, instead embracing the adage “publish and be damned.”

Bravery always deserves to be recognized. So raise your glasses in a toast to the newly exalted James Herbert, OBE.

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