Zebra Books is an imprint of Kensington Publishing Corp. As the company's flagship imprint and its only until the late 80s, it currently publishes women's fiction, romantic suspense and bestselling historical, paranormal and contemporary romance. In the past, it was also an iconic publisher of pulp horror, and it also published westerns and humor.
|Parent company||Kensington Books|
|Founder||Walter Zacharius and Roberta Bender Grossman|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Headquarters location||New York City|
|Fiction genres||historical romance, romance, western, horror, humor|
|Imprints||Zebra Regency Romance (1985–2005)|
Zebra Books was launched in 1975 by Walter Zacharius (1923–2011), who had founded Kensington Publishing the previous year, and Roberta Bender Grossman (1946–1992). Both of them had previously worked for paperback house Lancer Books, co-founded by Zacharius in 1961. At the time of launching Zebra, Grossman became the youngest president of a publishing house. By keeping a low budget, small staff, and hiring overlooked if not desperate authors, they built Zebra into a powerhouse of cheap, consumable literature, with $10 million in sales annually by the early '80s.
Zebra was built mostly on the historical romance genre. It later expanded the romance genre to embrace paranormal romance, adult Western romance and romance titles aimed at Hispanic, black and gay readers.
Beating the bushes for overlooked writers and eager first-timers willing to start out cheap, the partners developed the careers of prolific and profit-generating authors like Janelle Taylor and Katherine Stone. Best-selling authors on the Zebra list include Fern Michaels, Lisa Jackson, Hannah Howell, Janet Dailey, Victoria Alexander, Mary Jo Putney, and Alexandra Ivy.
Zebra Books began publishing traditional Regency romance novels in 1985, classified as Zebra Regency Romance. They generally issued an average of four romance books each month. Zebra Books eventually discontinued its traditional Regency line in October 2005.
If romance novels built the house of Zebra in the 1970s, horror made it famous in the 1980s. The imprint's first hit horror title was William W. Johnstone's The Devil's Kiss in 1980. Knowing their authors were not famous enough to sell books on name alone, Zebra focused on sensational covers. Skeletons were such a recurrent theme in Zebra's covers that the imprint is nicknamed "the skeleton farm" among collectors.
Mainstay authors in Zebra's horror roster were Johnstone, Rick Hautala, and Ruby Jean Jensen. Other horror authors published were Bentley Little, Ken Greenhall, Joe R. Lansdale and William M. Carney.
Though still active in the early 1990s, by 1993 Zebra reduced its horror output to two titles per month. In 1996 it stopped publishing horror authors, focusing on romance and suspense instead.
Bill Mazer (born Morris Mazer; November 2, 1920 – October 23, 2013) was an American television and radio personality. He won numerous awards and citations, including three National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association's Sportscaster of the Year awards for New York from 1964–66. Considered a New York institution in sports reporting, Mazer was inducted into the hall of fame for the Buffalo Broadcasters Association (1999), Buffalo Baseball (2000) and the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and Museum (1997). He is also recognized as the host of the first sports talk radio show in history that launched in March 1964 on WNBC (AM).Mazer earned the nickname "The A-Maz-In" for his deep knowledge of sports trivia. This was made evident while hosting his WNBC radio show in the 1960s. Based on this, he wrote several sports trivia books, including Bill Mazer's Amazin' Baseball Book: 150 Years of Baseball Tales & Trivia published by Zebra Books in 1990.How's the Night Life on Cissalda?
"How's the Night Life on Cissalda?" is a science fiction short story by Harlan Ellison, first published in 1977, in the first volume of the Zebra Books anthology series "Chrysalis". It was subsequently reprinted in Ellison's 1980 collection Shatterday, in OpZone no. 8 (1980, French language, as "Et comment sont les nuits sur Cissalda?") in the 1990 Ellen Datlow-edited anthology Alien Sex, and, in Italian (as "Vita notturna a Cissalda"), in Fantasex (the 1993 translation into Italian of Alien Sex) and in Idrogeno e idiozia (the 1999 translation into Italian of Shatterday).Two illustrated versions have been published: one with art by Tom Barber, in Heavy Metal in November 1977; and one with art by Eric White and an adapted script by Faye Perozich, in the Dark Horse Comics-published Harlan Ellison's Dream Corridor, in August 1995.Jackie Kessler
Jackie Kessler (born December 8, 1970) is the American author of the Hell on Earth urban fantasy paranormal romance series published by Kensington/Zebra. To date, the books include Hell's Belles (January 2007; mass-market reissue in September 2008), The Road to Hell (November 2007) and Hotter Than Hell (August 2008), as well as a tie-in novella in the anthology, Eternal Lover (April 2008). She has had numerous short stories published in various magazines, including Realms of Fantasy and Farthing. In 2009, Kessler published the superhero novel Black and White with co-author Caitlin Kittredge. The sequel, Shades of Gray, was released in 2010.In 2010, Kessler did her first writing for comic books, scripting "Vampire Noctem" for Tales from the Vampires from Dark Horse Comics, a story set in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe.Jason Frost
Jason Frost is an in-house pseudonym used by two authors, Raymond Obstfeld (born 1952) and Rich Rainey, who wrote the six book series called The Warlord published by Zebra Mens Adventure, a division of Zebra Books that is ultimately a subsidiary of Kensington Publishing Corporation. The books were written and published from 1983 to 1987 .Joe Bushkin
Joe Bushkin (November 7, 1916 – November 3, 2004) was an American jazz pianist.
