Back in the fall of 2009 when I started writing The Trap of Solid Gold there were only two published biographies of John D MacDonald and both were out of print: Ed Hirschberg’s John D MacDonald and Hugh Merrill’s The Red Hot Typewriter. Not much for a writer once referred to as America’s bestselling author. But that was going to change. Schaffner Press, a small, independent publisher located in Tucson, Arizona, had been touting a new bio since early in 2008, with an expected publication date of Fall 2009. It was to be titled Bloodshot Rainbow and its author was one James Walling.
The year came and went and there was no book. In early January of the following year I emailed Schaffner Press but never received a response. I assumed the concern had gone belly up and hoped that Walling would have his work published elsewhere.
A year later a TOSG reader who goes by the online name of Clark Nova contacted me to see if I had any more up to date information on the bio, and when I informed him I did not he began to do his own legwork. He managed to contact James Walling and learned the reason for the work’s long delay. It was even worse than Schaffner Press going under (which it hadn’t): While travelling internationally Walling lost all of his JDM material -- his notes, his books and his correspondence -- when the airline lost his luggage. I can only imagine how devastating that must have been. But Walling assured Clark that he was starting over and was making good progress. That was in 2011.
I suppose I can be forgiven for having my doubts about ever seeing Bloodshot Rainbow. I know that if somehow I lost my own JDM collection -- my paperbacks, my hardcovers, my hundreds of magazines, my run of the JDM Bibliophile -- I doubt if I would ever want to begin again from scratch. I would probably take it as a sign that it was time to start doing something else. O ye of little faith...
This past week I received a comment on the old TOSG post from Mr.Walling alerting me to a piece in an online literary magazine called B O D Y. It was prefaced as "a condensation of sections from James Walling’s upcoming biography of the suspense novelist John D. MacDonald, to be published by Schaffner Press."
This is indeed good news, and what is even better news will become evident once you read the piece. This book will clearly be a serious, well written and intelligent treatment of its subject, not another chronological collection of facts like The Red Hot Typewriter. Walling's take on subjects like sexism and racial insensitivity contain much insight, and his assessment of MacDonald's writing ability is both original and refreshing. It's a nice, long posting that I'm sure MacDonald fans will enjoy, so I wanted to alert you to it and to provide a link.
After I posted Mr. Walling's comment I reached out to him myself and received a nice reply. He assured me that what he is attempting to accomplish is something quite different than The Red Hot Typewriter, and he passed along word from Tim Schaffner of Schaffner Press: "You can tell Steve Scott that we are planning to publish the book in late summer or fall of 2016.".
Here is the link. Enjoy.