Guy Lochhead, 13/12/10
American gothic horror novel writer best known for his books for children. He finished his first book in 1966 whilst teaching English before switching to writing full-time for adults in 1971. He started writing for young people in 1973 on the advice of a publisher, for whom he restructured his most famous book ‘The House With A Clock In Its Walls’, the first of the Lewis Barnavelt trilogy, to suit a younger audience. He later wrote the Johnny Dixon and Anthony Monday series. His stories are characterised by a gothic-romantic nostalgia that also existed in his own life – he collected antiques and poetry and studied Latin. He died in 1991, leaving two unfinished manuscripts and two story ideas that were finished by Brad Strickland, who later developed some of Bellair’s series in his own work. Bellair’s books were often illustrated by Edward Gorey. I had ‘The House With A Clock In Its Walls’ down on my list, but I think it was probably more for the Gorey illustrations than the content of the story. Generally, I find gothic horror stuff a bit too campy, backwards and unrealistic. I don’t like books about magic. I think it’s often used as an excuse to be unimaginative – to not have to explain things, even when the wizards are as pointedly realistic as Bellair’s. I’ll write about Gorey separately.