Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: crossover appearances

From: Karin Montin (
Date: 03 Nov 2007

Great story, Rich, as usual. Thanks!


At 03:12 AM 03/11/2007 +0000, Richard Moore wrote:

>--- In, "capnbob@..." <capnbob@...>
>> Didn't William Campbell Gault have two of his series characters
>appear in the same book? Joe Puma
>> and Brock Callahan?
>> Robert S. Napier, author
>Yes, it was THE CANA DIVERSION (1982) which I will never forget
>because Gault got me booed at a Bouchercon over it. Both Gault and
>I had sold novels to the Raven House line published by
>Worldwide/Harlequin around 1980. The publishers thought they could
>establish a subscription service for these novels as they did their
>Romances. The fact that they failed to do this in science fiction
>with Laser Books did not discourage them.
>The books would also be published for news stand/book store sales.
>The publisher was committed to a certain date for the subscription
>deliveries but some market research indicated designs would die
>lousy in the street on the news stand. So the company published a
>subscription edition but held off on distribution to the book racks
>until a redesign could be accomplished.
>So Gault and I had copies of our books but no one other than the
>trusting fools who subscribed early had ever seen the novels. Gault
>had sold them a trunk novel (THE BAD SAMARITAN) but had written THE
>CANA DIVERSION fresh, and I think it was the best of his later day
>novels. He and I shared an editor and ended up being penpals
>because the editor asked me to write Gault. I had been very
>enthusiastic when I heard Gault was among the authors and she asked
>me to write him because he felt he was completely forgotten by the
>mystery world, which he had left more than 15 years before. Believe
>it or not, she thought he needed encouragement.
>So we began to correspond quite a bit via snail mail and I urged him
>to attend the 1981 (or was it 1982) Milwaukee Bouchercon. Milwaukee
>had been his hometown and it was a natural place to celebrate his
>return to mysteries. Neither of us had ever been to a mystery
>convention before but figured we could pal together no matter who
>else showed up.
>Back in those early days the Bouchercons were small groups--350
>folks is my guess for Milwaukee--with the mix being die-hard mystery
>fans and collectors and a few local walk-ins. Later on an old
>pulpster like Gault could appear and be littled noted by 80% of the
>attendees (Dorothy B. Hughes attended several conventions without
>notice or tribute) but in 1981 (or 1982) in Milwaukee most of the
>attendees knew exactly who he was. As happened with all the old
>writers in the early days of Bouchercon, they were shocked and
>flattered at anyone knowing them and dumbfounded at meeting people
>who knew their career in depth. Such a contrast to today when some
>first book writers bitch about not getting a better panel.
>So Gault arrives in Milwaukee and there is an event put on by the
>Milwaukee Press Club and Gault is given a special award. When Bill
>graduated from high school, he managed about a year in college and
>then went to work in a shoe factory. He worked in that shoe factory
>until his story sales made that check unnecessary. The press club
>gave him an award that featured the sole of a shoe. Tough old Bill
>was blown away. That and the detailed knowledge of his work by so
>many fans touched him deeply.
>Back in 1981 (or was it 1982) publishers didn't know Bouchercon or
>mystery conventions from beans and most of the writers who showed up
>were fans themselves, in the area, or had been courted by the
>organizers. At the Milwaukee convetion, the big name was Mickey
>Spillane, who came because he wanted to come and because Miller Lite
>paid his way as a promotional appearance.
>Gault had expressed mixed feelings to me about Spillane because
>Mickey had always claimed to have been a pulp writer and none of the
>old pulp writers believed the claim. He had written one and two
>pagers for comic books, which met some requirement or other for
>mailing privileges, and this was a sharp drop from the prestige of
>the pulps (at least in the view of the old pulp writers).
>But Mickey, bless his heart, knew exactly who Gault was and was very
>generous with the comments. Both had been published by Dutton. It
>turned out Mickey was a big fan of Fred Brown, another Dutton
>writer, who was a long-time poker pal and mentor of Gault's. I have
>to say that regardless of anyone's view of Mickey's achievements as
>a writer, he was a standup guy and in every way a class act.
>One other writer in Milwaukee was Helen McCloy, who was the guest of
>honor. McCloy is not much remembered today but she was the first
>woman to serve as president of the Mystery Writers of America
>(1950). When McCloy spoke to the convention I was seated next to
>Gault. Most of her talk dealt with her ex-husband the late Davis
>Dresser, better known as Brett Halliday. The same Raven House line
>about to publish novels by Gault and myself also was republishing
>the first Michael Shayne novel DIVIDEND ON DEATH with the promise of
>bringing them all back into print. This never happened and I am not
>certain that the one Shayne novel was ever published beyond the
>small printing for the subscribers.
>It is true that McCloy and Dresser had been a mystery genre power
>couple for years doing joint book reviews, founding Torquil Books
>and a literary agency but it is also true that they divorced in the
>early 1960s and Dresser remarried.
>Gault had known Dresser after he moved to Santa Barbara (and after
>the divorce). He had also complained to me that Dresser had
>approached him at one point about leaving his current publisher for
>Dresser's Torquil (distributed by Dodd, Mead) and when he said no,
>Dresser as a reviewer panned every Gault novel after that.
>So as we listened to Helen McCloy ignore her own accomplishments
>(for which she was being honored) to praise her ex-husband, Gault
>leaned over to me and whispered "Do you think she's forgotten about
>the divorce?" It was all I could do not to burst into laughter.
>Ah, but I am forgetting what started me on this journey of
>recollection. So we reach the point in the convention when William
>Campbell Gault is on the stage after talking briefly about his
>career and asks for questions. As is often the case, no one jumps
>out with an immediate question and for friends I like to jump into
>the silence and give them something that will stimulate
>So I helpfully asked Gault: "Could you talk about your latest novel
>where Brock the Rock Callahan investigates the murder of your other
>private eye Joe Puma?"
>Now let me point out here that Puma is dead before THE CANA
>DIVERSION is more than four or five pages old and the death is
>mentioned on the novel's blurb. Any reviewer would mention Puma's
>death without worrrying about a spoiler alert--and when the novel
>finally appeared on the stands this proved to be true. But at the
>time of this convention the only two people who had seen the novel
>beyond the line's subscribers were Gault and myself.
>So my comment was to the audience (dominated by die-hard mystery
>fans) a very shocking statement as many of them preferred the Joe
>Puma novels to those featuring Callahan. All of this possibility
>escaped me as I made my hopefully helpful question. I only realized
>what I had done when I heard the gasps from the audience as I said
>the words "...the murder of your other private eye Joe Puma."
>As the gasp went through the room, Gault looked at me with a
>knowing, evil glint in his eye and put his finger to his lips as he
>went "Shssss..."
>And at that moment I was booed and hissed like I have never been
>before or since. And there was no opportunity to explain. I was a
>bum who violated the spoiler rules. Gault got a huge kick out of it.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 03 Nov 2007 EDT