Who is Will Murray? An autobiographical sketch

I was born in 1953, the same year the pulps died. Lots of people who've never met me assume I'm much older. When I attended my first Pulpcon back in 1976, fresh from publishing my first pulpzine Duende, many old-time pulpsters were astonished that I wasn't in my forties. But they got used to it.

At the most recent Pulpcon, I actually had a new guy walk up to me and express surprise that I wasn't in my sixties. It took 20 years to reach my forties and you'd think I would have gotten a little credit for the achievement.

Anyway, as I look back in an ill-spent life, I try to see where I went wrong and there are so many places I can only assume I've been going wrong since around Christmas 1961 when I bought my first batch of comic books. By 1963, I was familiar with The Shadow and The Green Hornet--two favorites still--thanks to old-time radio revivals on Boston's old WORL. I was forced to read 1930s-era Nancy Drew books by a well-meaning third grade teacher who inadvertently exposed me to the kind of stuff that by the time I broke down and read my first Doc Savage in January 1969, basically meant there was no turning back. And I haven't. I was soon collecting pulps by mail, as well as related material such as novels by H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, Talbot Mundy, Sax Rohmer and sundry others.

The publication of two psychological profiles of Doc in The Doc Savage Reader led to my contributing to The Man Behind Doc Savage and the beginning of a writing career of sorts. I wrote tons of fanzine articles throughout the 1970s, as well as editing Duende, Skullduggery and joining Odyssey Publications, where I worked on their pulp reprint program and managed to turn Duende #3 into a gigantic monster called The Duende History of The Shadow Magazine. Universal used it as one of the source books for their ill-starred Shadow film. Buying copies of the book meant they didn't have to hire me as a consultant. I'll never write another book like that again.

It amazed me that I did most of that stuff while carrying a full courseload at college. And I graduated. I think. Summa cum something. (Never took Latin)

I don't know when my professional career got rolling. Maybe it was writing the afterward to the lost Lester Dent Doc Savage novel, The Red Spider, back in 1979. Long time ago.

I had the fiction bug all along but didn't pursue it seriously until around 1980, when I discovered the outline to Lester Dent's unwritten Python Isle and decided to take a shot at writing it. Bantam passed on it initially, and by the time they came back and asked for it and two more Docs, I was busily ghosting the Destroyer for Warren Murphy.

The Destroyer was one of those weird near-misses on which one's life can sometimes hinge. When the first books in that series came out around the time I was graduating from high school in June 1971, I picked them up, skimmed them and decided they weren't for me. I was too busy reading Doc and The Shadow.

For almost ten years I ignored the series, despite many people trying to hector me into giving them another shot. One bleak summer when things weren't going well, I broke down and read Mugger Blood and found I had a new love. Gobbled up the entire series in a matter of months. It turned out to be a crash course for what was to come, though I never suspected it.

I was editing Skullduggery when I contacted Warren Murphy about interviewing him and Dick Sapir. It turned out Dick also lived in the Boston area. A friendship was struck up. I did some paid research for Dick. This led to my editing a Destroyer sourcebook called The Assassin's Handbook in 1982. While working on that, I was asked to submit some Destroyer novel outlines. I might have hesitated except I had already written that Doc, and it gave the confidence to write my first published Destroyer novel, Encounter Group, published in 1984 as the 56th book in the series.

With Destroyer #69: Blood Ties, I began writing the series regularly. Destroyer #107: Feast or Famine was my 49th novel and my last Destroyer. Sometime in 1997 I'll write my 50th novel. Not sure what it will be, but if the gods are just it will be a Doc Savage.

When not writing Destroyers, I frequently cover films for the Starlog family of magazines. This started when they sent me to Mexico City in 1985 to cover the Destroyer film, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins. Since then I've traveled all over, going on location with such films as Rambo III, Total Recall, Evil Dead II, The Return of Swamp Thing, The Shadow, The Mask of Zorro and others too obscure to name.

Occasionally, I land a story in an anthology. I scripted the adaptation of The Thousand-Headed Man for NPR's Adventures of Doc Savage. I write prolifically for various H.P. Lovecraft fanzines and was one of the founders of Friends of H.P. Lovecraft, which placed a plaque dedicated to HPL at Brown University. Recently I edited Tales of Zothique and The Book of Hyperborea, two collections of Clark Ashton Smith stories for Necronomicon Press. A third, The Treader of the Dust, is in the works. I also wrote an Executioner, Red Horse, and a Mars Attacks novel, War Dogs of the Golden Horde, just for the heck of it.

I have stories coming up in the following anthologies: The Untold Tales of Spider-Man, The Ultimate Hulk and The UFO Files. My favorite pulp heroes are Doc, The Shadow, The Whisperer, Bill Barnes and The Spider.

I have two cats, Spooky and Rags, and I see I'm coming to the end of the page which is a big relief because these days I find writing about myself extremely boring.

-Will Murray
July 1997
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