Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Books of Dark Shadows

Lately, I've been rediscovering the books based on the supernatural soap opera, Dark Shadows, which aired in the mid sixties to the early seventies. I was one of those kids who "ran home" from school to watch it. Okay, I actually took the bus, but I ran into the house as soon as it let me off.

I read a number of these books (there were 33) when they came out starting in 1966. In junior high, when we had to do a dramatic reading of a book, I chose one of the DS books. I don’t remember which one, but I can tell you that the passage I read was a lot more interesting than anything others read. I’m pretty sure it involved a vampire and/or a werewolf.

The books were all written by Marilyn Ross, pen name of writer William Edward Daniel Ross. I guess the powers that be thought having a woman's name on the books was the best way to go. He was a Canadian author (among other things) who wrote over 300 novels in a variety of genres.

My home library includes some of the books I bought way back then for 50 cents each as well as others I found in thrift stores.

Recently I learned that they’re all being reissued in paperback and audio formats. I’m sure when “Marilyn Ross” wrote them, he thought they’d be forgotten once the soap ended. But Dark Shadows has never really been out of the public eye. Episodes have been syndicated as well as being released on VHS and DVD. There have been conventions. (I’ve been to quite a few.) And in 1991 there was a revival of the series, which was beautifully done, but had the bad luck of airing at the time of the Gulf War. The CW did a pilot of a new version, but it was never picked up. I hear someone else is giving it a go again.

But, up until now, the books haven’t been easily available. Kathryn Leigh Scott who played Maggie Evans plus other characters on the original series, does a nice job reading them for the audio versions. Even if you know nothing about the soap, they are still fun reads. They certainly bring back fond memories for me.

Dan Curtis, the creator of Dark Shadows, never expected it to have the longevity it’s had. None of the actors did, either. There’s a newly released documentary on Curtis called Master of Dark Shadows that’s worth watching.

All of this just goes to show you that no one knows what’s going to catch the public eye and be successful. I’ve never been one to chase trends, anyway. I intend to write what I want to write and see what happens.


Charlotte Hinger said...

Sybil, my main fright was The Shadow Knows. (The evil that lurks in the heart of man.)

Sybil Johnson said...

I do like The Shadow radio series. And a lot of the other radio shows like Suspense.