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Saturday, December 1, 2018

THE MARK OF CAIN PART 2

THE MARK OF CAIN 
PART 2
Never underestimate the reach of a personal blog. The blog posts I write are purely for my own entertainment. I enjoy doing it. Occasionally, others with the same types of niche interests will comment, but mostly I’m posting into the dark void of the Internet, with no expectations of being read.

Occasionally, however, I get a pleasant surprise. When my prolific writer friend Gerald Hammond (best known for his Keith Calder gunsmith and hunting dogs mysteries) passed away, I was moved to write an appreciation of his work and our friendship—which went back to the days of written letters and international postage since Gerald lived in Scotland.

Two years after I posted the article, I received an email from a young woman living in Australia. Gerald Hammond was her grandfather. She knew virtually nothing about him as she had immigrated to Australia with her parents when she was a small child. Consequently, she never had the opportunity to interact with him. 

Somehow, she came across my post with my profile of Gerald and why he was special to me. Reading it, she told me, brought her to tears. She had known virtually nothing about her grandfather, but now felt she had a renewed and strong connection to him.

Wow…That blog post certainly turned out to be worth writing.

A few years ago, I wrote about the Hardman private eye series written by Ralph Dennis. The series was a hidden gem, which all but the most hardcore hardboiled mystery fans had forgotten. My good friend Lee Goldberg (a terrific writer in his own right and big mystery genre fan) had never heard of the series before.

However, after reading my blog post extolling the virtues of the series, he decided to give the books a try. Lee loved them so much, he was inspired to start a whole publishing company in order to pursue the rights to the Hardman books and eventually republish them. His efforts resulted in the founding of Brash Books, who will be publishing the entire Hardman series starting this month.

Just another personal blog post working unexpected magic.

Recently, I wrote a fairly extensive post (CLICK HERE) about the twelve book men’s adventure paperback original series Saigon Commandos, and the series author Jonathan Cain (aka: Nicholas Cain).

I included a lot of information on the twenty other books Cain wrote for various series under various pseudonyms. To round out the article, I tracked down as much information as I could about Cain. This was difficult since he had a minimal virtual footprint with some obviously conflicting information. 

I even had trouble finding a photo of Cain, but eventually lifted one from an obscure article detailing Cain’s personal book collecting habits.

Interestingly, my research revealed Cain and I had a number of personal intersections, including some law enforcement connections and a shared editor.

I threw all of this good stuff into the article, which I figured was probably only of interest to me. However, I did share the article with members of the Men’s Adventure Paperbacks of the 70s and 80s group on Facebook—the only other individuals who might care enough about the subject to indulge me. The article was well received and generated a certain amount of comments and praise for the Saigon Commandos series. I was gratified by the response, but figured (as usual) that would be the end of any minimal impact the article might have.

I was wrong. A week later I received an email from Cain himself, who had somehow found and read the post I wrote about him.

Paul…Your recent article earlier this month, (Mark of Cain), was a wonderful compilation of my efforts as a paperback writer back in the 80's. I didn't think anyone cared, after all these years, and it actually brought a tear to my eye recalling all those words typed (and the 31 years I spent in the City of Angels before "retiring" to Red Rock Country). And thank you for your service to the LAPD—an agency that has always held a soft spot in my heart...Nicholas Cain

Well, that was pretty cool. I wrote back, and we found we shared more common ground than either of us expected. Since then we have exchanged a number of emails, excerpts of which I’ve included below with Nick’s permission...

The attached publicity photo is quite old—I used it while seeking new writing gigs back in the mid-80's, trying to sell a couple series concepts that never went anywhere—even three screenplays my agent at the time was unable to sell. It was because they were too heavily Vietnam-themed, I believe was her reasoning at the time…

Personally, I think the publicity shot (featured at the top of this post) is major cool with its quintessential ‘80s vibe…

I'm attaching a slightly more recent photo: one where I am posing with Charlie Beck the day after he was sworn in as LAPD's new Top Cop on December 7, 2009—wow, that's over nine years ago, yet seems like...okay, it does seem like nine years ago…

Charley Beck was my police academy classmate and has been a long time friend. Because of alphabetical organization, Charlie and I appear next to each other in every photo of us going through the rigors of recruit training...

