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The Unofficial Robert Bloch Website

Interviews

Paul Walker Interviews Robert Bloch

Paul Walker

It is sufficient to say that Robert Bloch is the author of Psycho and “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” as if he never wrote anything else. But he has. He wrote the 1959 Hugo-winning “The Hell-Bound Train” and a store called “The Movie People” that is one of my favorites, and he has written man more, plus TV and film scripts, all the work of a skilled pro.

But to a fan he is best known as the write of postcards that are as warm as they are concise.

He was born in Chicago in 1917, was a protégé of H.P. Lovecraft, worked in advertising, and then went to Hollywood. His best work is his short stories, which, unbelievably, have never been properly collected in one recommendable volume.

Aside from his many stories, he is distinguished by a sense of humor which has been the highlight of any occasion at which he appeared.


Robert Bloch: I was born on April 5, 1917, in Chicago, Illinois, a few hours before the United States declared war on Germany. There is, I have been assured, no connection between these two events.

Both my parents were American-born, of German-Jewish ancestry; neither observed Jewish holidays or rituals, or spoke anything but English, though both understood German. My mother had been a schoolteacher and social worker in Chicago and Milwaukee; my father was a bank teller, and, later, a cashier. I also had a sister, Winifred, born in 1919.

In 1923 we moved to Maywood, a small suburban community west of Chicago, and I grew up in an atmosphere of Norman Rockwell normality - Sunday band concerts in the park, Fourth of July celebrations, vacant lots transformed into circus grounds for mud-shows, traveling Chatauqua and Tom shows, school picnics, amateur theatricals in churches, in public libraries. In contrast were weekends in Chicago - visiting relatives, going to museums, the zoo, the Art Institute, vaudeville, musical comedies, even a few operas - and silent movies in both the city and “home town.” It was a wonderful way to spend childhood, with the best of both worlds available. I was a gregarious youngster and inaugurated lots of make-believe based on my precocious reading (the neighborhood kids helped turn our big back yard into WWI trenches; put up a circus tent; built a playhouse that served as a fort, palace, dungeon, pirate ship: an up-ended piano stool was the ship's wheel; a convenient leaf from the dining room table hung over the side for victims to walk the plank). All disgustingly normal. But after I was frightened, then fascinated, by Lon Chaney films, the “pirates” become increasingly disfigured: one-armed, one-legged, eyeless, hunchbacked, and grotesquely bearded. My interest in fantasy started here, and led me into the genre.

My “precocious reading,” aside from gift books given to me for Christmas and birthdays, was from my parents library: Mark Twain, O. Henry, Washington Irving, Conan Doyle. At seven, I got into the adult section of the public library. I recall Ivanhoe, and not fully comprehending it, Poe, Hawthorne, Bullfinch's Mythology, then inevitably, Sax Rohmer, Edgar Rice Burroughs; but before them, the “juveniles” from Mother Goose to Grimm to Oz to Doctor Doolittle.

At the same time that I gained access to the adult section fo the Maywood Public Library, I was pushed ahead in school. My parents were proud, but it was a mistake: soon I was ten, in classes with adolescents, just to small to compete in sports with the older, larger boys. As a result, my extroversion faded, I read more and more, and by the time the family moved to Milwaukee, in the fall of '27, where my mother resumed her social work at the Abraham Lincoln House, I was near-sighted and shy.

The month before we left Maywood I was introduced to Weird Tales via the Chicago Northwestern Railway depot newsstand, and within a year I was hopelessly addicted and on to the hard stuff with a 1928 Amazing Stories. Over the next two years I tried valiantly to quit, cold-turkey, but never could; I still need a fix of fantasy regularly.

Thanks (?) to the pushing ahead process, I was a high school junior at 15, and it was then I wrote that first fateful fan-letter to H.P. Lovecraft, whom I admired above all other Weird Tales writers, asking if by chance he knew where I might buy back issues containing his earlier work. He answered by offering me his own copies, and then we corresponded from then until his death. Through him I came in contact with August Derleth, Clark Ashton Smith, and the other members of the “Lovecraft Circle.”

Along about his fourth letter or so, he suggested I become a writer, and offered to look over anything I wrote. When I did write, what he gave to me was praise and encouragement - enough so that I persevered and sold my first story to Weird Tales in July 1934, six weeks after my high school graduation. I was 17.

