Peter Francis Straub (born March 2, 1943 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is an American author and poet, most famous for his work in the horror genre. His horror fiction has received numerous literary honors such as the Bram Stoker Award, World Fantasy Award, and International Horror Guild Award, placing him among the most-honored horror authors in recent history.
Straub read voraciously from an early age, but his literary interests did not please his parents; his father hoped that he would grow up to be a professional athlete, while his mother wanted him to be a Lutheran minister. He attended Milwaukee Country Day School on a scholarship, and, during his time there, began writing.
Straub earned an honors B.A. in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1965, and an MA at Columbia University a year later. He briefly taught English at his alma mater, now known as the University School of Milwaukee, then moved to Dublin, Ireland, in 1969 to work on a Ph.D., and to start writing professionally.
After mixed success with two attempts at literary mainstream novels in the mid-1970s (Marriages and Under Venus - the latter not even published until he had gained fame as a horror writer), Straub dabbled in the supernatural for the first time with Julia (1976). He then wrote If You Could See Me Now (1977), and came to widespread public attention with his fifth novel, Ghost Story (1979), which was a critical success and was later loosely adapted into a 1981 film starring Fred Astaire. Several horror novels followed, with growing success, including The Talisman and Black House, two fantasy-horror collaborations with Straub's long-time friend and fellow author Stephen King.
After a fallow period, Straub re-emerged in 1988 with Koko, a nonsupernatural (though horrific) Vietnam novel. Koko was followed in the early '90s by the related novels Mystery and The Throat, which together with Koko make up the "Blue Rose Trilogy". These complex and intertwined novels extended Straub's explorations into metafiction and unreliable narrators.
Straub followed 1996's ambitious mainstream thriller The Hellfire Club, which applied the lessons learned in the Blue Rose period to a more overtly gothic plot, with Mr. X, dealing with a doppelgänger theme. In 2001, Straub and King reteamed for Black House, a loose sequel to The Talisman tying that book in with King's Dark Tower Series. 2003 saw the publication of a new Straub novel Lost Boy, Lost Girl followed by the related In the Night Room (2004). Both of these novels won Stoker awards.
Straub has also published several books of poetry. My Life in Pictures appeared in 1971 as part of a series of six poetry pamphlets Straub published with his friend Thomas Tessier under the Seafront Press imprint while living in Dublin. In 1972 the more substantial chapbook Ishmael was published by Turret Books in London. Straub's third book of poetry, Open Air, appeared later that same year from Irish University Press. The collection Leeson Park and Belsize Square: Poems 1970 - 1975 was published by Underwood-Miller in October 1983. This collection reprints much of Ishmael along with previously uncollected poems, but none of the poems from Open Air.
Significant detail about the two collaborations with King may be found at http://www.horrorking.com. A critical essay on Straub's horror work can be found in S. T. Joshi's book The Modern Weird Tale (2001). At the Foot of the Story Tree, by Bill Sheehan, discusses Straub's work before 2000.
Rumors continue to circulate that King and Straub may collaborate on a final novel, finishing the tale of Jack Sawyer and the Talisman. King himself has stated in an interview that there will be such a novel sometime in the future.
Dread Calm; Peter Straub, doyen of modern flesh-creepers, talks to Peter Ross about the advantage to a horror writer of possessing a closetful of one's very own skeletons and how he learned to tame them
Mar 24, 2002; 'YOU'LL have to forgive me, because this really sounds grandiose," says Peter Straub, rattling the ice in his glass, "but for a...