Christopher Leppek’s first publication came when he was in 3rd grade – an article about cardinals (the bird, not the cleric) in his elementary school newspaper, the Fairview Rocket, published in ditto form on a highly irregular basis. Although he confesses today that much of the material used in the article was lifted directly, and without attribution, from the Golden Book Encyclopedia, it was nonetheless the genesis of a long and varied writing career.
From there, he went on to become editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, the Ranum Roundup, in Westminster, Colorado, and served a stint as a battalion journalist in the US Navy Seabees, covering stories and editing magazines in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans.
Printer’s ink has been in his blood ever since. His mainstay has been the Denver-based weekly Intermountain Jewish News, for which newspaper he has won numerous awards for investigative, feature, comprehensive, hard news and arts journalism, and interviewed such figures as Lyle Alzado, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Shimon Peres, Mary Traverse and Bill Clinton, among many others – the famous and infamous alike. Over the years, his work has appeared in many other newspapers, from the Pacific Daily News and Navy Times, to the Rocky Mountain News and New York Times.
He has also written fiction for the past two decades or so. His first novel, The Surrogate Assassin, published in 1998, was a Sherlock Holmes pastiche in which the Great Detective uncovered what really happened in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The book won an award from Amazon.com as the best Holmes novel published in 1999, and has since earned something of a cult following among Holmes and Lincoln enthusiasts.
His second solo novel, Apollonia – a “sweeping story of love, intrigue and war,” as his agent eloquently describes it — was finished recently and is currently being marketed to publishers.
In collaboration with his longtime friend and fellow horror-freak, Emanuel Isler, Leppek has also explored the world of horror fiction for more than 20 years. Their first short story, “The Eyes of Karma,” (dealing with a pawnbroker from hell who gets exactly what’s coming to him, and quite spectacularly) was published in the small press magazine Beyond. A later story, “The Master of Fear,” (dealing with a celebrated filmmaker who finds himself in attendance at his own funeral) won Oxford University Press’s English Ghost Story competition, of which Stephen King was the judge.
The Leppek-Isler axis also wrote Chaosicon, published by Write Way Publishing in 2001. That “novel of supernatural horror” is now out of print, but garnered excellent reviews upon its publication as a hardcover edition.
The “Demonic Duo” has just published its next horror novel, Abattoir, which tells a tale of dread fear, long withheld and finally released, in a modern incarnation of the classic haunted house story.
Leppek is often asked why he prefers to write such “dark” fiction as mysteries and horror stories, and whether such literature is “bad” or psychologically unhealthy.
His unvarying response is that such fiction is the healthiest and most wholesome literary nourishment there is, not only because its violence and suspense create excellent emotional catharsis for readers, but because it provides the perfect stage for uplifting and enlightening morality plays, i.e., the bad guys almost always lose in horror, and the good guys triumph.
Therefore, Leppek concludes, horror is good for you – so consume lots and lots of it!
Emanuel L. Isler
The world of horror and suspense eclipsed Isler’s innocence at an early age when his babysitter allowed him to watch the original “The Blob” starring Steve McQueen. Overcome with fear, terror and the proverbial hair standing on end, Isler felt another new emotion – one of fascination and awe.
Isler was intrigued, at the age of 7, how a simple movie on late-night television would have such a drastic affect on his young life. Soon after he delved into reading and watching all he could in the realm of horror. He became immersed in reading Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley and, his all-time favorite, Poe. He intensely studied the Universal Studios’ classics – from “Frankenstein” to “Dracula” to “The Mummy” with the same consensus in his young heart. He was beyond mere fascination with the genre – he was in love with it. He loved the monsters, the fog, and all the familiar trappings of dark characters, sinister villains, mad doctors and corpses who rose up from the grave.
Soon after, he tried his hand at writing, but felt he didn’t have the skills nor talent to emote his feelings for horror onto paper.
Following graduation from Loyola/Marymount University, Isler became a literary agent at the well established Robinson/Weintraub Agency where he worked for Stu Robinson and Bernie Weintraub (now known as the Paradigm Agency). The vigors of representing writers to studios, publishing houses and network televisions gave him little time to ponder his writing dreams. But his position did allow him to meet and represent some of Hollywood’s best talent throught the 70’s and 80’s, who included Nancy Dowd (“Coming Home”), Melissa Mathison (“ET”, “The Black Stallion”), Herbert Selby (“Last Exit to Brooklyn”), Frank Waldman (“The Pink Panther”), Nick Arnold (“Welcome Back Kotter”), Ronny Graham (co-writer with Mel Brooks), and many others.
It wasn’t until Isler found himself back in his hometown of Denver when fate brought him to Christopher A. Leppek. Leppek was assigned to conduct an interview of Isler. The two were complete opposites. Isler was serious and conservative. Leppek was long-haired and open-minded. Isler was Jewish and invariably voted Republican; Leppek a lapsed Roman Catholic who leaned heavily toward Democrats. Despite these differences, however, the two were able to forge a strong friendship built on a common element – they both loved the horror genre.
On a whim, the two decided to write a story together. To their surprise, their first effort “The Eyes of Karma” – a terrifying tale of greed gone bad — not only was sold but was published in a horror periodical.
The two have been collaborating ever since, with the blessings of their respective wives and children, and reside in Denver, Colorado.