Chances are, you know his work. If you’re a “Twilight Zone” fan, you’ve seen William Shatner yell “There’s something on the wing!” in “Nightmare at 20,000 feet”. You’ve probably seen at least one of the versions of “I Am Legend”, which directly influenced George Romero to make Night of the Living Dead. Stephen Spielberg’s first full-length film was based on his short story, “Duel”. If you’re a die-hard horror fan, you’ve probably seen the cult classic TV movie Trilogy of Terror, an genre anthology film adapted from three of his short stories.
Richard Matheson, the prolific and lauded sci-fi/horror writer, passed away yesterday at the age of 87. His enormous body of work includes countless short stories, full-length novels, television episodes, and film scripts (adaptations of his own work, the works of others, and original works). He inspired Stephen King, Anne Rice, George Romero, Chris Carter (creator of “The X-Files”), among many, many others.
Matheson is one of my favorite writers and I was very sad to hear of his passing. Before I knew who he was, I already loved his work, thanks to “The Twilight Zone”, and he was an integral part in making me a slavish devotee to sci-fi and horror. He will be missed by generations of science fiction and horror fans all over the world.
I hope people are reading my work in the future. I hope I have done more than frightened a couple of generations. I hope I’ve inspired a few people one way or another. Actually, the highlight of my life — which, of course, had an enormous influence on my writing career — was meeting Ruth Woodson on the beach in Santa Monica in 1951, falling in love with her, marrying her, and creating with her a family of four children; two sons, two daughters. My love for them, and growth because of them, made my writing life what it was. It’s a process I advocate for any would-be writer.