Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Way We Were

1. In the process of editing a magazine called Borderline with the late astrologer, Sidney Omar, I came in contact
with a medium who channeled writers who had crossed over to the other side, but who still wished to communicate with us. The medium brought me materials supposedly composed on the next plane of existence. Accordingly I saw materials purported to be from George Elliott, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, William Dean Howells, and Arthur Conan Doyle, none of which seemed to have the vibrant qualities possessed by the authors during her or his tenure on this plane of existence. I was somewhat surprised to see that George Elliott spelled grey with the American spelling and that HPB used such Americanisms as color, center, and honor, but the medium took full responsibility for these stylistic anomalies and blamed it on the growing Americanization of the spirit world.

2. The late astrologer, Sidney Omar, was born Sidney Kimmelman in Philadelphia, having told me he changed his name to Omar because it had better numerological integrity, and later admitted that were it not for the relatively small size of his hands, he would have pursued a career as a light heavyweight boxer.

3. While sitting in the eclectically ornate law office of Melvin Belli, the King of Torts, we both looked up from the task at hand in time to witness a man deftly unlock the door to his car (parked right outside the office), hot wire it, then drive it off into the clamorous and streaming San Francisco afternoon.

4. Thinking I had pulled a major coup by signing my favorite speculative fiction author, Theodore Sturgeon, to a two book deal, I called an editor friend at another publishing house to crow over my triumph. "How much did you give him?" she asked. "A thousand down against ten for the first book, with escalators to twenty for the second book." "You got off lucky," she said. "His pitches are so beautiful that he usually gets at least five up front."

I read later that he resorted to this stratagem because it paid better than being an after dinner speaker.

5. Although he has published forty books and hundreds of magazine pieces, Barnaby Conrad has never learned to type, has owned only one computer and that with disastrous results.

6. John Sanford, who was notably proud at having signed a three-book contract at age ninety, typed his manuscripts on a Royal upright manual typewriter, and was driven to consult a stationer in Chicago from whom he bought typewriter ribbons.

7. At one point in his life when he was seriously considering the vocation of a monk in a sect of modern Hinduism, (see his novel, A Meeting by the River," Christopher Isherwood bought used jeans at thrift shops, then hand-frayed the cuffs to make them look even more tattered.

8. When suspense writer Jack Kerley received an advance of two hundred fifty thousand dollars for his first novel, The Hundredth Man, he told me he was embarrassed at first because writing the book was so easy and so much fun.

9. When Fran Weaver began her publishing and tv commentary career relatively late in life, she confessed that it felt strange taking so much money simply for being funny.

10. The more successful a mystery writer is, the more he or she nourishes the idea of someday writing something serious--and the more his or her fans wishes he or she wouldn't.

1 comment:

Lori Witzel said...

Big grin for this post...

Glad I'm back and have time (at least a bit!) to browse...