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You know him as the Sultan of Slash, the Guru of Gore, and the Father of Freddy. Now get to know the real person behind some of the most iconic horror movies of our time. With his latest book, Author Joseph Maddrey presents a revealing look at the life, career, and soul of filmmaking auteur Wes Craven. Featuring new interviews with the friends, family, and colleagues who knew him best, The Soul of Wes Craven offers fans insight into the master of horror like never before.


- Over eighty new interviews - all exclusive to this book

- Never before seen photos from Wes’s life and career

- Chapters on Wes's alter egos Thomas Sparrow & Abe Snake

- A history of his poetry, short stories, and articles

- Coverage of his various forays into television

- New details on lost, canceled, and abandoned projects

- Previously untold stories of his studio struggles

- Fresh insights into Wes’s creative influences

- An index of attributed scripts (and where to find them!)

- A list of Wes’s favorite books, music, and movies

- An Afterword by Jonathan Craven

Joseph Maddrey is the author of more than a dozen books, including Nightmares in Red, White and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film (2004); Not Bad for a Human, the official biography of film actor Lance Henriksen (2011); Simply Eliot, a biography of poet T.S. Eliot (2018); two volumes of Adapting Stephen King (2021-2022), and the graphic novel To Hell You Ride (2013). He has written or produced over 100 hours of documentary television, including episodes of Discovery Channel’s A Haunting, History Channel’s Ancient Aliens, Oxygen’s Snapped, and TVOne’s Payback.

The Soul of Wes Craven




“The Soul of Wes Craven reveals not only the soul but the brilliant mind that Wes Craven possessed. From his very humble upbringing to his death from brain cancer, we get a rare glimpse into the wide ranging influences that made Wes Craven a visionary filmmaker. Illuminating and touching, I learned even more about the man who changed my life by casting me as Nancy Thompson in ANOES. This intimate, well researched look into his life expands my appreciation of the maestro."

- Actress Heather Langenkamp 

(A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven's New Nightmare)

“An inspiration for indie filmmakers of every genre.  Maddrey chronicles Craven’s curious path from rebel college professor to horror film icon. The financial challenges, artistic compromises and unimaginable triumphs are wildly entertaining as Craven struggles to direct his way out of the grindhouse and into movie mainstream."
- Screenwriter Peter Filardi 

(Flatliners, The Craft)

"The reason Wes Craven is often overlooked and taken for granted is because this book didn't exist. Now it does, and we have no more excuses."
- Author Grady Hendrix 

(Paperbacks from Hell, The Final Girl Support Club)

“Wes Craven was a filmmaker of golden talents. His trove is sinister, vivid of wit. Impeccably fraught. He was also charming, effortlessly astute; observant as a spy. The gifted Joseph Maddrey has brilliantly captured the magic of a filmic icon in his long overdue The Soul of Wes Craven.”

-Author Richard Christian Matheson

(Created By, The Ritual of Illusion)

“Overwhelmingly and understandably identified as a master of horror, Wes Craven was widely viewed as a filmmaker lurking behind a Halloween fright mask. With his incredibly detailed and engagingly written The Soul of Wes Craven, Joseph Maddrey brilliantly peers behind that mask to reveal the true face, heart and, yes, soul, of a deceptively complex and influential writer and director. Anyone seeking a comprehensive and genuine understanding of the life and work of Wesley Earl Craven from Cleveland, Ohio, will find this book as insightful and intriguing as it is invaluable.”

-Author Mark Dawidziak

(A Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe, Everything I Need to Know I Learned in The Twilight Zone)

“An incredible, insightful, and revelatory look at the life of a genre icon. Filled with fantastic stories, captivating new details, and plenty of heart, this is the love letter tapestry of a literary, philosophical, and spiritual life that Wes Craven—and every film lover—deserves.”

-Screenwriter Thommy Hutson

(Scream: The Inside Story, Truth or Dare)

“With patience, dexterity and assiduous research, Joseph Maddrey excavates the heart and soul of a horror movie legend. The Soul of Wes Craven reveals unseen facets of the beloved director, and in the process uncovers a poet, a philosopher, a psychologist and one of horror's great thinkers. This book bubbles with stunning revelations, fascinating connections, and new stories, never before told, about the life and times of this icon of terror."

- Author John Kenneth Muir 

(Wes Craven: The Art of Horror)

“This book is the definitive account of Craven's life and work, put together with passion, insight, and intellect worthy of the master himself."
- Director Andrew Kasch 

(Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy)

"Those who think of Wes Craven mainly as the father of Freddy will undoubtedly be surprised by this compelling portrait of a complex, rarely satisfied artist, while hardcore Craven fans will be delighted by new revelations and keen insight. Joseph Maddrey's The Soul of Wes Craven is a vital, valuable addition to any library of definitive filmmaker biographies or horror movie studies."
- Author Lisa Morton 

(Bram Stoker Award Winner)

“Startling, inspiring, and often moving, this titanic biography of Craven bursts open both how art can save us—and what we do to hamstring our finest artists.”

- Author/Screenwriter Daniel Kraus 

(The Living Dead, The Shape of Water)

“As a screenwriter working with Wes Craven, I knew I had entered a magical world but I barely knew what a profound and remarkable man I was getting to know. Joseph Maddrey’s book allows us to discover the brilliance, the painful journey and the triumph of an extraordinary life. You will be as lucky to meet Wes in these pages as I was in real life.”

- Screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin 

(Deadly Friend, Ghost, Jacob’s Ladder)

"The battle over the soul of Wes Craven goes to Joseph Maddrey, no contest. His comprehensive exploration leaves no nightmare unturned, offering up a humane portrait of a horror icon."

-Author Clay McLeod Chapman 

(What Kind of Mother, Ghost Eaters)

“Like its protagonist, the book is an intelligent and inspiring treat for genre fans and cinephiles alike. It’s got soul. And heart. And guts. But mostly, it’s entertaining as hell.”
- Screenwriter John Esposito 

(Creepshow, Stephen King’s Graveyard Shift)



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Also Available From Harker Press (click to learn more)


 © Harker Press 2024

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