|Birth Date||April 8, 1943|
|Birth Location||London, England, UK|
|Death Date||March 20, 2013, age 69|
|Notable Works||The Rats|
A full-time writer, he also designed his own book covers and publicity. His books have sold 54 million copies worldwide, and have been translated into 34 languages, including Chinese and Russian.
His first two books, The Rats and The Fog, were disaster novels with man-eating giant black rats in the first and an accidentally released chemical weapon in the second. The first print run of The Rats (100,000 copies) sold out in three weeks. Herbert wrote three sequels to The Rats; Lair which deals with a second outbreak of the mutants, this time in the countryside around Epping Forest rather than in the first book's London slums; in Domain, a nuclear war means that the rats have become the dominant species in a devastated city. The third sequel, the graphic novel The City, is an adventure set in the post-nuclear future.
With his third novel, the ghost story The Survivor, Herbert used supernatural horror rather than the science fiction horror of his first two books. In Shrine, he explored his Roman Catholic heritage with the story of an apparent miracle which turns out to be something much more sinister. Haunted, the story of a sceptical paranormal investigator taunted by malicious ghosts, began life as a screenplay for the BBC, though this was not the screenplay used in the eventual film version. Its sequel was The Ghosts of Sleath. Others of Herbert's books, such as Moon, Sepulchre and Portent, are structured as thrillers, and include espionage and detective story elements along with the supernatural. The Jonah is in large part the story of a police investigation, albeit by a policeman whose life is overshadowed by a supernatural presence. The Spear deals with a neo-Nazi cult in Britain and an international conspiracy which includes a right-wing US general and an arms dealer.
'48 is an alternative history novel set in 1948 in which the Second World War ended with the release of a devastating plague by the defeated Hitler and, like The Spear, features British characters who sympathise with the Nazis. Others presents the story of a physically deformed private detective. Herbert had previously tackled the theme of reincarnation in his fourth novel, Fluke, the story of a dog who somehow remembers his previous life as a human being. Rumbo, one of the characters from Fluke also turns up in The Magic Cottage. Once... includes another reference to the character of Rumbo.
Nobody True continues the theme of life after death, being narrated by a ghost whose investigation of his own death results in the destruction of his illusions about his life. Herbert described 'Creed' as his Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. The character Joe Creed is a cynical, sleazy paparazzo who is drawn into a plot involving fed-up and underappreciated monsters.
The novel, The Secret of Crickley Hall, originally scheduled for release in April 2006, was eventually released in October. A long novel about a haunted country house in England, it examined the relationship between religious zealotry and child abuse. One of the characters in this novel is named after a real person, who won the honour by having the winning bid in the 2004 BBC Radio 2 Children in Need Auction. Various biographical and critical pieces by and about Herbert have been collected in James Herbert: By Horror Haunted, edited by Stephen Jones, and also in Devil in the Dark, edited by Craig Cabell.
Herbert released a new novel virtually every year from 1974 to 1988, wrote six novels during the 1990s and released three new works in the 2000s. "I am very insecure about being a writer", he stated in the book Faces of Fear. "I don't understand why I am so successful. And the longer I stay that way, the better it's going to be, because that's what keeps me on the edge, striving if you like."