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Subject: British horror writer James Herbert dies aged 69.

Written By: Philip Eno on 03/21/13 at 7:42 am

Tributes have been paid to British horror writer James Herbert, who died on Wednesday aged 69.

The author of The Rats and The Fog, wrote 23 books which sold more than 54 million copies worldwide.

His friend and bestselling author Neil Gaiman described him as "incredibly encouraging".

Gaiman said one of the "joys" of his fiction was that "for so many people it was the virtual soundtrack to their teenage years".

Herbert's first novel, The Rats, depicted London overrun by mutant flesh-eating rodents and sold 100,000 copies within two weeks of being published in 1974.

Paying tribute on Twitter, crime writer Ian Rankin said: "Sad news about James Herbert - as a teen, I scared myself silly reading him. He led me to King, Barker, others. RIP."

Guardian columnist Ali Catterall said that "for certain boys of a certain generation he was probably the greatest writer that ever lived".

'Profound influence'

"Partially because of the sex and horror which was extremely enticing to teenage boys. But majorly because what he did was to make British horror relevant again," he told the Breakfast show on BBC Radio 5 live.

Catterall said he brought British horror out of the doldrums and made it appealing to a new audience.

"By the early 70s when he first started writing British horror was still mired in musty old Hammer horror gothic films.

"He made horror very relevant for that (teenage) generation that was living through the likes of the Vietnam and the IRA bombings.

"He brought that visceral urgency back and horror among the everyday in a very recognisable England, in the same way Stephen King did for Americana," he added.

Noting Herbert's "extremely profound" influence on modern-day horror, Catterall added: "You can really see his influence on 28 Days Later which is very reminiscent of his book, The Dark, and in The Sixth Sense which is very similar to The Survivor," he said.

Herbert published 23 books in his lifetime, with his latest, Ash, published just last week.

His editor of 10 years, Jeremy Trevathan, described him as "one of the giants of popular fiction in the 20th Century.

"It's a true testament to his writing and his enduring creativity that his books continued to be huge bestsellers right up until his death," said Mr Trevathan.

"He has the rare distinction that his novels were considered classics of the genre within his lifetime."

The Rats was one of four Herbert novels made into films, along with The Survivor, Fluke and Haunted, while his book The Secret Of Crickley Hall was adapted for television and broadcast on BBC One in December.

Paying tribute to a "dear friend", crime writer Peter James said he was "deeply saddened" to hear of Herbert's death.

"Will miss you lots, Jim, you were a diamond. RIP," he wrote on Twitter.

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