What Has Gone Before

Often in my critiquing group, the discussion turns to a classic work in the genre or out and the group will be divided into those who’ve read the subject work, those who haven’t and those who’ve never heard of it. The latter two usually ask, “Why should I read it?” There are reasons for and against and all valid to some respect. Though I fall mainly on the ‘why’ side, I’ll examine the ‘why not’ and the ‘don’t bother’ position.

Let’s examine the why first. You never suffer by reading an outstanding story or novel. As a writer, you can read jointly for enjoyment and to study technique of someone who pulled magic from the muse to create a classic. There’s another reason besides entertainment or craft building. Most ‘How-To’ genre writing books emphasize early on that one should ‘know what has gone before’. Science Fiction has a rich century-plus legacy. A burgeoning author can attempt a story about a Martian invasion failing due to earth virus/bacterial infection (or an alternate history Mayan invasion of medieval Europe defeated by smallpox) but know the ground has been well-tilled by H.G. Wells. This is an extreme example but many such classics exist without a series of movie adaptations. One could craft a story about a desert planet civilization breeding the finest warriors in the galaxy but don’t try to market a Dune clone out of ignorance of its existence. A chance exists your first-reader group may not have read it either but a competent editor (and well-read fans) will have. Your work will be compared to precedents as well as contemporaries. If found to be a weak imitation of a landmark story of years ago, it may not pass the slush pile.

One of the reasons I hear for not reading this or that particular seminal work is a frustration in style evolution or biases no longer politically correct. But such differences can often inspire a new take. Consider Don Sakers’ ‘The Cold Solution’, a more culturally acceptable answer to Tom Godwin’s classic ‘The Cold Equations’. Sakers created a classic of his own while paying homage to a decades-old but perceived out-of-date standard of the genre.

Knowing the history of the genre one is writing in can be essential not to unknowingly imitate a common theme or idea and can stimulate an entirely fresh approach. What if the classic’s assumptions are wrong? What advances in technology or human understanding render the original obsolete? Respond with a modern interpretation.

Writers must be judicious in their time budgeting. The question arises of ‘Why should I devote precious writing time to reading time?’ A valid point, if the two are interchangeable. Twenty minutes on a bus ride or in a doctor’s office could be more rewarding as a reading session than a writing one. Often for me, reading recharges the muse, plants ideas in the conscious or subconscious for future exploitation during the creativity process.

A more gut response to not pursuing the classics is sometimes just being contradictory for its own sake. Writers are a quirky bunch and expecting them all to react or behave as I do isn’t realistic. I recognize the diverse personalities and respect their unique approaches to the creative process. The diversity is welcome when it comes to critiquing, if you please everyone, you’re not doing it right.

The response is the ‘I’m unfamiliar with that story’. Again, a valid position but not for the growing writer. Occasionally we have mystery and horror stories tabled for critiquing by our group. I’ve heard the ‘I’ve written a cozy mystery but have never read one so I don’t know what they are or if this qualifies’ introduction. I leave it to the reader to react without editorial comment from me.

I remain on the ‘for’ side. I like being entertained and stimulated by reading the best, and this extends beyond the classics to the yearly Best collections to see what’s being explored recently. I can appreciate the idea some writers don’t want to be influenced by another author’s take on a familiar theme. But most SF themes are familiar, it’s the fresh execution which elevates your story out of the slushpile.


I often hear authors and editors referring to a novel where they believe the writer has ‘found their voice’. What is this mysterious benchmark and how does one know when it has been achieved?

Authorial ‘voice’ is different from the point of view character voice. It is the author’s ‘persona’, the voice behind the curtain whose outlook determines the tone of the novel. This tone can be humourous, optimistic, cynical or downright bleak. The subject matter and plot may not determine the tone, it is the author who makes the choice.

Carl Hiaasen writes from a humourous slant but his books are full of deceit, crooked politicians, violent deaths and serious societal issues. He’s chosen a funny delivery either because of his personal view of the world or he’s deemed it the most effective way of conveying his theme.

On the optimistic side, many SF writers from Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke and forward view the future with hope. Star Trek too had a positive, almost utopian, vision of man’s future. The significant hurdles to reach such a future are myriad and the challenge is often the crux of their stories.

Cynical voices in the SF world would include Richard Morgan, whose homages to the noir-detective genre are almost necessarily cynical, echoing Philip Marlowe. The first-person point of view convention in this case blurs the distinction between author and protagonist voice.

