BE: During your writing career, you had some 4 million or so words published in what was considered the sex market, or adult field. That was around the 1960's,wasn't it?
CAN: And the 70's. Actually, I wanted to write science fiction, but I was advised to write for the men's magazines, which included the girlie magazines and a bit later the adult pocket books. This was the "pulp" field when I started writing.
BE: Can you tell me something about your experience in that market?
CAN: Where should I start? As writer, editor, publisher/packager of pocket books?
BE: That's an impressive list.
CAN: Not as impressive as it sounds. It all fell out of the simple beginnings. I wanted to be a writer. And that led me down a path that ends here. And now. Before we go any further, I would like to somewhat "define" this term "adult"fiction. In the early 50's Mike Hammer was considered rather fast stuff with the ladies wiggling their bodies and tongues at him as fast as he could ram hat on his head and get outta de room. By the early 60's, when I started writing, the thrusting tongues extended to thrusting hips grinding at one another. You could get naked and give a word picture of a female body and tell about her " womanhood."But you had to keep away from graphic details. The curtain fluttered over any graphic descriptions. Oh, you could have them there undulating naked bodies. Breasts could be fondled and kissed, but nothing too much beyond that. The four letter words, at this time, were no-nos. Naked bodies. Even descriptions of the feelings surrounding orgasms had to be colored in nice little statements like: "the volcano exploded within her like...etc. "
BE: You have indicated in our private conversations that there were some editorial guidelines insofar as how much sexual content--
CAN: Oh, yes. Of course. One publisher indicated it was necessary to have a"sex" scene every 20 pages. "What you wanna do, put us outta business?"he would scream. So the 20 page rule worked--for a short while. If you followed this rule you could tell just about any story you wanted.
CAN: Well ... I could write books like TWO TIMING TART under John Davidson; LOVE ME TO DEATH with Alex Blake as the author. Both mysteries, private-eye stories. LOST CITY OF THE DAMNED by Alex Rivere' was adventure/fantasy. THE CASTING COUCHERS by Stu Rivers-- about the Hollywood Movie Industry. BODIES FOR SALE by John Davidson had ShowBiz in the gangster world. Over the years I used much of these same plot types to write other books, under other pennames. "Lost City" inspired such alternates as: " Tropic of Passion" & "Sex on Fire" both by John Davidson.
BE: These were rewrites?
CAN: No. I just considered them "plotwise" the same type of books. THE CASTING COUCHERS was reused, plot-wise, several times, notable in SEX QUEEN. The basic plot was: hero forced by the Hollywood powers to make it sexually with the aging actress (Monroe type) even though he was getting involved with a young starlet. Old star fades out while starlet's career blooms. All of which gets resolved in the end. It was an easy plot to--
BE:We'regetting somewhat off the track. You were talking about the 20 page rule. You implied it didn't last long. How'd that change?
CAN: Well, I kept being told to keep more focus on the sexual interplay. I didn'thave to have more sex scenes, but they could be "seductive" and/or focused on the sexual tease.
BE: Could you give us an example?
CAN: Well, you have this girl who ain't no virgin. She's wearing a tight fittin' dress, very low cut, so there's a lot of bulging flesh exposed for all to see. Our hero can't get his eyes off this delicious, mouth watering sight. If she's wearing a sweater you can see the tight points of her nipples pressing up against the material. Our hero can't unglue his eyes, nor the reader's mind, off her most erotically stimulating biological points of interest--so to speak. One would think he was talking to her breasts.... You use the continual tease so the reader keeps with you through the more routine story development paragraphs.
BE:In other words, you use the tease on to keep the reader hooked line by line.
CAN: [Nodding] Nasty work if you can do it.
BE: And that changed...in what way?
CAN: It got more erotic and the erotic more graphically detailed. Though there periods when editors told us to soft pedal the sex scenes. That was during election time. So we offered up more "message. " In fact the more sex and more message was desirable. Which is neat for the writer--assuming he/she has a message to share None the less, over time more graphic details were demanded--though "four letter words" were still out . It was simply a matter of expanding the "sex scenes" and keeping the topic focused on the sexual content.
BE: More graphic sex, more message?