I could have graduated at 16, but I stayed over at the request of the principal to participate in another senior play and minstrel show. These were big money-makers for the school in those grim depression years, and while a private introvert, I'd become a public extrovert, writing and performing constantly during my high school years. I sold a few gags to radio comedians and aspired to stage comedy myself, but it was a rough time to break in. Milwaukee didn't offer the opportunity for apprenticeship. Besides this, there simply were no jobs for teenagers in 1935, except manual labor at $12-$13 a week, and I knew damned well that wasn't for me. Nor was college: I had been offered a year's scholarship as a result of making a 154 I.Q. test score before graduation, but after that, I would have to work my way, by (you guessed it!) manual labor. So writing for magazines had great appeal.

(I should add that that 154 score did not mean much to me then, and it doesn't know. I take a dim view of intelligence tests. But one thing it did prove: I was smart enough to want to escape ditch-digging for a living.)

I sold repeatedly to Weird Tales. My $20 investment in a second-hand typewriter paid off as I sat at the card table in my bedroom and made like an author. At 18, I was invited to join the Milwaukee Fictioneers, a professional writers' group which included at bi-weekly workshop meetings: Stanley Weinbaum, Ralph Milne Farley, and Ray Palmer. I learned a lot about science fiction from them, though I never wrote any until 1939 when, at Palmer's instigation, I perpetuated a dreadful cover-story for one of the Ziff-Davis publications he had begun to edit.

During this time, I eked out a living at writing, and gratefully so. My father succumbed to an undiagnosable creeping paralysis, and the earnings came in handy. Lovecraft died in 1937; I went to California to visit a fan named Henry Kuttner who invited me to stay a month; and at this time, I met C.L. Moore, Fritz Leiber, Forrest Ackerman, and others. But is was not until 1939 that I acquired an agent and made my first trip to New York where I met a few more writers and editors but advanced myself professionally not at all.

In the fall of 1940, I married Marion Ruth Holcombe and moved into any apartment of my own. In the depression era people waited to wed until they were self-supporting, and such status was hard-won. A venture into political ghost-writing augmented my income and made the marriage possible, but here I was, 23, with a non-working wife and expecting to live off the 1-2 cents a word rate which pulp magazines paid. This proved to be a concept more fantastic than any I had ever invented.


PW: Were you writing before you began to correspond with Lovecraft? What were your first efforts like, and how did he respond to them?
RB: No, I didn't write before corresponding with Lovecraft; at least, not in the genre, though at ten I had done a prophecy-piece as a gift to my mother, and of course, I wrote skits and sketches for the high school plays. HPL put the bug into my ear, but he entomological insertion was easy. Not so my first efforts: they were difficult and dreadful. But he always found something to praise, diplomatically, indicating errata, emphasizing the need to perfect plotting, to polish phrases. The fact that he was interested was in itself a great encouragement to me.
PW: What contact did you have with the “Lovecraft Circle”?
RB: My contact with the circle was through correspondence. In some instances (Whitehead, Long, Wandrei), it amounted to a letter or two. I was in more regular contact with Smith for a year or so; and Bernard Austin Dwyer, an almost forgotten name. J. Vernon Shea and Derleth were my most frequent correspondents. I still write to Vernon today. Idiot that I was, I saved no letters but Lovecraft's. Today, my memorabilia goes to the University of Wyoming library.

I learned a great deal from those writers; particularly how kind they were in dealing with a naïve youngster with very little to recommend him. By and large they were far more considerate and generous by nature than the people I've known in the “regular” business world. They were also a damnsight more interesting. But I suspect if it were not for HPL, I would never have known this, or them, or the life I lead now. Suppose my first letter had gone astray? I might very well be a school crossing guard today!

PW: Lovecraft wrote a story about you, and you wrote a story about him. What was the story of those stories?
RB: Early in 1935, I wrote a story, “The Shambler from the Stars,” using HPL as a character, and killing him off. I wrote, asking his permission to do so, and he obliged with a very amusing permit signed by Abdul Alhazred and other imaginary figures with is reproduced in the Arkham House Book, Marginalia. Of course, my story was dedicated to him.

Upon reading it, Lovecraft was inspired to do a sequel, “The Haunter of the Dark,” in which I was the lead character, “Robert Blake,” who journeyed to Providence, searching for solution to the mysterious happenings recounted in the previous yarn. Of course, Lovecraft killed me off - and dedicated his story to me. I'm very proud of this distinction: aside from a poem to Virgil Finlay, he never dedicated any other of his professional efforts to anyone.

