Born in Bangkok, Somtow Sucharitkul grew up in Europe and was educated at Eton and Cambridge. His first career was in music, and in the 1970s he acquired a reputation as a revolutionary composer, the first to combine Thai and Western instruments in radical new sonorities. Conditions in the arts in the region at the time proved so traumatic for the young composer that he suffered a major burnout, emigrated to the United States, and reinvented himself as a novelist.
His earliest novels were science fiction, but he soon began to cross into other genres. In his 1984 novel, Vampire Junction, he injected a new literary inventiveness into the horror genre, in the words of Robert Bloch (Psycho), “skillfully combining the styles of Stephen King, William Burroughs, and the author of the Revelation to John.” Vampire Junction was voted one of the 40 all-time greatest horror books by the Horror Writers’ Association, joining established classics like Frankenstein and Dracula.
In the 1990s Somtow won the World Fantasy Award for his novella, The Bird Catcher. His 53 books have sold roughly two million copies worldwide.