Jack Ketchum

Dallas William Mayr (November 10, 1946 – January 24, 2018), better known by his pen name Jack Ketchum, was an American horror fiction author. He was the recipient of four Bram Stoker Awards and three further nominations. His novels included Off Season, Offspring, and Red, the latter two of which were adapted to film. In 2011, Ketchum received the World Horror Convention Grand Master Award for outstanding contribution to the horror genre.[1][2]

Jack Ketchum
Ketchum at a book fair in Paris, France, in March 2009
Ketchum at a book fair in Paris, France, in March 2009
BornDallas William Mayr
(1946-11-10)November 10, 1946
Livingston, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedJanuary 24, 2018(2018-01-24) (aged 71)
New York City, U.S.
Pen nameJack Ketchum, Jerzy Livingston
OccupationWriter, filmmaker
GenreHorror fiction, thriller, Western fiction, Dark fantasy, Genre fiction
Notable worksOff Season, The Girl Next Door, Red, The Crossings, and "The Box" (short story)
Notable awardsBram Stoker Award (1994), (2000), (2003 twice)
World Horror Convention Grand Master Award (2011)


Early life and educationEdit

Ketchum was born in Livingston, New Jersey, as the only child to German immigrant parents. His father, Dallas William Mayr (1908–1997), served in the artillery during World War II[3] and his mother, Evelyn Fahner Mayr (1915–1987), was an accountant and office manager.[4] He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, and later taught at the high-school level in Brookline, Massachusetts, for two years.[5]

Early yearsEdit

A onetime actor, teacher, literary agent, lumber salesman, and soda jerk, Ketchum credited 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 explained that he spent much 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.[6] Ketchum further expressed an early interest in horror films such as Nosferatu and the classic Universal Monsters such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Phantom of the Opera.[7]

Later, in his teen years, Ketchum was befriended by Robert Bloch, author of Psycho, who became his mentor. He supported Ketchum's work, just as his work was supported by his own mentor, H. P. Lovecraft. Ketchum's relationship with Bloch lasted until Bloch's death in 1994.[8] Ketchum's parents were the owners of a luncheonette and soda fountain where Jack worked to support his writing, as a short-order cook during the day and a soda jerk after dark.[9]

Ketchum 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 the Pacific Palisades is one of the subjects of his memoir in Book of Souls.[10] He also sold articles and stories — both fiction and nonfiction — to various rock 'n roll and men's magazines to supplement his income. His decision to eventually concentrate on novel writing was partly fueled by a preference for work that offered stability and longevity.[11]

Throughout his life, Ketchum read widely and voraciously, authors such as Robert Bloch, Charles Bukowski, Jim Harrison, Franz Douskey and Ernest Hemingway. Apart from his proficiency as a short-story and magazine writer and having 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.[12]

The Jerzy Livingston yearsEdit

Before Ketchum turned to novel writing, he sold a prolific number 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 Kosiński: "I liked the in-joke. Hence, Jerzy Livingston." he explained.[13] 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."[13] Stroup is the exact opposite of Marcel Proust, whom Ketchum calls "[a]rguably the most sensitive writer in history".[13] Stroup appeared in the men's magazine Swank. He was 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).


Ketchum died of cancer on January 24, 2018, in New York City at the age of 71.[14][15][16]

Awards and nominationsEdit

  • The Box — (1994) Bram Stoker Award for Best Short Story[17]
  • Right to Life — (1999) Bram Stoker Award nominee for Best Long Fiction
  • Gone — (2000) Bram Stoker Award for Best Short Fiction[17]
  • 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[17]
  • Closing Time — (2003) Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction[17]
  • 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)