CAN: Actually, after a while it worked out to more sex less message. But in these beginning years it was "spicy" novels and then...well, things simply got hotter." The first year I finished around 100 short manuscripts. My agent,Forry Ackerman, sold 24 of them during 1960; and most of the others over the next few years. With this kind of output it was necessary to use a number of pennames--even for "submitting" purposes. Publishers want it to look like different writers wrote the stories and articles in any one issue. So I would pick a byline that fit a certain style, or approach to the story; or subject matter.
BE: How did your first story get accepted and published?
CAN: An editor by the name of Larry Maddox offered to buy a story called "Flowersfor the Lady" if I was willing to retitle it "Country Boy" and make some changes.
BE: And that was published under...Alexis Charles.
CAN: Yes. The Charles is obvious. Alexis comes from my middle name: Alexander.
BE: How'd it feel to have your first story published under a penname?
CAN: A real kick. The first sale is always special, of course. The first penname is even more special. The creation of a penname is the creation of somebody who is, has, a kind of true reality.
BE: Would you explain that?
CAN: The fictional people in books are quite obvously not real. Creating a penname is creating a "real" person. And that's kinda fun. People like Carson Davis became almost real to me. He was, for more than three years, my altered ego. He expressed a lot of my ideas and concepts, mixed with what a "Carson Davis"should believe. There were, of course, differences.
BE: In what way?
CAN: Well, Carson was divorced. This made it possible for him to get involved with some of the women he interviewed.
CAN: Actually he was required, by editorial dictate, to be have intimate relations, from time to time, with the female interviewees. These women would make blunt passes at him. He usually managed to sidestep the issue, but there were times when....Well, what can I say. Carson was merely human, after all. You know, a breast in hand...and all that stuff.
BE: You make him sound quite real.
CAN: Well, in a way, he did seem so. The publisher actually got some fan mail directed to Carson Davis, asking for advice. Though I suspect at least half of that was leg-pulling. Or at best a bit of sexual fantasy from the letter writer. In any case I did a book based on the idea of letters sent to Carson Davis. [SEX FILE.] The fiction was that Carson answered these letters and got replies. Thus a case history was developed with "some" of those "exchanges." Today it would be like a Chat on the Internet, or an email exchange.
BE: Could you tell us something about the TPOH?
CAN: Actually, this was a kind of running gag between Forry and me. But it was a reality of sorts between me and my pennames. This article should, probably, becalled: "An Interview With the President of the TPOH." But...well, never mind that.
BE: What did TPOH stand for? I mean, obviously it--
CAN:Well, I was an Edgar Rice Burroughs fan. More importantly I lived in Tarzana. So as a gag, since I was using so many pen names at the time, and continued to do that throughout my career, I gave myself a "title" so to speak. I was a hack. My "business" was a group of "hacks" and I lived in Tarzana. So, thusly: TARZANA POOL OF HACKS came into existence. Silly as it sounds, it had harsh reality behind it. I was a group of "pennames" and they were a poolof hacks. A way to remind me that business came first.
BE: And that was writing.
CAN: Yes. My business was to buy 10 reams of paper (500 sheets per) and fill them up with words. I paid as little as possible for the paper, I sold every sheet I could fill with saleable words for as much money as possible. I was, in effect, in the paper selling business. I would take a sheet of typewriter paper and put it in the typewriter and type Page 1, then create off the top of your head some title, such as WHAT IT ALL ABOUT, CHARLIE? Now comes the hard part. A byline. In this case I couldn't use the name Charles Nuetzel. Albert Nuetzel might be reasonable. But that was my father's name. I could change the title, but that would be cheating and it would take time, and another sheet of paper would be breaking the rules. I was trying to do first draft writing, only. Well, where possible. To be business-like I figured I paid so much for paper, ink and stuff. So to save de money I tried not to use any more of this "stuff" than necessary. Sure, I rewrote. The trick was to attempt NOT to revise. Thus: avoid using a second sheet of paper. To complicate matters: I could write a new original page almost as fast as I could retype a page. Time and money. And, well, quite frankly they weren't payin' no million bucks for my stuff.
BE: So to avoid using another sheet of paper you picked a penname, rather than reused the "Charles"inthe title as part of the byline. Right?
CAN: I would pick a name like, say, John Davidson (before the singer came into existence and dumbed that name for me).. Once the title and the byline has been created, one drops down a few lines and begins typing as fast as they can, 'cause,remember you gotta fill pages quickly. Time is money.
