I knew I wanted to be an author ever since the 5th grade when I first read "The Devil and Daniel Webster" by Stephen Vincent Benet' I started writing science fiction stories for my school paper, and later, after teaching myself how to type, I began submitting material to the various science fiction magazines of the day.
I discovered Robert E. Howard and Conan in 1960 when I purchased The Coming of Conan from a bargain books ad on the back of Fantastic Universe. Up until then, I was a straight science fiction fan. Robert E. Howard changed all that. A short time later, I discovered the Cthulhu Mythos stories of H.P. Lovecraft and my taste switched from SF to straight fantasy and horror, with REH and HPL as my two literary gods.
While attending college (Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, 1964-1968) I read my first Solomon Kane story, reprinted in an issue of "Doc Lowndes" Magazine of Horror. I was entranced by Kane, a lone Puritan, dour and deadly, traveling the world, righting wrongs as judge, jury and executioner. I soon came up with the idea of writing Kane style adventures but with a distinctly Lovecraftian setting. The Morgan Smith stories were the result.
The Smith stories were written entirely for my own amusement. I wrote them at odd moments when I had time to spare, never with the thought of publication. I still wanted to become an author, but I felt certain that my only chance to sell material was to write straight SF. So, when, from time to time, various fan publications asked if I had any stuff to contribute, they usually got sent a Smith story.
On a lark, I submitted several Smith stories to Bill Crawford's magazine, Witchcraft & Sorcery. Jerry Paige was editor and wrote back that he was interested, if I would make a few changes. Needless to say, I did, and Jerry agreed to buy three of the Smith adventures. Before any of them were published, the magazine folded. I later managed to sell a few other Smith stories to paying markets, but all suffered a similar fate and never appeared. By then, in the mid-1970's, I had pretty much soured on writing fiction and abandoned the series. In all, over 20 Smith stories were published in small press magazines and fanzines from 1967-1973, with another 4-5 promised but never completed.
Over the past few years, I've been asked by some die-hard Lovecraft fans to assemble a Morgan Smith collection. My friend, Paul Berglund, with whom I collaborated on a Smith story, has always been after me to put together such a collection. In an interview conducted with me by Darrell Schweitzer for Cemetery Dance, he also asked about a possible Smith collection. At present, a Morgan Smith collection, done as an e-book may be published sometime in the future. I'm not entirely sure. If it does, the Smith stories will have been somewhat edited and rewritten. I have learned something about writing in 30 years and some viewpoints needed changing and motives better explained. Besides, while the series was written to follow a certain rough chronology, some dates and characters needed to be revised and changed for internal stability.
For now, here is a sample of the Smith adventures. These are stories written when I was in my late teens and early twenties and a disciple of the twin gods of Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft. The Smith stories are not masterpieces, but I still think they are a lot of fun. They are high adventure with a somewhat sinister character as the lead. I had a great time writing them more than thirty years ago. I hope you have some fun reading them now!
Meet Morgan Smith.
From Beyond the Lake of Shades.
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