Bleak books are often dystopias (1984 for example). Things are bad and they’re only going to get worse. Christopher Moore bridges depression and humour brilliantly. A subset, or perhaps a set on its own, would be the novels of a world or universe in chaos. Nothing follows the rules we understand; action generates overwhelmingly unequal and nihilistic or discordant reaction. China Mieville’s compelling novels seem rooted in such a null-value system.

To the question of finding one’s own voice. It may or may not reflect the writer’s outlook on life. It can be chosen to distance the writer from the material in order to tell the story more effectively. Damon Knight wrote that his fiction improved dramatically after he invented a writer to write his stories for him, one who was more mature, skilled, inventive and knowledgeable than he. I think he does himself a disservice here, he likely became all of those with experience as a writer and maturity as a person. It’s worth exploring the value of donning a mantle when one does write. That mantle can certainly be of a ‘better’ writer. You put yourself into this new creation running the keyboard and then proceed to tell the story from within the disguise. The voice takes on a new identity, separate from the person owning the byline.

One need only look at the titles of many authors’ websites to see the persona adopted by them as illustration of the above. They have found a mantle. My analysis and categorization convince me voice exists. But do writers really ‘find their voice’ or do they just become better writers? Does voice translate into reader popularity?

My next novel, The Sixth Helix (currently scheduled for late 2018 release) is a better book than its predecessors. Have I found my voice or just refined it from Transient City and Rogue Town? I was more confident in writing it from page 1 of draft 1. Confident in the story, the characters and setting. The mantle I found in this case was the self-assurance of my skill being up to completing the book as I imagined it, no falling short of my ambition. I hope readers will agree.




I recently began writing my one-hundredth work of fiction. Considering the few decades since I started, this does not make me particularly prolific but I was working full-time up until a few years ago. Still, it’s a milestone of sorts and gives me pause to reflect on these 100 attempts to tell a story.

Not all of the pieces were finished, my files hold a few aborted novels which ran out of steam around 30000 words and a few short stories which never progressed beyond an outline or idea list. But it’s interesting to me to compare the first fifty with the last fifty under some criteria of professional measure.

I published 8 of the first 50 (I count only paid publication, whether nominal or not) and 18 of the second 50 (this number I expect to grow as the more recent efforts are just starting their marketing crusade). Four of the accepted works are novels and comprise two-thirds of my novel submissions (I have a heroic fantasy under query to an agent and a sequel to Javenny in limbo). I have two novels currently nearing completion and hope my success ratio on the longer works continues.

A better measure to me is what have I learned over the course of creating 100 pieces? What skills have improved? It’s almost embarrassing to review some of the earlier works to realize ‘I submitted this?’ and the editor remained completely professional in their polite rejection. Bless those souls who toil the slushpiles, I can think of no worse non-manual labour task.

If these early stories are unpublishable, then I must have gained some improvement. I have not reached Ray Bradbury’s benchmark of one million bad words before you figure it out. Access to more resources than Ray had may shorten it to seven or eight hundred thousand words of drek. Numerous how-to books and online resources have helped. Critique groups have helped more.

The first really useful how-to books I devoured were L. Sprague de Camp’s Science Fiction Handbook, Revised and Barry Longyear’s Science Fiction Writer’s Workshop-I. De Camp’s book originally came out in 1953 and the revision in 1975. Not a lot of nuts and bolts but inspiring and a look inside the life of being a writer. Longyear’s is The Nuts and Bolts guide (he even calls it ‘fiction mechanics’). Barry distills the essence of commercial fiction requirements in order to qualify as a complete short story and sets out a number of skill-building exercises to develop the template until it’s in your bones. It might seem formulaic but knowing the rules before you break them is better than defying convention through ignorance. There is one more classic reference book I’ll get to shortly.

Other books supplemented over the years, each more or less appropriate to my own stage of development. The most currently relevant for me is Stephen King’s On Writing (the second half after the short autobiography). He inspires, distills, describes and reflects on what makes good writing. The other major text resource which I’ve found myself referring to across my entire experience is Damon Knight’s Creating Short Fiction. It is full of exercises designed to stretch and re-orient your perceptions and get that unique perception or voice onto paper in a compelling form.

I mentioned the value of a critique group. A respectful critique group is irreplaceable. I review others’ works in my group to see what works and what doesn’t and then examine my own work to see where I’ve made similar errors and where I can improve.

