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Authors > Michael McDowell

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message 1: by Cliff (last edited Jan 09, 2008 01:32PM) (new)

Cliff | 11 comments Has anyone read any of his books? I think the best of his work came out in the early 80s. He wrote:

The Blackwater Chronicles: A six part series about a mysterious woman who comes to live in a southern town.

Amulet: About a cursed neklace.

Elementals: About a magician's apprentice

Gilded Needles: About a murderous madame in 19th century New York.

I'm going by my memory and I haven't read these books since the early 80s.

What was great about them were they had a litle bit more gore than SK-and they're written quite well.

I hear he passed away a few years ago.


message 2: by Will (new)

Will Errickson (wille) McDowell's pretty great, and he loved writing paperback originals. Only got into him in the past year. Solid writer, wonderful and weird Southern horror stories, his books have lurid vintage paperback cover art, too! Just finished THE AMULET a few days ago; wrote a review if anyone is interested:

http://toomuchhorrorfiction.blogspot....

I also reviewed THE ELEMENTALS:

http://toomuchhorrorfiction.blogspot....


message 3: by Tressa (last edited May 05, 2011 02:26PM) (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments Will, make sure you find Katie by Michael McDowell at some point. It is my second favorite of his, although it doesn't take place in Alabama.

Which Blackwater books have you read?

I blogged about him for my library (just trying to throw his name out there, lol), and I found out that he had no shame in being considered a paperback original writer, and said his goal was to get his books out to as many people as possible to enjoy. I think he might have said he didn't expect to be known hundreds of years from now like the big names, he was just happy to be read in the present.


message 4: by Lou (new)

Lou (loupendergrast) | 14 comments I finished Blackwater saga was delight to read he's a good story teller words just flow.


message 5: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne | 154 comments He is one of my favorites but I know hardly anybody who has read him. Good Southern Gothic horror.


message 6: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments For anyone who hasn't visited the south, he perfectly creates the southern family dynamic in his books. From the overbearing matriarchs to the beaten down spinsters to the mama's boys to the gossiping to the charitable acts in a crisis, he nails it all. Not saying these things are regional, but for this region that's how it is.

And I love how he uses "gone" for "going."


message 7: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne | 154 comments He's one of my favorites. Although I didn't enjoy his last book finished by Tabitha King.


message 8: by Will (new)

Will Errickson (wille) "Gone" for "going" was perfect!

I haven't read any of the BLACKWATER books b/c the ones I have are no.'s III, V and VI! Dammit. But yes, now I plan on acquiring and reading all his works. He has a great interview in Faces Of Fear Encounters With the Creators of Modern Horror  by Douglas E. Winter where he talks about being glad he left the academic writing world to become a paperback original author. Nice.


message 9: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments I have seen some of the Blackwater books available at local thrift stores. I'll write down the ones you need and get them for you if I find them.


message 10: by Amanda (last edited May 05, 2011 03:13PM) (new)

Amanda Lyons (amandamlyons) I got lucky and found Amulet, Toplin,Cold Moon Over Babylon and Guilded Needles at a book store in January. My brother got me a copy of Candles Burning because he knew I liked Tabitha King (who finished it for McDowell) so now I just have to find all the rest. Who knows I got lucky and found the whole set of Blackwater for Erica's Secret Santa gift. It could happen again *crosses fingers*


message 11: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments Dang, that's quite a feat finding so many McDowells at one time. When I worked in a bookstore back in the mid-'80s they'd only trickle in. And that's before people started collecting them.

I still don't have Toplin. Took me years to collect all the Blackwater books.


message 12: by Erica (last edited May 05, 2011 03:56PM) (new)

Erica (bookpsycho) | 256 comments Thank you Amanda!! I think I almost hyper-ventilated when I got that for christmas. Finding Gilded Needles was a similar experience.


message 13: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Lyons (amandamlyons) Erica: No problem :) I saw them on your wishlist and found them on Ebay within minutes afterward. I was pleased to give a nice gift :)


Tressa: Yeah I know! The only thing I could figure was that either A) folks up here didn't know him and so didn't pick him up or B) somebody unloaded or lost their collection of his works. I think what I have to get yet is what? Elementals, Katie and the BLackwater books?


message 14: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Lyons (amandamlyons) Lol I'd also considered the idea that i might have been blessed by the book fairies for helping Erica get her McDowells :)


message 15: by Lee (last edited May 05, 2011 07:17PM) (new)

Lee | 2502 comments Tressa said...."Took me years to collect all the Blackwater books."

