A. R. Morlan 1958-2016

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, would by any other name smell as sweet.” Romeo and Juliet, Act II, scene 2.

A. R. Morlan died this week. Ana was a writer, someone whose stories appeared often beside mine in magazines or anthologies. We were friends of sorts because we both wrote horrific tales, both lived in the Great Midwest (Morlan in Wisconsin and I in Illinois), and we both loved cats.

A. R. Morlan and I corresponded in the 1980s and 1990s when we still wrote everything by typewriter and sent mail via the post office (I began to also use a computer in 1988, but Morlan—not unlike Jerry Williamson—never felt comfortable with an electronic keyboard and continued to use a manual typewriter exclusively). The first novels to bear our by-lines appeared in print about the same time, and we kept busy writing our third and fourth novels while churning out short stories right and left. God was in His heaven, and all was right with the world. Then tragedies began befalling both of us.

For some strange reasons, Morlan began calling me Paul Dean (I think she confused me with Dean Koontz or C. Dean Andersson) and I began calling her Arlene. Arlene Campbell, for those of you who have not yet read A. R. Morlan’s The Amulet, was “dutchess of the Dumpsters, queen of Ewert Avenue, and the dowager of debris.” That, in retrospect, is probably an apt description of A. R. Morlan.

When I learned of Morlan’s suicide and the mysterious disappearance of her mother and Ana’s subsequent legal difficulties, I began putting two and two together until an entire Fibonacci sequence unfolded before my eyes. There were clues in many of Morlan’s Ewerton stories that foretold the tragedy of her life and death. I reread Morlan’s letters and Christmas cards, reread The Amulet and Dark Journey, and reread selected stories. Her entire life is there, spelled out in graphic detail, hidden among the names she chose for her characters.

I wish I had known A. R. Morlan better during her lifetime. She was a complex person whose stories were her life, and many of her stories were brilliant.

So goodbye Ana, Anna, Arlene, Arlette, Renee, and all the other names you chose to write under or become. Thanks for the nightmares.

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