Monday, March 6, 2017

Happy Birthday to William F. Nolan

William F. Nolan

Join us in wishing a happy birthday to the legendary William F. Nolan who turns 89 today!

Born in 1928, Nolan is a renowned writer, editor, artist, and historian whose career spans over half a century. During the 1950’s and 60’s he was part of a close community of writers in the Los Angeles area collectively known as the Southern California School of Writers—or simply the Group—which also included prominent Twilight Zone writers Charles Beaumont, George Clayton Johnson, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, John Tomerlin, and Jerry Sohl. Although he never wrote an episode of show, Nolan’s presence can be felt in almost every chapter of its history. He was close friends with many of the show's writers and features prominently in their recollections of the time. He was particularly close to Beaumont, Johnson, and Tomerlin and the quartet would spend hours driving around Los Angeles, eating at all-night diners, talking about books and writing, critiquing each other’s work, and often taking impulsive jaunts halfway around the world to meet Ian Fleming or revel in Monte Carlo or the Bahamas. In 1962 Nolan, Johnson, and Beaumont all had roles in Roger Corman's The Intruder based on Beaumont's novel. In interviews Johnson often recalled that he wrote part of "Kick the Can" while he and Nolan drove back to California from shooting in Missouri. Nolan and Johnson also collaborated on an unproduced teleplay for The Twilight Zone called “Dreamflight” about a woman whose recurrent nightmare of dying in a plane crash begins to manifest itself into reality. It was likely abandoned due to scheduling reasons. Nolan was also the inspiration for Charley Parkes (Robert Duvall's character) in Beaumont's fourth season episode "Miniature." In an interview with Marc Scott Zicree, Nolan explains that Beaumont confessed to him that he created the shy, soft-spoken Parkes using Nolan as a muse.

A prolific writer of both fiction and nonfiction Nolan is the co-author, with Johnson, of the landmark science fiction novel Logan’s Run (1967), and author of its sequels and various graphic adaptations. In 2001 his short fiction was collected in the career retrospective Dark Universe: Stories 1951 – 2001 from Stealth Press. An auto-racing enthusiast, he and Beaumont edited two volumes of stories and essays about motorsports, Omnibus of Speed: An Introduction to the World of Motor Sport (1958) and When Engines Roar (1964). In 1991 he co-edited The Bradbury Chronicles: Stories in Honor of Ray Bradbury with Martin H. Greenberg and in 1999 he co-edited California Sorcery with William Schafer, an anthology of short stories celebrating the Group. In 1975 he adapted Matheson’s stories “The Likeness of Julie” and “Therese” (aka “Needle in the Heart”) for Dan Curtis’s anthology film Trilogy of Terror which aired on ABC. The following year he and Curtis co-wrote a screenplay based on Robert Marasco’s novel Burnt Offerings for United Artist which starred Karen Black, Oliver Reed, Bette Davis, and Burgess Meredith. In 1975 he published The Ray Bradbury Companion: A Life and Career History and in 1986 he published The Work of Charles Beaumont: An Annotated Bibliography. He is the recipient of two Edgar Allan Poe Special Awards, a World Fantasy Award, a Bram Stoker Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writers Association, and the Author Emeritus Award from the Science Fiction Writers of America. He is a World Horror Society Grand Master and was voted a Living Legend by the International Horror Guild. In 1991 Newsweek chose his story "The Party" (1967) as one of the seven most effective horror stories of the twentieth century.

At 89, Nolan is still active in the speculative fiction world and attends conventions and grants interviews regularly. He co-edited two anthologies from Cycatrix Press with Jason V. Brock, The Bleeding Edge: Dark Barriers, Dark Frontiers (2009) and The Devil’s Coattails: More Dispatches from the Dark Frontier (2011). In 2013 Dark Regions Press published a new collection of his short fiction entitled Like a Dead Man Walking and Other Shadow Tales. And in 2014 he received a Bram Stoker Award for his memoir Nolan on Bradbury: Sixty Years of Writing about the Master of Science Fiction.

Cheers to you, Mr. Nolan.

1 comment:

  1. Happy Birthday to Mr. Nolan! He's exactly 1 month older than my dad, who will (Lord willing) turn 89 on April 6.