The best way for me to hone my skill is to write and write some more. Ideas make room for the next batch when you get them out of your brain onto paper or screen. I don’t know if I will reach opus two-hundred but when I started, I doubt if I imagined reaching half of that.


In the last couple of years at When Words Collide (a writer’s conference put on in Calgary during August), I’ve attended workshops and panel discussions on the emergent world of self-publishing and hybrid publishing. The changing world of conventional publishing has pushed authors to alternative action to get their work out to the public.

Self-publishing circumvents the long lead times of non-simultaneous submission, follow-up query and moving on to the next market. Most big publishers (the ‘big 5′) won’t take unsolicited or un-agented submissions and the task of finding an agent for an unknown writer is often as daunting as finding a publisher.

Self-publishing provides the prolific author with the opportunity to publish more than one book per year; conventional houses rarely release more than one book per author per year, particularly for a mid-list writer. Frequent releases actually benefit the self-published e-book author as readership can be voracious, especially for series work.

Self-published books also do not have to conform to the conventional wisdom of one-hundred-thousand-word epics which look great on bookstore shelves; a thick, meaty read, thinks the prospective buyer. Self-published e-books apparently sell better, especially a series, if they run fifty or sixty-thousand words.

Hybrid-publishing refers to the author who sells to conventional publishers but is too prolific, prefers writing shorter novels, or has books out of their usual genre. This writer needs another outlet and follows both paths.

So, what about balance? Every single panel and workshop about self-publishing stresses the time and effort the independent author should spend creating a personal brand. Writing, editing, formatting and releasing your book is only the first stage. Promoting your work is a continuous and consuming task. Mark Leslie, Axel Howerton, T.K. Boomer and other presenters at WWC offered numerous suggestions for using social media to increase potential readership.

How does one balance energy and time between self-promotion and putting words to paper and screen? Every hour spent on social media is an hour of not writing. I look at it as another discipline of the same overall task. I had to learn to self-edit, not the most creative endeavour. I am not a gregarious person by nature and I value my privacy, whether in the real or cyber-world. Yet I recognize the need for some presence, if you will, and maintain a profile through these blogs and author dashboards on Goodreads and Amazon.

Guy Gavriel Kay summed it up best for me at this years’ WWC guest of honour speeches. An acclaimed writer in the conventional publishing world, Guy must continue to maintain and grow his readership. For even such an award-winning author, conventional publishers devote little time and even fewer dollars to promoting his work. Outside the self and hybrid-publishing regime, the author must be the publicist. Guy’s advice paralleled my sentiment, and I paraphrase, ‘do what you are comfortable with’.

My passion is writing, creating stories which reflect my sensibilities. I’m happy to talk about my work more than myself. I’ve been lucky, in my opinion, to have a small-press publisher for my SF novels but I’ll consider hybrid-publishing (I have a fantasy novel making the agent rounds but will look at self-publishing it if necessary). And refine the balance to promote my works.

The Unexpected Sequel

When I finished my first published novel, Javenny, I wanted to create a sequel escalating the theme of water. I began Rebuilding Javenny but only after I’d written the first draft of another book, one exploring the theme of memory. That novel became Transient City. My publisher expressed interest in the Javenny sequel as my second contracted book for Bundoran Press but I had so much more passion about Transient City, he agreed to look at it. He bought it and before it was even published, he offered a contract to write a sequel to Transient, sight unseen.

I was flattered in his confidence but wasn’t certain I shared it. I wrote Transient as a stand-alone book, no loose ends: everybody dies or moves away (no spoiler here). I took a day or two to mull the offer over. Of course I was going to do it, this is what being a ‘writer’ is all about, the ability to create a compelling story from scratch and not awaiting the muse to inspire. What to do? First, sign the contract. Second, don’t panic. Third, get past the panic. Fourth, pull a book out of my…brain.

My brain surprised me, as it often does during the writing process. Stories do end but the lives of the surviving characters do not. Protagonists are supposed to change and certainly Victor had. Being changed doesn’t mean he’d be any less vulnerable. As I thought about him, I recognized changes create new challenges by bringing the character or characters into conflict with the world in which they’d previously survived despite their quirks and handicaps. There was the kernel of the sequel.

I needed more. Secondary characters from Transient now had an opportunity to step up and have more of their story told. They’d have to, I’d removed (spoiler alert here) the villains and one of the most compelling aspects of Transient (you know if you’ve read it). I had a revelation at this point, why should I do all the heavy lifting? I had superb Transient beta readers. Put them to work earning their spot in the Acknowledgements. I asked my minions what they liked most about Transient and what they wanted more of. Big help to focus on themes for the sequel.

