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“The Bluff Buster” by Lester Dent

Link - Posted by David on April 7, 2017 @ 6:00 am in

LESTER DENT is best remembered as the man behind Doc Savage. But he wrote all number of other stories before he started chronicling the adventures of everyone’s favorite bronze giant. Here we have an action-packed tale of the air—The Boche have developed an even faster and better plane and Major Sam Flack has been called in to double bluff a captured Boche agent into taking him behind enemy lines to the prototype!

They played the double-cross both ways from the middle—when it boomeranged on the major none knew which way the fire would fall.

If you enjoyed this story, Black Dog Books has put out an excellent volume collecting 11 of Lester Dent’s early air stories set against the backdrop of World War !. The book includes this story as well as others from the pages of War Birds, War Aces, Flying Aces, Sky Birds and The Lone Eagle. It’s The Skull Squadron! Check it out!

 

And as a bonus, here’s another article from Lester’s home town paper, The LaPlata Home Press, this time reprinting a feature on Dent originally published in The Daily Oklahoman!

 

Oklahoma Biographs Lester Dent,

The Wizard Of The Pulps
The LaPlata Home Press, LaPlata, MO • 29 June 1939

Lester Dent

Lester Dent is one of the most valid of cosmopolitans. He was born in Missouri. Was taken to and lived on a series of farms near Broken Arrow (Oklahoma). Just in time to avoid having oil struck on his place. Dent’s father sold out and the family moved to a godforsaken cow ranch in the Wyoming sagebrush.

Then back to Missouri, in 1918, when Dent was 12 years old. Only 33 years old now, he has lived almost everywhere. Recently he returned from a treasurer hunt in the Caribbean on his schooner, “The Albatross”. His home, he says, is wherever he happens to be sitting at his typewriter at the moment. Just at present, that is New York. However: “I guess I’m more Oklahoman than anything else, having lived there longer than anywhere else by about five years.”

Dent got to the fifth grade, moved to another place, and entered high school. There he flunked English for four consecutive years, after which a disgusted teacher asserted that he was hopeless along that line. Graduated from high school in 1923, and took a course in telegraphy. Got a job at $45 a month, later worked nights for the Associated Press in Tulsa.

While on that job, Dent started writing adventure stories. Sent one of them to George Delacorte of the Dell Publishing Company. Delacorte wired him to come to New York if he was making less than $100 a week. “But,” says Dent, “I thought he was nuts. I’m still not sure—” Anyway, after telegraphing friends in New York to inquire about the publisher’s sanity, he went to New York. He was given two magazines (”Scotland Yard” and “Sky Riders”) to fill. Dent cleaned up 4,000 bucks the first month, and as much monthly for three more magazines. Then both magazines went broke. That was in 1931—the depression had arrived. For the next six months he would sell a story to a magazine and before he could sell it another one, that magazine would fold up. Finally he found some that were on an even keel.

Dent’s work has been for the pulp magazines. He has sold to over 30 publications, of the cowboy, detective, adventure, air, and mystery types. Also to writers’ magazines. He uses a dozen pen names, including Kenneth Robeson, Maxwell Grant, H.O. Cash, Tim Ryan, and various others. Has long ago lost track of just how many years he has sold, although he knows the total is more than 1,000. For the last three years he has received not one rejection slip; in fact, the stories were contracted for in advance.

Dent is the second most prolific author in the world. For a year his output was an average of 200,000 words a month, all of which he sold. That, he says, is not his limit. Here’s how he works: Out of bed at 11 a.m., works until about 4 p.m.; reads the papers, takes a walk, naps for an hour; then works until 3 or 4 a.m. Does this five days a week. Biggest production for a day: On dictaphone, 32,000 words; on typewriter, 24,000 words. Most words turned out in a continuous session: 45,000 words (a book). This required a night, day, and part of night. He never revises. His copy comes out of machine and goes in “as is”.

Under the nom de plume of Kenneth Robeson, Dent writes monthly a 60,000-word (book-length) “Doc Savage” story. The “Doc Savage Magazine” was the most successful pulp magazine in the world the sec-year of its existence. Dent claims his character, Doc Savage, is an unconscious composite of the physical qualities of Tarzan of the Apes, the detective ability of Sherlock Holmes, the scientific sleuthing mastery of Craig Kennedy, and the morals of Jesus Christ. He has written perhaps 50 novels about his creation, at present being over a year ahead of the magazine which prints them.

