Hautala, Rick 1949- (Richard Andrew Hautala, A.J. Matthews)
Hautala, Rick 1949- (Richard Andrew Hautala, A.J. Matthews)
Surname is pronounced "how-ta-la"; born Richard Andrew Hautala, February 3, 1949, in Gloucester, MA; son of Matt A. (a civil engineer) and Vennie (a homemaker) Hautala; married Bonnie Black (a legal as- sistant), September 3, 1971; currently companion of Holly Newstein (an author); children: Aaron, Jesse, Matti. Ethnicity: Finnish. Education: University of Maine at Orono, B.A., 1971, M.A., 1974. Politics: Liberal Democrat. Religion: "I was raised Lutheran (Suomi Synod). Now I read Taoism and practice Yoga." Hobbies and other interests: Reading, painting and sketching.
Writer, novelist, and short story writer. Worked in various bookstores and taught part-time at the University of Southern Maine, 1973-78; currently full-time writer. Waterville High School, Waterville, ME, teaches one class a month for a gifted and talent writing program.
Horror Writers of America (vice president, 1993-94, trustee, 1994-95).
Moondeath, Zebra Books, 1981.
Moonbog, Zebra Books, 1982.
Night Stone, Zebra Books, 1986.
Little Brothers, Zebra Books, 1988.
Moonwalker, Zebra Books, 1989.
Winter Wake, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1989.
Dead Voices, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1990.
Cold Whisper, Zebra Books, 1991.
Dark Silence, Zebra Books, 1992.
Ghost Light, Zebra Books, 1993.
Twilight Time, Zebra Books, 1994.
Shades of Night, Zebra Books, 1995.
Beyond the Shroud, White Wolf (Stone Mountain, GA), 1996.
The Mountain King, Cemetery Dance Publications (Forest Hill, MD), 1996.
Impulse, Kensington (New York, NY), 1996.
Poltergeist: The Legacy: The Hidden Saint, Penguin/Putnam Publishing (New York, NY), 1999.
Cold River, Cemetery Dance Publications (Forest Hill, MD), 2003.
AS A.J. MATTHEWS
White Room, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Looking Glass, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2004.
Follow, Berkley Books (New York, NY), 2005.
WITH CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN
Skin Deep, Simon Pulse (New York, NY), 2000.
Brain Trust, Pocket Pulse (New York, NY), 2001.
Burning Bones, Pocket Pulse (New York, NY), 2001.
Last Breath, Simon Pulse (New York, NY), 2004.
Throat Culture, Simon Pulse (New York, NY), 2005.
Bedbugs (short stories), Cemetery Dance Publications (Forest Hill, MD), 2000.
(With William Relling, Jr.) Along the Midway of the Carnival of Souls and Other Stories, Wildside Press (Rockville, MD), 2002.
Occasional Demons (short stories), Cemetery Dance Publications (Forest Hill, MD), 2007.
Contributor to anthologies, including Grave Tales, c. 2000.
Novelist Rick Hautala wanted to be a painter, but felt frustrated by his ambition until he realized that "I could do with words what I was trying to do with painting. Maybe it is because a writer can appeal to all senses instead of just the visual," he told CA. "Anyway, I found that writing was much less frustrating, but still not without its challenges."
Author of such novels as Moondeath, Cold Whisper, and Twilight Time, Hautala found inspiration in not only the work of Stephen King, but his physical presence: King attended the same college as Hautala. Hautala believes that personally knowing someone who had sold a novel to a New York publisher helped him to succeed as a novelist himself. Other, less personal, influences on Hautala include William Shakespeare, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Ray Bradbury. Harlan Ellison and Kurt Vonnegut became later influences.
Hautala writes primarily, he told CA, because "I want to communicate to the reader that there is more to life than the surface, that we have to delve deeply in order to experience the richness of life. Dreams are important to me, and fiction is in some ways like a dream you share with your readers. Of course, I try never to lose sight of the fact that, first and foremost, I am trying to entertain the reader. Anything beyond that is a bonus."
Recurring themes in Hautala's work are ghosts and the idea of haunting or being haunted. He told CA: "I have a sense of being haunted, and I've explored many angles of that state of being haunted in most of my novels, to the point where my former publisher, Zebra, insisted that I write ghost stories. It's bad enough being pegged as a horror writer, but to be limited to writing ghost stories was tough. Still, I love ghost stories, and will always return to them.
"There's something ephemeral about life, something we experience in dreams and daydreams and regrets and fantasy and imagination and nostalgia for our childhoods that I'm still trying to grasp. We all have ghosts inside of us, and fiction is a fun way to explore the different ways we're haunted by things that might have been but, for one reason or another, weren't."
