Friday, April 06, 2007

Charles Runyon; Brown Meggs

Ed here: These are the final Q&As with Charles Runyon.

What was your best career experience?
Winning a nomination for the Edgar Allen Poe award of the MWA for Power Kill.

What was your worst?
Having Lancer Books go belly-up just after publishing my novel of the occult, Dorian-7. I wish I'd been warned about their shaky finances. I wrote an article on the subject, "The Curse of Dorian-7" but never tried to get it published.

You mentioned that you've been writing a science
fiction trilogy. Have you given any thought to a crime
Many thoughts, backed up by notes, bits of dialogue, and in a few cases, almost-finished works that never quite made it to the marketplace. I'll take another look at the material and see what I have that is timely and appropriate, if you're interested in looking at it.

Do you read contemporary writers? If so, name a few
you feel are notable.
I read Stephen King's Cell, on the recommendation of my students, and found it admirable in many ways, but to me the most nearly perfect practitioner of the horror field is Peter Straub. Houses without Doors is my most recent sampling, but my alltime favorite is Ghost Story. I also enjoyed Superstiton. John Updike's suspense novel, The Terrorist, brings out his talent for deft characterization and subtle plot turnings, as well as being as timely as the morning paper. John Grisham is another oldtimer who's still eminently readable; The Painted House is one I recommend. Taking the whole field as my bailiwick, I'll mention Trial, by Clifford Irving, Skins of Dead Men by Dean Inge, and Acceptable Losses by Irwin Shaw. I'd also recommend The Greenlanders by Jane Smiley. Though it's not a genre novel, it's a fascinating story and well-written.

Which of your novels would you most like to see
reprinted and why?
There are at least three that might go down well with today's readers. The Last Score was rushed to completion as a work-for-hire, for Manfred Lee and Fred Dannay, and published under their byline of Ellery Queen. I still have a paternal affection for the book, and would like to see it reprinted under it's "rightful" parentage. Also, there was one I wrote under the nom de plume of Mark West, which was published under the unforgettable title: Object of Lust. Another rush job, done to the background music of a wolf growling outside the door, but I think it's worthy of another shot at the gold ring. If you recall the old limerick beginning: "There once was a hermit named Dave ..." you'll have an idea of what it's about. And finally there's my first one, The Anatomy of Violence, which still holds my interest despite a klutzy romantic element.

Ed here: I did a retro-review of SATURDAY GAMES by Brown Meggs the other night. Turns out our friend Bob Levinson was a friend of Meggs'.

Hi, Ed...

Surprised and so nice to see you writing about Brown Meggs. Knew Brown quite well in the old music years, before, during and after he tried and failed to make a living as a novelist. He was a classical music buff par excellence, the area he returned to with EMI after he quit writing fiction. Earlier, he'd been the (ultra-strong) right arm of Capitol Records Presidents Sal Ianucci and Bhaskar Menon.

Brown calls me up one day and orders, "Get the hell over here." I get the hell over to Capitol, where he informs me, Congratulations, I'm now Iannuci's personal PR rep in addition to the several acts I was handling for the label, and steers me into Sal's office. Sal says, "I don't need much attention, maybe my name in the trades once or twice a week." Two days later, his name was spread across Daily Variety, the front page banner: CAPITOL FIRES IANUCCI. (Courtesy of the higher ups at EMI; not my doing, but definitely the briefest client relationship I ever had...)

It's only rock-and-roll...


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