The following should encourage embryo writers. Dent swears it’s true: “Pulp magazines are more widely open than ever for new writers. Just send them a half-way printable story and they’ll buy it. . . The pulps are an excellent training field. When I started writing for them, less than eight years ago, T.S. Stribling and MacKinley Kantor were only pulp hacks.”

Dent regrets that be has written under so many pseudonyms, instead of building up one name—his own—in the pulps. The mistake was made partly because of the fact that editors don’t like to carry more than one story under the same name in a single issue of a magazine. So Dent would sign one with his real name, and others with noms de plume. Occasionally, he has written entire issues of magazines in this manner. Consequently, although his output ranks among the greatest, his name is not especially well known.

Asked if he entertained any unrealized literary ambitions. Dent replied. “One million of them, all made of silver called dollars, and in banks, preferably several banks.” Everything considered, this is not a vain desire at all—for Mr. Dent.

(Copied from The Daily Oklahoman. Sunday, July 19, 1936.)

“Bat Trap” by Lester Dent

Link - Posted by David on April 8, 2016 @ 6:00 am in

Lester Dent is best remembered as the man behind Doc Savage. But he wrote all number of other stories before he started chronicling the adventures of everyone’s favorite bronze giant. Here we have an action-packed tale of the air whose hero—Major Hercules Gade—bares a striking resemblance everyone’s favorite chemist, Monk Mayfair: “He was pint size, this Yank buzzard. His ears were tufts of gristle. Somebody had once broken his nose. There was long hair on his wrists and the tendons on the backs of his knotty hands stood out like twisted ropes. His face was something to scare babies with. But just now an infectious grin cracked it from ear to ear.”

Herk is sent to the Groupe de Chasse 71 to get an unruly flight in line by any means necessary—which in this case means his fists—and take care of the Baron von Gruppe’s jagdstaffel and a German backed Sinn Fein plot!

They were fighting hounds from Devil’s Island and no man could tame them, but that was before a half-pint major named Hercules blasted them through the sky-trail that had no return.

If you enjoyed this story, Black Dog Books has put out an excellent volume collecting 11 of Lester Dent’s early air stories set against the backdrop of World War !. The book includes this story as well as others from the pages of War Birds, War Aces, Flying Aces, Sky Birds and The Lone Eagle. It’s The Skull Squadron! Check it out!

 

And as a bonus, here’s another article from Lester’s home town paper, The LaPlata Home Press, about his early success selling stories to the pulps while working as a telegraph opperator in Tulsa, Oklahoma!

 

At 25, Lester Dent Makes Hit As Writer

Will Visit Parents Here Enronte To New York Position
The LaPlata Home Press, LaPlata, MO • 25 December 1930

Lester Dent will leave Tulsa, Oklahoma, the first of January to spend the remainder of the winter in New York City, writing magazine adventure fiction. Mr. Dent is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Bern Dent, of north of LaPlata. and graduated from LaPlata high school in 1923. In going to New York, he is accepting flattering offers made by an eastern publishing house. Mr. Dent expects to visit his parents here enroute east.

Newspaper work usually leads to nothing but more newspaper work but once in a while there are exceptions to that rule. As in the case of Lester Dent, who is now the recipient of flattering offers from New York because of his yarn-spinning in magazine columns as well as daily news sheets.

Lester Dent

For more than four years Mr. Dent has been an Associated Press operator and Maintenance man, allied with The Tulsa Tribune. Less than two years ago he commenced to try his hand at fiction writing. He turned out, 13 stories, all of which were rejected, wrote, the fourteenth and found a market. That encouraged him to go on and he has been going better and faster ever since. His marker has included “Popular Stories,” “Air Stories,” ”Top-Notcoh,” “Action Stories” and “Sky Riders.”

Some of the earlier titles were ”Pirate Cay,” “Death Zone,” “Bucaneers of the Midnight Sun” and “The Thirteenth Million Dollar Robbery.”

