Kevin Christopher McFadden (1961-) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Adaptations, Work in Progress, Sidelights
Born 1961. Education: Attended college. Hobbies and other interests: Astronomy, meditating, long walks, and reading.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, Tor Books, St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.
Writer. Worked as a house painter, factory worker, and computer programmer.
HORROR FICTION; FOR YOUNG ADULTS
Slumber Party, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1985.
Chain Letter, Avon (New York, NY), 1986.
Weekend, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1986.
Thrills, Chills, and Nightmares (short stories), Scholastic (New York, NY), 1987.
Spellbound, Archway (New York, NY), 1988.
Last Act, Archway (New York, NY), 1989.
Scavenger Hunt, Archway (New York, NY), 1989.
Gimme a Kiss, Archway (New York, NY), 1989.
Witch, Archway (New York, NY), 1990.
Fall into Darkness, Archway (New York, NY), 1990.
See You Later, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1990.
Bury Me Deep, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Whisper of Death, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Die Softly, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1991.
Monster, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Master of Murder, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1992.
Chain Letter 2: The Ancient Evil, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1992.
The Eternal Enemy, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1993.
The Immortal, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Road to Nowhere, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1993.
The Wicked Heart, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1993.
Chained Together, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1994.
The Midnight Club, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1994.
The Return, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1994.
The Visitor, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1995.
The Last Story, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1995.
The Lost Mind, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1995.
The Starlight Crystal, Archway (New York, NY), 1996.
Christopher Pike's Tales of Terror, Archway (New York, NY), 1996.
Alien Invasion, Pocket (New York, NY), 1997.
Time Terror, Pocket (New York, NY), 1997.
Execution of Innocence, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1997.
The Blind Mirror, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1997.
The Star Group, Archway (New York, NY), 1997.
The Hollow Skull, Archway (New York, NY), 1997.
See You Later, Archway (New York, NY), 1998.
Christopher Pike's Tales of Terror, Volume 2, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1998.
(With Jerry Olton) Where Sea Meets Sky: The Captain's Table, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Magic Fire, Archway (New York, NY), 1999.
The Grave, Archway (New York, NY), 1999.
Also author of Getting Even in Scholastic's "Cheerleaders" series.
"FINAL FRIENDS" SERIES; FOR YOUNG ADULTS
The Party, Archway (New York, NY), 1989.
The Dance, Archway (New York, NY), 1989.
The Graduation, Archway (New York, NY), 1989.
"THE LAST VAMPIRE" SERIES; FOR YOUNG ADULTS
The Last Vampire, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Black Blood, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Red Dice, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1995.
The Phantom: The Last Vampire, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Evil Thirst, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Creatures of Forever, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
"REMEMBER ME" SERIES; FOR YOUNG ADULTS
Remember Me, Archway (New York, NY), 1989.
Remember Me 2: The Return, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1994.
Remember Me 3: The Last Story, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1995.
"SPOOKSVILLE" SERIES; FOR CHILDREN
The Haunted Cave, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1995.
Aliens in the Sky, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1995.
The Howling Ghost, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1995.
The Secret Path, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1995.
The Deadly Past, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
The Hidden Beast, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
The Wicked Cat, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
The Wishing Stone, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Cold People, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Invasion of the No-Ones, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
The Witch's Revenge, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
The Dark Corner, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Spooksville, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1997.
The Thing in the Closet, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Night of the Vampire, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Attack of the Killer Crabs, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1997.
The Dangerous Quest, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1997.
The Living Dead, Minstrel Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Creepy Creatures, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1998.
Phone Fear, Minstrel Books (New York, NY), 1998.
The Witch's Gift, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1999.
The Tachyon Web (adult science fiction), Bantam (New York, NY), 1987.
Sati (adult fiction), St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1990.
The Season of Passage (adult science fiction), Tor (New York, NY), 1992.
The Cold One (adult fiction), Tor (New York, NY), 1995.
The Listeners (adult fiction), Tor (New York, NY), 1995.
The Blind Mirror (adult fantasy), Tor (New York, NY), 2003.
Alosha (young-adult fantasy), Tor (New York, NY), 2004.
Several of McFadden's novels have been adapted as audiobooks.
Work in Progress
A sequel to Alosha.