Title Year Type Publisher Notes
Off Season 1981 novel Ballantine Books
Hide and Seek 1984 novel Ballantine Books
Cover 1987 novel Grand Central Publishing
She Wakes 1989 novel Berkley Publishing Group
The Girl Next Door 1989 novel Grand Central Publishing
Offspring 1991 novel Diamond Books the sequel to Off Season
Joyride 1994 novel Berkley Publishing Group released as Road Kill in the U.K.
Stranglehold 1995 novel Berkley Publishing Group released as Only Child in the U.K.
Red 1995 novel Headline Book Publishing
Ladies' Night 1997 novel Silver Salamander Press reworked from unpublished Ballantine release
The Exit at Toledo Blade Boulevard 1998 collection Obsidian Books short story collection
Right to Life 1998 novella Cemetery Dance Publications
The Lost 2001 novel Leisure Books
Peaceable Kingdom 2003 collection Leisure Books short story collection
The Crossings 2003 novel Cemetery Dance Publications
Sleep Disorder 2003 collection Gauntlet Press co-written with Edward Lee
Broken on the Wheel of Sex 2006 collection Overlook Connection Press stories previously written with the pseudonym Jerzy Livingston
Weed Species 2006 novella Cemetery Dance Publications
Closing Time and Other Stories 2007 collection Gauntlet Press short story collection
Old Flames 2008 novel Leisure Books
Book of Souls 2008 novella Bloodletting Press
The Woman 2010 novel Leisure Books co-written with Lucky McKee
I'm Not Sam 2012 novel Sinister Grin Press co-written with Lucky McKee
Triptych 2012 collection Crossroad Press collection of plays
Notes from the Cat House 2013 collection Crossroad Press collection of poems
The Secret Life of Souls 2016 novel Pegasus Books co-written with Lucky McKee
Gorilla in my Room 2017 collection Cemetery Dance Publications short story collection




  • The Lost (2006) as Teddy Panik
  • Header (2006) as State Trooper No. 2
  • The Girl Next Door (2007) as Carnival
  • Red (2008) as Bartender
  • Offspring (2009) as Max Joseph


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

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Jack Ketchum Official Website, p. 1. Retrieved March 7, 2011.
  2. ^ "Past WHCs". World Horror Convention. November 15, 2009. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  3. ^ Bleiler, Richard (January 1, 2003). Supernatural Fiction Writers: Guy Gavriel Kay to Roger Zelazny (2nd ed.). Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 517. ISBN 978-0-6843-1252-1.
  4. ^ Orfanides, Effie (January 24, 2018). "Jack Ketchum Cause of Death: How Did 'The Girl Next Door' Author Die?". Heavy.com.
  5. ^ Pupek, Jayne, Jack Ketchum: American Horror Novelist and Recipient of the Bram Stoker Award in Suite 101: Insightful Writers. Informed Readers. online zine, September 30, 2009.
  6. ^ Donahue, Suzanne. An Interview with Award-Winning Horror Writer Jack Ketchum. Associated Content, 2007, p. 1.
  7. ^ O'Rourke, Monica. Story Time ... Jack Ketchum. Feo Amante's Horror Thriller. Retrieved February 28, 2011.
  8. ^ Jack Ketchum, Official My Space page, accessed, March 7, 2002.
  9. ^ Pupek, Jayne. Jack Ketchum: American Horror Novelist and Recipient of the Bram Stoker Award. suite101.com, September 30, 2009, p. 1.
  10. ^ Modesto, California: Bloodletting Press, May 2008.
  11. ^ Sardina, Martel. Jack Ketchum from the Offspring Movie Set Part/2. Dark Scribe Magazine, 2008, p. 1.
  12. ^ Killer Reviews Writer Jack Ketchum Featuring The Girl Next Door, 2008, p. 1.
  13. ^ a b c "Jack Ketchum Interview" in Vaguely Borgesian, April 7, 2003.
  14. ^ "Horror Writer Jack Ketchum Dies at 71". The Washington Post. January 24, 2018. Archived from the original on January 24, 2018. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  15. ^ Saunders, Emmeline (January 24, 2018). "Actor and horror novelist Jack Ketchum dies aged 71 of cancer". Daily Mirror. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  16. ^ "Horror author Jack Ketchum dies at 71". EW.com. Retrieved March 11, 2018.
  17. ^ a b c d Mann, Laurie D. T. "Bram Stoker Award Winners". dpsinfo.com. Archived from the original on January 13, 2013. Retrieved March 11, 2018.

External linksEdit