Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

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Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Mickey Spillane - a Writer for the People

I haven't been keeping up with the news lately, at least not the way I once did. I wasn't even aware that Mickey Spillane had died until I read a tribute to him by Bill Chambers in the latest issue of The Third Degree. If you don't know, that's the official newsletter of the Mystery Writers of America.
I met Mickey Spillane just once. That was at a Bouchercon in Milwaukee and if Bouchercon is also unfamiliar to you it's an annual convention of mystery writers and readers, the biggest of them all. It's named in honor of the late Anthony Boucher, himself a mystery writer and a renowned critic. I was one of the speakers at a couple of Bouchercons but we haven't attended one in recent years because traveling isn't as easy as it once was or, like keeping up with the news, as enjoyable.
Mickey Spillane was just what you would expect the creator of Mike Hammer and a World War II fighter pilot to be. Rawboned, tough, unpretentious. He was a writer and didn't like to be called an author because he felt that title was pretentious. He wasn't impressed by the literary world, not at all. Bill Chambers wrote about the time a literary sort of person told Mickey it was disgraceful that of the ten top selling books of all time seven were written by none other than Mickey himself. He replied, "You're lucky I've only written seven."
While sitting at a table one night with a group that included Mickey I was amused when he was asked about something in one of his books. He said he didn't know because he didn't remember the book. Like a lot of writers, it seems that by the time a book was finished he was so sick of it that he never wanted to see it again. Not that he usually took a lot of time writing one. His first, I the Jury, was written in nine days.
Bill Chambers told a couple of other interesting stories about Mickey Spillane. One was about Ayn Rand, beloved by the literary world for her philosophical novels. She shocked those types when she said that her favorite author was Mickey Spillane. He might have been more pleased by the compliment had she referred to him as a writer. And when some of the writers you'll find hanging out at the Author's Guild criticized his work Mickey said, "Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar." Thanks, Bill, for those little tidbits.
Bouchercon will return to Milwaukee next month. Mickey won't be there this time and neither will I. But I can still see him, necktie loosened, fedora pushed back a little on his head, grinning as he told a few of the kind of stories you hear around a table in a bar. Funny stories, often self-deprecating. Mickey Spillane, unique in many respects, in others typical of a rapidly-dying breed. The type of men that aren't likely to pass this way again.

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