The final key component was the freedom to introduce new characters. The plot threads came out of character and setting, the new people and places came from my imagination. Don’t discount the power of deadline and expectation in the creative process.

Rogue Town: Transient Lost (working title) nears final edits for a Spring 2017 publication and I’m thrilled. It was no chore to write it and I thoroughly enjoyed the cast this time around. The techniques I learned from the exercise I will use in the future. Hopefully when my publisher says of some work, “hey, that was really good, you should write a sequel.”

Is there a third book? Well, never say never. Again, I wrote Rogue Town as complete in itself, especially wishing to avoid the sometimes weak-middle-book-of-a-trilogy syndrome. I have other books in preparation (plus that Javenny sequel is sitting on the shelf), so it will be a while before Transient Found is more than a title on a 3 x 5 file card.

Transient City Reveals Part 2 – Titles

While I toil on TC’s sequel (working title: Rogue Town), I’ve been re-reading parts of TC for details, names, clues to the future and past, etc. I thought I’d blog explaining some of the chapter titles. I had a lot of fun tagging the chapters as I wrote the early drafts and I’ll share a few of the processes and ‘secrets’.

I, Witness (1), a play on ‘eyewitness’ from Victor’s point of view. If he had a business card, it would read “Victor Stromboli—I Witness”.

More wordplay ensues with Opportunity Rocks (Knocks); The Elusive and Reclusive; The Wild Yonder (no blue on Lodan); Perilous Plains (surprised it wasn’t used in the 1960’s Batman TV show); If Shoes Fit; The Smell of Defeat (okay, this was spurred by a short story assigned in Junior High about two school-age ski jumpers competing for glory, the one most doubtful about his ability, wins. Before he does, his teammate advises to get rid of his ‘defeatist attitude’. “It’s not de feet, it’s de skis”); Homecoming Charade (parade); The Spoils of Victor; Rest In Pieces; Hail Mary; He Who Baits (waits); and The Shadows Know (old time radio ‘The Shadow Knows, hmwah hah hah’). Okay, they’re not all good and some a little cheeky; some quite obvious but they all were fun to wrap the chapter around. A mini-thematic journey, if you will.

Perhaps less obvious are the music-related titles; homages to songs and artists who influenced my adolescence. Park Bench Bookends (5) refers to Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Old Friends’ (“Sat on the park bench like bookends”); The Steel Forest (6) Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘Home from the Forest’; Fruit of the Vine (18), Jimmy Gilmore and the Fireballs; Carry That Weight (21), The Beatles; Having a Heat Wave (23), Martha and the Vandelas or Linda Ronstadt; Running On Empty (25), Jackson Brown; and On The Wings of a Nightingale (29), Kathy is Florence, recorded by the Everly Brothers, written by Paul McCartney and produced by Dave Edmunds (major provenance).

The Beige Woman (7) refers to Blaze, dressed in beige and to all appearances, mind-cloaked in dull monotone too. A clever camouflage. My inspiration is Raymond Chandler’s haunting and menacing ‘man in brown’ from The Big Sleep. The other literary reference is Sucks To Your Government (10). One line which stuck with me for years after studying William Golding’s Lord of the Flies was “sucks to your asthma”. It encapsulates how Victor feels about his secondment to the Miquelon.

Transient City contains numerous homages to popular culture (mainly British) which I loved in the 1960’s and ’70’s. The Avengers topped the list so it ranked two titles. Umbrella, Charm and Bowler (14) is the translated German title of the show, ‘Mit Schirm, Charme und Melone’. Forget-Me-Knot (33) is the title of Diana Rigg’s departure episode (actually filmed long after she’d announced her leave-the producers brought her back to bridge the new series featuring Linda Thorson).

The last is a personal one, A Roguing We Will Go (28), sung to the tune of ‘A Hunting We Will Go’. Besides referring to the inhabitants of Rogue Town, it hearkens to my youth on the uncle’s farm north of Calgary. Roguing in agriculture terms means pulling weeds, not as exciting as it sounds. I wasn’t roguing garden plots by hand, I was weeding quarter sections at a time in wheat and barley fields.

Which brings me to Rogue Town the book. Who’s going to feed all the new refugees, including Victor and Shoes, in the burgeoning independent settlement? A task for a new character. See if you can decipher his etymology when the novel comes out in 2017 from Bundoran Press, given the information above.

