views updated

COPPER, Basil 1924-

(Lee Falk)

PERSONAL: Born February 5, 1924, in London, England; married Annie Renee Guerin. Education: Attended Glasgow Wireless College. Hobbies and other interests: Old films.

ADDRESSES: Home—Stockdoves, South Park, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 1EN, England.

CAREER: Journalist and author. News editor with Kent county, England, newspaper for thirty years; freelance writer, 1970—. Military service: Royal British Navy, served four years; Light Costal Forces.

MEMBER: Society of Authors, Crime Writers Association, British Film Institute, Tunbridge Wells Vintage Film Society (founder), Vintage Film Circle.

AWARDS, HONORS: Runner up for year's best book, First World Fantasy Convention, for From Evil's Pillow; elected Knight of Mark Twain, for "contribution to modern fiction."

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

The Great White Space, R. Hale (London, England), 1974, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1975.

The Curse of the Fleers, Harwood Smart (London, England), 1976, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1977.

Necropolis, illustrated by Stephen E. Fabian, Arkham House (Sauk City, WI), 1980.

The House of the Wolf, illustrated by Stephen E. Fabian, Arkham House, 1983, reprinted, Sarob Press (Carmarthenshire, Wales), 2003.

Into the Silence, Sphere Books (London, England), 1983.

The Black Death, illustrated by Stefanie K. Hawks, Fedogan & Bremer (Minneapolis, MN), 1991.

Solar Pons versus the Devil's Claw, Sarob Press (Carmarthenshire, Wales), 2004.

STORY COLLECTIONS

Not after Nightfall: Stories of the Strange and Terrible, New English Library (London, England), 1967.

From Evil's Pillow, Arkham House (Sauk City, WI), 1973.

When Footsteps Echo: Tales of Terror and the Unknown, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1975.

And Afterward, the Dark: Seven Tales, Arkham House (Sauk City, WI), 1977.

Here Be Daemons: Tales of Horror and the Uneasy, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1978.

The Dossier of Solar Pons, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1979.

The Further Adventure of Solar Pons, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1979.

The Secret Files of Solar Pons, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1979.

Some Uncollected Cases of Solar Pons, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1980.

Voices of Doom: Tales of Terror and the Uncanny, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1980.

(Editor) August Derleth, The Solar Pons Omnibus, two volumes, Arkham House (Sauk City, WI), 1982.

The Exploits of Solar Pons, illustrated by Stefanie K. Hawks, Fedogan & Bremer, 1993.

The Recollections of Solar Pons, illustrated by Stefanie K. Hawks, Fedogan & Bremer, 1996.

Whispers in the Night, Fedogan & Bremer (Minneapolis, MN), 1999.

Cold Hand on My Shoulder: Tales of Terror and Suspense, Sarob Press (Carmarthenshire, Wales), 2002.

"MIKE FARADAY" PRIVATE EYE NOVELS

The Dark Mirror, R. Hale, 1966.

Night Frost, R. Hale, 1966.

No Flowers for the General, R. Hale, 1967.

Scratch on the Dark, R. Hale, 1967.

Die Now, Live Later, R. Hale, 1968.

Don't Bleed on Me, R. Hale, 1968.

The Marble Orchard, R. Hale, 1969.

Dead File, R. Hale, 1970.

No Letters from the Grave, R. Hale, 1971.

The Big Chill, R. Hale, 1972.

Strong-Arm, R. Hale, 1972.

A Great Year for Dying, R. Hale, 1973.

Shock-Wave, R. Hale, 1973.

The Breaking Point, R. Hale, 1973.

A Voice from the Dead, R. Hale, 1974.

Feedback, R. Hale, 1974.

Ricochet, R. Hale, 1974.

The High Wall, R. Hale, 1975.

Impact, R. Hale, 1975.

A Good Place to Die, R. Hale, 1975.

The Lonely Place, R. Hale, 1976.

Crack in the Sidewalk, R. Hale, 1976.

Tight Corner, R. Hale, 1976.

The Year of the Dragon, R. Hale, 1977.

Death Squad, R. Hale, 1977.

Murder One, R. Hale, 1978.

A Quiet Room in Hell, R. Hale, 1979.

The Big Rip-Off, R. Hale, 1979.

The Caligari Complex, R. Hale, 1980.

Flip-Side, R. Hale, 1980.

The Long Rest, R. Hale, 1981.

The Empty Silence, R. Hale, 1981.

Dark Entry, R. Hale, 1981.

Hang Loose, R. Hale, 1982.

Shoot-Out, R. Hale, 1982.

The Far Horizon, R. Hale, 1982.

Trigger-Man, R. Hale, 1983.

Pressure-Point, R. Hale, 1983.

Hard Contract, R. Hale, 1983.

The Narrow Corner, R. Hale, 1983.

The Hook, R. Hale, 1984.

You Only Die Once, R. Hale, 1984.

Tuxedo Park, R. Hale, 1984.

The Far Side of Fear, R. Hale, 1984.

Snow-Job, R. Hale, 1986.

Jet-Lag, R. Hale, 1986.

Blood on the Moon, R. Hale, 1986.

