At age 86, after more than 90 books, William F. “Bill” Nolan said he’s happy that his writing career is still going strong.
“The body might fail you, but if the brain doesn’t, you’re still OK,” he said.
The Vancouver author is well known for his work in science fiction, fantasy and horror, with his most famous work being “Logan’s Run,” a 1967 novel he co-authored with George Clayton Johnson. The story is set in a society run by a computer network and due to overpopulation, humans are euthanized once they reach the age of 21. Readers follow the story of Logan, whose job is to catch those who run from their impending death. The novel was the basis of a 1976 movie, which in turn spawned a TV series.
Though he no longer writes every day like he used to, Nolan hasn’t slowed down too much.
“I’ve got three books going right now,” he said. “I’m not close to retirement by any means.”
But at one point, several years ago, he came close.
“When I met (Nolan) he told me he was retired,” said Jason Brock, a 44-year-old author, filmmaker and editor among many other titles. “He said he wasn’t going to write anymore.”
Brock, however, wouldn’t have it. He helped Nolan break back into the industry by helping him move from Bend, Ore., to Vancouver, which Brock said is a more creative environment. He also helped Nolan navigate changes in publishing, such as helping him build a website and setting him up with Twitter and Facebook accounts.
“Now he says he’s entered into the most productive part of his career,” Brock said.
To date, Nolan has written 90 books, published more than 200 short stories, and composed 60 poems. And while Brock has helped Nolan get back in the game, Nolan mentored Brock, 44, through his early writing career.
“It’s been a mutually beneficial situation,” Brock said.
Over the years, the two have grown as individual creators, as collaborators and as friends. They edit each other’s work at Brock’s home in the Cascade Highlands neighborhood. Though they have had their fair share of butting heads over the red pen, their respect for each other always wins out.
“He has a lot of wisdom, for the strange guy he is,” Brock said with a smile.
‘Humor is our base’
When the two aren’t in the thick of a project, they are making jokes about who has more Facebook fans or partaking in a cherished pastime of impersonations.
“Humor is our base,” Nolan said before launching into a voice that mimics Walter Cronkite: “I knew Abe Lincoln personally.”
“His John Wayne is terrible,” Brock said.
While they do their own work, they also have collaborated on a number of projects — Brock is co-authoring “Logan’s Fall,” the fifth installment in the series that followed “Logan’s Run.”
“It’s very inventive and good to collaborate with someone who has the shared mind as you do,” Nolan said. “Jason and I think a lot alike, we like each other’s ideas.”
And their collaborations show up in their successes.
Jason Brock and his wife Sunni won the 2014 Rondo Hatton award for best documentary for their film “The Ackermonster Chronicles.” The documentary takes a deep look at Forrest Ackerman, a collector of science fiction who Brock said “invented modern fandom.” It contains interviews with 30 to 40 people, including Nolan.
In May, the Horror Writer’s Association gave Nolan the Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in nonfiction for his book “Nolan on Bradbury: Sixty Years of Writing about the Master of Science Fiction.” The book celebrates Nolan’s 60-year friendship with the late author Ray Bradbury, best known for his novel “Fahrenheit 451.” The book includes an introduction by Brock.
The awards mean a lot to both of them.
“To me, this is better than getting an Oscar; this is my target audience,” Brock said.
Nolan added that the awards “mean you’re reaching people, and that means something.”