Born in New York City, Bushkin began his career by playing trumpet and piano with New York City dance bands, including Frank LaMare's Band at the Roseland Ballroom in Brooklyn. He joined Bunny Berigan's band in 1935, played with Eddie Condon from 1936-37, and with Max Kaminsky and Joe Marsala, before rejoining Berigan in 1938. He then left to join Muggsy Spanier's Ragtime Band in 1939. From the late 1930s through to the late 1940s he also worked with Eddie Condon on records, radio and television. After service in World War II he worked with Louis Armstrong, Bud Freeman and Benny Goodman.He married Francice Netcher, elder sister of socialite Mollie Wilmot. The couple had four children – Nina, Maria, Terasa, and Christina. They lived in Santa Barbara, California, on a ranch.
His best-known composition might be "Oh! Look at Me Now", with John DeVries, written when he worked in Tommy Dorsey's band. That song would become Frank Sinatra's second hit and one of his most enduring songs right after "Polkadots & Moonbeams."
One of Bushkin's television appearances was on a thirty-minute Judy Garland musical special produced for the General Electric Theater which aired on April 8, 1956 on the CBS Television Network. According to Coyne Steven Sanders, author of the book Rainbow's End: The Judy Garland Show, Bushkin was a last-minute replacement for the classic pianist Leonard Pennario. On that program, he accompanied Garland on piano as she sang the songs Last Night When We Were Young and Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries. (Sanders, Coyne Steven, Rainbow's End: The Judy Garland Show pgs. 20-21 - Zebra Books - Kensington Publishing Company).
In his 60s, Bushkin's semi-retirement was ended by an offer from Bing Crosby for them to tour together in 1976 and 1977; Bushkin also appeared on Crosby's 1975 Christmas TV special with Fred Astaire. He also performed in a concert series at New York's St. Regis hotel in 1984 that celebrated his 50 years in show business.Bushkin died in Santa Barbara, California, in 2004. "He had hoped to live to 88, as a piano had 88 keys."Kensington Books
Kensington Publishing Corp. is a New York-based publishing house founded in 1974 by Walter Zacharius (1923–2011) and Roberta Bender Grossman (1946–1992). Kensington is known as “America’s Independent Publisher.” It remains a multi-generational family business, with Steven Zacharius succeeding his father as President and CEO, and Adam Zacharius as General Manager.
It is the house of many New York Times bestselling authors, including Fern Michaels, Lisa Jackson, Joanne Fluke and William W. Johnstone. In addition to the over 500 new titles that the company publishes each year, it has a vast and diverse backlist that includes classics such as The Minority Report by Philip K. Dick, Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo, I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max and Being and Nothingness by Jean-Paul Sartre.
Kensington's imprints include Zebra Books, Pinnacle Books, Dafina, Citadel Press, and Lyrical Press, which provide readers with a range of popular genres such as romance, women’s fiction, African American, young adult and nonfiction, as well as true-crime, western, and mystery titles.Lady of the Forest
Lady of the Forest: A Novel of Sherwood is a 1992 historical fiction novel by American author Jennifer Roberson. A re-telling of the Robin Hood legend from the perspective of twelve characters associated with the legend, the story centers around English noblewoman Lady Marian FitzWalter's encounters with Lord Robert of Locksley and his scheming rival the Sheriff of Nottingham amid the backdrop of Prince John's schemes – he aims to increase his own wealth and power at the expense of post-Conquest England and his brother, King Richard.
Roberson wrote her novel as a prequel to the known legend. Understanding that Robin Hood lacked a single origin story, she decided to create an original narrative that depicted how "seven very different people from a rigidly stratified social structure came to join together to fight the inequities of medieval England." Roberson spent a year researching and writing the story, and sought to combine fact and legend in developing the motivations for certain characters.
