John Maclay leads a horror-filled lifeOn his long walks...

SUNDAY SNAPSHOTS

July 24, 1994|By Stephanie Shapiro

John Maclay leads a horror-filled life

On his long walks through Baltimore, ideas come to John Maclay. Horrible ideas about horrible things. At night, when all is quiet in his Roland Park neighborhood, he writes about them.

Such is the happy life of the horror fiction writer. Since 1984, Mr. Maclay has sold 100 short stories to small press and mass market publishers. Stories such as "The Undertaker Reflects," "Death Flight" and "Exhibit D."

"Good horror fiction is like a morality play," Mr. Maclay says on a still Thursday morning. The genre is also cathartic. That is why "so many writers in the field are extremely happy," he says.

Mr. Maclay, along with his wife, Joyce, is also the publisher of 23 books of horror fiction, including limited-edition anthologies featuring work by Stephen King and Ray Bradbury.

The horror fiction universe is relatively small, Mr. Maclay says, but out of the approximately 10 horror fiction specialty publishers across the country, three are located in Baltimore. This ghastly coincidence must be the ghostly doing of Baltimore's most famous horror-story author, Edgar Allan Poe, surmises Mr. Maclay.

Until 1985, Maclay & Associates also published books on local architecture and history. "We've done everything we wanted to do" in that field, says Mr. Maclay, a former president of Baltimore Heritage, a preservation group. For now, horror reigns at the Maclay residence.

To inquire about the publisher's list of titles, contact P.O. Box 16253, Baltimore, Md. 21210.

Tony McGuffin's mother told him he could do anything he put his mind to. "But she was never more specific than that," laments the 41-year-old Ellicott City singer, songwriter, actor, musician, producer, gardener, auto mechanic, school teacher. "As far as careers go, well, I have my hand in a lot of different things."

Indeed. His typical summer day begins in his vegetable garden, pulling weeds. He takes his coffee on the porch of his farmhouse and studies anthropology, hoping soon to earn his teaching certificate -- though he already works as a Howard County substitute teacher.

"And when I get tired of studying, I'll mow the lawn," he says.

As he talks, he lovingly eyes the disassembled parts of the old Norton motorcycle he rode to California in the late '70s. It was there he mastered two more trades: auto mechanics and stage managing. Since he's come back East, he's taught stage managing courses, become an actor, and found time to take his guitar and homemade songs to local coffeehouses.

Folkies know him as the genial monthly host of the open mike show at the E.C. Does It Cafe in downtown Ellicott City. And, for the past several months, he has produced popular acoustic music programs at the revived Little Theater on the Corner.

"But there are times where there's nothing I'd rather do than replace U joints," he says, looking at the old Norton. "I should be studying more, but it's hard to do. I'm having too much fun."

Patrick A. McGuire

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