Heavy Iron, R. Hale, 1987.

Turn down an Empty Glass, R. Hale, 1987.

Bad Scene, R. Hale, 1987.

House-Dick, R. Hale, 1988.

Print-Out, R. Hale, 1988.

NOVELS; UNDER PSEUDONYM LEE FALK

The Phantom, Avon (New York, NY), 1972.

The Phantom and the Scorpia Menace, Avon (New York, NY), 1972.

The Phantom and the Slave Market of Mucar, Avon (New York, NY), 1972.

OTHER

The Vampire: In Legend, Fact, and Art (nonfiction), R. Hale, 1973, Citadel (New York, NY), 1974.

The Werewolf: In Legend, Fact, and Art (nonfiction), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1977.

Also author of a film script of M. R. James's novel Count Magnus.

ADAPTATIONS: Copper's novel Camera Obscura was made into a film.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Knife in the Back, for Night-shade Press, and Solar Pons Companion.

SIDELIGHTS: British-based writer Basil Copper has written prolifically in the mystery and horror genres, including over fifty novels featuring Los Angeles private eye Mike Faraday and several collections of short stories featuring 1920s detective Solar Pons. Copper is best known for his horror fiction. As Mike Ashley explained in the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers, Copper "remains the most complete traditionalist working in the field of horror fiction today."

Ashley noted that Copper's "soul is in the mistenshrouded age of the late Victorian and Edwardian era, or a timeless 1920s that nostalgia has created. Copper is a great emulator, rather in the vein of his mentor August Derleth. He is able to reproduce accurately the pace, mood and approach of the work of authors he admires, particularly H. P. Lovecraft, Mickey Spillane, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Derleth himself. This is not to detract from Copper's creative abilities—he can produce excellent original material—rather it is a demonstration of his flexibility within the field.... In the horror field, Copper's work falls loosely into three categories. There are his stories which emulate the work of H. P. Lovecraft, there are those which are Victorian gothics, and there are his own individual stories."

Copper's Lovecraftian fiction includes his novels The Great White Space and Into the Silence which, according to Ashley, are both "similar in structure and development to Lovecraft's major works such as At the Mountains of Madness. Copper superbly captures the timelessness of Lovecraft's 1920s and 1930s when individuals, usually university professors, explored little-known parts of the globe. The books start with that apprehension and excitement of entering the unknown checked to some degree by a more leisurely academic pace and reserve until events begin to snowball out of control and menaces from Earth's distant past are unearthed."

Copper's more Victorian fiction is, according to Ashley, "best exemplified by Necropolis, a wonderful emporium of a novel in which a private investigator, looking into the death of a client's father, unearths foul deeds in the depths of the massive Brookwood Cemetery. The novel is set in the same atmospheric London as Sherlock Holmes inhabited: in fact Inspector Lestrade is one of the characters and there are several cross-references to Holmes's cases. Copper succeeds in recreating this atmosphere in his more recent novels, The House of the Wolf and The Black Death, though neither of these has the gothic extravagance of Necropolis."

Copper's more individualistic stories, those drawing upon his vast knowledge of the ghost and horror genre to create wholly original effects, include those works in which the author "likes to bring the reader into the narrator's mind and follow the gradual mental degradation amidst rising fright," as Ashley explained. Among his best works, and "arguably Copper's best short story," Ashley noted, is "The Janissaries of Emilion," a tale in which "a visionary is killed by a product of his own dreams." Other stand-out stories include "The Grey House," "a vivid haunted-house story which presages Stephen King's The Shining in its evocation of possession. Another powerful story . . . , one which demonstrates Copper's interest in and knowledge of the cinema, [is] 'Amber Print' in which two collectors discover an unknown and, it transpires, haunted print of [F. W. Murnau's classic silent film] The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari."Ashley believed the story "Wish You Were Here," another haunted-house tale, to be among Copper's finest works "because he is able to bring to the story his wide experience of horror fiction and his ability to create an almost Victorian atmosphere . . . to produce a modern-day ghost story which packs the punch of a century of supernatural fiction."

Copper told CA: "I usually go to bed at around one a.m. after watching movies, of which I have a vast collection; rise around eight a.m. and am at the desk in my study at nine a.m. and work a normal office day, answering mail and working on fresh projects, sometimes two or three at a time. My wife is French and we spend a couple of months at the family home in Burgundy each year (i.e., a month around May and another month in October), and I do a lot of writing in my spare time.

"People often ask, 'Where do you get your inspiration?' Well, of course, the professional author simply sits down at the typewriter and starts writing; in my case it is like water from a tap and fresh ideas evolve as one progresses. It was a great pleasure to me last year when Professor Howard Gotlieb, the distinguished Archivist at Boston University established the Basil Cooper Archive there. My great idols in the macabre field are, of course, Edgar Allan Poe, H. P. Lovecraft, M. R. James and E. F. Benson; two American and two British."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.

PERIODICALS

Book and Magazine Collector, February, 1999, Richard Dalby "Basil Cooper: Crimewriter and Master of Macabre," p. 82.

Publishers Weekly, September 25, 1995, p. 47.

Copper, Basil 1924-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article