Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Laymon Legacy

Recently, I read MIDNIGHT'S LAIR by Richard Laymon, which is one of those hard-to-find books in his vast backlist, published overseas originally and never reissued by Leisure Books. I acquired it from an online seller for a reasonable price, and besides, being a lifelong Laymon fan, I have to own everything he's written. I still hope to one day get my hands on a copy of IN LAYMON'S TERMS.

Why am I writing this on my blog? Certainly to many diehard horror readers and a good deal of horror writers, Richard Laymon is often cited as a huge influence, and rightly so. Myself included. I discovered Laymon in the late 80's after buying a copy of FUNLAND and was blown away. While I cut my teeth early on with Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Peter Straub, Robert McCammon, and Clive Barker, it was that first book by Laymon that I'd read that made me want to seek out whatever else he'd written. Over the years, I grabbed such classics like FLESH, TREAD SOFTLY, THE STAKE, and BITE to name a few. Later, when Leisure Books started to reissue his older titles, and new ones, I was ecstatic, like a kid in a...well, bookstore.

Then, sadly, he passed away in February 2001. While he left a wealth of work for readers to enjoy, fans like myself can only imagine what more he could've done had he lived longer. Not for the casual horror reader, Laymon's novels were well-known for his prodigious use of sex and violence, and his signature and distinctive style (diehard Laymon fans know about his use of the R word). 

I never had the privilege of meeting him, but through personal accounts, and stories shared online on such venues like Brian Keene's excellent podcast, THE HORROR SHOW, Richard Laymon was fan friendly, especially so to up-and-coming horror writers. If you listened to Brian's podcast on Laymon, or read the tribute book, IN LAYMON'S TERMS, this isn't news to you. But it makes me appreciate one of my literary idols even more.

Even though he left this world much too soon, the Laymon Legacy lives on, having inspired and influenced popular bestselling authors such as the aforementioned Brian Keene, Bryan Smith, to newer horror authors like Jonathan Janz, Kristopher Rufty and many more.