The novel was published in September 1992 by Zebra Books, with a cover designed by illustrator Anne Yvonne Gilbert. Lady of the Forest received generally positive reviews, and has been analyzed by Robin Hood scholar Stephen Thomas Knight, who observed that Roberson's Marian is a "strong woman" who helps Robert, a traumatized veteran of the Crusades, adjust to his life in England; Knight connects this to the "post-Vietnam" mood that existed when the novel was written. Roberson released a sequel, Lady of Sherwood, in 1999.Rick Hautala
Rick Hautala (February 3, 1949 – March 21, 2013) was an American speculative fiction and horror writer. He graduated from the University of Maine in 1974 where he received a Master of Art in English Literature. Rick arrived on the horror scene in 1980 with many of his early novels published by Zebra books. He has written and published over 90 novels and short stories since the early 1980s. Many of his books have been translated to other languages and sold internationally. Cold Whisper, published in October, 1991 by Zebra Books, Inc. was also published in Finnish as Haamu by Werner Söderström, Helsinki, Finland, in August, 1994. Recently he has published many of his works with specialty press and small press publishers like Cemetery Dance Publications and Dark Harvest. His novel The Wildman (2008), was chosen to be Full Moon Press' debut limited edition title.
Rick Hautala's third novel, 1986's Night Stone, was one of the first books to feature a holographic cover and it became an international best-seller, selling well over one million copies. "Knocking" was a part of the Bram Stoker Award winning anthology 999: New Stories of Horror and Suspense ("Best Anthology of 1999"). His short story collection, Bedbugs (1999) was selected by Barnes & Noble as one of the most distinguished horror publications of the year 2000.
Rick Hautala also wrote screenplays. His most recent 2008 adaptation of award-winning author Kealan Patrick Burke's "Peekers" is currently on the film festival circuit. He also wrote the screenplay for the 2007 short film Dead@17 based on Josh Howard's graphic novel series of the same name, and The Ugly File, directed by Mark Steensland, based on the short story by Ed Gorman.
The Horror Writers Association gave him and Joe R. Lansdale the Bram Stoker Award for Lifetime Achievement for 2011, which they received at the Bram Stoker Awards Banquet in Salt Lake City, Utah on 31 March 2012.He died of a heart attack on the 21st of March 2013.Roberta Bender Grossman
Roberta Grossman was an American publisher. She was born in Brooklyn, New York City and died March 13, 1992 at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. She was founder and managing director of a number of book publishing companies, including Kensington Books and its imprint Zebra Books.Swords Against Darkness II
Swords Against Darkness II is an anthology of fantasy stories, edited by Andrew J. Offutt. It was first published in paperback by Zebra Books in 1977.
The book collects eight short stories and novelettes by various fantasy authors, with an introductory essay by Offutt.Swords Against Darkness V
Swords Against Darkness V is an anthology of fantasy stories, edited by Andrew J. Offutt. It was first published in paperback by Zebra Books in November 1979.
The book collects twelve short stories and novelettes by various fantasy authors, together with a foreword by Offutt.Tara of the Twilight
Tara of the Twilight is a fantasy novel by American writer Lin Carter. It was first published in paperback by Zebra Books in October 1979.According to Carter's introductory note, Tara of the Twilight represents his attempt to combine the genre of sword and sorcery with pornographic fantasy. Based on the unresolved state of the plot, he evidently projected at least one sequel, and three Tara short stories ("For the Blood is the Life", "The Love of the Sea" and "Pale Shadow") were published in the mid-1980s that presumably would have formed the basis for such a volume. No collected edition of these was ever published.Universe (anthology series)
Universe was a series of seventeen annual science fiction anthologies edited by Terry Carr, later revived as a series of three biennial anthologies edited by Robert Silverberg and Karen Haber. It was initially published in paperback by Ace Books (1971–1972), with subsequent volumes published in hardcover by Random House (1973–1975), Doubleday (1976–1987 and 1990), and Bantam Books (1992), and paperback by Popular Library, Zebra Books, Tor, and Bantam Spectra, successively. The last two volumes of the original series were issued in hardcover only, and the last volume of the revival in paperback only. British hardcover editions were published by Dennis Dobson (1971–1979) and Robert Hale (1982–1983).
The first two books are illustrated by Alicia Austin. Cover artists for the rest of the series include Davis Meltzer, Dean Ellis, Bob Silverman, Jon Lopez, Richard Mantel, Roger Zimmerman, James Starrett, Lawrence Ratzkin, Peter R. Kruzan, Richard Kriegler, Jean-François Podevin, and Michael David Ward.