I finally wrote a third story in the sequence years later, “The Shadow from the Steeple,” in which my protagonist was Fritz Leiber. It, too, appeared in Weird Tales. You'll find all three stories together at last in the Arkham collection, Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos.

PW: You say that by the time you were 18 you were invited to join the Milwaukee Fictioneers, a writer's group that included Stanley Weinbaum, Ray Palmer, etc. What were those meetings like? Those people like?
RB: The Milwaukee Fictioneers met biweekly at the homes of members, in rotation. Founded in 1932, the group consisted of 15-20 writers, some full-time pros like President Lawrence A. Keating, and other part-time writers who augmented their depression-year incomes by turning out stories in their spare time. There were few rules or regulations; no formal procedure, no reading of manuscripts, no alcohol in the buffet refreshments, and no women allowed. This latter rule was later relaxed and the Fictioneers, still in existence today, have a notable contingent of female writers. But the principal aim, then and now, was to indulge in a sort of group-therapy. A writer stuck in a story, or with a notion but no plot, would outline his problem, whereupon the rest of the membership pitched in with criticism. It worked, spectacularly, but not infallibly. I was one of the few exceptions, since no one else there wrote fantasy and could not solve the esoteric problems involving obscure supernatural frames of reference. Yet I was helped - indirectly, but importantly - by listing to the group, learning the mechanics of the various genres. Although I found it downright impossible to write “true confessions,” or love stories, or gangster epics, westerns, and the like, I had no difficulty in plotting them for others, or in contributing various touches. Besides which, my ego benefited from acceptance as an equal by full-grown adults professionals. The Depression was a great leveler and our common interest made for a mature democratic attitude.

I've written about Stanley Weinbaum at some length in the forthcoming Ballantine book, The Best Stories of Stanley Weinbaum. I'll only say that he was a delightfully humorous man: soft-spoken, dark-haired, dark-eyed, with the manners of a Southern Gentleman. My outstanding memories of him are of long conversations at interim meetings, or private sessions, where we discussed our mutual interest in James Branch Cabell, and other fantasy writers. He wanted to write fantasy himself, and if illness had not intervened, he intended to do a story for Weird Tales. His untimely death was a great shock to all of us.

Ralph Milne Farley did write occasionally for Weird Tales; his stories were as quirky and as individual as the man himself. Born Roger Sherman Hoar, he was a descendent of Roger Sherman, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. His lineage included many historic New England notables and his father had been a U.S. senator from Massachusetts. Roger was our aristocrat, our only affluent member. He had served as a state senator. He had been a captain in army intelligence in WWI, had written what was then the only book on Constitutional law, was the discoverer of the blue dandelion, and had form many years been corporation attorney for Bucyrus-Erie, a large manufacturing concern in South Milwaukee. He traveled on their behalf all over the world, and wrote much of science fiction en route to and from his destinations. But he was far from a stuffed-shirt. His conversation was pun-and-porn-laden, his manner unaffected.

Arthur Tofte, who is writing science fiction now in his retirement was then a cherubic, genial young executive with a sharp wit. In fact, as I reflect on it, that was the common denominator of all Fictioneers - a sense of humor and a lack of pretension.

Ray Palmer who lived in modest circumstances on Milwaukee's south side and earned his way as a tinsmith, climbing ladders to repair roofs and gutters, was accepted by a Roger Hoar who dwelt in a mansion filled with ancestral antiques and kept a riding stable. Indeed, it was Roger who was instrumental in getting Ray his job as editor of Amazing and Fantastic when the publishers approached him for a recommendation.

PW: And in 1937 you met Kuttner, Moore, Leiber, and others. What were they like, then?
RB: Henry Kuttner, too - here we go, again - had this wild sense of humor. Together, in California, we put out this burlesque of Weird Tales called Plump Tales. It was illustrated by Jim Mooney in caricatures of Weird Tales styles, while Hand and I caricatured the styles of the writers. We sent the thing to Farnsworth Wright, and yes, he had a sense of humor, too! But it's hard to pick out particular memories of Henry - there are so many over a 22-year period of friendship, and they are all pleasant.

