James Marshall Rising, a best-selling author and famed columnist who came to a literary career late in his life through a bizarre set of circumstances, died October 11th, coincidentally on his 100th birthday. Rising passed away at the lighthouse he lived in off the Maine coast.
The cause of death was ruled accidental. Rising fell from the lighthouse tower while tending to the apparatus according to his wife Nancy.
Rising’s big break came when he was involved in an auto accident with author Stephen King. The rear end collision occurred on the Maine coast during a winter vacation. In a twist that would have made a fine plot for a King novel, Rising’s first self-published book, “The Book Of Rants” ended up lodged in King’s engine compartment, only to be discovered several months later.
“Many people assume I planted the book there,” Rising said years later. “I wish I was that clever. I had a box of the darn things in the back of my car for ballast and one must have flown out when Stephen hit us.”
King liked the book and sent it to his agent who secured Rising a deal for that book to be nationally published. The book was a success and in short order Rising was offered a weekly column for USA Today. He ended up writing dozens of follow-ups to the “Rant” series, including “Twice Told Rants” (2015), “Rants My Father Told Me” (2020) and the current “A Rant A Day…” (2052) which has been on the New York Times best seller list for over a year.
Rising also published under various pen names. His output included mysteries, horror and even romance novels. Most of his work in other genres was less successful than his “Rant” books. He did publish the best seller “Grace Notes” (2019) the biography of music legend Jack White, who was a close Rising acquaintance, under the pen name Reith Kichards.
Rising was living in Dallas Pennsylvania and in his 60’s when discovered by King. His passion for writing developed after he left a lifelong career in radio. He struggled, writing for the Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania Weekender and teaching at Luzerne County Community college in nearby Nanticoke.
“I certainly never expected any of this,” Rising said in an interview a few years before his death. “If I had sent my book to King he would have stuffed it in the first garbage can he came to. But because it fell out of his car, covered in grease and oil, I guess it was fate.”
He became close friends with King, eventually moved to Maine and purchased Tinker Island and the associated Booth Bay lighthouse. Although the light was decommissioned as a navigational aid Rising took great pride in keeping it operational, tending to it on a regular basis.
Rising is survived by his wife Nancy. He often referred to her in his writing as his “Long Suffering Wife” – they were married 70 years. He is also survived by his sons, Robert, of Great Barrier Reef, Australia; James, of New York City, his daughter, Shalousie, of Suwon, South Korea, a sister, Vermont State Senator Anne Rising (D., Chittenden) 3 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild.
Although Rising has been quoted often as saying he wanted a Viking funeral, arrangements at press time are unclear.