March 18, 2010

One of our commenters raised the question as to whether or not JDM was aware of Sterling Hayden.  I am sure he would have been aware, but I did not see a copy of Wanderer in JDM’s personal library of 800 or so books.



The Deep Blue Gooby to be filmed?

July 12, 2009

here’s the link:,0,67

McGee actor

July 12, 2009

over the years I have wondered who could have played Travis in a movie. The only one I could think of was Sterling Hayden–not the later Hayden of Dr. Strangelove, but the younger Hayden of the 1940’s. I don’t know how much you know of him, but he joined the OSS in ‘”WW2 under the name of Hamilton and parachuted behind the line into Yugoslav territory where he helped the resistance. In his book, Wanderer, published in 1963, he says this:

Sterling Hayden

From his autobiography, Wanderer, published in 1963.

* To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… cruising, it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about. “I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of security. And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone. What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade. The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

Hayden could have been a sort of archetype for Travis McGee, and at 6’5″ , with his sea-faring background, would have lent an air of legitimacy few–if any-actors could.


JDM Panel

June 2, 2009

For the past 5 years I have been fortunate to have been invited to do something on JDM at “A Conference To Die For,” which is held on Siesta Key, Sarasota usually the first weekend in June.

This year’s topic for a panel is: “How has John D. MacDonald influenced contemporary writers?” Panelists include Terry Griffin, Jonathan King, and Bob Morris. BTW, Bob named one of his children Dashiell MacDonald Morris so one can see JDM’s influence there!

I will report back later on the conference.


JDM’s Influence

May 17, 2009

I will be moderating a panel of authors at the “Mystery To Die For” conference in Sarasota on June 6th. The topic is: “How has John D. MacDonald influenced Contemporary Authors?”

I wonder if any of you have any ideas, or authors, in mind whom you think have been influenced JDM? If so, I would love to hear from you.

I do know from personal experience that the majority of Florida mystery authors readily acknowledge a debt, and are not reticent about noting same.

April 9, 2009

Had a great telephone conversation last night with the woman who owns the apartment building where Dorothy MacDonald lived for several months in mid to late 1943.  Dorothy was born in Poland.  John was in India at this time serving in World War 2. He was in the OSS, but not as a spy; he obtained supplies for the troops.

What made it great was describing the three-room apartment where Dorothy lived, noting that the most recent letter I had transcibed included a section about how warm the fireplace kept the apartment in cold weather.  The owner was very excited to tell me that that apartment, and fireplace, still exist, and is still rented out.  Although this owner has only had the apartment house since 1978 she is going to start asking around to see if her friends and acquaintences might have picture postcards of the center of town from the 1940’s,  which is where the apartment building is located.

April 3, 2009

As I have noted before the process for transcribing the World War 2 letters between JDM  and his wife, Dorothy, continues.  And will for some time to come–several months I am sure since some letters can take more than an hour to transcribe (Dorothy’s handwriting could be very small, and one needs a magnifying glass to determine words.  Be that as it may I am really enjoyng the task.

The reason for that is that there is another dimension to understanding an author in addition to the works themselves.  Family letters, photos (30,000 slides and 30,000 photos), and memories of those who knew the MacDonalds, all help fill out the portrait.  Even though the 3 biographies fell short (and we understand that another bio is due out this Fall) of giving us a complete picture they at least gave us some starting points.

My personal goal is to have looked at every item in the Collection –all 472 boxes.  Once that is done I may sit back and say:  “Ok, now you have completed that, you’ve read the books more than once, so what do you have?”  I don’t know what the answer will be.  Stay tuned.

March 29, 2009

I have now had some success with my first blog, but now comes the real test:  will it continue to work, and will anyone be reading and commenting??

What I have in mind is an exchange of thoughts regarding John D. MacDonald: his life, his books, his insights, etc. No matter how some of us long-time readers may feel there’s always room for new interpretations, new ideas, and new “takes” on MacDonald.

There are still fans out there, and pleasantly surprising, some new young readers (watched a couple of You Tube type videos of two such youngsters, and while sophistication is lacking, the obvious appeal of Travis to the adventure-some spirit of these young lads is unmistakably there.

I am able to be in contact with JDM’s son, Maynard, who lives in New Zealand.  Most of the time it has to do with someone looking to get the rights to do a film on one of the books.  I pass the request on and Maynard deals with it from that point on.


JDM letters

March 28, 2009

Today I will continue transcribing the World War 2 letters of
JDM and Dorothy, his wife. Her letters are written in very small script, necessitating the use of a magnifying glass to decipher many of the words, so it is a painstaking process. On some days I get only one letter completed. Most of his are not difficult to read.

Then my wife will check what I’ve done, make corrections, and once that is done we convert to Word and put them on a CD to take up to the Collection at the Smathers Library in Gainesville.

It is our hope that within a year or so there may be a book published containing the letters.

So, on many days I am living in 1943 in Poland, N.Y. (where Dorothy lived for several months prior to moving to Utica,) or hearing from JDM in an Army camp, or later in India.

This is my first attempt at a blog, so chime in with whatever you want.

I can also be reached at

Hello world!

March 28, 2009

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