When we were together in '37, he had been corresponding with Catherine Moore for quite a while. She and a girl friend came out for a vacation and the four of us made the rounds. I recall my hat blowing off into the ocean as we rode the roller coaster at the amusement park in Venice. Fritz Leiber, already married, lived as his parents' home in Beverly Hills: we visited him there. This handsome, imposing actor was some years our senior, but he had yet to make a sale and wanted very much to become a writer. Again, I've known Catherine and Fritz so long I can't seem to focus on any one particular episode that would epitomize them; so many memories so equally vivid, and equally misleading because what was appropriate to Fritz Leiber (1937) might not be applicable to Fritz Leiber (1955) or Fritz Leiber (1969).

PW: What was the origin of your interest in Jack the Ripper, and why has it persisted?
RB: I had read of him in various books about famous murderers, and was reminded of this upon running across Mrs. Belloc Lowndes' The Lodger. All I did was say to myself: “What if Jack the Ripper was still alive today?” - and the story “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper” - came from the famous bit of verse almost immediately, once I realized that this was the tag line.

My interest continued for the next several years because the story was the first of mine to be reprinted (in Alfred Hitchcock's initial anthology), and first to be adapted for another medium (“The Kate Smith Radio Hour,” a dramatization starring Laird Cregar, who starred in the movie version of the Lowndes' novel). Over the decades the story has been reprinted and dramatized many times, but my own “sequels” were done at the suggestions of others: Dorothy Fontana prompted me to do a Ripper segment for “Star Trek,” and Harlan Ellison asked for a “Ripper” story for Dangerous Visions. No doubt I have yet to see the last of Red Jack. He has been a boon companion over the past thirty years!

PW: What was the origin of Psycho?
RB: Psycho came from my reading of a newspaper account of the Gein case in Wisconsin in 1957. The “gory details” were sparse enough: a small town recluse was discovered to have murdered several women; butchered and flayed them in manner indicating severe mental illness. What intrigued me, living in a similar rural community at the time, was how anyone could perpetrate such crimes in such a psychotic state and yet remain undetected for years by his neighbors.

Obviously, unless he was of high intelligence-itself a cause for suspicion in farm communities - he'd be hard-put to conceal all evidence of his tendencies, as well as the crimes that resulted. Unless - and here the idea signed home - he was unaware of them himself..

Ergo, I'd write a book about a schizoid.

Now, how did he get that way, and who was his alter ego? I came up with the mother-fixation, and the rest followed. As for the nature of the crimes themselves, the use of the shower stall, the artifacts in the house, the cellar discovery, etc., you can read their rationale in any one of the several books published about Hitchcock - except, or course, that he is credited for “inventing” all of them. Only one person in such a book mentions my name, and says “Psycho all came from Robert Bloch's novel,” and that person is Alfred Hitchcock himself (in The Celluloid Muse, 1969). The rest of the “film critics” as they style themselves, cling to the auteur theory in which There Shall Be No Author But The Director, And The Film Critic Is His Prophet. Nevertheless, as I said, the idea came quickly enough, and when I finally sat down to write the book in 1958, the first, and final, draft was completed in about six weeks.

I was startled when, some years later, I discovered how closely my fiction paralleled the facts insofar as the character and motivation of murderer was concerned. But I knew nothing of this until years after the book was published; and apparently a number of “film historians,” with their glib references to “black comedy,” still know nothing of the real facts to this day.

PW: What makes a “horror story” horrifying - to you?
RB: A question like that constitutes the basis for a complete psychoanalysis, and it is difficult to find a generalization that might serve as an answer. I'd say that the basis of horror lies in a threat to the ego, to the conscious “self.” The extinction of that “self” in death; its inability to cope with extremities of physical or mental anguish - that's what horror is all about. The shock element is introduced when either death or pain comes suddenly so as to combine fear with surprise, and in such a way as to be incontrollable. We all learn to face pain and some of us can even face death, but usually only with some degree of conscious preparation and resolve. Mind you, I am talking about “horror” here as distinct from nausea and repulsion. Today it seems to be the general fashion to confuse the two, particularly in films where sado-masochistic excess takes precedence over the cerebral elements so graphically as to leave nothing to the imagination. But in time one becomes inured to the physical. Even in reality, the butcher of the slaughterhouse, concentration camp, and torture chamber is able to accept his activities and yet there are still things which he fears; the same old horror of ego-extermination, of “nothingness” and the “unknown.”
PW: While pain and death are universal fears, I think the most universal, and ineluctable, fear of all is the fear of madness. But I think what makes “horror stories” so appealing to me is not the “horror” at all but the ingenuity of the writer in the re-creation of the backgrounds, atmospherics, plot twists, etc. Everyone comes to a horror story, as to a horror movie, prepared that they are not afraid of death or susceptible to terror, or at least to confront their fears, vicariously, safely; yet everyone would like to be scared - to be persuaded to believe in ghosts that will do them no harm. They are inviting the author, or film, to put one over on them, much as an audience invites a magician to confound their sense of reality with illusion. And they leave the theater, or novel, not believing in ghosts, but pleased for a moment or two, that they were persuaded to believe.
RB: Fear of madness has never struck me as being universal. Indeed, the deliberate quest of hallucination, of “mind-bending,” of “tripping” and “turning on” seems to refute the notion that madness, per se, is feared. “Blowing your mind” is where it's at for many people today. Perhaps you're referring to the fear of a loss of control - a permanent loss to one's self, or in others.

