Re: RARA-AVIS: Sheldon Lord

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 30 Jan 2004

"There was a copy last week of one co-written by Block and Westlake. Not signed, however."

That would be So Willing, by Sheldon Lord & Alan Marshall. At an interview and signing I attended, Westlake confirmed it. He laughed about it and other softcore books he wrote, calling them "euphemism books," because you couldn't write anything too explicit in those days. I can't attest to whether or not he signs them, since no one had a copy for him to sign. He did sign several non-porn pseudonymous books for me, including several Starks, a Culver, a Clark and Comfort Station, with its wonderful blurb, "I wish I had written this book -- Donald E Westlake."

"There are people (including Lynn Munroe) who have done a lot of research into Block's pen names (and Westlake's and Silverberg's)."

I've done a little bit of research myself. I looked up Block and Westlake in the Library of Congress Copyright Card Catalog (actual cards, not yet computerized that far back).

I could only find one Sheldon Lord that noted the name was a pseudonym and named Block as true author, The Sex Shuffle, Beacon (1964). There were numerous other Lords in the catalog (though I've seen plenty of other Lords that are not there at all), but none specified the name as a pseudonym, much less giving true credit. For the record, So Willing does not note either author's name as a pseudonym.

Other Library of Congress-confirmed pen names of Block's are (not counting those that have since been published under his own name, like Paul Kavanagh, for instance): John Warren Wells (though not all books by Wells), Lesley Evans and Jill Emerson.

Edwin West is a confirmed pseudonym of Westlake's. To show you how inexact these files are (it's entirely voluntary whether or not a pseudonymous author wishes to identify himself as such and/or note his real name), several authors of books since published under Westlake's name are not listed as pseudonyms, including Curt Clark (Anarchaos) and Thomas J Culver (Ex Officio, AKA Power Play); Tucker Coe and Richard Stark are both documented pen names.

"I don't know about Westlake, but Block isn't hesitant about signing the soft porn novels he can remember having written, and signed copies of those books turn up on eBay fairly often, as do signed copies of Silverberg's."

I'd heard just the opposite, that Block does not sign his early softcore books. After my research at the LoC, I sent him an email asking about the other Lords. In a very gracious note, he said he would "neither confirm nor deny" what books of that sort he had written early in his career, but maybe when or if he wrote his memoirs.


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