Re: RARA-AVIS: Politics and Dennis Lynds's work for hire

From: Dennis Lynds (
Date: 16 May 2005


You wrote:

> you've done a lot of work for hire - Mike Shaynes, Charlie Chans,
> Shadows, Nick Carters. One of your remarkable achievements is
> that you've been able to deliver your social opinions into these
> works. At least in your one Mike Shayne novel there's a lot of
> warmth and social concern that is notably lacking in Davis
> Dresser's original works (which is why I liked your book more
> than the originals) and that strongly resembles the issues you
> have in "Act of Fear" or other more serious novels. The same with
> your Nick Carters: they were not only more hardboiled than the
> usual entries in the series, but it was amazing that one could
> recognize it being written by you. I forget the details, but I
> was amazed how an author did get away with this.

As I said to someone earlier, VOICE is the heart and soul of writing. Apparently my voice is distinctive enough it comes through even in work for hire. Besides, I'm stubborn.
> As for how I got away with it, usually work-for-hire editors really didn't
give a damn what you wrote as long as it was reasonably like the originals, moved fast, and hit the deadline. They didn't much care if it was better than the original writer or worse. As they say in Hollywood, "They don't want it good, they want it Tuesday."

> Nick Carters were no problem, so many authors wrote them there was no
uniform style anyway. In the case of The Shadow, no one else was writing them for Belmont. What happened was that they had hired the man himself, Walter Gibson, and had hated the book he gave them. It was published anyway
(see what I mean?) but after that they came to me and told me to update the stories, make the Shadow sort of a James Bond, but keep the Shadow characters. So I kept as many of them as I could, then added new ones when I needed them.

The only problem we ever had was the two Super Mack Bolans Gayle and I did together. It is impossible to reproduce Don Pendelton's style, and they really didn't like our style, so we only did two.

> On a lighter note, I'd very interested to hear more about your
> work for hire: how did you get the jobs, how was it to write
> them, were they very quick jobs etc.

I got them through my agent, through contacts, from referals. It's always tough to write books that are not your own, they were usually on short deadline, and they were written as fast as I could write them. (I always made my books the best they could be, no matter what the deadline and whose name went on them. It's a matter of pride, being as true to yourself as you could be within the imposed limitations.) They usually took three weeks to a month. Since the pay was small for most such jobs, any longer would not have paid.

The only semi-work for hire I did on which I spent a lot of time, The Three Investigators juveniles, paid far, far better and so justified the effort.
(It wasn't so much the writing on these books that took so long, it was getting the idea and outline to be approved. And I said SEMI-work for hire because on these I was paid royalties---I still get royalties on them.)


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 16 May 2005 EDT