I just spent the last few hours perusing the Men's Adventure Paperbacks Facebook page—incredible! I had no idea there was such a fantastic group of fellow writers and fans. It blows my mind that copies of Saigon Commandos #1 are selling for upwards of $100 on eBay! I have no idea who would pay that amount—it would definitely have to be a "die-hard" fan, I suppose...

Always nice to realize there is still interest in the work we have done…

Lynx Books, which was publishing my Little Saigon series, went bankrupt after #4 came out. I've been thinking about self-publishing a signed, limited edition, (perhaps 1,000 hardcovers) combining Books #5 and 6 into one volume. The original manuscripts were delivered to Lynx. They were paid for, but never published. I've tried to contact Jeffrey Weiss (the publisher at the time) to sort out the legal/copyright issues, but without success, so the project has somewhat stalled. However, I would really like to see the books released before I'm planted six feet under…

I have, of course, encouraged him to keep pursuing getting the last two books in the series into print…

I wanted to (apologize and) let you know that I absolutely CRINGED when I saw the cover artwork for the "Little Saigon" books.  The editor asked me for suggestions, and I went so far as to send them one of the hard-to-get (at that time) Motor Officer patches with the Red Cross in the center, but they thought that was "too boring," and came up with the ridiculous yellow patch they ended up using despite my repeated protests

Battles over covers, titles, and opening lines have been fought (and often lost) by most of us who play in the writing sandbox at one time or another…

After I started ghostwriting some of the Able Team books for [editor] Feroze Mohammed over at Gold Eagle, I began losing my motivation—especially since I was unable to break into the mainstream of hardcovers and couldn't sell my screenplays to Hollyweird. At the time, I missed working the street, so went back on the beat, but as a private investigator in California around 1989. I was sending fraud referrals to the Dept. of Insurance and was eventually talked into coming on board as a state investigator. I worked there and a couple other state agencies for the next 14 years, eventually making Deputy Commissioner at the D.R.E.'s Enforcement Division.

After being assigned to the L.A. District Attorney's Real Estate Fraud Task Force, (circa 2006-2014), I found myself working many late nights at the Cal-BRE Squad Room in downtown Los Angeles at 4th & Broadway—even exchanging a couple midnight e-mails with Charlie Beck after he made Chief. For an old Saigon Commando, that was quite a treat. I know some street coppers don't care much for him, but Charlie will always be one of my heroes.

I've always enjoyed reading about how author Will Murray resurrected the Doc Savage series, spent time with Lester Dent's archives, and spent thousands of hours researching the Man of Bronze." I’ve always harbored this secret hope that someday—albeit probably after I was long dead and buried—some dedicated archivist would target Saigon Commandos or War Dogs or Little Saigon in much the same way. It almost feels as if, with your article, you somehow managed to keep the memory of my old, pulp paperbacks alive—and for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart...

Was my blog post on Saigon Commandos worth writing? Do I really need to ask? There should be no doubt, as it has led to a new friendship (you can never have enough of those) and a lost member of our tribe returning to the fold…

5 comments:

  1. Nick is a great guy! He commissioned the cover to my most recent Doc savage novel, Mr. Calamity. I'm glad to read that the spotlight has again fallen on him.

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  2. Paul, great article! Do you know if Cain also wrote Kane's War, as Nick Stone? I've only gotten to the first one, and that was years ago. Here is the review:
    Kane's War #1.

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  3. Joe...I asked Cain directly about Kane's War series. He replied telling me the series wasn't one which he created or wrote for...Although, like most of us, he thinks the cover art for the series is pretty cool...

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. Will Murray...That's most cool about Cain commission the cover art for one of your great Doc Savage novels...Good info...Thx...

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