Each annual volume consisted of original science fiction stories commissioned for the series, a number of which went on to win awards and become genre classics. During its period of publication it was an important venue for original short fiction in the field. Carr usually reprinted at least one selection from Universe in his Best Science Fiction of the Year anthology for the year following the one in which it had appeared in Universe.Universe 11
Universe 11 is an anthology of original science fiction short stories edited by Terry Carr, the eleventh volume in the seventeen-volume Universe anthology series. It was first published in hardcover by Doubleday in June 1981, with a paperback edition from Zebra Books in January 1983.The book collects nine novelettes and short stories by various science fiction authors.Weird Tales (anthology series)
Weird Tales was a series of paperback anthologies, a revival of the classic fantasy and horror magazine of the same title, published by Zebra Books from 1980 to 1983 under the editorship of Lin Carter. It was issued more or less annually, though the first two volumes were issued simultaneously and there was a year’s gap between the third and fourth. It was preceded and succeeded by versions of the title in standard magazine form.
Each volume featured thirteen or fourteen novelettes, short stories and poems, including both new works by various fantasy authors and reprints from authors associated with the original Weird Tales, together with an editorial and introductory notes to the individual pieces by the editor. Authors whose works were featured included Robert Aickman, James Anderson, Robert H. Barlow, Robert Bloch, Hannes Bok, Ray Bradbury, Joseph Payne Brennan, Diane and John Brizzolara, Ramsey Campbell, Mary Elizabeth Counselman, August Derleth, Nictzin Dyalhis, Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, Robert E. Howard, Carl Jacobi, David H. Keller, Marc Laidlaw, Tanith Lee, Frank Belknap Long, Jr., H. P. Lovecraft, Robert A. W. Lowndes, Brian Lumley, Gary Myers, R. Faraday Nelson, Frank Owen, Gerald W. Page, Seabury Quinn, Anthony M. Rud, Charles Sheffield, Clark Ashton Smith, Stuart H. Stock, Steve Rasnic Tem, Evangeline Walton, Donald Wandrei, and Manly Wade Wellman, as well as Carter himself.
Carter habitually padded out the volumes he edited with a few his own works, whether written singly or in collaboration (the latter generally "posthumous collaborations" with Clark Ashton Smith in which he wrote stories on the basis of unused titles or story ideas from Smith’s notebooks).Weird Tales 1
Weird Tales #1 is an anthology edited by Lin Carter, the first in his paperback revival of the classic fantasy and horror magazine Weird Tales. It is also numbered vol. 48, no. 1 (Spring 1981) in continuation of the numbering of the original magazine. The anthology was first published in paperback by American publisher Zebra Books in December 1980, and reprinted in 1983.
The book collects fourteen novelettes, short stories and poems by various fantasy authors, including both new works by various fantasy authors and reprints from authors associated with the original Weird Tales, together with an editorial and introductory notes to the individual pieces by the editor. The pieces include a "posthumous collaboration" (the story by Smith and Carter).Weird Tales 2
Weird Tales #2 is an anthology edited by Lin Carter, the second in his paperback revival of the American fantasy and horror magazine Weird Tales. It is also numbered vol. 48, no. 2 (Spring 1981) in continuation of the numbering of the original magazine. The anthology was first published in paperback by Zebra Books in December 1980, simultaneously with the first volume in the anthology series.
The book collects fourteen novelettes, short stories and poems by various fantasy authors, including both new works by various fantasy authors and reprints from authors associated with the original Weird Tales, together with an editorial and introductory notes to the individual pieces by the editor. The pieces include a "posthumous collaboration" (the story by Smith and Carter).Weird Tales 3
Weird Tales #3 is an anthology edited by Lin Carter, the third in his paperback revival of the classic fantasy and horror magazine Weird Tales. It was first published in paperback by Zebra Books in 1981.
The book collects fourteen novelettes, short stories and poems by various fantasy authors, including both new works by various fantasy authors and reprints from authors associated with the original Weird Tales, together with an editorial and introductory notes to the individual pieces by the editor.Weird Tales 4
Weird Tales #4 is an anthology edited by Lin Carter, the fourth and last in his paperback revival of the classic fantasy and horror magazine Weird Tales. It was first published in paperback by Zebra Books in 1983.
The book collects thirteen novelettes, short stories and poems by various fantasy authors, including both new works by various fantasy authors and reprints from authors associated with the original Weird Tales, together with an editorial and introductory notes to the individual pieces by the editor.