Guess I was lucky (twice )Once... to find these two HB"s at the library (used book) $1.00 ea

And second... I already had the series in PB's. The used book store in town here had all six!.....Don't throw anything gang!!! :)

Avon books....published 1983




message 16: by Will (new)

Will Errickson (wille) Lee, holy eff, great score! I've seen those collections go for like $60 online.


message 17: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments I've seen a hardback here and there over the years, but never bothered to buy one because I have my beloved paperback set. But I think I'll grab one if I ever see another.


message 18: by Lee (new)

Lee | 2502 comments Thanks Will.....makes my lucky find even better! :)


message 19: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Lyons (amandamlyons) You sir are a lucky, lucky Bastard Lee!


message 20: by Lee (new)

Lee | 2502 comments Why thank you Amanda!.....I think.....lol


message 21: by Armand (new)

Armand Rosamilia (armandrosamilia) reading this thread has piqued my interest in reading a book or three from him...

Armand Rosamilia
Rigor Amortis


message 22: by Greg (last edited May 12, 2011 07:51AM) (new)

Greg | 1645 comments Will wrote: "He has a great interview in Faces Of Fear Encounters With the Creators of Modern Horror where he talks about being glad he left the academic writing world to become a paperback original author. Nice."

I looked at his entry in Wikipedia and was saddened to see he had died before reaching 50. I found the link there to Bowling Green State Univeristy's Web page on the archive they have of McDowell's manuscripts and correspondence (http://www.bgsu.edu/colleges/library/...), which I'm sure will be of interest to scholars in the future. The title of his PhD thesis looks interesting: American Attitudes Toward Death, 1825-1865. I have read a number of archaeological works relating to funerary studies in 19th century and so I'm sure that I'd probbaly like his thesis (even if it is now a bit dated and, as a thesis, would lack the edited polish of a published book). It's a pity that he couldn't keep up his interest in academic work as well as his fiction but then I guess he wouldn't have got around to writing some of the novels and screenplays.

I haven't read anything by him yet but I look forward to doing so at some point in the future.


message 23: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments I hope you do read him one day, Greg. His horror writing is subtle and insidious and he writes wonderful characters. He's one of those authors I discovered on my own and cherished from the first book. This was back around '85 before I was ever any part of a horror hub, like we've got going on here at GR. I had ZERO horror support from my peers. Maybe I read Fangoria to kind of keep up? I don't remember.


message 24: by Greg (new)

Greg | 1645 comments Hey Tressa, I also used to read some magazines in the second half of the eighties to keep an eye on the horror industry as it was then but this was mainly limited to Starburst and Fear (the latter folded after a few years). I was a bit more into fantasy role-playing games at that time although I liked reading horror too, of course, my first real horror novel being Stephen King's Pet Sematary, which I read when I was 16.


message 25: by Tressa (last edited May 12, 2011 07:56AM) (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments It was lonely for horror fanatics back then, lol. Magazines were the only way I knew to keep up with what was out there. And my used bookstores. Used to troll those every week. It was so much fun to grab a book I didn't know anything about and find a great new author to read and collect.

Ah, you hung out with the fantasy crowd, huh? Closest I ever got to that was having an embarrassing crush on a guy named Brad Carlton who worked at the mall with me up in B. Dalton bookstore on the second floor while I worked at Bressler's Ice Cream on the main floor. He actually had a Cthulhu Saves bumper sticker on his car.

First King book I ever read was Carrie, I think. Then 'Salem's Lot. Then all that I could get my hands on!


message 26: by Greg (new)

Greg | 1645 comments Due to having to survive on pocket money - apart from what I earned in summer jobs after I turned 15 - I was highly dependent on the cheap books available in a couple of secondhand bookshops in my town!

