By Rosemary Ford
---- — Local author Christopher Golden quit his day job 22 years ago, after the sale of his first horror novel about vampires, “Of Saints and Shadows.”
But it was 20 years ago this week that the Haverhill resident first felt like a full-time writer, because his first novel hit the shelves of local book stores. Now, more than 51 books later, The New York Times best-selling author will celebrating that milestone with a bash at the Barnes and Noble book store in Salem, N.H., on June 1.
“It’s crazy,’’ Golden said about the anniversary. “It’s so weird to think about it.”
The celebration dovetails with the release of Golden’s latest novel, “Snowblind.” Set in a fictional version of Haverhill during a blizzard, the horror story follows a group of residents dealing with ghosts. He describes it as an “Our Town” with lots of snow.
Stephen King, one of Golden’s writing idols from his youth, wrote this for the book’s cover: “‘Snowblind’ is instantly involving and deeply scary. It will bring a blizzard to your bones (and your heart) even in the middle of July. Throw away all those old ‘it was a dark and stormy night’ novels; this one is the real deal.”
The book is already a Boston Globe best-seller, and a top audio book download on iTunes. Golden said “Snowblind” is in development as a TV series, but can’t name the network yet.
This is Golden’s second book set in a version of a city — the first was his young adult book “Poison Ink,” about a group of teenagers who fall under the spell of a shady tattoo artist. Golden, who grew up in Framingham, said he finds a lot of inspiration in the varied locales of the Queen Slipper City and expects more aspects of Haverhill to show up in his future work.
“It’s such a great environment for inspiration because you have everything in Haverhill,” he said. “Go downtown and you are in the city. Go down the street and you are at a farm, the woods, the river.”
“They say, ‘Write what you know.’ Well, Haverhill is what I now know,” he said.
Success hasn’t come quickly for Golden, who despite his body of work isn’t a household name like King or Charlaine Harris (of “True Blood” fame) — whom he teamed up with to write the recently released graphic novel “Cemetery Girl.”
Still, his bibliography is long and impressive, and there have been several recent successes that might propel him to becoming a household name. “Cemetery Girl” hit No. 1 on The New York Times best-sellers list, and an upcoming novel, “Tin Men” is already in development as a feature film by Warner Brothers.
Any author would be proud of those feats, but, in the end, Golden said it’s not about the fame or fortune — it’s love of writing and the benefits of being a writer that he’s most thankful for and mindful of during this anniversary.
One of the benefits is the way he’s been able to touch the lives of his fans. He remembers that one parent wrote to him, thanking him for making a reader out of her son, who consequently went from a grade of C- to A in English. Golden has received a few such notes over the years, and is grateful for each one.
Another benefit is the time he got to spend with his own children working from home.
“My kids grew up with me around,” said the father of three. “That, for me, has been the best benefit.”
IF YOU GO
What: Celebration of Christopher Golden’s 20th anniversary as a novelist
When: June 1 at 2:30 p.m.
Where: Barnes and Noble book store, Route 28, Salem, N.H.
Details: There will be giveaways, cupcakes from Cakes by Erin, and special guests, including other authors and artists, such as Brian Keene, Thomas Sniegoski, Dana Cameron and Toni L.P. Kelner.