...is not what you're thinking, but instead the first time I met an honest to goodness horror author. This is a Wayback Machine trip, my friends, but not the first author I'd ever met, though. Back in 1984 or 1985, while in high school I had the totally cool opportunity of meeting local author, Randy Wayne White, who was just known as Randy White (writing under the pseudonym Randy Striker), a fishing guide and outdoors writer turned men's adventure fiction novelist. He'd written a Florida-noir series called MacMorgan (think Magnum PI meets Mack Bolan set in Key West), and the vigilante series Hawker, long before he hit it big with the widely popular Doc Ford novels. Randy attended a Career Day at my high school as a guest fiction writer, and I had been not just thrilled to meet my first author but one I was a fan of.
Flash forward a couple years and I had discovered Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz (before he eventually dropped the R and his mustache), Robert McCammon, Peter Straub, and Clive Barker. These were the days long before the internet and social media, so unless you wrote a letter, or attended a book signing or convention, you had a snowball's chance in hell of meeting one.
But I did. Not any of the aforementioned and probably one most have never heard of. But she was local, as I grew up in the Ft. Myers area, Prudy Taylor Board was a long time journalist and more recently back then, a published horror novelist. I wrote to her and she was kind enough to write back, and as I was in my first few years of college, she invited me over to her home. She was gracious, honest, and offered tons of advice, including giving me a copy of a newsletter to the this new group called HWA, which I later joined for the first time. Prudy even gave me a signed copy of her first horror novel, THE VOW, from Leisure Books. Her second novel, BLOOD LEGACY, was published shortly thereafter from Pocket Books. Both books were extremely well-written and fun to read, and Prudy and I stayed in touch for a while after I moved to Orlando in 1990.
Prudy Taylor Board was the first horror author I'd ever met, and I'm extremely grateful for her friendship and mentorship in such an early stage of my writing life.