File 770 and the Las Vegas Review-Journal have both reported the sad news that Jeff Rice, the author whose novel The Kolchak Papers inspired the popular Night Stalker movies and short-lived series, has died. He was 71.
Although I cannot credit The Night Stalker for making me want to become a writer.* The show (along with the movie Jaws**) played the most integral part in shaping my interests and fanatical passions as a young horror fan.
The Night Stalker is the primary reason why my love for monster stories and urban fantasy has remained strong to this very day.
I am so very grateful to Jeff Rice, for creating such a wonderful character and giving him such a fertile field filled with fearful creatures of the night. It didn't just strike a cord in my psyche, it played a symphony. One that is still being played to this very day.
Jeff Rice may not be as well remembered, or regarded, as Richard Matheson. But his iconic and influential creation makes him every bit as much a Grand Master as Matheson.
* For those interested. The two works responsible for making want to become a writer are William Goldman's novel Magic and John Carpenter's film Halloween.
** Jaws is responsible for my love of/addiction to animal attack movies and creature features.