I don't believe that everyone necessarily comes to a horror story prepared not to believe it. This is a common enough rationalization, but I'm inclined to feel that disbelief is not a prime characteristic of the fantasy-devotee; if so, you would find a lot of NASA people in the audience. The true disbelievers, the members of the scientific establishment, have seldom swelled our ranks: they like nice, hardcore “slipstick” science fiction instead; in which practical engineers solve problems because they got top marks at M.I.T. I think the fantasy audience wants to believe and doesbelieve, despite disclaimers.

PW: HOL and the Victorians drew upon the past for their horrors, ghosts, mythological creatures, curses, old houses, etc. Their favorite words seemed to be “ancient,” “decay,” “crumbling,” etc. Yours seem to be “conscious,” “unconscious,” “psychotic.” Freud seems to have been a boon to the horror story. Would you contrast the old pre-Freudian story with the post-Freudian variety? And possibly suggest what new possibilities have opened up?
RB: In the pre-Freudian story the motivation and/or explanation was supernatural - in the post-Freudian story it's psychological. But if you read my stuff carefully, you'll discover I don't accept Freudian theory with much more conviction than I do Gothic superstitions; many of the psychotherapists populating my tales are either inept or invalidated. I utilize Freudian dogma because it is currently in general acceptance; thus it carries the same conviction with readers today that demonological lore did in a bygone era. But I'm certainly not qualified to pass judgment on psychotherapeutic postulates. My own leanings would be toward the Jungian rather than the Freudian. And these, in a curious, roundabout way, tend to bring us back almost full-circle to the concepts embodied in the metaphysic of superstition; the symbols found in racial memory and the collective unconsciousness, etc. As to what new possibilities may be opening up in the horror field I can't say, but I suspect that the politicians are working on them right now.
PW: Although you've written a few successful novels, you seem to have had more success with the short story. Aside from my favorites, “Daybroke” and “Yours Truly - ” I remember “The Movie People”: it left me a good feeling inside that still remains. I also remember bits and pieces of what I thought was a bad novel as a whole, Sneak Preview; character and background sketches of top quality.
RB: I agree that I usually work best within the framework of the short story or vignette - unfortunately, there's not enough of a market there today. I'd like to do more things like “The Movie People,” but few readers seem to want this sort of story from me, any more than they're willing to accept humor, or social commentary. As a result, I'm generally reduced to sneaking in a few bits and pieces where I can, as in Sneak Preview. Only once in a while have I been ale to write as I did in “The Helbound Train” and find an audience. By and large, such experiences have not met with much recognition, and the novel form presently offers the only practical professional outlet for a writer in the genre.
PW: How did you come to write for Hollywood? And have you found it satisfying work?
RB: I was given the opportunity to write my first teleplay through the kind offices of a friend, at a time when this was still a possible method of entree, before network domination precluded such an introduction. As a longtime film buff, I'd always wanted to do a screenplay, and because my initial teleplays met with favor, film offers followed. But writing screenplays can be frustrating: one is usually at the dubious mercy of a committee system of control, just as in television today. Once in a while there is the satisfaction of seeing a certain production of one's work filmed almost exactly as it was written, and when that comes off, it's almost pleasant. But for every such moment there are many others when one winces at the crude and clumsy changes made by others but attributed to “the writer.” It's not that I'm infallible; I've committed my share of mistakes, and I have had occasion to be grateful to truly creative producers, directors, and cinematic craftsmen for suggestions and improvements. The point is, once a script is delivered, the writer is not responsible for how it is handled or mishandled. Still, I find it more exciting to write for a mass audience, and when something does work out well, it's gratifying.
PW: This may sound silly, but the name Robert Bloch cannot be dissociated with humor. I am told you are one of the best after-dinner speakers, and I would like to ask you for one of your best jokes.
RB: I'm afraid I'll have to pass, and I'll explain why. My after-dinner humor, if you can call it that, is based on the principle of anarchy - the same tried-and-true mechanism utilized by W.C. Fields and the Marx Brothers. Basically, it consists of setting up a rigidly conventional situation and introducing into it an element of sudden disruption. The disruptions, when isolated, is often foolish, a complete non-sequitur, a physical or verbal crudity which is funny in context. Without that context - in this instance the dignity of a banquet, the formality of introducing an honored speaker, or the handing out of awards - the isolated “joke” falls flat. This isn't a cop-out; I believe that humor, like horror, depends to some extent on the surprise element, and this in turn is most effective only after a calculated buildup.

