Between my ears in that small kingdom of the Writing Netherworld, I’m visited by many creatures, some friendly, some insistent. When I was a young man, Jim Murray was my pal. We were spending the day at the L.A. Open. Jim was actually covering it and I was there for the endless free press buffet. The L.A. Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist was arguably the greatest sports writer in history. Golfers golfed. We chatted about the writing life and Murray confessed his great sin.
Daily, Jim Murray made people laugh or cry and this from the ridiculousness parapets of the sports page. As we hiked the lavish Republican Wetlands at the Riviera Country Club, Jim shared his one big regret in life. His life’s dream, his passion, was to be a dime detective novelist.
“Journalism was like a job in the post office for me,” Murray said, pushing back his trademark thick comic book Coke-bottle glasses as we trudged across the golf course. “Journalism was just something to pay the bills until that first book contract came through.”
Life often comes with big buts.
A wonderful wife and family came along. At Time Magazine, Jim was ordered to step out of genre and cover a sporting event. That first column skyrocketed Murray into becoming America’s top syndicated sports writer.
Jim Murray never got to write his gumshoe thrillers.
Hard to believe, but I was in therapy long ago. Why, you ask?
I’m crazy. It’s one of my best features.
Three sessions in, my therapist greets me with a stern, sensitive but hostile face. Glutton for punishment, she had requested writing samples to see what to scribble on my chart after “Whackazoid.” Before I could sit, she thumped me. Hard. In the sternum. She scolded: “It’s a SIN you’re not writing. I don’t mean newspaper columns. I mean — your novels…” Bless her kindness. She wouldn’t let up. It was a sin that I wasn’t sharing my art with the world.
It wasn’t for lack of trying. Over the decades, The Fortress Literary rebuffed my assaults, pouring cauldrons of boiling oil onto any query or manuscript bold enough to storm bookdom’s gates. I’ll never forget that awful gut-clutch when Doubleday bought my first novel, “Naked Came the Sasquatch.” All the DD suits loved it, calling daily, doubled over with laughter. I was on the penthouse elevator to book deals, backslaps and fat advances. Drat my darn sixth sense. The Monday Doubleday’s president was to sign my fat contract, I got the call. Not reading the book, Prez just decided no first books by first authors. Period. Adios. Broke my heart. Punted.
Sent it out to other publishers. They loved it. One major suit called. Me. At home. “Sasquatch” was the best book she “…had read in the last two years and probably the best book (she’d) read in the next two…” But, she couldn’t publish it.
“You don’t write like anybody else…”
I countered. Isn’t that — The Point? (Unless you’re pumping out 142-page factory manuals on water beds. Water… goes… inside…)
I met another editor at a convention. She ran TSR, the SciFi house that produced “Dungeons and Dragons.” She was set to launch a major new mainstream wing. “Naked” was to be the vanguard of TSR’s new publishing empire. I was to be the emperor. Signed with her. She dashed off to have a baby. Never came back. New editor comes in. He hates me. I’m not too fond of him, either, the creepy little booger-eating moron. Four months later, he’s fired. I’m now a published author with TSR and those three initials might as well have been KKK because TSR is a fantasy sword, pointy ears & fairy dust genre where all the characters are named Zoothar the Zootharian.
Ask Sylvester the Cat to say that fast 10 times…
My own sarcasm coming back as instant karma? Maybe. I spent not years, but decades, trying to shake the TSR scar, get published and reacquire an agent. (Mine died; I have an alibi.) All those writing awards? The best-selling success of the romantic/comedy adventure/horror “Sasquatch”? Didn’t matter.
A year ago, I started my own publishing company, John Boston Books. I had accumulated so many manuscripts, I’d just publish them myself. Last Friday, in JBB’s Fillmore office, we pushed The Button and the first of many novels and books was launched: “Ghosts, Ghouls, Myths & Monsters — The Most Haunted Town in America.” It’s the first of three volumes. “Volume II: Vampires, Bigfoot, Gum Punks & Monsters” — launches early February. I’ll be putting out a book every four to six weeks in 2022 and beyond — including the sequel to “Sasquatch” — “Naked Came the Clownpire.” Or maybe it’s “Naked Came the Novelist” or maybe “Naked Came the Clownsquatch” because I haven’t decided on the final title yet.
Visit the site below. Sign up for the newsletter at [email protected] As our motto cheerily suggests: “It’s a Perfect Day to Read a John Boston Book…” Like “Melancholy Samurai.” Or the “SCV Monsters” one. Go. Buy some. Write nice reviews. Shower shameless five-star reviews like kisses on a baby.
OK. So. This is where YOU guys come in.
That Doubleday slight years ago wasn’t just on me. It was on the entire Santa Clarita Valley. For that, I intend to run every godless East Coast publishing house screaming into the Hudson River. As Conan the Barbarian once correctly noted when asked The Meaning Of Life:
“To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women!”
Spread the word. Forge weapons. Saddle horses. Boil water and tear up sheets for bandages. BUY MORE BOOKS. Galloping through the SCV countryside along our way toward Fifth Avenue, we’ll pluck a few sheep, set some villages on fire, crush enemies and catch some cool vibe lamentations. It’ll be fun.
We’re coming for New York City.
And we’re not taking any prisoners…
The SCV’s John Boston is the most prolific humorist/satirist in world history. Visit johnbostonbooks.com — OR —