Horror author Dallas Mayr — who was most well-known by his pen name “Jack Ketchum” — has died at the age of 71.
Ketchum’s death was announced on his official website Wednesday morning and was subsequently confirmed by his literary agent Alice Fried Martell, who told EW the writer died from cancer and related issues after battling the disease “with boundless grace and discretion.”
Ketchum’s books included 1980’s Off Season, 1989’s The Girl Next Door, and 1995’s Red, the latter two of which were both adapted for the big screen. Ketchum also co-wrote the screenplay for filmmaker Lucky McKee’s 2011 film The Woman, which stars The Walking Dead actress Pollyanna McIntosh as the titular character, a feral woman whose adoption by a family has devastating consequences. The author’s fans included Stephen King who, writing for EW in 2007, posed the question “Who’s the scariest guy in America?” and then answered his own query with the words “Probably Jack Ketchum.”
Ketchum was a master of both the novel and the short story, as evidenced by his 2011 collection, Peaceable Kingdom. That book featured his chilling tale “The Box,” which won Ketchum a Bram Stoker Award and would subsequently be adapted by writer-director Jovanka Vuckovic as part of last year’s horror anthology film, XX.
King, McIntosh, and Vuckovic have all paid tribute to Ketchum on social media since news of his death broke.
“Very sorry to hear that an old friend of mine, Dallas Mayr, died,” King tweeted earlier Wednesday. “He terrified readers with books like Off Season and The Girl Next Door. Dallas and I went back to the 70s together.”
“Rest In Peace Dallas,” wrote McIntosh on Instagram. “Known to many as Jack Ketchum, Dallas loved to experience his best selling books through filmmakers’ eyes. I’ve been in 3 films based on his characters and I’ve enjoyed the hell out of them. Thank you Dallas for your work, your collaboration and your support of me and so many other writers and artists out there. You lived it your way. Your smile will be missed. Love to his family, friends and fans.”
“Heartbroken to pass on the news that the peerless horror lit giant Jack Ketchum passed away this morning after a long and difficult battle with cancer,” tweeted Vuckovic. “Dallas was a true original, it was an honour to have him in my life as a longtime friend and collaborator. A terrible loss.”