Talk With John D. Macdonald

Ed Gorman’s interview with John D. Macdonald from the 1980s was reprinted recently by MysteryFile. It seems like a voice you don’t hear anymore: short, sharp and knowing.

Marion Zimmer Bradley said at a Darkover convention that to get good as a writer, you put down and throw away your first million words. Macdonald managed to do that within four months.

It was nervous, but not too bad.  I had four months of terminal leave pay at lieutenant colonel rates starting in September of 1945, ending in January 1946.  I wrote eight hundred thousand words of short stories in those four months, tried to keep thirty of them in the mail at all times, slept about six hours a night and lost twenty pounds.  I finally had to break down and take a job, but then the stories began to sell.  I was sustained by a kind of stubborn arrogance.  Those bastards out there had bought one story ?Interlude in India,? and I was going to force them to buy more by making every one of them better than the previous one.  I had the nerves of a gambler and an understanding wife.

But what I liked best was that he took no gruff, even from Ed.

Does Travis have any secrets we should know about?

No.

Will you describe a typical day for Travis when he?s eighty-five?

Nope.

(h/t) Lee Goldberg