BE: And how would you begin to fill them?
CAN: By typing something like: "Charlie Davis was frightened. The minute he saw the woman at the bar, he knew she'd be his for the night. Yet he was frightened. One look at that lovely, voluptuous body was enough to send the blood pumping through his manhood."
BE: [laughing] That sure sounds rustic...
CAN: You might laugh, today--
BE: No. No. It is not only the use of "manhood"--it's a bit outdated....And certainly Politically In-Correct.
CAN: I suppose so. Though "personhood" would be confusing. Consider,"Sherubbed her personhood against his personhood."
BE:Would even he/she be PC?
CAN: I imagine not. Of course things did change quite a bit over the years. In the early 60's that "manhood" thing was really pushing it. I mean: hips rubbing up against one another was just about as fer as you could go before letting the curtain quickly yanked over the juicy stuff. Oh, you could kiss her nipples and "other parts" so to speak. You know: "His tongue moved all over her, discovering the secret depths of her passions." You could get away with sucking nipples. You could fondle her " womanhood" or probe the very depths of her womanhood. Well, you had to be careful with that kind of probing.
BE: Could you tell us a little something about this structure of the sex scenes within the pages of a novel?
CAN: Well, a book would usually open with a sex scene, introducing some main characters of the book interacting with one another. In the conversation the names, dates,location,desire,destinations and other such plotlines could be revealed/develop. The first scene would end only after the major problem of the book has been at least partly devised. You couldn't reveal everything but you could certainly suggest enough to keep the reader...well, reading. In other words, while holding the reader's attention with the sexual action, you "inserted" the information necessary to intrigue and hook them into reading more words. Remember that the main point of writing is to keep the reader hooked from page to page. And you do that by offering more questions than you answer, while teasing them with whatever action might turn them on. When starting a book the writer might have very little other than have a few names and some general idea how the opening scene will be developed.
BE: What about a plot outline?
CAN: Some writers go for and develop a detailed outline. I found that counter productive. I would dive into the opening page with little more than a general concept. Details might have been in my "subconscious"--whatever that means--but for the most part I let things develop as I went along. This made writing much like reading, except I was in the typin' seat, creatively.
BE: Any examples of how this worked?
CAN: Well, in THREE PARTS EVIL the only thing I knew before writing a word was that a man's wife is killed, gangland style, while in her own bed. Chapter 1 presented hero and wife in bed together. Conversation revealed they had been highschool lovers, though a long ten year period had taken place while she went to Hollywood to try to make a career for herself. On her return home they renewed their friendship, fell in love and married. In the conversatonal exchange we learn she's pregnant. They, of coure, make love. Then, afterwards, there is a noise on the other sideof the house and the hero goes off to investigate. While in the kitchen he hears the sound guns firing in the bedroom. He rushes back to find his wife's blood splattered dead body in the bed. Now, of course, he has to discover why she had been killed, whodoneit and get revenge. By the time he learns the truth he has fallen for another women. Ah, the fickled fate of true love!
BE: I was wondering about that. Kinda casual of him. One love dies and....
CAN:He's back into action again. That's the way of the fictional world of adultbooks. You gotta have other women around to toss in and outta de bed. And fall in love with.
BE: Are they all that...
CAN: Casual concerning love and sex? Well....sometimes. I guess. Take BLUES FOR A DEAD LOVER. If you must. It developed from the question: What would happen if a man's lover dies in a plane crash.
BE: I'll bite. What happened?
CAN: He dives into a bottle of booze. Booze, sin and babes. The opening pages of the book told of his relationship with the woman; her death; then his dive into the babes and booze. I complicated the plot design by making him an up and comin' jazz musician. That offered a lotta naked broads. You gotta have a fling that'll end in recovery and romance.
BE: Is this how you always set up a book?
CAN: Well, usually I needed a simple idea complicated by some resistance and the opening sex scene to get the reader's attention. Plus following that rule of a sex scene every 20 pages. It worked out fine and dandy. You could talk about anything. You name it: morality, religion, politics. The settings could be worldly or other worldly (though I always felt that sex and sci-fi were not a very commercial mix at that time). You could do Westerns, Detective, Contemporary, Sci-Fi, Horror, Adventure, whatever. I did a lot of "Hollywood" stories, since I had lived in Hollywood and knew something about "show business." But, the field changed. More sexual content was demanded until it was hard to find a place to develop the "plot"lines..