Similarly, Hautala views plot and character "like two mirrors facing each other, reflecting back each other's image of the other into what is called infinite regression." Characterization is the key to Hautala's fiction: "If there is a balance in my fiction, I'm happy, but if I err too much on one side, it's on the side of characterization. Bottom line—if the terror and horror don't resonate within the character's psyche, it's just sensational, going for the gross out. I try (and hope I achieve) a balance that makes the terrors resonate within the characters and, thus, within the reader."
Tom Easton, in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, described Hautala's writing as a form of misdirection: "Think of a magician. The secret of his success is distraction. While his right hand plucks the dove from a concealed pocket, his left waves a silken kerchief, or points at his sexy assistant, or juggles a pair of glinting rings. But the key is distraction." A Publishers Weekly contributor alluded to this quality in a review of Beyond the Shroud, a novel based on White Wolf's "Wraith: The Oblivion" role-playing game: "Hautala skillfully deploys spooks, suspense and domestic drama to maneuver around the plot holes created by adapting White Wolf's game." The main character in Beyond the Shroud is a dead man who attempts to prevent a murder in the world of the living. A St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers contributor commented that in Beyond the Shroud, "Hautala's world of the dead is distinctly unsettling." The contributor also singled out the novel Cold Whisper, about a woman whose imaginary friend fulfills her darkest wishes, as "the most inventive of Hautala's novels."
The Mountain King is a novel about Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, roaming the Maine mountains. When Phil Sawyer sees his friend, Mark, grabbed by Sasquatch, he cannot get anyone in the town to believe him. As a result, Phil becomes a prime suspect in Mark's disappearance and later in the horrible murder of the lover of Mark's wife. "Hautala … shows a deft hand for orchestrating action and suspense," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor.
Hautala has also collaborated with Christopher Golden on a number of novels. In Last Breath, the authors present a mystery surrounding the murders of several people by drowning. Autopsy reports show that all of the victims, whose bodies were found in various pools throughout Boston, might, in fact, have been drowned in the same pubic swimming pool. The police dub the murderer "The Baptist," and nineteen-year-old Jenna Blake ends up solving the case when the Baptist begins stalking her. "It all adds up to good clean fun," wrote Jessica Swaim in Kliatt.
Jenna Blake returns in Throat Culture. This time, Hautala and Golden have Jenny on the case of mysterious deaths at a university that may have to do with food poisoning. Going to medical school and working as a part-time assistant to the local medical examiner, Jenny becomes involved in solving the case when her father's new wife becomes paralyzed by the mysterious poison. Debra Smith, writing in Kliatt, noted that "this addition to the series will not disappoint fans and will entice newcomers." In a review for the School Library Journal, Amy Patrick wrote: "The characters are well drawn."
Hautala has also published collections of short stories. In his 2000 collection, Bedbugs, Hautala presents twenty-six strange tales, from a man discovering a carnival show secret kept hidden by the snake woman to a man waiting for the devil to collect his soul. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the collection contains some "effectively crafted shockers." In his 2007 short story collection, Occasional Demons, Hautala presents brief science fiction and horror tales, such as the "Nightmare Transcript," about a strange book that consumes everything around it. "All the stories … are competently told," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor.
If he could not be a writer, Hautala would still like to be an artist. He told CA, "I still dream of the day I can take a summer off and just go outside and paint all the time. But seriously, there is nothing I want to do more than write. Unlike some writers who hate to write and just enjoy having written, I love the process of writing. It's dreaming with your eyes open."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, June, 1983, Tom Easton, review of Moonbog, p. 108; June, 1991, Tom Easton, review of Dead Voices, p. 182.
Booklist, May 1, 2005, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Throat Culture, p. 1541.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 1996, review of Beyond the Shroud, p. 317.
Kliatt, September, 1989, review of Winter Wake, p. 8; January, 2005, Jessica Swaim, review of Last Breath, p. 13; July, 2005, Debra Smith, review of Throat Culture, p. 20.
Library Journal, April 15, 1996, Sue Hamburger, review of Beyond the Shroud, p. 125; September 15, 1996, John Noel, review of The Mountain King, p. 96.
Publishers Weekly, April 1, 1996, review of Beyond the Shroud, p. 58; August 26, 1996, review of the Mountain King, p. 78; January 17, 2000, review of Bedbugs, p. 49; March 6, 2000, review of Grave Tales, p. 89; September 22, 2003, review of Cold River, p. 90; March 13, 2006, review of Occasional Demons, p. 47.
School Library Journal, July, 2005, Amy Patrick, review of Throat Culture, p. 103.
Rick Hautala Home Page,http://rickhautala.com/rick (May 3, 2007).