A contributor to the legendary Weird Tales pulp magazine, he created the characters of Silver John; Judge Pursuivant; and John Thunstone. His popular tales of fantasy and horror are often set in the Appalachian Mountains.
After graduating from Wichita State University and Columbia Law School, he wrote movie reviews and worked as a reporter.
He was a recipient of the prestigious World Fantasy Award.
He spent his early years in the small village in Portuguese West Africa where his father worked as a doctor. After moving to the United States, he married Frances Obrist.
He received the Edgar Allan Poe Award.