Best-selling British horror author, James Herbert, died suddenly at the age of 69 at his home in Sussex on Wednesday, March 20, according to his publisher Jeremy Trevathan. No cause of death was given but a spokesperson for the publisher stated that the author was not ill at the time.

Jeremy Trevathan, Herbert’s editor for the last 10 years, said of his passing:

“Jim Herbert was one of the keystone authors in a genre that had its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s a true testament to his writing and his enduring creativity that his books continued to be huge bestsellers right up until his death. He has the rare distinction that his novels were considered classics of the genre within his lifetime. His death marks the passing of one of the giants of popular fiction in the 20th century.”

Herbert wrote 23 novels and has sold more than 54 million copies worldwide in a career that spanned almost 40 years. Some of his most notable works include ‘The Rats’ ‘The Fog’, Survivor’, ‘The Spear’ and most recently ‘Ash’ that was published last week. Four of his novels, ‘The Survivor,’ ‘Fluke’, ‘Haunted’ and ‘The Rats’ were adapted for the big screen with the latter under the film title ‘Deadly Eyes’.

In the book ‘Faces of Fear’, Hebert was quoted as saying, “I am very insecure about being a writer. I don’t understand why I am so successful. And the longer I stay that way, the better it’s going to be, because that’s what keeps me on the edge, striving if you like.”

Herbert got his first job in advertising and eventually became an art director. When writing became a full time job, he would design his own book covers as well as the publicity art. At the age of 28, he wrote his first novel, ‘The Rats,’ which tells the horrifying tale of mutant flesh-eating rats that overrun the city of London. When the book was finally published in 1974, the first print run copies had sold out in a mere 3 weeks.

Herbert was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, or OBE, by Queen Elizabeth II in 2010, the same year he was named “Grand Master of Horror” by the World of Horror Convention.

In an interview with UK’s The Telegraph last year, Herbert had said, “I hate violence and I didn’t plan to write horror; it just poured out of me. The great thing is that you can write humor, romance or political thrillers under that genre.”

It is truly a sad day for horror fans and we at send condolences to Herbert’s family and friends at this time of sorrow.