RARA-AVIS: Mike Avallone

Ted White (tedwhite@compusnet.com)
Thu, 04 Mar 1999 13:56:24 -0500 I saw his obituary in the Washington Post, but before I
could quote it here others had already remarked on his

My contacts with the man were fleeting -- although I read
and have on my shelf 11 of his books, including the Ace

While I was Ass't Editor at THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SF
(mid-sixties) I found a submission from Avallone in the
slush pile. (I read the slush pile. It averaged 600 ms. a
month, from which I selected a half-dozen or less, one or
two of which would be purchased by the editor. The average,
during my term, was one slush-pile story per issue.) I
remember relatively little about that story except that I
was apalled that it had come from a professional writer
whose books I'd read. It was worse than a Gordy Dickson
manuscript: full of cross-outs and strikeovers and arrows
rearranging paragraphs or inserting a later thought -- very
messy, very first-draft. It was also a cliche plot
inadequately rendered. Disillusioning, to say the least.
Naturally, I rejected it, although I think I did so with a
personal note rather than relying on the form letter. (Ed
Ferman once advised me not to add personal notes unless I
really thought the author had promise -- "It only encourages
them to submit more, you know.") I wonder if that earned me
a piece of Avallone's venom?

Later my friend Terry Carr had a Very Bad experience working
with Avallone at Ace Books as his editor. I believe he'd
been contracted to write the "Girl From UNCLE" series. When
Terry (then new at Ace) told me who was doing the first
book, I told him about my F&SF experience with Avallone.
Later, Terry told me he had to virtually rewrite the book
Avallone turned in, it was so bad.

I strongly suspect that *most* of Avallone's earlier books
were Heavily Edited into publishability, and that the
published works and an outline were what he used to sell his
next book (usually to a different publisher) -- and that
eventually he Used Up his available publishers, moving into
the porn pbs as a last resort. I thought "Edweena Noon" was
a remarkably silly female pseudonym for him to use, too. I
guess he played out his string.

--Ted White

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