Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Cranky heirs

Some of you may remember that I've compiled a book of Finnish pulp fiction. It should come out soon, but there are now problems. I wanted to reprint a total unknown who had a rather good private eye story in the late fifties. I didn't even know if the name was a pseudonym or not, but the surname was rare. The phone numbers for the possible relatives were restricted, but I was able to find one with Google: a young guy, playing hockey in a junior team.

I wrote to the coach of the team and asked him to deliver the message. Then one day the father of the hockey player phoned me. He was the grandson of the said writer. He hadn't read any of his granddad's stories,which seemed pretty weird to me.

The phone numbers were restricted because his father's ex-wife (father had died a while back) made harrassment calls. It turned out that this son felt pretty much okay if there were a reprint, but there's an evil and greedybrother. The son I talked to said that he fears that his brother - with whom he doesn't communicate at all - gets ideas that there's lots of money in this. I said that there would be some sort of a payment for the reprint rights, but nothing fancy. The man said he'll talk with his sister - who obviously is a sane person - and will get back to me. (Nothing has happened so far, though.)

I asked around some people who have done similar collections of old stuff and found out that it's not actually a simple issue: heirs don't necessarily represent the rights of a writer. A writer may have donated his rights to charity or something like that.

I don't think, though, that was the case with a Finnish guy who penned two dozen short stories just to make some quick money and abandoned writing soon after that. I don't think he ever dreamed about getting his stuff back to print, even in fifty years' time. I hope that the thing resolves and I'll manage to make justice for a forgotten author.

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