Louis Whitley Strieber
((born June 13
) is an American
writer best known for his horror novels The Wolfen
and The Hunger
and for Communion
, a non-fiction account of his own perceived experiences with non-human entities. Strieber also co-authored The Coming Global Superstorm
with Art Bell
, which inspired the blockbuster film about sudden climate change, The Day After Tomorrow
Whitley Strieber was born in San Antonio
, the son of Karl Strieber, a lawyer
, and Mary Drought Strieber. He attended Central Catholic Marianist High School
in San Antonio, Texas. He was educated at the University of Texas at Austin
and the London School of Film Technique
, graduating from both in 1968. He then worked for several different advertising
firms in New York City
, rising to the level of vice president before quitting in 1977 to become a free-lance writer.
Strieber began his career as a novelist with the horror novels The Wolfen
(1978) and The Hunger
(1981), both of which were later made into movies, followed by the less successful horror novels Black Magic
(1982) and The Night Church
Strieber then turned to speculative fiction. He wrote Warday (1984), a New York Times bestseller about the dangers of limited nuclear warfare, and Nature's End (1986), a novel about environmental apocalypse, both in collaboration with longtime friend James Kunetka. He is also the author of Wolf of Shadows (1985), a young adult novel set in the aftermath of a nuclear war.
In 1986, Strieber's fantasy novel Catmagic was published, co-authored with Jonathan Barry, who was billed as an aerospace industry consultant and a practicing witch. In the 1987 paperback edition, Strieber states that Jonathan Barry is fictitious and that he, Strieber, is the sole author of Catmagic. Strieber's personal publishing company, Walker & Collier, is named after two of the characters in Catmagic.
Later, less successful thrillers by Strieber (all now out of print) include Billy (1990), The Wild (1991), Unholy Fire (1992), and The Forbidden Zone (1993).
He later returned to the vampire saga that began with The Hunger, adding The Last Vampire (2001) and Lilith's Dream (2002) to the storyline.
The author's short stories were collected in the 1997 limited edition volume Evenings with Demons. An unlimited edition is planned for 2007.
Communion and "The Visitors"
On December 26
, Strieber reportedly had an experience in which he believed he was abducted from his cabin in upstate New York
by non-human beings of some kind. He wrote about these experiences in his first non-fiction book, Communion
is generally interpreted as a claim of alien abduction
, but Strieber says that he draws no firm conclusions about the nature or source of his experience. He refers to the beings as "the visitors," a name chosen to be as neutral as possible, and leaves open the possibility that they are not extraterrestrials
and even that they exist only in his mind. He has repeatedly expressed his frustration with what he feels are fantastic claims incorrectly attributed to him.
Communion was a Number 1 New York Times bestseller in the Non-Fiction category. Strieber went on to write three more autobiographical books about his experiences with the visitors, Transformation (1988), Breakthrough (1995), and The Secret School (1996). Each was commercially less successful than the last, with Transformation the only other title besides Communion to make the New York Times bestseller list.
Other visitor-themed books of Strieber's include Majestic (1989), a novel about the Roswell UFO incident; The Communion Letters (1997, reissued in 2003), a collection of letters from readers reporting experiences similar to Strieber's. Confirmation (1998), despite its title, does not propose that there has been 'confirmation' of UFOs or abductions, but rather analyzes the evidence that was available at that time and discusses what more would be required to provide 'confirmation'. A 2006 novel, The Grays, presented his impressions of alien contact through a fictional narrative.
Strieber wrote the screenplay for the 1989 film Communion, directed by Philippe Mora and starring Christopher Walken as Strieber. The movie covers material from both Communion and Transformation and introduces some new themes not present in the books.
The Master of the Key
In the pre-dawn hours of June 6
, Strieber was reportedly visited in his Toronto
hotel room by a mysterious but apparently human man, who delivered an unsolicited lecture covering various subjects from spirituality to the environment. The man gave no name, but Strieber has taken to referring to him as the "Master of the Key." Strieber first reported the visit in his online journal in 1998 and later gave a more complete account in his self-published book The Key
(2001). Skeptics have pointed out that The Key
and the 1998 journal entries give very different (not contradictory, but largely non-overlapping) accounts of what the man said.
Before publishing The Key, Strieber co-authored The Coming Global Superstorm (1999), a book about the possibility of rapid and destructive climate change, with Art Bell. He has said that it was based largely on things the Master of the Key had told him about the environment. The book served as the inspiration for the disaster film The Day After Tomorrow (2004), and Strieber later wrote a novelization of that movie.
Another recent book Strieber says was inspired by the teachings of the Master of the Key is the self-published The Path (2002), which deals with the symbolism of the Tarot of Marseilles.
In The TV series Babylon 5, there is an alien race that is similar to the Greys in Communion. This race is named the Striebe after Whitley Strieber.
Whitley Strieber is a Roman Catholic
and was formerly associated with the Gurdjieff Foundation
He left the Foundation shortly before the experiences reported in Communion
, but remains interested in the mystical teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff
and P. D. Ouspensky
and makes frequent references to them in his non-fiction writings.
Strieber is married to Anne Strieber. They have a son, Andrew, who appears in Communion and several of Strieber's novels (for example, Warday).