Donald Edwin Westlake
J. Morgan Cunningham
John B. Allan
Judson Jack Carmichael
Timothy J. Culver
Donald Edwin Westlake (1933–2008) was an American writer, with over a hundred novels and non-fiction books to his credit. He specialised in crime fiction, with an occasional foray into science fiction or other genres. He was a three-time Edgar Award winner, (one of only three writers to win Edgars in three different categories). In 1993, the Mystery Writers of America named Westlake a Grand Master, the highest honour in mystery novels.
In addition to writing consistently under his own name, Westlake published under several pseudonyms. In the order they debuted, they are:
Richard Stark, Westlake’s best-known continuing pseudonym. Stark debuted in 1959, with a story in ‘Mystery Digest’. Four other Stark short stories followed through 1961, including ‘The Curious Facts Preceding My Execution’, later the title story in Westlake's first short-story collection. Then, from 1962 to 1974, sixteen novels about the relentless and remorseless professional thief Parker and his accomplices (including larcenous actor Alan Grofield) appeared and were credited to Richard Stark. ‘Stark’ was then inactive until 1997, when Westlake once again began writing and publishing Parker novels under Stark's name.
Alan Marshall (or Alan Marsh) was used to write as many as 28 paperback soft-porn titles from 1959–1964; titles include ‘All My Lovers’, ‘Man Hungry’, ‘All About Annette’, ‘Sally’, ‘Virgin's Summer’, ‘Call Me Sinner’, ‘Off Limits’, and three featuring the character of Phil Crawford: ‘Apprentice Virgin’, ‘All the Girls Were Willing’, and ‘Sin Prowl’. Westlake was not the only author to work under Marshall's name, claiming that: ‘The publishers would either pay more for the names they already knew or would only buy from (those) name. It became common practice for several of us to loan our names to friends. Before the end of 1961 six other people, friends of mine, published books as Alan Marshall, with my permission but without the publishers' knowledge.’ Two novels published in 1960 were co-authored by Westlake and Lawrence Block (who used the pen-name ‘Sheldon Lord’) and were credited to ‘Sheldon Lord and Alan Marshall’: ’A Girl Called Honey’, dedicated to Westlake and Block, and ‘So Willing’, dedicated to ‘Nedra and Loretta’, who were (at that time) Westlake and Block's wives.
James Blue was a one-shot pseudonym, used as a third name circa 1959 when both Westlake and Stark already had stories in a magazine issue. In actuality James Blue is the name of Westlake's cat. Ben Christopher was also a one-shot pseudonym for a 1960 story in ‘77 Sunset Strip’ magazine.
John Dexter was a house pseudonym used by Nightstand Books for the work of numerous authors. The very first novel credited to John Dexter is a soft-core work by Westlake called ‘No Longer A Virgin’ (1960).
Andrew Shaw was a pseudonym used by Westlake and Lawrence Block for their 1961 collaborative soft-core novel ‘Sin Hellcat’. Like John Dexter (above), ‘Andrew Shaw’ was a house pseudonym used by a wide variety of authors.
Edwin West wrote ‘Brother and Sister’, ‘Campus Doll’, ‘Young and Innocent’, all in 1961; ‘Strange Affair’ in 1962; ‘Campus Lovers’ in 1963, and one 1966 short story. John B. Allan wrote the biography ‘Elizabeth Taylor: A Fascinating Story of America's Most Talented Actress and the World's Most Beautiful Woman’, in 1961.
Don Holliday was a pseudonym used by for two collaborative soft-core novels (with various authors, including Hal Dresner and Lawrence Block) in 1963-1964.
Curt Clark debuted in 1964 with the short story ‘Nackles’. In 1967 he wrote the science-fiction novel ‘Anarchaos’.
Tucker Coe wrote 5 mystery novels featuring the character of Mitch Tobin: ‘Kinds of Love’, ‘Kinds of Death’, both in 1966; ‘Murder Among Children’ in1967; ‘Wax Apple’ and ‘A Jade in Aries’, both 1970; and ‘Don't Lie to Me’ in 1972.
P.N. Castor was a pseudonym used for one 1966 short story co-authored with Dave Foley. Timothy J. Culver wrote ‘Ex Officio’ in 1970, a thriller.
J. Morgan Cunningham wrote the humorous story ‘Comfort Station’ in 1971. The cover features the blurb, ‘I wish I had written this book!’ – Donald E. Westlake.
Samuel Holt wrote 4 mystery novels featuring the character ‘Sam Holt’, 1986–1989: ‘One of Us is Wrong’, ‘I Know a Trick Worth Two of That’, ‘What I Tell You Three Times is False’, ‘The Fourth Dimension is Death’.
Judson Jack Carmichael wrote ‘The Scared Stiff’ in 2002, a mystery; the U.K. editions dropped the pseudonym.
Westlake sometimes made playful use of his pseudonyms in his work:
- In Westlake's ‘Jimmy The Kid’, John Dormunder and associates plan a kidnapping based on a mythical Richard Stark/Parker novel.
- Richard Stark's character of Parker has ID that gives his name as ‘John B. Allan’.
- The 'hero' of Westlake's novel ‘Adios, Scheherezade’ is hack novelist ‘Alan Marshall’.
- In the film version of ‘The Grifters; (for which Westlake wrote the screenplay) a key scene takes place at the firm of ‘Stark, Coe and Fellows’. Westlake explains the in-joke in the film's DVD commentary track, noting that he wrote books as ‘Richard Stark, Tucker Coe and some other fellows’.
- In the Mitch Tobin novel ‘A Jade in Aries’, Tobin phones a friend who briefly mistakes Tobin for somebody named Don Stark.
- Additionally, Westlake conducted a mock interview with Richard Stark, Tucker Coe and Timothy J. Culver in an article for the non-fiction book ‘Murder Ink: The Mystery Reader's Companion’.
See also Lawrence Block and Stephen King.
‘Lawrence Block’, Wikipedia, retrieved 14 October 2013
‘Richard Stark’, Wikipedia, retrieved 14 October 2013
previous A–Z next