Monday, May 20, 2013

Richard Sale

Ed here: One day back in the eighties when I was editing Mystery Scene the phone rang and it was Richard Sale. I don't remember exactly how this came to pass--maybe I contacted his agent and said I'd like to interview him for the magazine. Anyway we talked for a long time about the pulps, his time in Hwood (he was very successful there) and some of the writers he'd known. He was a treat to listen to. And he wrote one hell of a memoir for the magazine.

And then last night I reread one of my favorite mystery novels (one of R Chandler's too) Lazarus #7, which I  heartily recommend.  Here's a piece about Sale from what-when-how. BTW His most famous script as for "Suddenly"with Frank Sinatra.

The man once known to his readers as “the Dumas of the pulps,” Richard Sale was one of the top journeymen writers in the 1930s and 1940s. He was not a superstar like Max brand or Edgar Rice burroughs, but his name was on countless magazine covers in the golden age of the pulps. Sale guaranteed to developers a reliable supply of first-rate fiction and to readers the certainty of an hour or two well spent. He was barely out of his teens when his name started appearing in Detective Fiction Weekly, Dime Detective, Argosy, Bluebook, Thrilling Mystery, Double Detective, and more.
“From the start . . . even as a small kid,” he told this author, “I sold some stuff to the New York Herald Tribune. Poems, and I mean bad. But I had no other ambition except to write.” Sale studied journalism at Washington and  University, in Lexington, Virginia. While still at school, he began sending out stories to magazines. He sold one to Street & Smith’s College Stories: “I got $100 and that was a lot of money in those Depression days.” He sold a second story with a school setting, and then got nothing but rejections for two years. He left school before graduating, got married, and worked for a couple of New York newspapers, but mostly devoted himself to trying to make a living from his fiction. Before long it happened. His stories for the pulps started selling—and selling. In a 10-year period Sale published around 500 stories, nearly one a week. But at his busiest, Sale’s schedule was actually more grueling than that. “A story a day. A story was 3,000 words, 5,000 words. It depended how it flowed. I’d do it in a day, sometimes it carried over to the next day. If you were doing novelettes, that would be 12,000 words and that would carry over into the next day . . . First draft was a last draft,” he said. 

Sale took his place among the speed demons of the pulps, the legendary million-words-a-year men like Brand, Arthur J. Burks, and Lester dent. Sale wrote mysteries, exotic adventures, horror and terror tales, air war stories, and sea stories week after week, throughout the depression and into the first years of World War II. “You couldn’t sit around and wait for ideas to come. Sometimes you’d sit there and just look around the room and pick an object . . . Or think of something impossible and then solve it.” Sale was such a reliable storytelling machine at this time that an editor thought nothing of grabbing him in the hallway as he was leaving the developer’s office and demanding a publishable story on the spot: “He needed a story in a hurry. Emergency. So he sat me down and I knocked out a 3,000-word story. I came up with a story about what goes through a man’s mind when he drifts down in a parachute. Turned out to be a good story. I gave him the story, went to the window and they issued me a check right then and there and I went home.”

for the rest go here:

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I read a good bit of his stuff when I was writing an article on him. Enjoyed every bit of it.