BE: At what point in time did that take place?
CAN: By the 1970's it had become hard core. From then on I thought of it as being:"Start with an orgasm on the very first word and then let it build--erotically speaking--for the next 200 pages."
BE: A neat trick, I assume,if you can do it.
CAN: You either found a way or stopped selling books. Before this time, the se xwas not as graphically detailed as it was in the romantic fiction that took over the publishing world in the 70's. What we did in the 60's was tame compared to what was served up to the female readership of so-called "gothic" novels and "historical romances." In this these books, the woman were, many times, raped on the very first page. This kind of sexual abuse continued throughout the book until they found true blue romance and love with the man of their life. The graphic details in these books were more highly developed than the "sex" scenes of the early 1960's" Adult" fiction.
[There was a break to turn the tape around and we got involved in a private conversation. When the recorder started again, we picked it up in this manner.]
BE: You were just telling me something about plot.
CAN: Yes, about what Larry Maddox said concerning how he plotted by way of page number. Since most magazine stories ran around 12 pages it was necessary to start bringing the story to an end by page 10.
BE: That's cool, cold or at least...cut and dry.
CAN: He was very professional. And he hacked it out pretty fast, too. He was the first author I knew who cranked out 10,000 words a week--and that was published words.
BE: For most people that would seem difficult to believe.
CAN: At the time it seemed impressive. And: I could hardly let him top me. So I learned how to write faster.
BE: How fast?
CAN: [with a wink] That would be telling.
BE: Can't you just give us a hint, here? A kind of tease?
CAN: Well, there is a difference between what you can do in any ONE day and what you can do over a period of a year. What is the average output per day, over a year?
BE: I'll bite.
CAN: For me it turned out to be 7 pages a day, 365 days a year, minus two weeks.. And that makes it around 10,000 a week, average. Which brings us back to the original number of words. I've done that much in a day, and more. But you can't keep up this kind of output each and every day of the year. Of course this wasn't, sad to say, all first draft, finished copy. Sometimes you had to do a lot of rewriting. Plus there are always the creative dead periods. But, remember, doing 10,000 words in a week would mean--
BE: 52 times that.
CAN: Well, we author types kinda like 6 month vacations--
BE: Yeah yeah. Twice a year. Right?
CAN: Right. But the point is made: when you are putting out that many words you have to use pennames. We're talking about, what is it...let's see...
BE: 520,000 words a year.
CAN: Or at least 10 books a year. Or over 150 short manuscripts. You need a listof pen names. Sometimes Forry would offer me titles. Once, at a Saturday party,he wrote 7 titles on a cocktail napkin [i.e.: Sinning in the Rain, Suddenly Lust Summer--pun titles, for the most part from films]. With the blatant confidence of a young crasswriter I left him with: "Well, see ya Monday morning. Seven titles, seven stories. " I nailed myself to the typewriter until I'd finished seven stories. Monday morning I hand delivered them. It was this quick, professional, knock-it-out-fast attitude that caused Forry to call me a few weeks later and announce that a publisher was desperate for a novel, but needed 20,000 words by next week. Since I'd delivered on the seven stories, would I be interested in trying a novel. Only a mad fellow would have saidyes. Hell, I'd never written a novel. The book had to run something like 160-200pages. Well, I acted as if a book was series of scenes ending up with a short story. In other words: the trick was to devise a series of scenes that lead to the climax of the novel. This Climax was, in effect, a "kinda" short story. The idea of a series of unfinished short stories (scenes) seemed easy enough. A short story at the end, as the climax, was almost a "done deal" since I'd finished some 100 such exercises in the past year. I had learned how to do 10,000 words aweek, and more. Thus I began what became: HOT CARGO by John Davidson. My working title was "Blacky Jenson's Girls." I wrote 30-40 pages a day. I used every trick I could. A kind of "style" developed where short statements are isolated into a single paragraph. Even a mere word could be paragraphed. Like this: "But." This kind of "trick" served two purposed: l) it quite obviously made such a word seem VERY important; and 2) it was a great way to "pad" the book. After all, this was my first attempt at anything longer than a novelette. And the deadline was, of course, quite impossible. Each evening I'd deliver my unread, unedited first draft pages to Forry. When I asked him:" How am I doing? " he'd say something like: "Just fine. Keep up the good work." By that process I finished the first draft in a week. David Zentner accepted the novel; though I ended up doing a second draft.
