James R. Callan's Interview with the king of the Word Masters, Jory Sherman. Part 1
February 10, 2013
Guest Blogger James R. Callan is a fine mystery author, whose new novel is A Ton of Gold. He has written Cleansed by Fire and, with his daughter, Diane Bailey, published Murder a Capella. On Jim’s Authors’s Blog at at his Website, www.jamesrcallan.com, he concentrate on blogs written by authors and on interviews of published authors. He points out: “This gives insight into the authors, how they work, how they think, how they got where they are today. And as a reader (as well as a writer), I always enjoy knowing a bit more about authors. I hope you do also.” For Caleb and Linda Pirtle, Jim has allowed us to reproduce his interview with the legendary Jory Sherman.
Jory Sherman has been called a national treasure by Loren Estleman, a rather impressive author himself. One of the amazing things is that Jory has achieved success in virtually every area of writing. He has published books of poetry that went to multiple printings. He’s made a name for himself in westerns. He has been honored by the RWA. Science fiction? Yes. Mystery, of course. Short stories and journalism. I could go on and on, but I’m sure you’d rather hear from Jory himself.
Jim: Just to start things off, give us an idea of the number of books you have had published.
Jory: I have published over 450 books in the past 50 plus years. These include poetry, a memoir, short story collections and poetry.
Jim: How many names have you been published under?
Jory: I only remember one pseudonym I’ve used, Walt Denver. When Zebra started up, I was the only writer of westerns. They asked me to use a different name so that it appeared they had more than one writer in their stable. I chose Walt after Walter Zacharius, one of the publishers and Denver for where I used to live. When I wrote for magazines, sometimes I wrote all the articles and short stories, so I used a number of pseudonyms, none of which I remember.
Jim: You’ve won lots of awards over the years. And The Grass Kingdomwas nominated for the Pulitzer. Which award did you like the best, and why?
Jory: I’ve won a number of awards, true. Most are in storage and I gave some away to my children. The one I will treasure most will be the Owen Wister Award from Western Writers of America. This will be given to me in June at the WWA convention in Las Vegas. It is their highest award and I feel honored to be a recipient this year.
Jim: Over the years you’ve had good success in many genres. What genres are you working in now?
Jory: I am perhaps better known for my western novels, but my mainstream novels sell more copies. And, I’m now writing Young Adult Fantasy novels. These are actually noveletts, around 25,000 words. And, I still write contemporary short stories and contemporary novels. The short story collections sell very well, as do the literary novels.
Jim: The Rivers West series was a big success, and I know it came about in a rather unusual manner. Tell us how it got started, and why did you enlist other authors to write many of the books?
Jory: One morning I came up with the idea of Rivers West. I wanted to tell the story of the West and its development along the major rivers. These were sources of transportation, commerce and the first settlements. I wanted to leave a legacy from the writers of Westerns and never intended to write any of them myself. I wrote a 1-page overview of the series. Then, I called all the editors I knew in New York. I told them I had a major series and wanted to pitch the idea in person. I also said that I would not divulge the idea until I came to New York. Greg Tobin set up an interview with a Bantam vice-president. He liked the idea and I walked out of the Bantam offices with a contract for $90,000. I got in touch with Louis L’Amour, and Will James. Bantam would not let Louis write for the series. Will was going blind and could not. So, I got the best writers in WWA, Win Blevins, Gary McCarthy, Don Coldsmith, Richard S. Wheeler, Frank Roderus, Fred Bean to write the books featuring the major rivers west of the Mississippi. The series took off and Greg Tobin asked me to write some because they couldn’t keep up with the demand. The eastern sales reps wanted a Rivers East, which I also developed, but that project never launched. Rivers West was Bantam’s most successful historical series and gave a number of very fine writers some excellent opportunities.
Jim: You knew and associated with a lot of the well-known writers over the past fifty years. Who was the most interesting? Who was the most unusual? Who had an impact on your life as a writer?
Jory: I have admired all of the writers I’ve met over the years and there are too many to mention. Not all were western writers and some were very famous. The true wealth in this world are the friends you make over the years. Each writer I met gave me something and I have nothing but fond and rich memories of them all.
Jim: Very tactful, Jory. You’re legally blind and have been for a few years. What is the most difficult think this poses for you in your writing, and how do you cope with it?
Jory: The most difficult aspect to my blindness is my inability to read printed books for research. And, lately, it’s difficult to read the words on the screen when I write. I use a magnification program and boldface my manuscripts. The program was given to me by the Texas Commission for the Blind. On the plus side, I use other faculties more than I ever did and I have adapted to my blindness. I still read books on my Kindle and Kindle Fire, and I subscribe to Audible.com and download Books for the Blind. But, research is still tough and I can only use the computer, not the many good books I have on western lore and history.
Jim: I’m going to stop here for today. Jory has far too much to say for only one post. We’ll continue next week and get into his favorite, current and future projects. I mean, if you’ve only had 450 books published, certainly you need to get busy and write some more. Back to the keyboard, Jory. We’ll talk some more next week.
For more information, you can go to his website at: www.jorysherman.com
You’ll find a good cross-section of his books there. And to see many of his books on Amazon, go to: http://amzn.to/VxE90k
Be sure to read the exciting conclusion to this interview — okay, okay, I got carried away. But do come back next Sunday to learn more about this talented and prolific writer – Jory Sherman. And leave a comment for Jory if you have a minute. Thanks.