I wanted to write a post about James Herbert earlier, but is the first chance I’ve had to really sit down and think about it. It’s so sad that he’s gone. He was our very own Stephen King.
Like countless others, I read Herbert’s The Magic Cottage at an inappropriately early age, and scared myself witless. And even to this day I’m hard pressed to think of a horror novel that I enjoyed anywhere near as much. It’s in my top ten favourite novels of all time. And I’ve just realised that I don’t currently have a hard copy in the house. I need to rectify that, because I want it to be sitting there on the bookshelf ready for when my son is older. I want him to sneak it away into his bedroom and scare himself out of a weeks’ worth of sleep with it, just like I did. It teaches you the real magic of books, how they can affect you, what they can do to you. And in a world full of so much television and video game insanity, I want him to learn that a simple bundle of pages can do a finer job than all the processors, projectors and graphics in the world.
As well as being an incredible entertainer, Herbert is also an inspiration to me when it comes to my own writing. How’s this for leading by example? He wrote his first novel, The Rats, at the age of 28, and it took him ten months to complete. He sent it off to six publishers, and received three replies. He got one acceptance and two rejections.When it was published, the first print run of 100,000 copies sold out within three weeks. There’s a lesson for all of us whining, self-pitying wannabe writers right there – Sit down, Write, and if you’re good enough, you’ll succeed.
His back catalogue is astounding, and I’m indulging myself in an Amazon run right now, to make sure he has a visible place of honour within the house. Because sometimes, Kindle copies just don’t compare to the real thing.