There is a distinction between verbal humor - designed for delivery at a specific time and place under specific circumstances - and written humor, designed only to be read. Once in a while the two forms are interchangeable, but by and large, that is not the case. Going to the acknowledged masters for examples, I don't believe that an audience would find a chapter of P.G. Wodehouse's work particularly uproarious if recited aloud in an auditorium, and I doubt if many of us are overwhelmed by Mark Twain's after-dinner speeches which reported delighted his auditors. Since I'm certainly not in this league I hesitate to hazard a witticism as a specimen of my technique. My “best” jokes are private ones, anyway - like the copy of the Bible on my shelves which has a card on the flyleaf inscribed “With the compliments of the author” - or the dedication of my novel, Night-World: “This book is for Zander, who will probably never read it.” Zander is our dog.

PW: What is the “Best of Robert Bloch?” And - what is the “Worst?”
RB: Offhand, I would say my personal preferences would be “Enoch” (1946) which has not appeared in English since '65; the other Weird Tales yarns I've mentioned in answer to previous questions, most of which appeared in a collection, Pleasant Dreams, recently out of print. More recently, “Daybroke” (1958), out of print; “The Hellbound Train” (1958), available in the paperback edition of the Hugo Winners; “A Good Imagination” (1956), out of print; “The Funnel of God” (1960), available in my collection Fear Today - Gone Tomorrow; “Beelzebub (1963), out of print; “The Animal Fair” (1971), out of print; and “The Learning Maze” which will appear this year, 1974, in a Roger Elwood anthology.

About the “worst” - see my bibliography and just start sticking pins in pages at random. I think my average is about one good yarn out of every ten, maybe forty in all. Once I did compile such a list, but it's lost since short stories have a disconcerting way of going out of print, so it doesn't really matter.

PW: Your autobiography leaves us at 1940, married and hard-pressed for money. What happened next?
RB: I stayed married and hard-pressed for money for the next nineteen years. For eleven of those years, I worked as a copywriter for a small Milwaukee advertising agency; then, in '53, as my wife's health deteriorated, I quit and moved her and daughter Sally Ann to Weyauwega, Wisconsin. Here, in her home town, I felt my wife could be near her family and friends and not have the problems of getting around in a big city in case her condition worsened. Fortunately, her TB of the bone (here correctly diagnosed after half a lifetime of medical bungling) responded to the new “wonder drugs,” and after a sty in the sanatorium she returned in good shape. As for me, I wrote full-time again (I'd continued my writing while at the agency, of course) and also ventured down to Milwaukee once a week to appear as a guest panelist on a television show. Late in 1959 I went to Hollywood, then moved the family out in 1960 when I had some assurance of becoming established there. But the adjustment was difficult for my wife; three years later we divorced and she moved out to a small town in the desert where she seems to have found a comfortable niche. My daughter remained with me until her marriage and now she and her electronics-engineer husband live upstate. A few months after securing my interlocutory decree I met the widowed Eleanor Alexander at a dinner-party and a few minutes after meeting her I proposed. We have been married for a little over nine years now and I think if I grit my teeth I can manage to hold still for another thirty. But after I reach 86, anything goes.


Paul Walker was a fan, interviewer, and author residing in Bloomfield, New Jersey. He was also a librarian at the Bloomfield Library for many years. He passed away on March 8, 2007, after a short illness. He was 64.

This interview originally appeared in S.F. Echo 20 (1974) and was later reprinted in a slightly altered form in Speaking of Science Fiction: The Paul Walker Interviews (Luna Publications, 1978). It is © 1974, 1978 by Paul Walker, and is reprinted here with the kind permission of Mr. Walker's sister, Pat Schaefer. All rights reserved.