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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Friday, May 15, 2009

Ah, those wonderful pulps

Those exciting magazines with colorful covers and pulpwood pages are cropping up everywhere in my life. I wrote about them here on Tuesday and Louis Willis had an interesting feature on the pulps yesterday at I just finished reading for the second time Ron Goulart's 1972 book An Informal History of the Pulp Magazine, am now re-reading Tough Guy Writers of the Thirties edited by David Madden and next will revisit The Shudder Pulps by Robert Kenneth Jones. If that isn't enough, I was directed to a great website with the name of the best pulp mystery magazine of them all. Check it out at There you can download some of the stories originally published in Black Mask.
I grew up in the 1930s reading a couple of pulps every week. On top of that I read every book in the mystery section of the East Akron Branch Library along with many mainstream novels. I had excellent guidance on the latter because I was encouraged to read Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Dos Passos, Bromfield, Tarkington and Upton Sinclair. That was all the teaching I ever had on the subject of writing.
Goulart's book includes interviews with a number of well-known pulp writers. Frederick Nebel told of the night he and Dashiell Hammett huddled together under an umbrella while walking from 37th Street to Grand Central Station on a cloudless, starlit night. There they checked the umbrella, insisting it be kept open, while they visited the Oyster Bar. They then returned to 37th Street under the umbrella to see if anyone would notice. No one did. That's one of the great features of New York, no one minds a bit if you act eccentric.
The standard rate paid by the pulps was a penny a word. Late one afternoon an editor discovered he was short a 5,000 word story for his mystery magazine that was to go to press the next morning. He called one of his regular writers and offered three cents a word if he could get a story to him by 9 a.m. The writer agreed, but intended to spend the evening in a bar so he called a friend and offered him two and a half cents. Same story and another friend agreed to do the job for two cents. I don't know if it went farther than that but the editor had his story and at least three writers made a little money.
Leo Margulies, who later founded Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, ran a number of pulps and insisted the first word be "Thrilling" on every title. He even had Thrilling Love. Margulies was dead when I started writing for Shayne in 1979 but he was still listed as the founder on the title page. That and talking to a few old pulp writers are my only tenuous connections to that wonderful era for writers. One of those I talked to was Walter Gibson, who wrote The Shadow stories. During a long evening in a bar all he wanted to discuss was magic. He had once worked with Houdini and Blackstone so the Shadow was far down on his list of interests. I learned a few tricks, since forgotten, but not much about writing.


Blogger STAG said...

I have dabbled in writing, but I am not good at it. But then, many people who earn their living at writing are not good at it either. Maybe if deadlines were involved....

That seemed to work for Heinlein.

10:18 PM  

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