Horror novelist Brian Keene badly burned in Lower Windsor Twp. mishap

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

York County native and celebrated author Brian Keene has written many horror stories set in southcentral Pennsylvania, where he still makes his home.

But this week he became the subject of his own personal horror when he was badly burned in a mishap on a friend's property in Lower Windsor Township.

Keene, 50, who lives along the Susquehanna River near Long Level, was helping a friend clear her property of flood debris about 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 5, and was burning brush, he told The York Dispatch on Friday, June 8.

Award-winning author and York County native Brian Keene

The wind shifted and pushed heat and flames at the author, who suffered first- and second-degree burns to his face and second-degree burns to his arm, he said.

"They applied Suprathel, a new temporary skin, and the procedure worked, so providing (there are) no complications, I'll be out this weekend and will have a lengthy recovery at home," Keene wrote in a email interview. "It will be a long process — but it could have been much worse."

As of Friday, he remained in Allentown's Lehigh Valley Hospital.

He had to type his responses with one finger from his hospital bed, he said.

Full disclosure: Keene worked as a freelance journalist for The York Dispatch in the 1990s, covering municipal meetings.

In fact, the 1985 Spring Grove Area High School graduate's 2012 novel "Ghost Walk" features the newspaper's offices, he said.

Author Brian Keene, a York County native, suffered burns while burning brush at friend's Lower Windsor Twp. property on June 5, 2018.

In an aside that most newspaper reporters can sympathize with, Keene recalled covering a Jackson Township municipal meeting for The York Dispatch that ran so long, he had time to write a 1,500-word short story before it ended.

"Went home that night, filed my write-up on the township meeting AND sold the story," Keene said.

Keene serves on the board of directors for Scares That Care, a nonprofit charity created by a retired Baltimore police officer and composed of horror-industry professionals and fans. It raises money to help children who are battling cancer and recovering from burns.

"And now I myself am in a burn ward," he noted.

How to help: Keene is uninsured, like many other freelance authors, according to his friend and fellow author Stephen Kozeniewski, who has created a fundraising page to help defray Keene's expenses.

The GoFundMe page, created Tuesday, June 5, is seeking $45,000. As of late Friday afternoon, people had donated more than $43,000.

Keene acknowledged his hospital bills will be quite high.

York County native Brian Keene, who has published about 50 novels.

"But the community of horror fans, writers, directors, actors, etc. are close knit and we take care of our own," he said. "Like so many other freelancers, it's more affordable for me to pay the yearly ACA (Affordable Care Act) fine than it is to pay the monthly insurance cost."

Keene said he's not been able to write while hospitalized.

"But I did get caught up on my reading and also responding to fans and readers," he said.

To help, go to www.gofundme.com/brian-keene-burn-fund.

Keene said there are other resources out there to help as well, including The Haven Foundation, created by author Stephen King to help people in the arts community who can't work as the result of a disease or accident.

Celebrated author: Keene has received more than a dozen awards and honors, including a World Horror Grandmaster award and two Bram Stoker awards, according to his website.

He is the author of about 50 novels, mostly in the genres of horror, crime and dark fantasy. He authors comic books as well.

Keene also has written for "Doctor Who," "The X-Files," "Hellboy," "Masters of the Universe" and "Superman," according to his website.

Several of his novels have been developed for film, including "Ghoul," "The Ties That Bind" and "Fast Zombies Suck."

"Ghoul," which starred actor Nolan Gould of the television show "Modern Family," was set in Spring Grove, according to Keene, who said most of his novels are set in central Pennsylvania.

"The Rising," by York County author Brian Keene

Keene is arguably best known for his 2003 zombie novel "The Rising," credited as one of several books that brought the zombie genre back into pop culture, according to his Amazon.com page. The New York Times described the novel as employing "a postapocalyptic narrative that revels in its blunt and visceral descriptions of the undead."

He also hosts the podcast "The Horror Show with Brian Keene."

Keene's latest novel, "End of the Road," comes out later this summer, and the first season of the weekly audiobook and prose series "Silverwood: The Door" through HBO's Serial Box and BlackBoxTV debuts in October, he said.

For more information about the author and his books, visit www.briankeene.com.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.