Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Harry Whittington Says . . .

While rummaging through some old papers yesterday, I found a couple of things I'd photocopied from an old edition of The Mystery Writer's Handbook. Both were short articles by Harry Whittington, one on "Why I Write" and one on "The Paperback Original." Here's something he says about the latter:

"If you want to sell to Gold Medal Books, don't read Gold Medal and ape them. Read Faulkner, Hemingway, Dostoevski and Scott Fitzgerald, O'Hara and Herman Wouk.

If you read Gold Medal Books, you might hit a market several pay grades lower. In order to hit those markets, read Gold Medal. But to hit Gold Medal, read Faulkner. Don't read Graphic Books to write their mysteries. Read Fred Brown, and Cornell Woolrich, and Chandler and Huggins."

10 comments:

Scott Cupp said...

Words to live by. I always knew the Richard Prather was rewriting THE CONFIDENCE MAN in the Shell Scott books! Whittington at least confirms it. And the Faulkneresque elements of the Vin Packer books! There are theses awaiting that exploration.

Bill said...

Somewhere a graduate student is salivating.

Richard said...

Are we supposed to read William Faulkner or John Faulkner? : )

Bill said...

I guess if you read John's Gold Medal Books, you'd be aiming for a lower-paying market, like all those Whittington sold so many backwoods books to.

Carl V. said...

Unrelated, but I thought you needed to see this for your Paris obsession. She looks good!!!

http://icydk.com/2006/10/23/paris-hilton-in-vogue-paris/

Bill said...

Thanks, Carl!

Lee Goldberg said...

When he refers to Huggins, is he talking about Roy Huggins??

Bill said...

I'd guess "yes." I don't have the date of the edition of the book I copied, but it must have been early 1950s. That would put it in the right time-frame.

Juri said...

Just who would you have to read to be published by a big hardback house, say, Farrar & Strauss?

Todd Mason said...

Inasmuch as Farrar, Strauss picked up Fritz Leiber's GATHER, DARKNESS!, Juri, I guess you read Lovecraft and Heinlein...and then write better than they did.