Alabama native Robert Rick McCammon (1952- ) is an award-winning and bestselling author whose body of work spans the genres of horror, fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction. In 1992, his novel, Boy's Life, won the prestigious World Fantasy Award for best novel. In addition to writing novels and short fiction, McCammon founded the Horror Writers Association, a nonprofit organization of professional writers in the horror genre.
Robert McCammon was born on July 17, 1952, in Birmingham, Jefferson County, the only child of Jack and Barbara Bundy McCammon. He spent his youth in Birmingham's East Lake Community and began writing around the age of 10. McCammon's childhood stories focused on cowboys, aliens, and fantastical monsters. Unathletic and with few friends, he also wrote stories in which he was popular and excelled at sports. McCammon graduated from Banks High School, intending to be a journalist. Hoping to write professionally, McCammon attended the University of Alabama and graduated in 1974, focusing his studies on the field of journalism. McCammon soon veered away from that field, however, and spent his early post-college years working in advertising in Birmingham. In 1978, Avon Books published his first novel, Baal, a work in the horror genre. McCammon continued writing horror fiction and in 1980 published the novels Bethany's Sin and The Night Boat, after which he decided to write horror full-time, influenced by his desire to escape his own reality. Also at this time, McCammon came up with the idea for what has become the Horror Writers Association (HWA), an organization of published writers who support aspiring writers. McCammon also founded the HWA to connect with other writers in the horror genre and create a horror writer's community. Collaborating with other writers, including Dean Koontz, who was elected as the HWA's first president, McCammon helped establish the association as a non-profit organization in 1987. Today, the HWA lists 426 members on its Web site; each year it bestows the Bram Stoker Awards for best horror writing.
McCammon flourished as a full-time writer, winning the 1985 Alabama Library Association's Alabama Author Award for Usher's Passing, a novel chronicling the lives of the offspring of the family in Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher." McCammon's next novel was Swan Song, a post-apocalyptic story inspired by Stephen King's novel The Stand. Swan Song tied with King's Misery for the 1988 Bram Stoker Award for Horror and Dark Fiction. In addition, Swan Song became a New York Times bestseller in 1987.
McCammon continued writing in the horror genre, winning Bram Stoker awards for his short story, "The Deep End" (1987), and his novels, MINE (1990) and Boy's Life (1991). Boy's Life marked a return to McCammon's southern roots. Set in the fictional small town of Zephyr, Alabama, the novel chronicles the fantastic and horrific events of a southern boy's childhood growing up in the mid-1960s. After Boy's Life, McCammon continued to write fiction set in the South. His 1992 novel Gone South is set in Louisiana and tells of the dark exploits of Arden Halliday, a Vietnam veteran.
After 1992, McCammon took a hiatus from the publishing world, spending 10 years focusing on life with his wife Sally, whom
he married in 1981, and daughter Skye. In September 2002, McCammon emerged from his sabbatical, publishing Speaks the Nightbird, an account of a 1699 witch-hunt set in Fort Royal, in what are now the Carolinas, the first in a series of historical fiction
novels featuring Matthew Corbett, a fearless, hardworking, colonial magistrate. McCammon's next novel, Queen of Bedlam (2007) is a sequel to Speaks the Nightbird and follows Corbett's adventures in 1703 Manhattan. McCammon received the 2009 Phoenix award, a lifetime achievement honor
for southern-oriented science fiction or fantasy writing. In late 2009, he published Mister Slaughter, the latest installment in the Matthew Corbett series. McCammon and his family currently reside in Birmingham.
Selected Works by Robert McCammon
Bethany's Sin (1980)
They Thirst (1980)
Usher's Passing (1984)
Swan Song (1987)
"The Deep End" (1987)
The Wolf's Hour (1989)
"On A Beautiful Summer's Day, He Was" (1990)
Boy's Life (1991)
"The Miracle Mile" (1991)
Gone South (1992)
Speaks the Nightbird (2002)
The Queen of Bedlam (2007)
Mister Slaugh ter (2009)
Cynthia Quinn White
University of Montevallo
Published February 8, 2010
Last updated February 1, 2013