Bob De Haven      
March 10, 1938     

      Writers and Readers

      Good evening, writers and readers, this is Bob De Haven with the Writers and Readers program. What is it? Well, a chat about the great game of putting words into print for entertainment and a chat of interest to those behind as well as in front of the magazines, books and pictures.

      Tonight we have the story behind the story contributed by L. Ron Hubbard...who writes from the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York. Heaven only knows where he is now. First I’ll get you acquainted with Hubbard before going into his story which is on the stands now in Street & Smith’s Western Story magazine.

      Hubbard was born in Nebraska and moved to Oklahoma at the age of three weeks, moved in with his grandfather, Lafe Waterbury, who had an outfit near Durant. Eventually he went to Montana where the war took his father away in the navy and L. Ron spent years tagging his father around the world.

      With his father and independently, L. Ron Hubbards had traveled a quarter of a million at nineteen years through Asia, South Pacific and South America. He then stopped trying to be a civil engineer and tried to be a pilot. He searched for gold in Latin America, ran an expedition and started to write while trailing around the globe. He has sold one of every type of story printed. His published word total is about a million and a half.

      His last book was called Buckskin Brigades...

      So with that introduction let’s turn to his story behind the story. It has been on the stands this past week in Western Story magazines, the lead story called “Six-Gun Caballero.” It was written several months ago and he says the details are hard to recall because a story written, to him, exists as an individual piece of work and he can’t remember a time when it was not written. But he does recall every move that his principal character, Michael Patrick Obanon made in “Six-Gun Caballero.” He came alive before the story started through the typewriter. Hubbard would know him anywhere.

      This sounds like characters haunt him and that’s right. One character haunted him for four and a half years and made his life miserable. In truth, he was a ghost, this character. He was an ugly fellow who had a habit of vanishing in a puff of smoke and shooting men in the back. This character was developed about five years ago when Hubbard sat down to see if he could write a story in ten days, a full book of 60,000 words. He made it in eleven days and called the book Pirate Castle. In it was a pirate’s ghost called the Shark of the Caribbean, the villain of the piece, and it was the shark who haunted the author.

      And it was annoying in more ways than one to Hubbard – the novel started to collect rejects in wholesale lots. It went to every magazine that ever printed such stories. It went to every publishing house. It went over the Atlantic and had tiffin with London publishers, and even said skoal with the Scandinavians. But to no avail. Nobody wanted that book, and the ghost kept coming back to bother Hubbard in his sleep.

      Well – finally one of the major Hollywood studios bought it and hired the author to write the play, and even then, he wasn’t through with it. Argosy asked for a rewrite of the novel, a change of editors and another request for a rewrite. Finally the story was buried with honor and lives... on the screen.

      Back to “Six-Gun Caballero.” John Burr is Western Story’s editor now and Hubbard admits he has a lot of faith in him. He doesn’t get sudden spasms like other editors; all he wants is a good story. It doesn’t matter what happens as long as the story will interest the reader. That is sensible editing.

      Don Michael, for instance, is not the usual western gunman hero at all but a very smooth lad. That made the story and that is why people will read it. Often, even in a slick paper, an editor will get a formula he likes and then every writer has to adhere to that formula – which drives most any writer into madness.

      When I asked L. Ron Hubbards what kind of a fellow is the average writer, he refused to be trapped. Very seldom are they college graduates. Rich man, poor man, beggarman and thief, since O. Henry did time in Ohio, even if there were very extenuating circumstances. That’s what makes the game interesting. From one day to another, no editor knows from whence the best story of the year will spring. Editors depend on old-timers, but then writing is a trade as much as plumbing. It has to be learned by practice.

      L. Ron Hubbards says a writer’s success is his ability to get drunk – on words. And here’s good advice, kind listeners, the more a writer writes, the more he can write. Hubbard says if he does 5,000 words today, he can do 10,000 tomorrow. But if he stops for a week it takes another week to get going again. A writer can write himself into a jag of weeks duration. Hubbard recently did a 130,000 words in six days. He mentions Arthur J. Burks as a real speed demon on a typewriter. Burks recently wrote 70,000 words in three days. Quality seems to improve with speed.

      “Six-Gun Caballero” was done in 5 days. Five thousand the first day, something like a thousand each of the next three days and twelve thousand the last day.

      Well, thanks many times to L. Ron Hubbard. Read his “Six-Gun Caballero” and express your thanks by telling his editor what you think of the yarn. The interest of these top-notchers is greatly appreciated.

      Well, writers and readers, our time is really short. Next week we’ll be on at 10:00 P.M. and at the same time on succeeding weeks.... Come early...stay late...This is Bob De Haven hoping you’ll listen again and tell your friends about this program.

Contents Page Glossary Home Related Sites Bookstore on-line