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.