BE: You sold several books to him after that. didn't you?
CAN: Quite a few. But other doors opened as a result of my Zentner experience. I actually did some "editorial" work for him, and learned a lot about coverlines, flyleaf copy and such. That's where I met Bob Pike, who at the time was the editor of Epic Books.
BE: Pike of PIKE BOOKS?
CAN: Right. When Bob left Zentner's, to start PIKE BOOKS, he approached me for a book. I suggested having my dad do the cover. Some months later Bob said I should go directly to his distributor to package books, since I was just about doing the whole thing anyway. Thus SCORPION BOOKS was born.
BE: Generous of him to encourage you, wasn't it?
CAN: Bob was a nice guy. I learned a lot from him, too. SCORPION BOOKS, though, didn't exist until after Bobwas working as an editor for another publisher.
BE: A lot of jumping around. But how about PIKE BOOKS? You used several pennames there, didn't you?
CAN: Alec Rivere for LOST CITY OF THE DAMNED.
BE: Where'd that name come from?
CAN: The Alec is an alternate for Alexander, my middle name. Rivere an alternate from Stu Rivers. And I still don't remember where I came up with the Rivers name. Probably just looked good with the name Stu. I'm not certain about the name Stu. But there was a sci-fi writer by the name of Stu Byrne, whom I had admired as a young fan.
BE: Other pennames for PIKE?
CAN: Yes. Of course. My old stand-by John Davidson for APPOINTMENT WITH TERROR,a second book on assignment. Then when THREE PARTS EVIL came out the name of HalLambert was developed. This was a creation of Pike's.
BE: I notice bit of annoyance in your voice.
CAN: Actually, at the time, I was a bit annoyed. I'd submitted it under the byline of John Davidson. Bob simply didn't want to run too many books under the same byline. So he plunked on a new byline without consulting me. Anyway, that byline was used again for JULIE, with dad's cover. I was, of course, selling to other publishers,too.
BE: We're jumping ahead too fast. What about SCORPION BOOKS? You used everal pennames there, didn't you?
CAN: Jay Davis for WILD SPREE, an obvious change from John Davidson. I used Stu Rivers for HOLLYWOOD NYMPH and SEX QUEEN. Alec Rivere for WANTONS OF BETRAYAL, DavidJohnson for JUNGLE NYMPH, Fred MacDonald for WITH PASSIONS BURNING and Alex Blake for NOBODY LOVES A TRAMP. They are all pretty logical and obvious. Take Alex Blake, which was originally used for LOVE ME TO DEATH (Epic Books). The Alex for Alexander,of course. And Blake as an old family name, on my mother's side. The Fred MacDonald name Larry Maddox tagged onto a liquor article I wrote for him.
BE: I notice one name, Rex Charles, for NYMPHO MODELS.
CAN: The publisher created that. I guess they got the Charles from my first name: can't guess about where Rex came from. I didn't re-use that name. Some years later I revised the book for Powell Publications as SEX BASH. by Jack Donaldson. [Bill Hughes did a great cover for this book.] That was the only time Rex Charles was used.
BE: In BOOKS ARE EVERYTHING Vol. 6, No. 1 Whole Number 25, Lynn Monroe's interview with you lists some of your pennames and books...
CAN: All of them. He was out here several times and is a very knowledgeable fellow.
BE: Then I'll refer to his list. The first Nuetzel penname is: Mark Allen
CAN: That was for Zentner's BeeLine books. HOT PANTS KAREN. An interesting little story goes with this. Dave was my first book publisher when he was In Hollywood.. Now he was in New York and I'd lost contact with him. Well, when I submitted a book to BeeLine I got a letter from Zentner opening with a: "Remember me?" Well, I had sent some 17 pages of what would become HOT PANTS KAREN. David wrote after his first opening statement a furious letter saying he'd take the book, but that I was NEVER, in the future, to submit anything short of 50 pages and an outline.
BE: Was he always such a stout, friendly fellow?
CAN: Actually there are a lot of funny stories about Dave Zentner. Just aboutevery professional in the field has gone through his "offices" insofar aseither working directly for him or selling stuff to him. He was for some very difficultto work with; for others simply a problem to work around. He was tough. He helped a lot of people become professionals. I learned a lot from him. I owe a lot to him.