And yeah, after an American cousin introduced me to AD&D when we were 15, I remained an avid fan of role-playing games till my early thirties. While I refereed games like AD&D I very much liked playing other games like Call of Cthulhu and Warhammer Fantasy Role-Play. I wonder how many horror writers honed their writing skills and their imaginations playing role-playing games? I know that China Miéville did, but what about people like McDowell, I wonder?

Did your crush on Brad Carlton lead anywhere, Tressa? :P


message 27: by Tressa (last edited May 12, 2011 08:29AM) (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments I know. The used books were so cheap back then! I worked in a used bookstore for a year or two and got the best horror picks. What a great time in my life. Just me and my books. :-)

I guess the role playing stuff just never appealed to me. I wouldn't be good at it. That's for brainiacs. I'm sure a lot of our great writers whet their imaginations during some role playing games. Think that might have been a little after McDowell's time, though. Maybe?

Sadly, I fucked up what could have been a great thing with Brad Carlton. I told him he looked like Art Garfunkel and he gave me the cold shoulder after telling me I should like him for who he was and not because he looked like someone. Maybe he was just afraid of girls. I don't know. Wish I could find him on FB, lol.


message 28: by Greg (new)

Greg | 1645 comments Role-playing games started in the 1970s but it wasn't until the 1980s that they became really popular. While the bulk of role-players then (as today) are dominated by people in their teens and twenties, a smaller proportion of older people have always played the games as well, so it's not impossible that McDowell played in at least one role-playing game session, perhaps at a friend's house or maybe at a convention. Of course, if he only had such limited exposure to role-playing games then he couldn't be said to have honed his writing skills or his imagination playing them.

Sounds like Brad remains one of those 'What if?' turning points in your life, Tressa!


message 29: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments One of many, Greg, one of many.


message 30: by Brick (new)

Brick Marlin Greg wrote: "Hey Tressa, I also used to read some magazines in the second half of the eighties to keep an eye on the horror industry as it was then but this was mainly limited to Starburst and Fear (the latter ..."

I'm glad I wasn't the only one engaged into role-playing games. I still love that stuff, even though I haven't played for years. Still have a couple of the original D&D books like Fiend Folio as well as a stack of monster cards!

I began reading Stephen King novels in middle school, leading into the demented mind of what Clive Barker produced in paperbacks. Before that, Edgar Allen Poe opened the door, inviting me inside the darkness, hearing the thump-thump of The Tell-Tale Heart!


message 31: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments We read "The Tell-Tale Heart" in middle school and I never forgot the description of the milky eye.


message 32: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Lyons (amandamlyons) Brick wrote: "Greg wrote: "Hey Tressa, I also used to read some magazines in the second half of the eighties to keep an eye on the horror industry as it was then but this was mainly limited to Starburst and Fear..."

Lol that's pretty much me too Brick Jr high was a great time to start Barker and King :)

I still have my Vampire: THe Masquerade book as well as my All Flesh Must be Eaten one (a zombie tabletop rpg). I was one of those poor souls that never found anyone to play with beyond a few random games :( Meanwhile my brother Josh was playing ADD and Magic with everyone, curses!


message 33: by Bandit (new)

Bandit (lecturatoro) | 8220 comments braaaaains, I want that zombie game :)


message 34: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Lyons (amandamlyons) While reading How to Be a Zombie A Hands-On Guide for Anyone with Brains by Serena Valentino I discovered there are zombie board games too :)

Last Night on Earth
Oh No...Zombies!!!
Zombies!!!
Zombiegeddon

i'm gonna have to dog these up and make Todd and my kid sister play :)


message 35: by Bandit (new)

Bandit (lecturatoro) | 8220 comments if that fails, move to Philly :)


message 36: by Greg (last edited May 13, 2011 12:24PM) (new)

Greg | 1645 comments Brick wrote: "I'm glad I wasn't the only one engaged into role-playing games. I still love that stuff, even though I haven't played for years. Still have a couple of the original D&D books like Fiend Folio as well as a stack of monster cards!"

