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Jack Ketchum

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Nationality  American
Name  Jack Ketchum

Role  Author
Education  Emerson College
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Born  Dallas William Mayr November 10, 1946 (age 69)Livingston, New Jersey, U.S. (1946-11-10)
Pen name  Jack Ketchum, Jerzey Livingston
Occupation  Novelist, short story writer, screenwriter, Actor
Genre  Horror fiction, thriller, Western fiction, Dark fantasy, Genre fiction
Notable works  Off Season, The Girl Next Door, Red, The Crossings, and The Box (Short Story)
Notable awards  Bram Stoker Award (1994), (2000), (2003 twice)World Horror Convention Grand Master Award (2011)
Movies  The Girl Next Door, The Woman, The Lost, Red
Parents  Dallas William Mayr, Evelyn Fahner Mayer
Influenced by  Stephen King, Robert Bloch, Charles Bukowski
Books  The Girl Next Door, Off Season, The Lost, Ladies' Night, Right to Life
Similar People  Lucky McKee, Edward Lee, Stephen King, Richard Laymon, Sylvia Likens

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Dallas Mayr (born November 10, 1946 in Livingston, New Jersey), better known by his pseudonym Jack Ketchum, is an American author. He is the recipient of four Bram Stoker Awards and three further nominations. Many of his novels have been adapted to film, including Red and The Woman. In 2011, Ketchum received the World Horror Convention Grand Master Award for outstanding contribution to the horror genre.


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Ketchum lives in New York City.

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Ketchum earned a B.A. Bachelor of Arts in English from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, and later taught high school level in Brookline, Massachusetts, for two years.

Early years

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A onetime actor, teacher, literary agent, lumber salesman, and soda jerk, Ketchum credits his childhood love of Elvis Presley, dinosaurs, and horror for getting him through his formative years. He began making up stories at a young age and explains that he spent a lot of time in his room, or in the woods near his house, down by the brook: '[m]y interests [were] Books, comics, movies, rock 'n roll, show tunes, TV, dinosaurs [...] pretty much any activity that didn't demand too much socializing, or where I could easily walk away from socializing'. He would make up stories using his plastic soldiers, knights, and dinosaurs as the characters. He was also big on Halloween and his mother, being '[...] pretty good with the sewing machine [...]', ensured young Ketchum had an authentic costume: his favorites were Peter Pan and Superman. Ketchum has further expressed an early interest in horror films like Nosferatu and the classic Universal Monsters such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923 film) and The Phantom of the Opera (1925 film).

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Later, in his teenage years, Ketchum was befriended by Robert Bloch, author of Psycho, who became a mentor to him. He supported Ketchum's work just as his work was supported by his own mentor, H.P. Lovecraft. This relationship with Bloch would last until his death in 1994. Ketchum's parents, Dallas William Mayr and Evelyn Fahner Mayer, were the owners of a luncheonette and soda fountain where Jack would work to support his writing, as a short order cook during the day and a soda jerk after dark.

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Ketchum indeed worked many different jobs before completing his first novel (1980's controversial Off Season), including acting as agent for novelist Henry Miller at Scott Meredith Literary Agency, a pivotal point in his career - his extraordinary encounter with Miller at his home in Pacific Palisades is one of the subjects of his memoir in Book of Souls. He also sold articles and stories - both fiction and non-fiction - to various rock 'n roll and men's magazines to supplement his income. His decision to eventually concentrate on novel writing was partly fuelled by a preference for work that offered stability and longevity.

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Throughout his life Ketchum has read widely and voraciously, authors like Robert Bloch and Charles Bukowski, Jim Harrison and Ernest Hemingway. Apart from his proficiency as a short story and magazine writer - and a vivid imagination - reading was the essential tool in the writing kit that led Ketchum from his 7th Grade A-Minus Essay to the Magazines and, eventually, to Off Season and beyond.

The Jerzy Livingston years

Before Ketchum turned his pen to novel writing, he sold a prolific amount of short fiction and articles to magazines. His initial pen name, Jerzy Livingston, came about during this period. Because he often had more than one piece published in a specific magazine he would use his own name for the first byline and then adopt a pseudonym for the others. He came from Livingston, New Jersey and, at the time, had been reading work by the author Jerzy Kosinski: "I liked the in-joke. Hence, Jerzy Livingston." he explains. One of his best known characters while writing as Jerzy Livingstone is Stroup, a play on Proust: Stroup, however, had zero understanding of people, even himself. Ketchum refers to Stroup as "[a] boozer. a loser. a homophobe. A highly questionable friend and unreliable lover. Misogynist as hell and for the most part proud of it." Stroup is the exact opposite of Proust, whom Ketchum calls "[a]rguably the most sensitive writer in history". Stroup appeared in the men's magazine Swank. He was recently resurrected in the tale "Sheep Meadow Story" that formed part of the book Triage (2001), a collection with Richard Laymon and Edward Lee. His exploits can be found collected in Broken on the Wheel of Sex: The Jerzy Livingston Years (2007).

Awards and nominations

  • The Box (1994) Bram Stoker Award for Best Short Story
  • Right to Life (1999) Bram Stoker Award Nominee for Best Long Fiction
  • Gone (2000) Bram Stoker Award for Best Short Fiction
  • The Lost (2001) Bram Stoker Award Nominee for Best Novel
  • The Haunt (2001) Bram Stoker Award Nominee for Best Short Fiction
  • Peaceable Kingdom (2003) Bram Stoker Award for Best Collection
  • Closing Time (2003) Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction
  • World Horror Convention Grand Master Award (2011)
  • I'm Not Sam (2012) Bram Stoker Award Nominee for Best Long Fiction (with Lucky McKee)
  • I'm Not Sam (2012) Shirley Jackson Award Nominee for Best Novella (with Lucky McKee)
  • Writer

  • The Lost (2006)
  • The Girl Next Door (2007)
  • Red (2008)
  • Offspring (2009)
  • The Woman (2011)
  • Mail Order (short, 2011)
  • Olivia (short, 2013)
  • XX ("The Box" segment, 2017)
  • Actor

  • The Lost (2006) as Teddy Panik
  • Header (2006) as State Trooper #2
  • The Girl Next Door (2007) as Carnival
  • Red (2008) as Bartender
  • Offspring (2009) as Max Joseph
  • Self

  • The Cult of Ichi (2007)
  • The Making of The Girl Next Door (2007)
  • Dark Dreamers (2011)
  • Inside the Plain Brown Wrapping (2013)
  • References

    Jack Ketchum Wikipedia