Posts Tagged ‘Richard Matheson’

Throwback Thursdays: A Conversation with Richard Matheson

October 3, 2013 3 comments

Welcome to Throwback Thursdays on the Tor/Forge blog! Every other week, we’re delving into our newsletter archives and sharing some of our favorite posts.

Earlier this year, the legendary author Richard Matheson passed away at age 87. We were lucky enough to get a chance to chat with Mr. Matheson in December 2007, as he was getting ready for the premier of the movie I Am Legend. Enjoy this blast from the past, and be sure to check back every other Thursday for more!

“Maybe now that I’m in my eighties, people will discover me…”

How did you get the idea for I Am Legend?

As a teen, I saw Bela Lugosi’s Dracula. It occurred to me that if one vampire was scary, then if the whole world was filled with vampires and there was only one normal person left, than that would be even scarier.

Do you like Will Smith playing Richard Neville?

I like him very much. I’ve always enjoyed his performances. They sent me a book of art from the movie and I’ve seen photographs of [Will Smith] as Neville and he looks like he really immersed himself into the part.

How do you feel about the previous film versions of I Am Legend: The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price and The Omega Man with Charlton Heston?

The Vincent Price [movie] came closer to the book but I didn’t care for it too much. I wrote quite a few pictures for Vincent and he was marvelous in all of them but I think he was miscast in I Am Legend. And it was done in Italy…it’s not as bad as I thought, I saw it recently again. But it certainly didn’t capture the book all that well. I didn’t care for the Heston movie [The Omega Man]. It was so far removed from the book, though, it didn’t bother me.

Why do you think I Am Legend has remained so popular after more than fifty years?

Apparently, it’s the most popular book I ever wrote. I wrote it over fifty years ago and it’s still selling. I thought I only had a small legion of fans…I guess I have quite a few.

Indeed – Stephen King has said you were one of his main influences in writing…

Yes, Stephen King has said that I Am Legend was one of his main influences – it got him thinking the way he does: for instance, my idea of the vampires using freezer boxes in supermarkets instead of down at the graveyard – it could happen in your own neighborhood.

Do you see yourself as a horror writer?

I hate that word [horror]. I prefer to think of myself as an off-beat writer. I’ve written 5-6 western novels, a war novel, and a love story (Somewhere In Time). I guess you could call me an off-beat fantasy writer. I do write scary stories, but I think of terror, not horror. I’m a neighborhood terrorizer. I’m incapable – or don’t want to even try – to write a Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter or something set in a complete other world. I just can’t get interested if it’s not someplace that seems real.

How did you research the science in the book? Was that in your background?

No, I have no background in science. [I did] research, and then I had a doctor check it and it all adds up scientifically — from a biological standpoint. It is a vampire novel, it’s just my “scientific explanation of vampires”. To me, I Am Legend is the only science fiction I ever wrote.

Have you seen the movie?

No, I haven’t seen it yet – but I think they’re going to do a great job. The writer-producer and director are all very talented, and Will Smith is very talented. From what I have seen, they have done an outstanding job.

Will you attend the premiere? Are you doing any events?

I may attend the premiere in California. I’m also hopefully going to be signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank [scheduled for Dec 2 at 2:30pm]. People often come in with a truckload of my books to sign, but I’ll be signing the movie edition of I Am Legend, and then one other book for each person. If they want more, they have to go to the end of the line and start all over again.

Many of your books and stories have been made into movies. Which are some of your favorites?

Somewhere in Time — I think that’s the best written of all my books. What Dreams May Come is not bad either.

Do you have any new projects in the works?

There’s a new movie version of my story Button, Button coming out. That should be exciting. Somewhere in Time is about to be a musical on Broadway. Ken Davenport is producing it – he had written telling me that he was thinking of using some of my major ideas for the show. I wrote him a song for it. I took [music] courses in college, but though I never really understood harmony, I can work out an arrangement on the piano by ear. I wrote many songs (years ago). I don’t know if it’s always true, but it seems like the author gets more power/influence over their stories on the stage than with movies/cinema — though the motion picture people have been very nice to me and I’m happy to be identified with I Am Legend.

This article is originally from the December 2007 Tor/Forge newsletter. Sign up for the Tor/Forge newsletter now, and get similar content in your inbox twice a month!

The Week in Review

June 28, 2013 Leave a comment

Welcome to the week in review! Every Friday, we comb through the links and images we found and shared this week, and pull the very best for this post. Consider it concentrated genre goodness from all around the web.

IF Sentinel Tumblr

  • Buffy fans: Blastr recently shared 30 minutes of never-before-seen footage behind the scenes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Stunt coordinator Jeff Pruitt posted the footage, for which we thank him!
  • The Sword & Laser podcast recently did an interview with genre legend Gene Wolfe. Definitely worth a listen.

And, just to make Friday that much sweeter, here’s a list of sweepstakes and sales we have going on!

Richard Matheson, 1926-2013

June 25, 2013 4 comments

Richard MathesonLegendary author Richard Matheson has sadly passed away at the age of 87.

From his longtime editor Greg Cox: “For over sixty years, Richard Matheson’s imagination enriched our lives and contributed vastly to the literature and entertainment of the twentieth century. In addition, he was a true gentlemen who was never less than a pleasure to work with. We’re all lucky to have known him and his work.”

