Each year, I submitted five or six to the school’s literary review. For my efforts as a junior, the magazine’s senior editor made fun of the school’s “professional writers” in his introduction, as if we were all guys with hurdy-gurdies and dancing monkeys. .
He’s gone now, but he grew up to become a professor of Celtic literature and mythology at a college in the Midwest. (I bet he was a great teacher. He was a good guy under the pleasant patronage of the faculty, and his own hermetic passions were persuasive even as a teenager, when he was already a Joyce scholar.)
Block would have been kosher if he had attended the legendary University of Iowa Writers’ School, whose faculty was legendary. But he went to Antioch, which required the students to spend six months working in the world.
Lawrence Block’s apprenticeship seemed, from a distance, hilarious. No fancy stuff there. He was, practically from his teens, a pulp writer in training. His first novel was written in Buffalo. It was a lesbian novel. Its editor at the publishing house changed the title to “Strange Are The Ways of Love”. She changed her name to the pseudonym Lesley Evans.
Block was writing dough by the pound for magazines and inexpensive paperbacks. Some of his pseudonyms were Jill Emerson, Andrew Shaw, Paul Kavanaugh, Sheldon Lord, Don Holliday, Lee Duncan, and Anne Campbell Clark. He has co-authored books with equally legendary pulp practitioner Donald Westlake.