I was still buying Dungeon until its demise even though I hadn't played D&D for a few years. I still can't believe that magazine and Dragon were retired by Wizards of the Coast as they were high quality publications. And I still have my first and second edition AD&D stuff as well as some other games like Gamma World Science Fantasy Role-Playing Game/Boxed , Shadowrun and Heroquest (Games Workshop/MB Games [Hasbro]).

Amanda wrote: "I still have my Vampire: THe Masquerade book as well as my All Flesh Must be Eaten one (a zombie tabletop rpg). I was one of those poor souls that never found anyone to play with beyond a few random games :( Meanwhile my brother Josh was playing ADD and Magic with everyone, curses! "

I was tempted to get into Vampire: the Masquerade at one stage but I no longer had a role-playing group to play it with.

At my high school, I was able to play Gamma World with one friend when we were in the 10th and 11th grades and also Warhammer with my brother and some of his friends (they were in 7th/8th grades) but it was hard to get people to play games at the school (there was a lot of bullying there and some people didn't want to be targeted for nerdy activity like role-playing games :/). College was a different matter thankfully. :)


message 37: by Greg (new)

Greg | 1645 comments Amanda wrote: "While reading How to Be a Zombie A Hands-On Guide for Anyone with Brains by Serena ValentinoI discovered there are zombie board games too :)

Last Night on Earth
Oh No...Zombies!!!
Zombies!!!
Zomb..."


Hmmm... Would wearing the Zombie Survival Medkit be an advantage when playing these games?


message 38: by Brick (new)

Brick Marlin Awesome, Greg!


message 39: by Kit★ (new)

Kit★ (xkittyxlzt) | 1416 comments I've only read Candles Burning, but the other ones sound good, I'll have to keep an eye out for 'em.


message 40: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments Kit, if you've only read Candles Burning, you've got a lot of good stuff to look forward to!


message 41: by Lou (new)

Lou (loupendergrast) | 14 comments I forgot to say thanks Tressa for getting me into backwater saga while back enjoyable writing.


message 42: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments You're so welcome, Lou! Anytime I can spread the Gospel of McDowell, I'm happy. Gotta keep his writing alive, KWIM?


message 43: by Lou (new)

Lou (loupendergrast) | 14 comments Indeed


message 44: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (trishwilsonelizabethblack) | 38 comments I just finished "The Elementals" and I was awestruck. Going to read more of his stuff. He was recommended to me, and I'm glad I found him. So I should read the Blackwater books next?


message 45: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments Elizabeth, glad you enjoyed Elementals! Always nice to hear that McDowell has picked up another fan.

Yes, read Blackwater. Make sure you have all of them near you because you'll go through them like a bag of mini Reese's. Like Elementals, Blackwater has a nice southern gothic flavor to the setting and characters.

If you ever get the chance to read Katie, please do. It's a little harder to find but worth the hunt. It takes place in New York and the eerie factor is heavy.

Enjoy!


message 46: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (trishwilsonelizabethblack) | 38 comments Tressa, I love haunted house stories so when I heard about "The Elementals" on Facebook I had to read it. Now I want to read more of his books. I'll buy all the Blackwater books at once so I can go through them one at a time. The southern gothic thing is fun, too. Wasn't expecting that. I'm from Maryland and some of my relatives are exactly like Big Barbara. LOL


message 47: by Tressa (last edited Jun 16, 2011 07:24AM) (new)

Tressa  (moanalisa) | 19935 comments There's a character similar to Big Barbara in Blackwater. She is a backstabbing hoot. She's the matriarch until Eleanor is pulled out of the flood waters. Lots of sweet tea drinkin' and southern dialect littered with "gones" in those six books.


message 48: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (trishwilsonelizabethblack) | 38 comments I liked the "gones". Never saw that in a book before. And I guzzled iced tea while reading "The Elementals". LOL


message 49: by Bandit (new)

Bandit (lecturatoro) | 8220 comments what's "gones"?


message 50: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (trishwilsonelizabethblack) | 38 comments Bandit wrote: "what's "gones"?"

Southern dialect McDowell uses for the word "going". Example: "She's gone to be the death of me yet."


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