OLD ORCHARD BEACH – Howard Hopkins, the Maine author of more than 70 horror stories, westerns and the series “The Chloe Files,” died Thursday. He was 50.

Mr. Hopkins wrote 31 westerns under the pen name Lance Howard and horror stories under his own. The biography on his website says he was “known for redefining the limits of a traditional shoot-’em-up.” His horror westerns, such as “The Dark Riders,” “Pistolero” and “Coyote Deadly,” mix Wild West action with modern issues, true-to-life characters and original story lines.

He wrote his first western, “Blood on the Saddle,” in 1993. His latest western is expected to be released this spring, and then another one this summer.

Mr. Hopkins wrote at his home office in Old Orchard Beach. His wife, Dominique Hopkins, said books were stacked floor-to-ceiling in his office. There are posters of Captain America and Doc Savage on the wall. A bulletin board is covered with notes on ideas for future characters or plot lines.

“He would close the door and write,” his wife said. “He would lock his mind into that world and become part of it. When he starts a project, he gets so into it that he actually becomes the book.”

Mr. Hopkins was widely known for his children’s series called the “Nightmare Club” and “The Chloe Files,” about a character derived from his novel “Grimm.” At the time of his death, he was working on the fifth installment of “The Chloe Files,” his wife said. He recently finished the first draft of a new novel called “Moon Girls,” she said.


“I’m going to make sure this gets published,” his wife said. “This was his heart and soul.”

Mr. Hopkins was a self-taught musician. He played the electric and acoustic guitar, mandolin, saxophone, keyboard, banjo and accordion. He and his wife led the folk group at St. John’s Church in South Portland, and he also played at St. Margaret’s Church in Old Orchard Beach.

“He was really good,” his wife said. “He had a beautiful voice. Whenever he got a little down, he’d pick up the guitar or sit at the keyboard and start playing. He loved it.”

Mr. Hopkins began his writing career in the late 1980s. He discovered his love of writing after high school when he began collecting pulp magazines and paperbacks. His favorite pulp characters from the 1930s included Doc Savage, a master of disguises who punishes evildoers; and The Avenger, a man with a paralyzed face who fights for vengeance for himself and others.

His interest in pulp magazines led him to write for one. He produced and edited Golden Perils, a journal for fans of the magazines, and went on to produce other “fanzines.”

Mr. Hopkins’ breakout novel, “Night Demons,” earned him a spot on the prestigious 2002 Preditors & Editors’ Top Novel poll. He finished top 10 in many other categories, such as best author, best artist, best novel, best ezine and best ezine editor.


Shortly before he died, Hopkins had signed on to write a new novella based on the 1950s noir crime radio show “Nightbeat” for Radio Archives. It was set to be released this spring.

His wife vowed to keep his memory alive through his work.

“It was his heart, soul and passion as he was my heart, soul and passion,” she said. “I won’t let his dream die with him.”


Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:



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