Born in Pasadena, Saul grew up in Whittier, California, and graduated from Whittier High School in 1959. He went on to several colleges,variously majoring in anthropology, liberal arts and theater, but never obtained a degree. After leaving college, Saul decided to become a writer, and spent fifteen years working in various jobs while trying to improve his craft.
Prior to the start of his bestselling thriller career Saul had around ten books published under pen names, the first of which he wrote in one weekend after unexpectedly losing his job. His first book sale earned him just $200. Today he has over 60 million books in print.
In 1976, Dell Publishing contacted him and asked if he'd be interested in writing a psychological thriller. The resulting novel, Suffer the Children, appeared on all the bestseller lists in the United States and reached the number one spot in Canada. In addition to his novels, Saul has had several one-act plays produced in both Los Angeles and Seattle.
Saul lives part-time in the Pacific Northwest, both in Seattle and in the San Juan Islands, and has a residence on the Big Island of Hawaii. He is a frequent speaker at the Maui Writers' Conference.
His 1979 novel Cry for the Strangers was made into a film of the same name in 1982.
In the 2012 mystery anime Another, Kōichi Sakakibara reveals in the second episode that he is reading books by John Saul.
John Saul: A Critical Companion (Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers) by Paul Bail
Series: Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Greenwood (June 10, 1996)
Amazon: John Saul: A Critical Companion
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This is the first book-length study of best-selling writer John Saul's psychological and supernatural thrillers. Author Paul Bail compares John Saul's novels to a cocktail: (mix) one part , one part The Exorcist, a dash of Turn of the Screw, blend well, and serve thoroughly chillingly. Bail traces John Saul's literary career from his 1977 debut novel Suffer the Children—the first paperback original ever to make the New York Times best seller list—to his most recent novel, Black Lightning (1995). It features detailed analyses of eleven of his novels. The study includes never-before-published biographical information, drawing an original interview with John Saul, and a chapter on the history of tales of horror and the supernatural and how these genres have influenced Saul's fiction.
Each chapter in this study examines an individual novel. The novels are analyzed for plot structure, characterization, thematic elements, and their relationship to prior and later novels by Saul. In addition, Bail defines and applies a variety of theoretical approaches to the novels—feminist, deconstructionist, Freudian, Jungian, and sociopolitical—to widen the reader's perspective. Bail shows how John Saul enlarged his repertoire from stories of supernatural possession to science-fiction based horror. A complete bibliography of John Saul's fiction and a bibliography of reviews and criticism complete the work. Because of John Saul's great popularity among teenagers and adults, this unique study is a necessary purchase by secondary school and public libraries.
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