BE: To get back to the list: how about Blake Andrews?
CAN: Just a name I used. A play on Alex Blake. I used it on the book I released as COME TO ME BABY. It is obvious.
BE: Which reminds me: I wanted to ask you about the book ON THE MAKE by Alex Blake. Cute combo.
CAN:Almost embarrassingly so.
BE: How's that?
CAN: I didn't catch the way it sounded until after it was published. Make and Blake and ...
BE: Yes. That's what I meant. Then it was an accident?
CAN: An accident. I must admit. Guilty as not charged.
BE: Jack Belmont was used for your TAKE ME, I'M YOURS.
CAN: I don't know where the name came from. Probably the Jack came out of John. Who knows where the Bel or the mont derived. Though I might point out that the cover, by the above mentioned Bill Hughes, was the first cover he did for me. I had met him at another publisher's party. Bill had done a lot of covers for this publisher. I learned that he was a science fiction fan. We exchanged phone names . At the timeDad was doing covers for me. So when he got ill I called Bill. I went to his officein Woodland Hills (just about 20 minutes for my home) and we talked, he did a pencil sketch and I okayed it. I had his cover art by deadline. I then had Bill do his first sci-fi cover, the one for SCIENCE FICTION WORLDS OF FORREST J ACKERMAN &FRIENDS. When Dad couldn't do any more work for me, I let Bill take over the duties.
BE: Sounds like you were really swinging along.
CAN: I was. But that's another story. I think you wanted to keep to the pennames.
BE: You're right. Well, back to the list. I'll skip over the ones we've covered. I notice you used a Fred Davis and then a Jay Davis...
CAN: Davis is obviously from Davidson. The Fred from Fred MacDonald. The Jay from "J" for John.
BE: Where did George Fredrics come from?
CAN: Originally from Larry Maddox. I had sold him a couple of liquor articles and he, for some reason all his own, decided to use different bylines than the ones I had picked. But Larry [a pen name, by the way, for a nice fellow] figured the nameswere used by other publishers, so he simply created new names. Fred MacDonald, which I used, as noted, quite a few times. George Fredrics became an alternate"quality"penname.
BE: Could you explain that?
CAN: Well, I saved my own name for "better" stuff. Meaning non-adult fiction. But. The problem was still there: too many things published at the sametime in the same market place. So. Pick a name. Please.
BE: You have a Howard Johnson as the replacement for Fred MacDonald when you re-released it for Powell as JEAN. How'd that happen? Howard Johnson was the name of a hotel chain and...
CAN: Believe it or not, I didn't realize that at the time. Or did it exist then? I don't know. Johnson came from John Davidson. The Howard....who knows?
BE: You were a bit casual about pennames, weren't you?
CAN: Casual might be the wrong word. You are creating a new "real" person. And...well, you pick them, sometimes, to fit the books. Like I picked Fritz Jantzen for BERLIN BEDS. That was set in Germany. My wife, Brigitte, gave me the background material. She was born in Germany. She also helped me figure out a penname.
BE: Though you didn't use it when you republished the book as: KRISTA--there you used Fred MacDonald, again. Any reason?
CAN: Not that I can remember. I simply had to pick a byline.
BE: What about Jay West? Rita Wilde. That last is a--
CAN: Wild name. Well, to cover West, first. I used that as a reprint name for one of the publishers. The Rita Wilde I believe was a result of the publisher being a Rita...the name was picked by the publisher. Not me.
BE: There are some 31 pennames credited to you. Is that all of them?
CAN: There was one other that I will not reveal.
CAN: Just call it one of those things. And if I did tell you I'd insist that you didn't reveal it publicly. So... I don't have a copy of the book.
BE: And there were no other pennames?
CAN: I don't think so. Not published, anyway. There were some manuscripts I sold to a publisher that were never, as far as I know, published.
BE: Didn't get paid?
CAN: Got paid. They simply didn't release them. I don't really know what happened to the books. And, quite frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
BE: Why? What happened? What was wrong with them?
CAN: The question is wrong. You should have asked: What was right with them. This was towards the end of my writing career and the adult field was getting really bad...I did these books for fast, secure bucks. Easy sales. Dull, boring, hard writing because the "adult " material totally dominated the plot material to the point where there simply wasn't much room for a real storyline.
