First published back in December of 2013, ‘Pipe Dreams’ formed the autobiography for prolific pulp horror author Guy N Smith.

DLS Synopsis:
Born is Staffordshire on the 21st November 1939, Guy N Smith is a man who has lived a particularly full and varied life.  Following in his father’s footsteps, Smith began his working life in Midland Bank.  Although not necessarily Smith’s preferential choice in career, he nevertheless did well within the banking business and gradually moved up through the ranks.

With the promotions came changes in role, which in turn saw Smith moving location on more than one occasion.  Smith took this all within his stride, relishing the changes and the subsequent challenges that they brought about.  However, Smith had a number of passions outside of banking that were desperately trying to get out.

His mother had been a published writer.  Undoubtedly this is where Smith not only inherited his literary skills but also his passion for writing.  His first tentative steps into professional writing began with the submission of stories to the London Mystery Magazine and then on to soft porn, which Smith quickly found paid much more generously.

However, by the early 1970’s the genre in which Smith would soon become best known for was beginning to blossom.  Smith’s personal preference was to write Western’s, however at the time that Smith was dipping his toes into writing, the horror genre market was exploding; with publishers desperately trying to take advantage of the sudden surge in sales.  Smith was convinced to submit a synopsis for a werewolf novel to New English Library by their editor (and prolific writer) Laurence James, and soon afterwards Smith found that the submission had been accepted and a contact was being prepared.  ‘Werewolf By Moonlight’ (1974) had been born.

Following this Smith churned out a long line of consistently well-received horror novels, the most notable of which being his novel ‘Night Of The Crabs’ (1976) which spawned a series of much-loved sequels and short stories.

However, in 1996 Smith’s writing career forked off into another direction when he took on the position of Gun Editor for The Countryman’s Weekly.  Having previously run his own small production line in the manufacture of gun cartridges, as well as having hunted for much of his life, Smith was the ideal person to take on this position.  Impressively, some fifteen years later and Smith is still the publication’s Gun Editor.

Outside of his immediate working career, Smith has had many hobbies and passions.  An avid collector of comics and paperback books, particularly with boy’s adventure stories, Smith’s passion for the more entertaining side of literature would eventually bring about the formation of his second-hand book selling business – Blackhill Books.

Together with his wife, Jean, Guy also adopted a self-sufficient lifestyle when they moved to their new home on Black Hill by the Shropshire/Welsh border.  Through embracing the countryside lifestyle, Smith went on to pen a number of non-fiction books, mostly around the subject of such a rural lifestyle.

One final hobby stayed with Smith throughout all of his choices in career.  From an early age Smith had taken up smoking a pipe.  Something that he sees more as a hobby than a habit.  To this day Smith smokes his pipe to relax and help him concentrate.  And in 2003, his pipe smoking brought him another spat of fame, when he won the British Pipe Smoking Championship.

Through his long-standing and varied careers and hobbies, one thing remains constant.  Guy N Smith is a man who relishes a challenge and has proven to achieve his goals time and time again.  No matter what Smith puts his mind to, he always succeeds.  He’s always been determined, ambitious, hard-working and highly skilled.  He has shown that he can turn his hand to a whole variety of skills.  And he is a man who has had one hell of a full life…

DLS Review:
Smith begins his autobiography explaining how he came about writing the book.  Smith is far from egotistical, and in fact he’s quite a modest man, who finally decided to write the book after a young journalist quite inexplicably dropped the project.  The end result is what feels like a flying overview, with regular but still quite brief plunges into the life and numerous careers of probably the most prolific pulp horror author ever.

Instead of following a sequential timeline, Smith has instead chosen to tell his life story through chapters dedicated to particular aspects of his life, career or passions.  As such, the book jumps back-and-forth between periods in Guy’s life, dictated by a certain area of his life rather than the timing of it.

This structure is certainly good at keeping themes together – with one area of Guy’s life sparking off, or blending into another; taking the reader quite effortlessly from chapter to chapter.  However, the downside to this is an overall lack with forming a clear picture of when these various aspects took place and how Guy somehow juggled them all whilst still maintaining a healthy family life.  Indeed, a day in the life of Guy is akin to the Tardis.  From the outside it’s just twenty-four-hours long, like mine and yours, but somehow from Guy’s perspective these same twenty-four-hours are stretched, allowing him to cram so much more into his waking days.

I exaggerate not.  Read his autobiography.  Peruse his incredibly prolific back catalogue.  Look what he’s achieved in his life.  In so many different areas.  It’s quite incredible.

The book is definitely an interesting read.  Like one of his pulp novels, its pacey, it gets straight into the meat of what’s going on and it maintains this from start to finish.  It’s how Smith writes.  There’s no dawdling.  No floundering about with unnecessary padding.  Smith knows what he wants to write and he just goes ahead and tells that story.

In principal this is all well and good.  However in a couple of areas, I have to say that the reader is left wanting more.  More details.  More in-depth insight.  Quite simply, more input.

The first of these areas is with the writing of his novels and indeed, more of an insight into each title, their inspiration, the response they received and so forth.  Smith touches upon a handful of his very early books, such as ‘Werewolf By Moonlight’ (1974), ‘The Sucking Pit’ (1975), ‘The Slime Beast’ (1975) and ‘Night Of The Crabs’ (1976).  However, there’s so many more titles that Smith could no doubt provide many an antidote on.  After all, it’s undoubtedly because of Guy’s literary career that most people will pick up a copy of the book.  As such, I was quite surprised that Guy didn’t spend more time talking about these many titles from over the years.

The second surprise, and dare I say, slight disappointment, is with the noticeable lack of inclusion of his wife, Jean.  That’s not to say Jean isn’t mentioned from time-to-time, but it’s often almost as if in passing.  Jean has undoubtedly played a huge part in Guy’s life, both on a personal level (being his wife) and with his work.  From speaking with Jean I know that she used to proofread many of his manuscripts prior to them going to the publishers and even typed many of them up.  It would have been interesting to read exactly how much involvement and influence Jean had on his work over the years as well as with Guy’s other interests and career paths.

That said, ‘Pipe Dreams’ is still an excellent read and one which will be enjoyed and treasured by many of his fans.  Indeed, Guy has dedicated a whole chapter to his fans; naming a handful of them, and how important they all are to Guy (ahem…including me...).

As a final note, I urge anyone who has an interest in Guy’s books to pick up a copy of his autobiography.  The man is a legend.  He’s an undoubted master of his chosen genre.  He’s one of the friendliest and most approachable individuals that you’re ever likely to meet.  And this is the man’s story.

The book runs for a total of 150 pages.

© DLS Reviews


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