“One of the most important writers of the twentieth century.” —Ray Bradbury 

“I think the author who influenced me the most as a writer was Richard Matheson. Books like I Am Legend were an inspiration to me.” —Stephen King

Richard Matheson, born February 20, 1926, was an American author and screenwriter. His vast career included critically acclaimed works across a variety of genres—best known for horror, fantasy, and science fiction, he also penned a number of striking westerns and literary fiction. His stellar works include I Am Legend, A Stir of Echoes, What Dreams May Come, Somewhere in Time, Hell House, The Shrinking Man, and many others. Matheson won countless awards, including the World Fantasy Convention’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Bram Stoker Award for Life Achievement, the Hugo, the Golden Spur, the Edgar Allan Poe Award, and the Writer’s Guild Award.

Many of Matheson’s novels and short stories have been made into films and television shows. I Am Legend (2007), the blockbuster film starring Will Smith, was the third film version of Matheson’s bestselling science fiction novel, which was previously filmed as The Last Man on Earth starring Vincent Price in 1964 and again as The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston in 1971. Other Hollywood adaptations include Real Steel (2011), The Box (2009), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1956), What Dreams May Come (1998), and Stir of Echoes (1999). As a screenwriter, Matheson often adapted his own work to the screen as in the case of such films as Duel (1971), The Legend of Hell House (1973), and Somewhere in Time (1980).

Matheson’s many noteworthy television scripts include “Button, Button,” which inspired a memorable episode of the Twilight Zone television series, which had previously aired many other unforgettable episodes by Matheson, including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” “The Invaders,” and “Little Girl Lost.” He also wrote episodes for such series as Star Trek, Night Gallery, and Have Gun, Will Travel.

Matheson was recently thrilled to see the staging of a musical adaptation of Somewhere in Time, based on his book and screenplay, which had its world premiere at Portland Center Stage in May 2013.

Departing from the genre, Matheson also penned The Beardless Warriors, an autobiographical novel about teenager American soldiers in World War II, and later wrote such acclaimed western novels as Journal of the Gun Years, The Memoirs of Wild Bill Hickok, and Shadow on the Sun.

A New York Times bestselling author and great American writer, Matheson will continue to capture the imagination of millions. He resided in California with his wife and had four children, including the writer Richard Christian Matheson.

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New Releases: 2/26/2013

February 26, 2013 1 comment

New Releases: 2/14/2012

February 14, 2012 2 comments

Goodreads First Reads: Steel by Richard Matheson

September 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Enter for a chance to win a copy on Goodreads!

About Steel: Imagine a future in which the sport of boxing has gone high-tech.  Human boxers have been replaced by massive humanoid robots.   And former champions of flesh-and-blood are obsolete . . . .

Richard Matheson’s classic short story is now the basis for Real Steel, a gritty, white-knuckle film starring Hugh Jackman.  But “Steel,” which was previously filmed as a powerful episode of the original Twilight Zone television series, is just one of over a dozen unforgettable tales in this outstanding collection, which includes two new stories that have never appeared in any previous Matheson collection.  Also featured is a bizarre satirical fantasy, “The Splendid Source,” that was turned into an episode of The Family Guy.

Richard Matheson was recently inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.  Steel demonstrates once again the full range of his legendary imagination.

Enter for a chance to win here!

(Ends October 19)

Watch the trailer for Real Steel – in theaters October 7:

More giveaways:

Richard Matheson’s Other Kingdoms

March 1, 2011 8 comments

By Greg Cox, Consulting Editor

Richard Matheson recently celebrated his 85th birthday. For an author whose first novel (Someone is Bleeding) was published nearly sixty years ago, Matheson has more going on today than many authors half his age. His story, “Steel,” which was previously filmed as a classic episode of the original Twilight Zone television series (you know, the one with Lee Marvin fighting the robot boxer), is now being made into a major motion picture, Real Steel, due out in October. Matheson is currently working with a composer to turn his World Fantasy Award-winning novel Somewhere in Time (memorably filmed with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour) into a Broadway musical, which I’m hoping will be the next Wicked. A new short story just appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, where Matheson’s career began way back in 1950. Matheson has been the subject of such recent books as He Is Legend, The Richard Matheson Companion, and Richard Matheson on Screen, and has also been inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.  He’s even inspired an episode of The Family Guy. And, last but not least, there is Other Kingdoms, his first major novel since 2002.

I only hope I’m that productive at eighty-five!

Matheson seldom repeats himself and Other Kingdoms is very different from his last book, Hunted Past Reason. That novel was a brutal, contemporary thriller with no fantasy elements, but Other Kingdoms, as its title suggests, is much more otherworldly, set in bygone realms both mortal and otherwise. While closer to Somewhere in Time or What Dreams May Come than, say, I Am Legend or Hell House, it’s arguably Matheson’s most fantastical novel, complete with witchcraft, faeries, magic and myth. There’s even a gryphon.

It’s also probably his sexiest book since Earthbound.

Set in 1918, Other Kingdoms is the story of a young American soldier, wounded in the Great War, who winds up in a remote English village, where he falls under the spell of a beautiful local widow, who is also reputed to be a witch. Alex soon discovers that Magda Variel’s occult gifts are more than just village gossip, but that’s not all. The nearby woods lie on the border of a magical kingdom that is home to capricious, possibly dangerous, spirits. Magda warns Alex to stay clear of the forest, but he can’t resist the call of an enchanting faery princess–and finds himself in the middle of a very tricky (and supernatural) romantic triangle!

Talk about a dangerous decision. Who do you choose: the witch or the faery? And do you really want to make either of them angry?

Richard plays his cards close to his vest sometimes, so I didn’t even know he was working on a new novel until it landed on my desk. But once I read it, I knew Other Kingdoms was a great new addition to his legendary body of work. I couldn’t wait to publish it.

And I can’t help casting the inevitable movie version in my head, although I still haven’t decided who should play Alex, Magda, or the faery yet!

Maybe Susan Sarandon as the witch?


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