Purging to a Greater Good

In anticipation of the inevitable post-retirement downsizing, I’ve been shedding materials ‘curated’ (collected, hoarded) over the decades. Starting with hundreds of fanzines (comic book, comic strip, SF, movies), I’ve lifted a physical and emotional weight out of my life for a greater good. They all went to the University of Calgary SF and comic collection. I disposed of them in one fell swoop without throwing them in the landfill, thus keeping them together for interested popular culture scholars and researchers. And not having to eke them out the door through ebay and the like, one at a time over a lonnnggg time.

What has this to do with writing? Each time I remove a nagging distraction, my mind should be freed up to create. Are there piles of old ephemera clogging up my brain? How does one purge the mind? Empty the distractions?

Meditation teaches the discipline of focus. Creating new, more vibrant memories overprints the old ones, beneficial if the old ones have too many negative emotional threads. I want passionate, positive memories, not passionate angries-the-blood non-productive deflections from a path of creativity and serenity. Anxiety isn’t the friend of the writer. Not this writer, anyway. And being p’d off at the daily demonstrations of stupidity doesn’t help either. Not my own lapses in judgment, the seemingly unrelenting, rant-inducing dumb stuff which organizations supposedly running the infrastructure display.

The brilliant consequence of being a writer allows me to vent, through character, if needed but even better, the Zen of immersion during the putting ideas to word is itself a purge. How often when we’re writing do we suddenly notice the clock on the bottom right of the screen and realize, “Holy crap, I’ve been at this for two hours?”? The distractions which may’ve seemed like a block when I sat down at the keyboard have been replaced by ‘prose from nowhere’. Like J.G. Ballards’ “The Wind From Nowhere”, the important consideration isn’t where it came from (the prose or the breeze), but where it takes me.

Back to the hoard. I never get to disappointed when story ideas which appear brilliant at initial conception don’t get used or pan out. I refuse to hoard them. I may write a summary out on a 3×5 file card, carefully store in with all the other unused ideas and rarely look at it again. There are two lessons I’ve learned about ideas. 1. More will come, no need to ‘curate’ them in a shrine; and 2. The good ones will pop back out of my subconscious while I’m writing. The important process for me is to use ‘em or lose ‘em. The mind is a tap, I keep it open to keep the ideas flowing.

Theatre of the Mind

Recently, I was chatting with my cover artist (Javenny and Transient City) and Dan commented he really enjoyed working on my novels because they ‘read like a movie’. Aside from being quite flattered, I examined why this was so. I certainly visualize each scene in my stories but does it always translate to the page and even more importantly, to the reader?

An essay on writing I read many years ago by Samuel Delany, advised his technique is to describe in detail what the character is touching, seeing, doing, hearing, etc. while they move or are engaged in dialogue. We can’t all be Delany but when I remember to consider his method, I try to incorporate it.

But there are the pitfalls and the forgetful moments. Looking at pieces where I’ve not created a sufficient visual, I see a few reasons. First, when I’m creating first draft, often I’m writing flat out; I see action and dialogue but don’t have time for the descriptive details, fearing I’ll forget where my enthusiasm is taking the story.

A second excuse no doubt stems from my background writing short stories where idea, plot and character may take centre stage. Descriptive background is a victim of brevity. This isn’t always true; one of the shorts I’m proudest of, Knights Exemplar (On Spec #90, Fall 2012) is a very visual tale. The environment plays contrast to the gathering fighters, one more opponent for them and the townspeople to combat.

The third culprit may be a lack of ‘seeing’ the setting. I haven’t exploited the panorama of the story to its full potential. A recent critique of a fantasy novel observed some of my scenes suffered from ‘white room syndrome’. In this book, I have a very clear vision of each scene but my execution was obviously lacking. I need to revisit those weak points and immerse the characters in their environment and with economy of words paint a better picture.

This visual dynamic is a talent I demonstrate, if my artist is to be believed (and I take positive comments very seriously!), but to improve my consistency is the goal. If my readers can imagine themselves not just reading words but seeing pictures, then the prose is more memorable.

Theatre of the mind is a phrase often used to describe radio drama. Unique in media, radio employs only sound to paint its pictures, the listener creates the theatre from the voice inflections of the actors and the sound effects. Occasionally a narrator may intrude but the break is brief. Many historians point to its visual competitor, television as the executioner of radio drama, citing even bad TV held more interest than superb radio. Not entirely true: the British, Canadian and other radio drama departments continued to thrive up to the present. American radio drama died because the networks sold more advertising on TV than their abandoned radio departments.

