McNaughton, Brian 1935-2004
McNAUGHTON, Brian 1935-2004
Born 1935, in Red Bank, NJ; died May 13, 2004. Education: Attended Harvard University.
Journalist and novelist. On staff of Newark Evening News, Newark, NJ, for ten years; also worked various other jobs, including ten years as a night manager of a seaside hotel.
World Fantasy Award for Best Collection, 1998, International Horror Guild award, 1998, and Bram Stoker Best Collection award nomination, all for The Throne of Bones.
Nasty Stories (originally published 1970), Wildside Press (Gillette, NJ), 2000.
Satan's Love Child, Carlyle (New York, NY), 1977, published as Gemini Rising, Wildside Press (Gillette, NJ), 2000.
Satan's Mistress, Carlyle (New York, NY), 1978, published as the e-book Downward to Darkness, 2000, print edition, Wildside Press (Gillette, NJ), 2003.
Buster Callan (originally published as Poacher, 1978), Wildside Press (Gillette, NJ), 2002.
Even More Nasty Stories (originally published 1979), e-book edition, Borgo Press (San Bernardino, CA), 2000, Wildside Press (Gillette, NJ), 2001.
Satan's Seductress, Carlyle (New York, NY), 1980, published as Worse Things Waiting, Wildside Press (Gillette, NJ), 2000.
Satan's Surrogate, Carlyle (New York, NY), 1982.
The Throne of Bones (short story collection; originally published 1987), Terminal Fright Press (Black River, NY), 1997.
In Flagrant Delight, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1991.
The House across the Way, Wildside Press (Gillette, NJ), 2001.
(Editor, with Bruce Gehwiler and David B. Silva) Frontiers of Terror (short stories), Marietta Publishing (Marietta, GA), 2002.
Guilty until Proven Guilty (novel), Wildside Press (Gillette, NJ), 2003.
Also author of numerous horror and fantasy short stories published in anthologies, including Lovecraft's Legacy, 1990, 100 Vicious Little Vampire Stories, 1995,100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, 1995, Adventures in the Twilight Zone, 1995, Darkside: Horror for the Next Millennium, 1996, Miskatonic University, 1996, Seductive Spectres, 1996, Terminal Frights, 1997, 100 Hilarious Little Howlers, 1999, and Graven Images, 2000. Also contributor, under pseudonym Mark Bloodstone, to Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, edited by Stefan R. Dziemianowicz, Robert Weinberg, and Martin H. Greenberg, Barnes & Noble, 1998.
Brian McNaughton wrote a number of popular works in the horror and fantasy genres, including such novels as Downward to Darkness, Gemini Rising, and Buster Callan. He also published several volumes of short stories and contributed to various anthologies. McNaughton's The Throne of Bones, a collection of linked fantasy stories, won both the World Fantasy and the International Horror Guild awards for best story collection in 1998, and it was nominated for the Bram Stoker Best Collection award. Critics have compared McNaughton's writing to that of several well-known fantasy and horror authors, including J. R. R. Tolkien, H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, and Robert E. Howard.
McNaughton's writing blends dark atmospheres with black humor, leading reviewer Don D'Ammassa, in a piece for the Science Fiction Chronicle, to refer to the world depicted in The Throne of Bones as "a dark land that makes Mordor look like Oz." Dark Echo contributor Paula Guran observed that "The Throne of Bones is decadent, witty, satiric, original fantasy that may owe its genesis to earlier sources, but stands alone in singular weirdness. McNaughton creates a nasty, merciless world with his wickedly keen use of language and a sinfully splendid ability to show the details of his creation." Other McNaughton collections, such as Nasty Stories and its follow-up, Even More Nasty Stories, include more horror than fantasy tales. D'Ammassa noted that, despite a tendency toward brevity, McNaughton's horror stories offer readers "a powerful punch."
In his last novel to be published before his death, Guilty until Proven Guilty, McNaughton explores the horrific world of a serial-rapist/murderer known as the Full Moon Maniac, who terrorizes the small town of Armitage by attacking couples. John Grant, writing for Crescent Blues Book Views, found the work lacked believability, citing McNaughton's efforts to make the characters too despicable, which causes them to come across as unreal, but commented that "McNaughton's prose does have a swing to it."
Other of McNaughton's longer works have received more favorable opinions, however. Downward to Darkness, Gemini Rising, and Worse Things Waiting rework three of his earlier novels, Satan's Mistress, Satan's Love Child, and Satan's Seductress, respectively. In the first book, a man attempts to bring one of his ancestors back to life and instead gets a beautiful woman who might not be exactly what she appears to be; the second delves into Satanism, and the final novel recounts the story of a woman who makes a pact with a supernatural being. Don D'Ammassa, in a review for the Science Fiction Chronicle, noted that while he generally preferred McNaughton's shorter fiction, "the first and third of these should not be dismissed."
Buster Callan, another reworking on an earlier novel—in this case, Poacher—tells the story of Dave Stern, a New Yorker who moves to Vermont in an attempt to commune with nature, and how he finds himself at odds with local redneck Buster Callan, a deer hunter who washes and boils his clothes, then rubs them with cow manure before going out to the woods. A contributor to Publishers Weekly wrote that "talented horror author McNaughton avoids formula," and went on to note that his "gleefully grotesque characters and situations should keep faithful fans turning the pages."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Publishers Weekly, May 13, 2002, review of Buster Callan, p. 56.
Science Fiction Chronicle, December, 2001, Don D'Ammassa, review of Downward to Darkness, Gemini Rising, and Worse Things Waiting, p. 46; January, 2002, Don D'Ammassa, review of The Throne of Bones, Nasty Stories, and Even More Nasty Stories, p. 23.
Crescent Blues Book Views,http://www.crescentblues.com/ (October 27, 2004), John Grant, review of Guilty until Proven Guilty.
Dark Echo,http://www.darkecho.com/ (October 27, 2004), Paula Guran, review of The Throne of Bones.
Fantastic Fiction,http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/ (October 27, 2004), "Brian McNaughton."*