A few random notes this month.
Every writer has inspirations. If they’re lucky, they get to meet them, and the meeting isn’t a letdown. Mary Higgins Clark died a few weeks ago. The bestselling suspense writer needs no introduction, but her magazine does. Running for a handful of issues in the 1990s, Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine included fiction and regular features about mystery writers and their characters. I hadn’t thought too much about trying to write any mysteries before I read the magazine. In my undisciplined way I didn’t get around to writing or publishing any mysteries until about twenty years later, and yes I have written a few with LGBT characters (but I wasn’t thinking about that then.) I met Clark at the 2012 Mystery Writers of America convention in Cleveland; I managed to be third in line and heard the person in front of me gush about the magazine and heard Clark talk about how much fun it had been to do. I met her and she was as nice as I could have expected.
I stumbled across Mike Resnick’s writing by accident about 1991 in a bookstore. I’ve always been a geek on U.S. Presidents and I saw a paperback with a picture of a triumphant Tom Dewey holding a newspaper with the headline “Truman Defeats Dewey” on the cover. The book was an anthology titled “Alternate Presidents,” edited by Mike Resnick and Martin H. Greenberg. I’d never heard of either of them.
I bought the book. I loved it, including Resnick’s story; an alternate history where Theodore Roosevelt was elected to a third term in 1912. In the next few years I bought several anthologies Resnick edited or co-edited as well as the very funny fantasy novels (starting with “Stalking the Unicorn”) featuring John Justin Mallory. And I gorged on his short stories and his writing about writing.
I met Mike Resnick briefly at a convention in 2016, and had him sign one of his collections. He was a little surprised to see the book, as it had been published years before. I briefly got to mention that his work (especially his funny and “against the grain” stories) were an influence on my own writing. I have since heard, from a friend, of Resnick’s generosity with new writers whose stories he bought for publication. Resnick also passed away very recently.
So, I’ll recommend the stories Mary Higgins Clark published as “My Gal Sunday” and Resnick’s story “Malish,” (very reminiscent of Damon Runyon or Steven Vincent Benet) as starting points. And, if you meet any of your inspirations, don’t forget to say thank you. Who knows; you may wind up inspiring someone yourself.
And one last tidbit: Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi probably doesn’t need any introduction (except to me), but it has come to light that he was definitely gay-friendly. He told his players and staff that if they made any comments about any of the gay players on the team (there were several, including Dave Kopay who later wrote a memoir) that he would toss them out. Lombardi’s attitude may have stemmed from the fact that his own brother was gay. Keep in mind; Lombardi was saying all of this in the 1960s. Over fifty years ago.
Jeff Baker blogs about reading and writing sci-fi, fantasy and horror and other sundry matters on or about the thirteenth of each month. He also met David Gerrold once, but has not met J. Scott Coatsworth yet. He has a story in the upcoming anthology “The Necronomicon of Solar Pons.” He lives happily in Wichita, Kansas with his husband Darryl.