My appreciation of OTR (Old Time Radio) does help in trying to create an image in as few words as possible, and using dialog and narrative both to accomplish same.

This added depth isn’t merely a ‘nice-to-have’, I see it as another tool in the writer’s kit to be used well. To stand out from the many other excellent books and stories my audience could be reading. Get them to come back, even if they don’t examine ‘WHY’ in detail, entertainment value for their time and money investment is what I strive for.

Finding the Juice

I’ve experienced a mushroom cloud of creative activity over the last few days (thanks a lot, two A.M. brain!) and it’s spurred me to consider why.

The ideas for a new novel assault me when I should be asleep. I see plot, character, setting, twists, science and more in many levels which will intertwine in the final product. Is it because my mind at oh-dark-thirty is more receptive to the writerly slave working in the back room who isn’t allowed to take a night off for slumber?

Or is it more? I’ve spent the last two months revising and proof-reading Transient City (May 2016 publish date, see previous post on Reveals Part 1), rewriting my sequel to Javenny (working title Rebuilding Javenny) and evaluating recent critiques on a fantasy novel. Writing but not creating. So perhaps the subconscious is flexing its muscles and readying for the next novel-building marathon. I also took 2 weeks off from nearly all writing for a warm vacation.

The initial idea arose from squatting in the surf on Kameole Beach in Hawaii, waiting for the next good wave. California surf-buddies imparted a rule-of-thumb years ago that every sixth wave or so is a magnitude larger, i.e. the best one to catch. I have observed decent similar periodicity on the west coast of Canada but my observation in Hawaii don’t support it there. Nevertheless, I began noodling a short story idea around a sporting pursuit opening the dialogue between human and alien. “Waiting On The Sixth Wave” would be the title and I made no more notes than that.

Post-vacation, post-proofing final Transient City PDF copy, more ideas begin to come. The initial idea I recognized as unoriginal and would need a couple of Ken Rand’s 90 degree turns before I’d feel good about spending time on it. But then these nocturnal ideas came tumbling down. I think there’s a novel in it, and one which will be neat to write. The ‘wave’ in the title somehow got switched to a specific geometric term. A bit of mathematical refreshment added to the mixture and to deepening plot threads.

Recipe: The right brain wants what the right brain wants, I can only keep in down for so long during editorial revision stretches. Take an occasional break from all writing without guilt—I will be the richer for it.

Transient City Reveals part 1

My next novel from Bundoran Press, Transient City, will be released in May, 2016 (available to pre-order now, see links on Novels page).

A science fiction, noir, diesel-punk whodunit, I indulged in a bit of self-referencing fun in character names and chapter titles. For those who want to ‘get it’, here’s a reveal on some of the character names.

For any fan of hard-boiled fiction, the names Gault, Gruber and McGivern all are known and revered. I used the surnames of three of the Bureau’s detectives in homage to authors I respect outside the writers accorded the most adulation (Hammett and Chandler).

William Campbell Gault, whom I acknowledge in the frontispiece of the novel had two distinct but contemporaneous writing careers. I discovered his juvenile fiction in my elementary and junior high school libraries, primarily his car and motorcycle novels. Not as gritty as Henry Gregor Felson, Gault’s coming-of-age in a car or bike stories were filled with the passion I felt for the day I’d have my driver’s license and own vehicle, either 2 or 4-wheeled. He also wrote a number of straight sports novels for football players, which I was most definitely not, nor likely to become. Size didn’t matter when it came to wheeling a race car down the quarter mile or around Indianapolis. Gault’s hard-boiled creations Brock Callahan and Joe Puma would fill another shelf. Above all, Gault was a professional, who appeared to like being a writer and entertainer. And to give young readers a reason to pick up the next book, whether it be his or not.

Frank Gruber scraped through the early depression years writing and being rejected. After ‘breaking in’ in 1934, he proceeded to write more than 300 stories for over 40 pulps and more than sixty novels (source: Wikipedia). A one-man fiction factory all-but forgotten in the mainstream today.

William P. McGivern wrote some science fiction early in his career but settled on mysteries as his primary field. His background as a police reporter served his novels well and they hum with accuracy and the seamy side of law-enforcement. In later years he wrote a lot of movie and television scripts.
The McGuffin character, Raoul Field takes his name from another prolific Black Mask contributor, Raoul Whitfield.

I urge interested readers to check these writers out.

To come: Reveals Part 2.