With over half a million books in print, Kevin Christopher McFadden—who took his pseudonym Christopher Pike from a character in the long-running Star Trek television series—has made a name for himself as a master of the teen horror novel. Since his first novel, Slumber Party was published, McFadden produced fiction at a remarkable rate, and novels such as Monster, The Hollow Skull, and The Grave have given thrills and chills to young readers, much to the dismay of conservative parents, who recoil from the graphic violence and references to teen sexuality that are sometimes found in Pike's books. Praising McFadden as "probably one of the most original and exciting authors of teenage fiction this decade," Jonathan Weir noted in Books for Keeps that "His writing is flawless, his ideas breathtaking, and there's a mystique about him that's hard to pinpoint. He knows what his readers want and never fails to deliver."
Born in 1961, and starting his writing career after leaving college, McFadden did not set out to pen horror novels; he originally wanted to write adult mystery and science fiction, but had little luck getting his book proposals accepted. By chance, an editor at Avon Books read some of McFadden's writing and saw enough potential to suggest that the young writer try his hand at a teen thriller. The result was the 1985 novel Slumber Party. McFadden wrote two follow-ups to Slumber Party—Weekend and Chain Letter. By the time Chain Letter appeared, word-of-mouth had made all three books bestsellers and "Christopher Pike" was fast on the way to becoming a publishing phenomenon. While after 2000 McFadden moved increasingly into adult novels and fantasy fiction such as the 2004 novel Alosha, his many teen novels continue to attract new fans.
Teenagers play a big role in most of McFadden's novels. His early books are especially noted for the presence of young female narrators whose observations about people and events are key to the novel's plotline. McFadden explained his use of female narrators to Kit Alderdice of Publishers Weekly: "I romanticize a lot about females because they seem more complex, and because in horror novels, it's easier for the girl to seem scared." Scaring the reader is a major goal of McFadden's; he spins plots that often involve such disparate elements as murder, ghosts, aliens, and the occult. Above all, he is savvy about what interests his teen readers, and includes references to current youth culture and concerns in his stories. "McFadden doesn't talk down to kids; he treats them as individuals," noted Pat MacDonald in Publishers Weekly, adding: "He writes commercial stories that teens really want to read." Even with an emphasis on murder and other ghastly deeds, McFadden has been praised for inventing well-defined characters whose motivations, good and bad, are examined in detail. Most of his characters, usually high school students, have lives that mirror those of average teens: they go to dances, throw parties, fall in and out of love, and sometimes have difficulty talking to parents and teachers. The difference between McFadden's protagonists and most real teens lies in how some of the fictional characters solve their more difficult problems. In Gimme A Kiss, for example, Jane tries to recover her stolen diary through a complicated plan of revenge that ultimately involves her in a killing. Melanie wins the lead role in a school play only to find herself playing detective after real bullets are placed in a prop gun in Last Act. And in McFadden's "Final Friends" series, the merging of two high schools results in new friendships, rivalries, and the violent death of a shy girl.
Sometimes McFadden's protagonists encounter problems that require particularly drastic measures. In Monster, "a brilliant horror story," according to Weir, Mary shoots three teens at a party, claiming they were actually monsters. Mary's best friend Angela doesn't believe her until the evidence becomes overwhelming. Then Angela decides to take over where Mary left off. Sometimes circumstances are less horrific but still drastic: In the fantasy novel Alosha, when thirteen-year-old environmentalist Alison Warner learns, telepathically, that she is actually queen of the Fairies, she has to save the world from a mass immigration of trolls, dwarves, and other mythical creatures who threaten to disrupt Earth's human dimension.
One of the reasons for McFadden's popularity among teen readers is that the violence in his books is graphically detailed. For some critics, such brutality does more harm than good. Amy Gamerman, writing in the Wall Street Journal, described McFadden's mysteries as "gorier than most," noting that they are guaranteed to make "Nancy Drew's pageboy flip stand on end." In Harper's, Tom Engelhardt stated that McFadden's books "might be described as novelizations of horror films that haven't yet been made. In these books of muted torture, adults exist only as distant figures of desertion … and junior high psychos reign supreme.… No mutilation is too terrible for the human face." McFadden has also been criticized for his treatment of teen sexuality and the afterlife. In his defense, he offers books such as Remember Me, in which a young murder victim tries to prove her death was not a suicide with the help of another teen "ghost." As the author told Gamerman: "Teenagers are very fascinated by the subject of life after death. I got very beautiful letters from kids who said they were going to kill themselves before they read that book." James Hirsch wrote in the New York Times that the popularity of young-adult mysteries with increasingly action-filled plots reflects a teen readership that has "revealed more sophisticated—some say coarse—reading tastes." "Topics that were once ignored in … mystery books, like adolescent suicide and mental illness, are now fair game," Hirsch added. Michael O. Tunnell made a similar point in Horn Book, noting that "as readers mature, they graduate to a more sophisticated mystery" that follows "the 'rules' of mysteries more subtly. Readers must take a far more active part in unraveling plot and understanding characters."
