Re: RARA-AVIS: "William Arden" and the Three Investigators

From: Dennis Lynds (
Date: 20 May 2005

> Dennis, how did you come to write for that series? Did you already know
> Robert Arthur or someone involved with it, or did they approach you cold?

    Bill, as usual, it was a matter of knowing the right persaon, and being in the right place at the right time. Arthur wasn't well after the first 9 books, and ideas were coming more and more slowly (As anyone who has tried finds out, juvenile book ideas are damned hard to think up.) So he approached his old friend Leo Margulies at Renown Publications, whose only mag at the time was MSMM, for the names of writers who had published in MSMM, particu;larly those who had ghosted the Mike Shayne novelettes and proven they could pick up other writers styles. Leo gave him my name, and Bob contacted me. We had known each other vaguely through Leo and MSMM. I had to prove to Random that I could do a Three Investigators, and since royalties were involved, unusal for that kind of work, I did so. Bob liked MOANING CAVE, and so did Random. LAUGHING SHADOW was the second.

> Did you like writing young adult mysteries?

    Not particularly. They were damn hard, mainly because the two editors, Walter Retan and Jennie Frisse (Later Jennie Fanelli), were extremely hard to please with an idea and an outline. Sometimes I had to write the outline five or six times before approval, and then always had to rewrite the manuscript. (Many years later Gayle took a shot at the Crimebuster Series and had exactly the same problem. It drove her crazy.) There were even ideas Jenny NEVER approved. I still have one in the drawer. The writing itself was even difficult because you were so limited in vocabulary, situations, violence, etc.

And why did they come out
> under the William Arden name, when you were doing the Kane Jackson series
> at the same time? You mentioned publishers wanting to keep series
> separate, but here was a guy writing for kids and adults at the same time.

    That was why---adult and juvenile fiction had no connection in Random's mind, and I was tired of new pseudonyms. Since I was already writing the Arden's, I just used the same name.
> (same copy I've had for 25 years), which has all the required situations,
> but throws in a lot of unusual stuff I wasn't expecting: anthropology and
> archaeology and mention of the peopling of the Americas; some Mongol
> history and an introduction to Genghis Khan and his descendants; talk
> about the president (Nixon) and his diplomatic relations with China; a
> visit to a hobo jungle; and a young guitar-playing hippy who encourages
> people to free themselves from their possessions. It must have opened the
> eyes of some of the kids who read it. It wasn't set in some generic place
> and time completely divorced from reality.

    Well, a person needs to have some reason to write other than money. At least, I do. I write about SOMETHING, and work-for-hire is no different. Jenny knocked down a few things, but not too many.

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 20 May 2005 EDT