BE: Certainly you had been doing a lot of porno type writing, especially in the Carson Davis books.
CAN: That was different. The style of the writing and the form of the books let you editorialize, and make direct points. In a novel, which opened with an orgasm and built for 200 pages...it was different. No editorializing. Even "Carson Davis" drew a line in the sand, so to speak. Beyond that point "He/I"would not go.
BE: Where, generally, then, was that line?
CAN: Well, I never felt comfortable with sex between adults and children. This was a no-no unless you could use it to make a moral point.
CAN: Crime and punishment.
BE: Yet in these Carson Davis books you deal with all kinds of sexual situations.
CAN: And in graphic detail. The way these books were conceived was the assumption that people talked to Carson because he was non-judgmental. Well, he was, but he would help people who wanted it or needed help. He would suggest the direction they should go to get that help. Like to the local head shrink. Their case history thus became an example of an issue and a suggested method of dealing with that issue. Thus it made a moral point. The more detailed and graphic the sexual content the more "lecturing " could be slapped into place. That kind of balancing act pleased the legal eagles and it certainly appealed to the moral side of, at least, this writer. In fact I think the Carson Davis books are the best of the lot--from the writer's point of view, that is. The fiction books that followed, the ones I'm talking about that were not published, weren't interested in moral lessons.
BE: Should they have been?
can; Not from the viewpoint of the reader or the publisher. The publisher wanted to please the reader; the reader wanted to feel good--to put it nicely.
BE: Rather very nicely. I'd say. You're talking about masturbation.
CAN: No. I'm talking about the alternate of seeking out a prostitute. Or the chance of abusing some other person. Regardless of what some blue noses might think, porno doesn't a sex crime make. The idea that people read sex books and then run out and commit all sorts of perverse sexual crimes is, in itself, a perversion of reality. Sure, some people act out their sexual fantasies on other people; they do terrible things. And some of these perverts read "adult" fiction. But to connect the reading of adult fiction to sex crimes is like saying everybody who eats tomatoes dies, thus concluding that eating tomatoes kills people. It don't makesense; it is nonsense. And the subject of a totally different discussion. Nonetheless, it is obvious what happens when people are exposed to erotically stimulating material; they are erotically stimulated. Each and every consumer of the product will, quite obviously, have a different respose to it. Some might, even, turn to their marital(or non-marital) partner to share one heck of a hot erotic experience--of one kind or another. Mutually shared; mutually enjoyed; mutually desired.
BE: But you are morally justifying your writing--
CAN: No. I don't think so. What I'm trying to say, bluntly, regardless of my personal involvement (or lack therein), is that "sex books"don't do the social damage some radical people think they do. There are always the crazies. Let me put it this way. The society in which I grew up, in the 40's and 50's the pre-Kinsey Report days, was a bit different from today. The publicly acclaimed moral ethic and code, at that time, was: be a virgin until the wedding night; sex was only for babies. And if you followed all the laws in all the states at once, it meant man on top, wham-bam hope you're satisfied and pregnant, mamma. Where's the baby? Gotta wait nine months, honey.
BE: Okay. The religious right would, today, say that's the only way to live.
CAN: And you can be too "right" also. It is obvious from the last fewyears how the so called TV religious leaders were not as holy as they so claimed to be. They preached one thing and went out and got prostitutes or robbed the "bank, "so to speak. Let's not get into that. Preaching one moral ethic while practicing another is wrong and immoral. That is what creates confusion and social problems. In a repressed society you have real perverts and a lot of sexual problems. In an open society you don't have that kind of repressive problem. At least you don't have the lie. I don't want to go into this part of the issue. I covered the subject completely in the Carson Davis books. That's why I liked him. But in the "fiction"books any went. ..all kinds of sex...no holds barred, from normal to M&S. The rewasn't ANY counterpoint to suggest some kind of healthy balance.
BE: What happened to your non-judgmental POV?
CAN: Maybe the term non-judgmental is a bit strong. It is one thing to say that certain moral attitudes are right, quite another to say anything goes all the way to dismemberment. The kind of line you draw is a realistic moral ethic for adults.
CAN: In the private, between consenting adults. Be that one, two, three, four or more. As long as everybody is consenting and adult. Or even better consenting, responsible adults.
BE: Responsible, meaning?
