Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Stephen Marlowe and my curse

Prolific paperbacker and historical novelist Stephen Marlowe died last Friday. This is no news to anyone following the vintage hardboiled scene, but I just wanted to say that now I finally know I'm jinxed. I've killed several old writers and authors by sending them letters and lately e-mails asking for interviews and general questions about their careers: Hugh Cave, Jack Williamson, Bruce Cassiday... and now Stephen Marlowe.

We changed some e-mails two months back and I got his permission to use a Chet Drum story for Isku, and earlier this week I thought I'd send him an e-mail asking for an interview for my Pulp fanzine. His wife answered that the offer is kind, but Stephen is in the hospital. He'll recover and then we'll see about the interview, the wife said. Two days later I heard he was dead. I'm so sorry.

This has been known as the Ashley curse, due to Mike Ashley who performs similar feats, but there's a subcategory called the Nummelin curse.

I haven't actually read much by Stephen Marlowe, but he was consistently entertaining, if nothing else. His Blonde Bait, reissued by Stark House Press last year, is a very good James M. Cain -ish story set in a ski resort. Try it if you like classic hardboiled noir. If I had a publisher of my own, I'd publish a new translation of Blonde Bait. (It was published in Finnish in the early sixties, under the title Vaaleaverikkö syöttinä, and is easily locatable in the second hand book shops, if you want to try it. You should.)

Bill Crider has a nice slide show for him in his blog.

PS. I don't know if Clayton Matthews is dead, but his wife, Patricia Matthews, died rather recently. I interviewed Mr. Matthews four years ago.

No comments: