I've only read one book by Alan Ryan, but I cannot overemphasize how much it meant to me.

Well, I think I actually read two. One was an anthology called Hallowe'en Horrors. I also read some of Alan's short stories in anthologies. Ryan was apparently a favorite of Charles L. Grant.

The one novel I read was called Dead White. I liked it a lot. But it was more than that. Dead White was one of the books that really pushed me from being a science fiction fan to a horror reader. I had read everything from King by that point. Some Ramsey Campbell, James Herbert, Straub, F. Paul Wilson, T.E.D. Klein's The Ceremonies, Dennis Etchison. Monteleone. And of course Charles Grant.

There was something about Dead White. As anyone who knows me at all knows, I love the cold and snow. I read Dead White on a cold night. I lived in this meager house that didn't have great heating. I remember sitting there in a recliner, reading it. I was enjoying the cold air in the house, which made the book even more chilling.

Alan Ryan had a couple of other novels out, but for some reason I never got around to reading them. They never seemed to turn up in the used bookstores, which was just about the only place I could afford to buy reading materials back then.

Alan Ryan was of the Old School horror writers. Atmosphere, mood, and character, rather than gallons of blood and guts. As most of us know, that type of fiction fell out of favor by the late 80's. Like a few others, Ryan drifted away from the genre. When I asked people in the know about him, I was told that he was involved in travel writing.

I would think about Dead White from time to time, always remembering how much I liked it. How important it was to me. This novel helped define me as a horror reader. I was still reading SF back when I read it, but around that time I stopped almost completely. I read more now, mostly Golden Age stuff, but for years and years I mostly stuck to horror and suspense.

I was glad to hear that Alan Ryan, now going as Alan Peter Ryan, had a story in Shivers 6. Damn me, I still haven't read it, but I will. Soon.

Then I heard the worst news. Alan Peter Ryan had died. From the worst, most despicable sort of cancer. Pancreatic, which claimed my brother.

We're losing the best ones. The stylists who shaped the genre into something wonderful. Unfortunately, few seem to be aware of it. The great Les Daniels died, with barely a ripple in the community. We already lost Charles Grant a few years ago.

Now for the good news: Cemetery Dance Publications just announced two new books by Alan Peter Ryan. One is a collection of short stories called The Back of Beyond. The other is a novella called Amazonas,which may have been inspired by his travel writing.

We can't bring Alan Ryan, Charles L. Grant, Les Daniels, Richard Laymon, Robert Bloch, Manly Wade Wellman, Karl Edward Wagner, Ray Russell (just to name a few) back from the dead. But we can keep their voices alive. By reading their published works. Cherishing them, and passing them on to others.

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