Randy Striker Novels
Introductory summary to the RANDY STRIKER NOVELS by Randy Wayne White
In 1981, impressed by articles I’d published in OUTSIDE MAGAZINE, an editor at New American Library called and asked if I’d write two sample chapters for a series of thrillers they wanted to publish in a rush.
“We’re going to use three or four writers,” she said, “all writing under the same pseudonym. If we like you send, you could be one of them.”
The sparse outline she provided was interesting. The series’ hero was to be a Key West fishing guide. His name would be settled upon later, but he had to 1.) have a shark scar. 2.) He’d been friends with Ernest Hemingway. 3.) Before his parents died, they’d traveled with a circus as part of a trapeze act, and therefore the hero was freakishly strong. 4.) He’d been a Navy SEAL who’d served in Vietnam. 5.) Woman could not resist his rugged good looks – among other hunky attributes.
“I know you’re a Key West fishing guide,” the editor said over the phone. “This could work out for both of us. Five thousand bucks a book – if you’re chosen. What do you think?”
I’m no historian, but sensed the timeline regarding the hero and his friendship with Hemingway was problematic. Even so, we’d had a bout of bad weather. Fishing sucked, I needed money. Fishing guides always, always need money, and another tropical band was expected. I remember glancing toward Key West, 110 miles to the south of Sanibel Island. “Yeah,” I said. “Great sunsets down here. When do you need the sample chapters?”
Two weeks, she said.
During nine stormy days and nights of wind and rain, I wrote an entire book about the hero, whom I called, Dusky MacMorgan. ‘Dusky,’ it was the name emblazoned on Ralph Woodring’s boat that I passed every day at the mouth of Tarpon Bay. MacMorgan, well, Morgan the swashbuckling pirate – get it?
Never did a piece of paper go into my old typewriter that was balled up and trashed. I went into auto-write mode, banging away with two fingers, desperate not only for money but also to, my god, actually produce a novel that was damn near guaranteed to be published? Unbelievable!
“I’ve come a long way from the farm,” I remember telling my adored and now ex-wife Debra. Me, the under achieving farm kid who’d never impressed any teacher, other than a baseball coach of two.
On the tenth day, I mailed the script to New York. I was at the marina – it was lunch time – when Mack who owned the marina, summoned over the bullhorn. “Randy, get your ass in here. You’ve got another damn call from New York.”
It’s the way we were, our little close-knit marina community. We supported each other, and no lie was too outrageous.
On the phone, the editor from New American Library sounded a bit dazed. “My god,” she said. “This books wonderful. Do you think you can do it again?”
“Yep,” I said. And I did. The other writers (if they existed) were dismissed, and I became the sole puppeteer of the swashbuckling Dusky MacMorgan. Before the year was out, I produced four more adventures, then re-upped for another two – but at $7,000.
Shrewd businessman, right? Nope, I was a clueless neophyte as the editor, years later, confided as a sort of apology. No need. What I learned about writing and pacing, and the sanctity of deadlines during that period, was an education that no university could or ever has offered.
The first book, KEY WEST CONNECTION, wasn’t wonderful, nor were the others. But they do contain, I think, some good description and some lyrical sentence rhythms that still have a nice ring.
You be the judge.