Happy Birthday, Whitley Strieber: denizen of 'unknown countries'

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To most San Antonio residents, the month of June symbolizes blazing heat, family holidays,  and an occasional Spurs championship. But, it also represents the birth month of San Antonio native Whitley Strieber, best known as an author of top-selling horror and science fiction novels, as well as non-fiction books that address his alleged experiences with alien abduction.

Strieber has proven to be somewhat of an influential, if not downright enigmatic, figure. Louis Whitley Strieber was born in the Alamo City on June 13, 1945, near the end of World War II. His father Karl was a lawyer, and his mother was born Mary Drought. Whitley graduated from Central Catholic Marianist High School and later went on to study film at the University of Texas before finishing his education at the London School of Film Technique.

Following a successful career with a New York advertising firm, Strieber decided he had had enough and decided to pursue a freelance writing career. In 1978, Whitley’s very first book, a horror piece titled The Wolfen was published. It was an instant hit and was adapted into a Hollywood monster movie starring Albert Finney. He followed up in 1981 with the vampire novella The Hunger, which quickly became a cult classic and which was made into a sultry film that featured the talents of Susan Sarandon, Catherine Deneuve and David Bowie.

Strieber’s personal life entered the spotlight in 1985 with the release of his non-fiction work Communion, in which he revealed his belief that he had been abducted by beings perceived to be extraterrestrials while vacationing in upstate New York. That bestseller, along with the resulting movie starring Christopher Walken, created a firestorm with regard to public awareness about the abduction phenomenon. Whitley has subsequently written other books that pertain to his experiences with ‘the visitors’ and his concern about potential climatic disaster treated in the book and movie The Day After Tomorrow in 2004.

The same year, Strieber became involved in the case of the Elmendorf Beast, which many locals believed to be a legendary creature called the Chupacabra. These days, Whitley runs a popular website and podcast called Whitley Strieber’s Unknown Country, along with his wife Ann.

— Ken Gerhard

 

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