Saturday, January 05, 2013

A Man of Many Names

Ed here: Back in the days when publishers published lots of books in every category, writers trying to make a living at their craft took on-work-for-hire books. Many of these were house name books. No, "Jake Logan" has not written several hundred novels ver the decades. Jake Logan is probably close to a sixty or seventy different writers.

This realm of publishing has always fascinated me. Two excellent writers have published serious (if comic) novels on the theme, Donald Westlake's Adios, Scheherazade and Barry Malzberg's Herovit's World. I recommend these without qualification.  Brilliant. No kidding.

Friday my friend James Reasoner published (as a Forgotten Books piece) a memoir about one part of the realm I'm alluding to. He also tells us about his amazing writing relationship with his lovely and very talented wife Livia. Really fascinating.

Fort Worth Nights: A Collection of Cody PI Stories
By the way let me recommend James' collection of private eye stories. He is a master of the form and these tales demonstrate his range and skill. He's one of the best storytellers of our time.  Only $2.99

Anyway, on with James' great memoir about the days when you could literally sell books with a phone call.

James Reasoner:

I'm probably fudging a little by writing about a book I had a hand in, but the Cody's Law series is long out of print and probably won't ever be reprinted, so it's pretty much forgotten. Besides, Bill mentioned this book recently on an email group we both belong to, and I thought some of you might be interested in it. Warning: this post is as much memoir as it is about the book and has some behind-the-scenes stuff in it, so if that doesn't appeal to you, feel free to move on. My feelings won't be hurt, I promise.

The Cody's Law series came about because the Western editor at Bantam at the time had worked at Leisure earlier in his career and edited a series of Westerns by Roe Richmond about a Texas Ranger named Lashtrow. Some of you have probably read some of those books. Richmond must have been a believer in the freelancer's adage, "Never throw anything away." Because those Lashtrow novels were actually rewrites and expansions of novels that Richmond wrote for the pulp magazine TEXAS RANGERS during the Fifties, featuring Ranger Jim Hatfield. For the paperback version, Hatfield became "Lash" Lashtrow, but the supporting characters all remained the same.

The Bantam editor approached an editor at Book Creations Inc., the book packaging company I was doing a lot of work for at the time, and asked BCI to come up with a Texas Ranger series similar to the Lashtrow books. The editor at BCI was also an author and planned to write the first book in the series, and he asked me if I would continue it from there. I agreed, of course, since back then I never turned down work (I still don't turn it down very often, and only when I just don't have time to do anything else). As it turned out, the editor at BCI was too busy to write the book, so after doing an outline and a couple of chapters he gave it to me and told me to use whatever I wanted out of it. By this time he had mentioned the Roe Richmond/Lashtrow connection to me and asked me if I was familiar with those books. I just said that I was and didn't mention that I was very familiar with the original versions, having read dozens of issues of TEXAS RANGERS including some of Richmond's Jim Hatfield novels. I think I was the only one in this particular loop aware of the true origin of the Lashtrow books.

for the rest go here:

1 comment:

RJR said...

I totally agree about the Westlake and Malzberg books. Excellent reads for anyone who wants to know about the book biz--and I mean the book biz the way most of us have lived it, not the way the Best Selling authors live it.