While the bulk of his books have been geared for teen readers, McFadden has also penned several adult novels, including The Cold One and The Blind Mirror. Called a "briskly paced new sci-fi/fantasy/horror endeavor" by a Kirkus Reviews critic, The Cold One focuses on a university graduate student specializing in near-death experiences who comes into contact with an ancient being that sucks the souls out of its victims. Although initially faced with what looks to be a brutal serial killer, Julie and reporter Peter find themselves battling the Cold One, who is able to disguise itself as a human. Incorporating elements of Eastern philosophy, the work is "visceral and intellectually stimulating at the same time," Tim Sullivan noted in the Los Angeles Times Book Review. Praising such efforts, Sullivan went on to reference a well-known New England writer of the early twentieth century by describing McFadden as "a modern [H. P.] Lovecraft, a master of creeping dread relentless disturbing the reader."
In The Blind Mirror a California-based artist who has recently been deserted by his girlfriend, Sienna, returns from a trip to New York to find the corpse of an unidentifiable woman on the beach near his home. Soon David Lennon hears a familiar voice leaving messages on his answering machine and he wonders whether, in fact, he has murdered his lover in a ritualized fashion and her spirit is now tormenting him. Soon vampirism, encounters with a series of old friends that bring up nagging questions from his past, time in jail on murder charges, and unethical medical experiments come into play, leading to what a Kirkus Reviews critic called a "bizarre denouement" to a "rattling good read." In Publishers Weekly, a reviewer praised McFadden for his "tight, clean writing and engaging secondary characters," dubbing The Blind Mirror "an entertaining … dark fantasy." Noting that David's "slightly surreal odyssey" compels readers to keep turning pages, Booklist reviewer David Pitt wrote that readers who "crave that hypnotic effect will find everything they need," while in Library Journal Jackie Cassada praised the fact that The Blind Mirror "relies more on atmosphere than gore for its emotional impact."
Ultimately, McFadden writes mysteries because he enjoys the work. His attraction to the young-adult genre is partially due to the fact that he finds teenage characters "extreme," more prone to exaggerated actions and reactions. While he appreciates the celebrity status his readers have given "Christopher Pike," McFadden also admits there is a down side to literary fame. "A bunch of kids found out where I lived and I had to move," he told Gamerman. "It spread like a rumor where I was.… It got weird. I have very intense fans."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, December 15, 1993, Candace Smith, review of Fall into Darkness (audio book), p. 772; December 15, 1994, p. 736; November 15, 1995, Mary Romano Marks, review of The Lost Mind, p. 548; May 1, 2003, David Pitt, review of The Blind Mirror, p. 1552.
Books for Keeps, November, 1994, Jonathan Weir, "Christopher Pike: Master of Murder," pp. 8-9.
Harper's, June, 1991, Tom Engelhardt, "Reading May Be Harmful to Your Kids," pp. 55-62.
Horn Book, March-April, 1990, Michael O. Tunnell, "Books in the Classroom: Mysteries," pp. 242-244.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 1994, review of The Cold One, pp. 1439-1440; April 1, 2003, review of The Blind Mirror, p. 502.
Kliatt, July, 2004, Michele Winship, review of Alosha, p. 12.
Library Journal, April 15, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of The Blind Mirror, p. 130; July, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of Alosha, p. 76.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, April 30, 1995, Tim Sullivan, review of The Cold One, p. 8.
New York Times, October 9, 1988, James Hirsch, "Nancy Drew Gets Real."
Publishers Weekly, April 29, 1988, Kit Alderdice, "Archway Launches Christopher Pike Novels in Multi-Book Contract," p. 49; January 12, 1990, review of Fall into Darkness, p. 62; June 29, 1990, review of See You Later, p. 104; August 17, 1990, review of Sati, p. 53; November 23, 1990, review of Witch, p. 66; February 15, 1993, review of Road to Nowhere, p. 240; June 14, 1993, review of The Immortal, p. 72; January 24, 1994, review of The Midnight Club, p. 57; November 21, 1994, p. 69; March 24, 2003, review of The Blind Mirror, p. 62; June 28, 2004, review of Alosha, p. 36.
School Library Journal, July, 1995, p. 96; November, 1995, p. 120; October, 2004, Donna Marie Wagner, review of Alosha, p. 176.
Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 1993, p. 312; June, 1994, p. 100.
Wall Street Journal, May 28, 1991, Amy Gamerman, "Gnarlatious Novels: Lurid Thrillers for the Teen Set," p. A16.*
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