Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Michael AKA Mike Hervey, pt. I

My forth-coming book on British paperbackers doesn't really cover the writers who specialized in short stories. There are two reasons for this: there were only few translations from those who wrote only short stories, and then again I haven't had enough resources to check the magazines that could've carried British writers' stories. The American pulpsters were covered in great length by mainly a one magazine, the Lahti-based Seikkailujen Maailma (The World of Adventures; see this post in English by me), but none were specialized in British pulps.

I do have sketchy entries for some writers from whom I found only short stories. One of them is Michael AKA Mike Hervey. Not many have heard of him during the past 30 or 40 years. He had lots of stories and serials translated in Finnish pulp and other fictionmags in the fifties. The magazine called Salapoliisilukemisto (The Detective Digest or some such) had issues that had only stories by Hervey in them!

Now, who was Mike Hervey? He seems a pretty enigmatic character in his own right. He wrote lots of cheap paperbacks for mushroom publishers like Forsyte and Mitre in the 1940s and 1950s. Many of his books are one-act plays or skimpy short story collections. The books have hardboiled titles like Dumb Witness or No Excuse for Murder. (The book in the picture is from 1946, hardback from Alliance, yet another publisher I've never heard of.) This guy wrote a lot.

But not for a great many years. Seems like his first book (Save Your Pity) came out in 1943 and his last one Crime a la Carte in 1953. His career lasted only ten years, yet he's said to have written 3,500 short stories.

There's something fishy about Mike Hervey. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia tells us more. He was born in 1915, but he told everyone he was born in 1920. His birth name was apparently Mark Hockman, but he used the name Mark Hoffman. Then he changed it into Michael Hervey. And then, in the early fifties, he moved to Australia. Therein he edited a magazine called The Mike Hervey Detective Monthly Magazine that a publisher called Transport put out. The magazine seems to have contained only stories by Hervey himself. (The Finnish digest I mentioned earlier probably picked its stories from this magazine, and only hell knows how the stories found their way into Finland.) And then it stopped in 1953. (The years are uncertain.) The SFF encyclopedia tells us Hervey died in 1979. What did he do for the last 26 years of his life?

And what was with the name changes and all? Was Hervey a swindler? Changed names to deceive those whom he owed money to? Or was he just a guy down on his luck who couldn't find any reasonable way to make his living? Anyone know anything about Mike Hervey? Did he change names again living in Australia and write something entirely else?

How are his stories then? I'll get back to them in a later post, now I'm slightly drunk and getting soon to get to bed.

1 comment:

The Pulp Fiction Reader said...

He moved to Australia with his wife and son, and died there. He continued to write books and short stories while in Australia, too. I've indexed over 400 short stories. I know of many other sources, but indexing all the newspapers and small press magazines is not a possibility for me.