Writer and editor Alan Ryan dies
Bob Booth wrote this obituary of Alan Peter Ryan for the Horror Writers Association (HWA) newsletter, and has graciously given us permission to reprint it here. Booth is the founder of Necon (the convention), the Editor of The Big Book of Necon (Cemetery Dance), and the publisher of Necon Ebooks .
Alan Peter Ryan (1943-2011)
Alan Ryan died on June 3 of pancreatic cancer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was 68. He leaves a son Sean and a daughter Miranda.
He was born in the Bronx, New York in 1943, attended a Jesuit High School there, and graduated from Fordham University.
He taught English in a parochial school for a few years before turning his hand to writing. He sold the first piece he wrote (a parody) to the New York Times Book Review . There followed gigs as a PR Director for an off-Broadway theatre, a music critic (reggae), a dance critic (ballet), and the monthly book page editor for a men's magazine ( Knave ). Later he would write more serious and thoughtful reviews for publications ranging from the St. Petersburg Times to The Smithsonian . His specialty was Latin American Literature and he was eventually elected an officer of the National Book Critics' Circle.
It was as a writer and editor of popular fiction, however, that he found his niche.
He began publishing science fiction in Roy Torgeson's Chrysalis series of anthologies, and was nominated for the 1980 John W. Campbell Best New Writer Award. In 1982, he edited his own science fiction anthology, Perpetual Light , which was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. In 1983 he served as a World Fantasy Award judge.
One of the bright new lights of horror fiction in the early 1980s, he wrote the novels Panther (1981), The Kill (1982), Dead White (1983), and Cast a Cold Eye (1984). He was a regular contributor to many horror anthologies at the time, most notably Charles L. Grant's Shadows series.
Two short story collections followed: The Bones Wizard (1985) and Quadriphobia (1986). One of his stories, “The Bones Wizard,” tied for the World Fantasy Award for best short story in 1985. During this extremely productive period he was active as an editor of horror anthologies including: Night Visions 1 (1984), which was nominated for a World Fantasy Award; Halloween Horrors (1986); Vampires (also knows as The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories ); and Haunting Women (1988).
When the market for horror fiction collapsed in the early 1990s he turned his attention to travel writing. He edited a series of unique travel anthologies in which the selections were by writers who were well known in other genres. This Reader's Companion series included books on Alaska, Ireland, South Africa, Cuba, and Mexico; it won a Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Journalism.
During this period he, along with several other horror writers, ghost-wrote the horror themed 36 book Young Adult series Shivers , which were published under the name M.D. Spenser.
In 2007 he was elected to the Necon Hall of Fame. Necon is an annual horror convention in Rhode Island. Ryan was a regular there for many years and helped set the tone for the convention. In honor of his election he wrote a short memoir of his writing life which was distributed to the convention's members.
Recently he had been working on a return to horror fiction and toward that end had sold new stories to several magazines and anthologies.