Years ago, when I first started working at Borders, I spent a lot of time organizing the Horror section. Mostly because it gave me a chance to look at all the new books coming in and decide if I wanted to pick them up for myself.
(Side note: by the time I left that particular Borders, our Horror sales were through the roof. I've always wondered how much of that was due to my own purchases and how much was due to the fact that it was the best organized/best looking section in the whole store.)
One title I came across time and time again was British author Kim Newman's ANNO DRACULA. It sounded interesting, but I was kind of burned out on vampire books at that point so I never really took the plunge.
A few years later, I was reading one of the endless number of Horror anthologies edited by Stephen Jones and came across a story that really knocked the wind out of me. It had everything I liked -- good characters, a surprising plot, and a fun pulpy feel that hit close to home. The author of that story? Kim Newman.
(Another side note -- Stephen Jones has introduced me to a lot of really great authors I'd never heard of before. There's one or two sparkly new diamonds in almost every anthology he's ever edited.)
As usual, I ran out and bought everything Kim Newman has ever written. It was harder now, since Newman's novels had fallen out of print here in the States, but between online sellers and used book stores, I managed to get a hold of everything he's done.
And man, I really should have picked him up earlier. Not only would it have been easier (still kicking myself for not buying one of those many copies of ANNO DRACULA that passed through my old Horror section), but my life would have been richer if I'd discovered his unique brand of sophisticated Pulp Horror just a little sooner.
Newman does something that I've always wanted to do, but never been able to pull off -- mixing the fun of Pulps with the serious themes and sophisticated plotting of more modern storytelling. I'd still like to do my own homage to Pulps some day. But I doubt I'd ever do it as well as Kim Newman.
And one of my usual annoying personal notes: I got to meet Kim Newman at the Saratoga Springs World Fantasy Convention a few years back, and despite my blushing, jabbering, nervousness at meeting one of my heroes, he was very nice to me. We even got to talk about Doctor Who a bit, which was nice, especially since we shared the same views about the then-current Series Three.
Yep. Talking Doctor Who with one of my writing heroes. I'm a nerd. And proud of it.