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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Saturday, February 02, 2008

King of the Short Story Writers is Dead

Edward D. Hoch fell a little short of his goal of having a thousand short stories published before he died. He came close, having reached 960, before he came to the end of the road recently. Those stories appeared in the high-paying magazines so from the length of most of them I figure he averaged a thousand dollars for each of them.
I met Ed Hoch for the first time in 1979 when he was already a legend among mystery writers. That was because he was the only one who earned a comfortable living by writing short stories exclusively. Others were prolific, men like the late Jack Ritchie, but Ed was in a class by himself. There are a number of writers today who produce short stories in quantity, leaders in the field such as Loren D. Estleman, Bill Pronzini, John Lutz and a few others, yet each of them has to stand in awe of Ed Hoch.
He had a book or two published but Ed wasn't much for spending the necessary time it took to produce a novel. In fact, he always was in a hurry to finish the short he was working on at the time so he could get to work on the next one already plotted in his mind. He had a number of series characters, each quite different than the others.
Perhaps those who have never written stories for the major markets will fail to appreciate the talent needed to turn out 960 of them. Even after writing about 75 of them myself I can't begin to comprehend how he did it. How did he manage to dream up involved plots in such rapid succession? On top of writing them, Ed Hoch was a great keeper of records. He had to have been to know the exact number that were published. I'm not completely certain about my own and their number pales to insignificance by comparison with Ed's.
It will be a while before the last of his stories appear in print. After that - well, it's going to seem strange to many of us when we pick up a magazine and do not find a story by Edward D. Hoch, the Grand Master. That title, the most prestigious award in the genre, was bestowed upon him by his colleagues in Mystery Writers of America.


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