Tuesday, December 15, 2009

James Reasoner

James Reasoner recently posted a short piece about his amazing year--this year he wrote and published a million words. I've been meaning to acknowledge that (to me) staggering accomplishment so I'm reprinting James' pst as well as a Pro-File I did with him awhile back. Congratulations, James.

A Million and Counting
Around the middle of the day today, I passed the million-word mark for this year. That makes five years in a row I've written at least a million words. I don't say that to brag. I've been extraordinarily lucky to have had the opportunity to write that much, and I owe it to the readers who buy the books and the editors who've had faith in me, and I want to thank all of them for making it possible.

Still . . . a million words a year . . . five years in a row . . . I'd be lying if I didn't say I think that's pretty cool. (And no, before you ask, that's not Livia and me in the picture.)
Posted by James Reasoner at 5:22 PM


Pro-File: James Reasoner

Ed Here: I supsect that James Reasoner would have been happiest back in the Twenties and Thirties when the pulps dominated newstands. This doesn't mean that his books read like old pulp. On the contrary, his cult novel Texas Wind remains one of the finest private eye novels I've ever read and brings a distinctly modern viewpoint to the dusty truths of Texas. And that modern viepoint and style can be found in almost all his books. I think what he shares with the pulp boys and girls is their spirit and the simple love of telling good stories. You find this spirit and love in virtually everything he writes--and he writes virtually everything--westerns, mysteries, war stories, tie-ins, mainstream...and I'm sure I'm leaving out a couple of categories here. The pro's pro, James Reasoner.

1. Tell us about your current novel.

CALL TO ARMS, the first book in a new Civil War series entitled THE PALMETTO TRILOGY, was published in the fall, and the second book will be out in the spring, with the third and final book scheduled for next fall. These are in collaboration with my wife Livia, who is using the pseudonym Livia Hallam on them.

2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?

I just finished a house-name Western and plan to write a fantasy short story next, before moving right on to a historical novel which will also be under a house-name.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

Seeing a new book of mine and knowing that people will be reading it and I hope enjoying it.

4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?

Waiting. You send the books in and then wait for all the other steps in the process to unfold.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

Stop cancelling books -- and entire lines -- that make money, provide livings for their authors, and entertain their readers, simply because they don't make *enough* money.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?

I don't know if they're forgotten, but how about Ed Lacy, George Harmon Coxe, and Henry Kane (the early novels, not the later stuff).

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

I had a post office box at the time, and one day there was a large manila envelope stuffed in it. Inside were several copies of a contract from Manor Books for my novel TEXAS WIND. No letter, just the contracts. But I didn't need a letter because I knew from the contracts they were actually going to buy and publish my book. I rushed home to tell Livia instead of going on to the real-world job I was holding down. The euphoria was tempered a bit when I actually *read* the contract and saw how little they were planning to pay me. We looked at each other and said, "That can't be right. That's all they pay for an entire *book*?"
Little did we know. They actually paid us even less.

But in the long run it was okay, because Manor published the book, and although I had sold short stories before, after that day I was an honest-to-gosh novelist.


Mathew Paust said...

Reminds me of an interview I read years ago with Stephen King, who said, if I remember correctly, the first thing he did when he sold Carrie was to buy some cowboy boots, and I think they were alligator leather.

Anonymous said...

James Reasoner is a phenomenon. He's up there with Max Brand and others of that era. I write about one fourth of that volume, but age slows me now.


Cap'n Bob said...

The really amazing thing about James is not just his massive output but the high quality of it.

James Reasoner said...

Thanks for the kind words, guys. I do appreciate them. To update the info from that Pro-Files piece, The Palmetto Trilogy turned out to be The Palmetto Duology, since the third book was never written due to poor numbers on the first two and then the sale of the publisher to another company. At least the second book didn't end on a real cliffhanger like some of my other series that ended before I thought they would due to the proverbial circumstances beyond my control. I'm still writing mostly house-name Westerns and the occasional thriller and having a good time doing what I do.

Mathew Paust said...

Unkempt of me not to have expected that Mr. Reasoner would be reading this blog! Thus, my embarrassed apology for not extending well-deserved congratulations in my earlier comment.

One million published words of excellent stuff is, to borrow an expression from the kids, "totally awesome, dude!"

Mathew Paust said...

...oops, hold on a sec: Five million in as many years?? Yikes, bubba! I'm feeling verklempt - definitely, very, very verklempt!!!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Great fun reading this. Someone should do a book of interviews with writers like James and you who've crossed genres, written under different names, made a living at it, been at it a while. It would be interesting to read how things have changed over time.

Kenneth Mark Hoover said...

Sheesh. A million words a year? And for five years yet. That's pretty impressive.