My
client Frank Roderus just signed contracts with Thorndike Press (imprint of
Centgage) to put two of his previously published titles into large print. The
first two titles are “Hell Creek Cabin” and “The Keystone Kid.” We anticipate
that they are going to do this with a number of his other books as well. We are
working with the Five Star imprint of the same company with a brand new title.
Frank
wrote his first story, a Western, at age five and says he quite literally has
never wanted to do anything else. He is the author of over 300 books and is
perhaps best known for his “Carl Heller” series. He has been writing fiction
full-time since 1980 and was a newspaper reporter before that. As a journalist,
the Colorado Press Association gave him its highest award, the Sweepstakes Award,
for the Best News Story of 1980. The Western Writers of America has twice named
him recipient of their prestigious Spur Award, for a western writer the
equivalent of a movie star winning an Oscar. A lifetime member of the American
Quarter Horse Association, he is married and currently resides in Florida.
Roderus and his wife Magdalena expect to divide their time between Florida and
Palawan Island in the Sulu Sea.
I asked
Frank what the greatest hurtle that he had to clear in order to get a writing
career off the ground?
The greatest hurdle, I think, was that of doing it wrong often enough
to teach myself to do it right. There was no internet then and I belonged to no
writing groups so it was solitary. Of course part of that was my own
bull-headedness. At the time I went to the public library and read just about
every book they had on how to write. Made no sense at all. After I had
sold five books I went back to the same library, checked out some of those
same books and read them again after which I kept shaking my head and saying
yes, of course, how perfectly obvious…the same books that baffled me until I
learned the craft.
I also
asked what about your writing has brought you the most satisfaction?
The most satisfaction? That is a toss-up. Without question the most joy
was when I got that first acceptance. Or was it when I held the first copy of
that first book finally in my hand. Or was it years later when I finished
writing POTTER’S FIELDS, which became a Spur Award winner, and knew that I
finally had gotten my vision for that book down exactly the way I wanted it.
Even if it never sold I would have been satisfied; it said what I was trying to
say, not always a given.
What
one piece of advice would you offer to new writers?
And advice? Oh, that is easy. Persevere. Never give up. When I was
trying to break in I sent a ms to a New York agent. And New York agents know
everything, right? I certainly believed that. She returned my ms with a note
suggesting, more or less politely, that I should forget about writing, that I
was not good enough to become a writer. That letter was devastating. I quit
trying for the next three years before circumstance sent me back to the
typewriter. I sent that same ms out to a small publishing house. They bought
it. Paid a whopping $500 for it. That little book, a YA, was a Spur finalist
that year and has been in print almost continuously ever since. And that was
almost forty years ago. By this time and roughly 300 books later I’ve
decided that that agent was wrong. I’m going to make it after all.