It was on this day, September 4th, in 1971 that I left for my mission in Ireland for the Mormon church. It seems another lifetime to me nigh. I remember, just before leaving, seeing on the news a report of the troubles, the violence in Northern Ireland (where I spent most of my mission), and thinking, "Holy crap, I'm going there?" But it was in Ireland that I became a writer of weird fiction. I was discouraged from going to see horror films, my passion at that youthful time. Robert Bloch was a pen pal, and I decided to substitute reading horror fiction for horror films, beginning with the novels of Bloch; & then I began to hunt for horror anthologies in which Bob was one of many writers. This served as my introduction to Derleth, Jacobi, REH, and so many others. It was in Northern Ireland that I bought my first edition of the tales of H. P. Lovecraft. And it was there that I began to write my own stuff and submit it to American magazines. I remember how thrilled I was when a very poor early story, "Whispering Wires," sold to SPACE & TIME.
Gawd, I got homesick. I was never a really spiritual guy, and walking day after day and knocking on doors trying to preach religion in Ireland was hard work, and frustrating because so few people were interested. Finally I got so homesick that I faked that I was suffering from poor lungs due to the chimney smoke in Ireland. Instead of sending me home, I was sent to the Arizona/Las Vegas mission, to dry out. I was a very strange missionary, for sure. I took my plastic vampire fangs with me, and would wear them at times wehen knocking on doors.