People ask me, Greg, where do you find all those interesting folks to write your introductions? Well, actually, no one has ever asked me that, but if they do, I’m ready with my answer: I just ask them.
The first person I asked to write an introduction was Mike Ashley. I wanted to reprint Algernon Blackwood’s story collection, Pan’s Garden, and knew that Mr. Ashley had just published a biography of the author called Algernon Blackwood: An Extraordinary Life. Inspired by his book, I wrote to Mike to see if he’d be willing to contribute to what turned out to be only our sixth Stark House book.
He replied most graciously, and we have been working together ever since.
This was in 2002 or so. Around this same time, I contacted Ed Gorman, who I believe was still editing Mystery Scene magazine, to see if he could help me locate the agent in charge of Peter Rabe’s estate. Always a font of knowledge, he not only pointed me to the agency, but he ended up writing a short intro, and ultimately put two unpublished Rabe books into my hands. Again, we’ve been working together ever since.
When I decided to reprint the works of Elisabeth Sanxay Holding, I found myself in a quandary. The only essay I could find on Holding was by Maxim Jakubowski, a short essay published in the Manchester Guardian. Maxim owned Murder One bookstore in London, where I had visited on more than one occasion, but he wasn’t interested in contributing a proper piece for our book. He didn’t feel he know enough about the author to do it justice. In fact, no one I contacted knew much about Holding, and even fewer had read her.
So I wrote the introduction myself.
Since then, many writers have written about Holding, and Sarah Weinman has even collected one of her novelettes in her recent collection, Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives. When I felt the time was right to find a new introduction besides my own for our sixth Holding two-fer, Speak of the Devil/The Girl Who Had to Die, I went back to my old friend, Ed Gorman, and he happily obliged.
And over the years, I have been fortunate enough to find many other writers to contribute introductions. Simon Clark, Tim Lebbon and Storm Constantine have all taken turns writing about Algernon Blackwood. Robert J. Randisi has extolled the virtues of Frank Kane, Tom Nolan (author of Ross Macdonald: A Biography) has contributed an essay on Margaret Millar, editor David Rachels has written on Gil Brewer; and various family members—and sometimes the authors themselves—have all shared stories with us, contributing to books by Orrie Hitt, Richard Powell, Benjamin Appel, Douglas Sanderson, Wade Miller, Stephen Marlowe, Robert Silverberg, Barry N. Malzberg, A. S. Fleischman, Jada M. Davis and Vin Packer.
And then there are our two heavy hitters: David Laurence Wilson and Rick Ollerman. David and I first connected over my first Harry Whittington collection, A Night for Screaming/Any Woman He Wanted. He had conducted a series of interviews with many of the paperback original authors, and is a wealth of information on certain writers like Day Keene, Wade Miller, W. R. Burnett and, of course, Whittington. From then on, whenever a new Harry book was being discussed, David became part of the discussion. It was David who first tracked down and wrote about Harry’s “lost porn books.” We’re now talking about a collection of Whittington westerns. More on that later.
Rick joined us in 2008 when he offered to proof some of the books we were publishing. He recognized that as good as I might be at picking out lost treasures to reprint, that I sucked at proofreading. Within two years, he was contributing introductions (starting with Peter Rabe), suggesting new authors (Charlie Stella), encouraging me to create ebooks, and finally, editing and formatting Paperback Confidential by Brian Ritt, one of our most successful books to date. After taking a break to work on his own books—Truth Always Kills will be out in December—I have talked him into writing another new introduction, this time for Malcolm Braly’s False Starts, due out early next year.
And, of course, there are many more who have contributed to Stark House books: Stefan Dziemianowicz, Gary Lovisi, Chris Morgan, Donald S. Napoli, Brian Greene, Ed Hulse, Gene Christie, William Patrick Maynard, Ki Longfellow, Cynthia L. Shepard, Cullen Gallagher, Ben Boulden, Charles Kelly, Bill Pronzini, Marcia Muller, Lucas Crown, Bill Crider, Daniel Paul Morrison and Gary Phillips. Honestly, we can’t do these books alone, and I appreciate the help of each and every one of them. If nothing else, I just love to hear what they have to say.