Horror’s black flag lowers to half mast in honour of William Peter Blatty, who has left us.
What an extraordinary legacy he created with only two books, and it is hard to see the furthest reaches of their influence even now, nearly 50 years after The Exorcist was published.
On a personal level, of all the modern horror writers that I read in my adolescence, he probably had the most powerful impact on my imagination. For me, he set a deadly serious tone in horror fiction, and created an unmatched sense of the infernal. This significantly contributed to my own desire to write horror novels as I grew older. Very few books really frightened me after childhood, but he wrote two of them. His work stayed with me and he raised a bar that I still reach for.
He was also responsible for writing two of my favourite horror films, The Exorcist and Legion, as well as directing the latter. He also wrote a few episodes of the impressive Exorcist TV series too (and the screenplay for the brilliant A Shot in the Dark). He was quality.
A picture of my original copies of his novels below. They’ve moved all over with me, like a pair of Captain Howdy’s, since my teens.