Saturday 28 December 2013

Gordon Ray Young - Author, Cowboy - Autobiography in Saturday Evening Post, March 7, 1942

Gordon Young was one of the top writers for Adventure magazine. Here's an auto-biographical short article from him on that originally appeared in the March 7, 1942 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.

Gordon Ray Young
Gordon Ray Young

GORDON RAY YOUNG, having written his first Post serial with Tall in the Saddle, goes back over his own early days to see what makes a writer of Western stories:

" I regret that I’m no youngster, but I’m glad that as a kid I caught a fading glimpse of the Old West, I was born in Ray County, Mo., 1886, near the home and stamping ground of Jesse James and grew up thinking of him as a hero, though later information modified that. Forty-two years ago I began working through the summers on the XY, owned by Fred Harvey, known as 'the eating-house man.’ His ranch lay about thirty miles west of Granada, Colorado, near the Kansas border. Mr. Harvey also owned a big alfalfa ranch at Granada, and the cows were brought in off the range for winter feeding. Such cowboys as stuck it out rode fence with a sack of staples and a hammer instead of a six-shooter, or loaded hayracks from the stacks and scattered the hay among the herds. Going to school seemed the lesser bad job.

"In school only two things interested me: girls and poetry. I can count a cribbage hand at a glance, but I couldn’t then, and I can’t yet, add a column of figures and get the same answer twice. I’m not much better at spelling. I took up public speaking.

“ I had no more interest in public speaking than I had in raising spinach, but I knew a lot of Kipling and through the summer I’d tell it to the cows. In 1906 I won the state oratorical contest at Colorado Springs— and haven’t made a public speech since.

"After three years of riding I heard about the ocean and got curious—about the South Seas particularly. That is another story; I have since had seven or eight books published out of that one story. My father had a friend who was an editor on the Rocky Mountain News, and the friend put me to work at $5 per week.

" The star reporter was a very quiet young man who never took any interest in me; yet, in a way, he is responsible for the thirty-odd years that I have been writing, I know—I saw the check—that he got as much as $50 for something; and in one month he had five poems and stories in national magazines. The News was proud and gave him a writeup. He wrote as if it wasn't any trouble at all; as if he merely tipped the ink bottle and the words smoothly flowed out onto the paper. He still writes that way. His name is Damon Runyon.

“Once hunting was a passion. Now I won’t shoot at much of anything but black spots on paper—and sometimes miss them. Any marksman will know what I mean. Revolvers are a hobby and I have some of the best. I believe I am the only fellow to blow up a .357 magnum revolver with a reload, or any other way. It was wholly unintentional. The manufacturer traded me a new gun because he wanted to see what the wrecked one looked like. Not pretty; not when you think of where all the flying pieces might have hit.”

Monday 23 December 2013

Merry Christmas to you all and a happy New Year

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the readers of this blog.
Wish you all many more happy years with friends, family and fiction of your choice.
Pulp Christmas Postcard courtesy EBay
If you want to get the postcard, go to 

Saturday 21 December 2013

On account of a woman - short story by Theodore Roscoe

This short story by Theodore Roscoe originally appeared in the January, 1936 issue of Adventure. It's set in the Middle East, and is similar in structure to the Thibaud Corday stories. The ending is different though.

Two companions are working in the Middle East when they come across a very striking statue of a woman. They steal it away from the tribe that guards it and the inevitable chase happens and the pursuers catch up to them. What happens next?

On account of a woman by Theodore Roscoe (Originally appeared in Adventure, January, 1936]
On account of a woman by Theodore Roscoe (Originally appeared in Adventure, January, 1936]
Download the story here.

If you like the story and want to read more like this, I'd suggest getting the Thibaud Corday stories which are available from Altus Press in book and ebook format.



Saturday 14 December 2013

The Seal of Jenghis Khan - short story by H. Bedford-Jones

H. Bedford-Jones was the King of the Pulps before Erle Stanley Gardner took over, writing more than a million words of fiction a year. The Seal of Jenghis Khan is fairly typical of his writing style, building a story on historical fact and lore around the legendary Genghis Khan.

The Seal of Jenghis Khan by H. Bedford-Jones (Originally appeared in Adventure, 10 June, 1923]
The Seal of Jenghis Khan by H. Bedford-Jones (Originally appeared in Adventure, 10 June, 1923]

Download the story here.

Saturday 7 December 2013

Arthur D. Howden Smith's Swain the Viking in his last adventure

Arthur D. Howden Smith's best writing is generally considered to be the Grey Maiden series. I personally prefer his stories of Swain the Viking that are based on the character of Swein Asleifsson as recorded in the Orkneyinga saga.

Adventure magazine inspired Robert E. Howard, and I feel sure that at least some of that inspiration came from these stories.

Swain's End - Adventure, 20 January, 1924
Swain's End - Adventure, 20 January, 1924

The story you are about to read, Swain's End, is the logical ending of the series. It's a fitting end for a hero's saga, and events proceed with the inevitability of classical Greek tragedy where the fates pull the threads.

The prose style might strike you as a little stilted. Stick with it.

You have spoken as becomes a friend," said Swain. “Likewise, your advice is sound. If it were not for the honorable obligation upon me to slay Olvir Rosta I would heed what you say and bide at home as becomes a man who is past his youth, and whose strength is wasted away in the wet work and the fighting. But I do not doubt I shall catch Olvir on this cruise, for he is too near to escape me. When that is done I shall have no more occasion for viking-faring, unless it be on your account. Therefore I promise you that this shall be my last cruise. I will endeavor to win as much fame as possible on it, and afterward I will leave off war-going.”

“Ah, well, comrade,” returned the Jarl sadly, “you promise all that I have a right to expect of you, but it is difficult to know which comes first—death or lasting fame.”

Download the story here. It's 40 pages long, so you might want to print it before reading.

I wish someone would collect these stories in book form - Howden Smith and Swain deserve better than to be forgotten.

To get the first five stories in the series, you could get the book Swain's Saga. It'd definitely be cheaper (and a lot easier) than getting the 5 issues of Adventure where these appeared.

Monday 2 December 2013