Later Mr. Dent’s name appeared over stories called “Vulture Coast,” “The Devil’s Derelict,” “The Skeleton From Moon Cay” and, most recently, “Hell Hop.” The last-named tale attracted the attention of one of the editors of “Sky Riders” in which it is
to appear. Soon after the author received a night letter suggesting that the New York publishing field had a place for writers of his imagination.

Mr. Dent is 25 years old and has been in Tulsa nearly five years, most of that time employed by the Associated Press. He once enrolled in the law school at the University of Tulsa but gave it up, because, he says some what laconically, “it was too much work.” Planning thirteen million-dollar robberies and tales of buccaneers for the delight of the American public that likes its action swift and daring seems easier work, evidently. Now he has the choice of continuing to write the news as it does happen or as it might but probably would not happen.

“The Blue Ghost Patrol” by Lester Dent

Link - Posted by David on April 10, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Lester Dent is best known as the man behind Doc Savage. But he wrote all number of other stories before he started chronicling the adventures of everyone’s favorite bronze giant. Here we have an intriging tale which seems to be the start of a character he never got back to—The Black Bat. From the October 1932 issue of Flying Aces we present “The Blue Ghost Patrol!”

Hot on the trail of those two traitor ships from his own base flew the Black Bat, famous Allied secret agent whose face no man had ever seen. Suddenly five Albatrosses swooped down and sent him crashing into the sea. But in the next second they had gone on—and their Spandaus were hammering at the two traitor ships!

 

If you enjoyed this story, Black Dog Books has put out an excellent volume collecting 11 of Lester Dent’s early air stories set against the backdrop of World War !. The book includes this story as well as others from the pages of War Birds, War Aces, Flying Aces, Sky Birds and The Lone Eagle. It’s The Skull Squadron! Check it out.

And as a bonus, here’s a plucky article from Lester’s home town paper, The LaPlata Home Press, about his early success selling stories to the pulps while working as a telegraph opperator in Tulsa, Oklahoma!

 

LaPlata Man Known As A Writer

Lester Dent Sells Stories Written In Liesure Hours
The LaPlata Home Press, LaPlata, MO • 12 June 1930

Lester Dent, a graduate with the Plata high school class of 1923, is building a name for himself in Oklahoma as a writer of adventure fiction.

Mr. Dent is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Bern Dent, who live three quarters of a mile north of the Santa Fe lake. After finishing high school here, Mr. Dent attended Chillicothe Business College, taking a course in telegraphy. Recently he has made talks on short story writing before the journalism extension class of Oklahoma University, and the Claremore, Okla., writers club.

Lester Dent

Part of a feature article which appears in the Sunday World, Tulsa, Okla., reads:

Lester Dent, who writes air, action, adventure and mystery stories for the all-fiction magazines, is a press telegraph operator on the “Hoot Owl” trick—midnight until 8 o’clock in the morning—in the wire room of the Tulsa World. In his spare time, Mr. Dent manages to write and sell several hundred dollars’ worth of short stories and novelettes a month. Since January 1, he has placed featured novelettes in Popular, Air Stories, Top Notch, etc.

Besides having “pounded brass” as a telegraph operator in a dozen middle west cities for oil companies, the Western Union and the Associated Press, Mr. Dent has apprenticed as a horse wrangler, cowboy and sheep-herder in Wyoming during which period he contributed materially to the success of a number of pulp paper magazine publishers by reading all of their thrillers he could buy, borrow, or get hold of otherwise: has been a pipeline roustabout, trapper, stenographer, punched a “Mux” tele-graphtypewriter, and “put in a number of summers working like the devil on a farm near LaPlata, Mo., for no visible purpose but to raise enough corn to feed a span of voracious Jack and Jinn mules through the ensuing winter.”

He attended Tulsa University law school long enough to discover there was hard work entailed in the business of being a lawyer, and declares he lost interest. In addition, he says he is a radio operator, although “rather rusty,” and “a terrible flier, one eye being off the job and the other showing a peculiar brand of judgment when it comes to distances.”

Mr. Dent is 24 years old, is something over six feet tall, and weighs around 225. He started writing fiction slightly more than a year ago when, he says, he “suddenly discovered it was the racket for any nitwit who wants an easy living.”