It hits home when you hear about the death of a seminal writer whose work you grew up with.
For me, James Herbert, who has died aged 69 (and I’m not far away from that age hence the reality check) was one of the first horror writers I ever read – about the time I discovered was such a thing as the horror novel.
No announcement has been made about the cause of death except it was a peaceful end. RIP.
Herbert’s first novel, The Rats, depicted London overrun by mutant flesh-eating rodents and sold 100,000 copies within two weeks of being published in 1974.
Since then, he has published 23 novels in more than 30 languages, selling 54 million copies worldwide. His latest book, Ash, was published last week.
Herbert was appointed an OBE by the Queen in 2010 – the same year he was made Grand Master of Horror by the World of Horror Convention.
Jeremy Trevathan, his editor, described Herbert as “one of the giants of popular fiction in the 20th Century”.
“It’s a true testament to his writing and his enduring creativity that his books continued to be huge bestsellers right up until his death.
“He has the rare distinction that his novels were considered classics of the genre within his lifetime,” he added.
Born in London’s East End on 8 April 1943, Herbert won a scholarship to St Aloysius Grammar School in Highgate at the age of 10.
After a college course in graphic design, he went on to work at an advertising agency.
He started his first novel, The Rats, at the age of 28 and completed it within 10 months. He submitted the manuscript to six publishers, three of whom replied.
Of those, two rejected the novel and one accepted it.
The Rats was one of four Herbert novels made into films, along with The Survivor, Fluke and Haunted.
His novel The Secret Of Crickley Hall was adapted for television and broadcast on BBC One in December, while The Magic Cottage was dramatised for BBC Radio 4.