Monday, August 09, 2010

a/k/a James Reasoner

Ed here: My buddy James Reasoner posted a piece today about all the pseudonymous writing he's done over the years, particularly that of "house name" work where many writers (ala "Jake Logan") share the same name on a series. Someday somebody will write a book and/or a novel about this (as Westlake and Block have about the soft core world) because there are a lot of great tales to be told on the subject as James indicates here. Some very famous writers did a lot of work in these series but few have ever spoken about it.

Who Am I Today?

By James Reasoner

At last count, novels and stories I’ve written have been published under at least 35 different names. I say “at least” because back in the Seventies and Eighties I sold a few short stories that I never saw when they were published in various men’s magazines, but I know they appeared under other names. Some of these other identities were personal pseudonyms, some were house-names. Long before I ever became a writer, I used to read the Mike Shayne mystery novels by Brett Halliday. At that time I never had any idea that one day I would actually be “Brett Halliday”. But I was, contributing 36 novellas under that name to MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE during the Seventies and Eighties. To me, things like that are among the great pleasures of being a writer. (Along with not having to commute and being able to go to work in my pajamas if I want to, of course.)

The first Western I ever wrote was an entry in a house-name series: PECOS, #27 in the Stagecoach Station series, published by Bantam under the house-name Hank Mitchum. Since then I’ve written books in a number of different Western series, and in many cases, I was already a fan of the books before I ever joined the stable of authors. Working under a house-name has its advantages and disadvantages. The biggest disadvantage is that you receive little or no credit for the work you’re doing. Your name is nowhere on the book when it comes out, and although some people (mostly in the industry) know who writes which books, the vast majority of the readers have no idea and don’t really care. They just want an entertaining story, and I can’t blame them for that at all, since I was once the same way.

For example, back in the Sixties, I used to read paperback Westerns featuring Texas Rangers Jim Hatfield and Walt Slade. The Hatfield novels were published under the name Jackson Cole, the Slades as by Bradford Scott. I didn’t know the history of these novels, didn’t know that the Hatfields originally were published in the pulp magazine TEXAS RANGERS or that Walt Slade first appeared (although in shorter works) in the pulp THRILLING WESTERN. I certainly had no idea that the same author who wrote the Walt Slade novels as Bradford Scott (real name: Alexander Leslie Scott) also created the Jim Hatfield character and wrote many, but by no means all, of those novels by Jackson Cole. I just knew that I enjoyed the stories. The same holds true with the house-name Western series being published today. (As an aside, the Stagecoach Station series was created by long-time Western author D.B. Newton, and he was the first “Hank Mitchum”. During the Forties and Fifties, Newton wrote some of the Jim Hatfield novels for TEXAS RANGERS as “Jackson Cole”, though none of the ones that were reprinted in paperback. Still, as a fan of the Hatfield series, I found it very cool that I worked on a series created by one of the Hatfield authors and even shared a house-name with him.)

for the rest go here:


pattinase (abbott) said...

I'd like to see a book that listed the real authors of all these books. And recounted the history of the practice. Probably is one.

Ed Gorman said...

There's a Hawk Index (several editions as I recall) that gets a lot of them (but not all) arranged by pen name and real name alike, Patti. Nelson DeMille is just one of the big names I recall.