Story by David Thompson
Photo by Jack Wolford
John Saul lives in a bubble and has no muse. And he’s absolutely fine with that. Saul’s thirty-six novels have sold 200 million copies, been translated into twenty-seven languages and landed on The New York Times’ bestsellers list more times than not. He types 93 words per minute, he stands while writing and he can knock out an entire chapter between breakfast and his afternoon tee time. The longest it’s ever taken him to write a book is three months, and that’s because his mother was dying. His record is twenty-eight days. A muse would only get in the way.
“I never set out to write the Great American Novel,” says Saul, sitting at the wheel of a golf cart with a one-legged rubber chicken dangling over the dashboard. “What I wanted to do was write bestsellers, and there’s a big difference.”
Horror fans know Saul as one of the dark lords of the genre, the twisted imagination behind titles like Perfect Nightmare, Faces of Fear and The Right Hand of Evil. He resides in the paperback racks alongside Dean Koontz, Anne Rice and Stephen King. His stories often involve children or teenagers in peril, highly dysfunctional families, taunting schoolmates, unlikely dreams and old mansions with bad pasts. Kids are just as likely to be the villains as the victims, and it’s not always clear whether the bad seeds are evil, mentally ill or possessed.