CAN: Able to be responsible for the results of their acts. This means they havet o be educated and knowledgeable and willing to take responsibility for their actions. They are able to care for any babymaking results, too. But that's another issue that does not fit in the subject matter of adult fiction--which is sex fantasy--and-- what is reality. In these books it was, for a "fantasy" purposes just about impossible to get pregnant. No babies; no responsibilities. Sex without any results other than PLEASURE, man, PLEASURE, woman. Pleasure without punishment. Play without pay. All of which makes sense. We were in fantasyland. Fiction is make believe. And the best kind of sex is sex without punishment; sex without any possible chance of ending up with a baby, with the greatest levels of erotic pleasure. Good, clean un. So to speak. And that was the purpose of these books. But for a writer, who wants to say something.... Well. Point made. I better get back on track.
BE: But then, it all does strangely enough tie in. doesn't it?
CAN: Well, for me it did. I stopped writing, thus creating pennames, when the field became unmanageable. When it was impossible to insert a message now and then. Plus: quite honestly, in the Carson Davis books I was able to say so much. I think I had said everything I had to say on the subject. When it was impossible to underscore a kind of moral message directly or indirectly into a book, I quit.
BE: That would be an interesting way to end the interview, but
CAN: You want something more.
BE: Well, there was one more penname we didn't cover.
CAN: I was wondering if you would bring that up.
BE: I notice you used a EWING byline. How'd that happen?
CAN: Oh, yes, the Frank Ewing. Not sure about that. Probably your brother.
BE: Sure. Interesting, though I don't have a brother by the name of Frank.
CAN:Maybe your penname.
BE:I don't believe in using pennames.
CAN: Are you certain? Any writer using a penname would hardly admit to the truth at the moment of using it. Would they?
BE: Perhaps you have a point there. Anyway, that name stuck out, for the obvious reason.
CAN: Some names just develop out of thin air. I don't know where the Frank came from, either, unless it was from Franklin/Franklyn. Probably from that. Frankly speaking. But I don't know where the Franklin name came from other than Larry Maddoxas signed it to that article.
BE: So, perhaps we might bring this to a conclusion. Unless you have something more to say.
CAN: Well, I think it would be fitting and proper to reveal something about you.
BE: Me? Why would you want to do that?
CAN: Well, wasn't the purpose of this article to reveal something about writing and writers? To reveal the how and why bylines come about?
BE: Yes. I suppose so.
CAN: Martin Hawks asked for an article concerning Adult Pen Names and what I might be able to reveal concerning the field and especially concerning my own personal involvement. Well, I got to thinking about that and considered a direct article and then reconsidered that. Right?
BE: Well, yes. You did point that out to me at the very beginning when--
CAN: I figured the interview style might work better for several reasons. Onewas just the general form, the flow, the movement from subject to subject. The ease of reading. Whatever.
CAN: Then I suggested that you might be a perfect interviewer.
BE: Yeah. That's what you do say to me. You know me best, was what you said.
CAN: Something like that.
BE: You insist on going further with this?
CAN: Why not? I could do it as a footnote. But that would be cheating, now wouldn't it?
BE: Well, I don't think it matters one way or the other, once the truth is out.
CAN: Probably not. So before all that happens I want to express my thanks for your having taken the effort to do this interview. It has made it much easier for me to make my points.
BE: So you say. Well, you also said a lot of other things. Like what a kick in the head if you'd do it, Bill. What a way to make the final point and illustrate by action the reason for pennames. Or, at least, some pennames.
CAN: Yes, not bad. Why not swallow hard and just admit the truth.
BE: I guess you want me to say I really am Frank Ewing's brother.
CAN: Not really. Come on. Spit it out.
BE: Oh, gosh, oh, golly gee. Whiz. I know you always liked the name of Bill, ever since you were a kid with that dern imaginary friend. You drove your parents bats by insisting they act as if he was really there. You named him Bill. So I picked that name.
CAN: Not bad for a start. Now come out with the rest.
BE: Well, quiet obviously you couldn't interview yourself. So Bill had to do it.
CAN: Right. Thus Bill Ewing, you have served as a very special penname for me, and I want to thank you for inventing yourself for the purpose of this article.
BE: I thank you for inventing me.
CAN: Say good-bye, Bill.
BE: Good-bye and thanks for a great interview.