Sunday, 3 July 2011

IT’S ALL OWEN WEST’S FAULT




In the fall of 1980 I hooked up with a guy who would change the course of my life for the better. His name was Owen West. Now, if you think this post is about to take a turn into smutville, think again. Because Owen West is an author who, thanks to his knack for effective writing, awakened my sense of reading in English. Yeah, you’ve read right. If it hadn’t been for him, I may have never stepped as freely into the horror genre, as it was becoming very hip back then with the upswing of both films and print. Indeed, ever since the success of THE OMEN and HALLOWEEN, people were into horror like you wouldn’t believe. So, naturally, in came scads of horror paperback originals that included novelization of upcoming films, like 1981 THE FUNHOUSE onto which this Owen West fellow had based his first novel.


As you can imagine, I was already considered a horror buff back then, having seen as many films as I could, TOURIST TRAP, SILENT SCREAM, the John Carpenter classic, a lot of Hammer flicks… All were part of my yearly big or small screen routine. It took the arrival of super great FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 a year or so later to really cement my love for the genre, but, yeah, even by that time I was in the zone. So to me, reading horror was the next logical step. Easier said than done, believe me. Let me explain. Being a French Canadian teen with a limited knowledge of the English words made things a little difficult. Moreover, as we didn’t have many horror books in French (or so I thought) and the ones I fancied were all in English, I felt even more stuck as a reader. That is, until I decided to give it a go anyway and pick up an English novel with a cool cover at the five and dime store. The one I chose had lurid eyes that said open if you dare, so I did.
 
 
It did take me a long while to get through this fine and spooky tale of carnival people and the visitors who fell prey to them but I eventually made it through, with an English/French dictionary in tow. Sure, I didn’t understand most of it but I still managed to get an inkling of what the plot and dialogue were about, and to me that was more than enough. Besides, just knowing that I could continue delving into English modern horror fiction was the best sentiment ever. I felt protected. Understood. Being an unpopular kid at the time, this knowledge made me feel less alone, made life a little better.
 
 
It took a year before another Owen West novel hit the stand. By that time I was already a real pro with the English tongue. Oh, many other books have followed THE FUNHOUSE, but never have I been more proud of myself than that faithful day. I’m sure I won’t surprise anyone when I reveal that Owen West is really Dean Koontz. Being prolific, he used many pseudonyms during that period of time. And though I have dipped into Koontz’s world often enough, it is Owen West to whom I must dedicate this blog entry, for without him and his scary words I may never have had the guts to step outside of the French box, and in return would never have started this blog some 30 years later. So thanks a million, Owen. I definitely owe you one.
 
 
 
 
 
Until next post—Martin
 
US paperback
 

2 comments:

Mr. Xploit, Esquire said...

Great post! I love to hear how various horror fans got into loving it in the first place. I still have never read a horror book myself, but I total get it nonetheless.

Authorfan said...

Thanks for the fine comments. So cool to hear from a reader and a fellow blogger.