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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Integrity and 'class' personified

“Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn't blow in the wind or change with the weather. It is your inner image of yourself, and if you look in there and see a man who won't cheat, then you know he never will.” – John D. MacDonald

Born on this date in 1916, crime/suspense novelist and short storywriter MacDonald achieved the highest accolade in his genre, named a Grandmaster by the Mystery Writers of America shortly before his death in 1986.   A self-proclaimed “accidental writer,” he also was the winner of a National Book Award, and is perhaps best-known for his popular, critically acclaimed Travis McGee series. 

MacDonald's literary career began in 1945 while in the Army.  Waiting in the Pacific for his ship home, he wrote a short story and mailed it to his wife Dorothy.  She loved it and submitted it to Esquire -- which promptly rejected it.  So, she sent it to Story magazine, which accepted it for $25, pretty good payment for the time.

MacDonald decided to give writing a further try.  After writing almost nonstop for 4 months and getting hundreds of rejection slips, Dime Detective took a short story and paid him $40.  Encouraged, he re-worked other stories and was off and running.  Ultimately, he sold more than 
500 stories to detective, mystery and adventure magazines.                       

His first novel appeared in 1950, but it was his 1957 book The Executioners that put him on the map.  An almost continuous best-seller since, it also holds the distinction of being the focus of two feature films, both box office successes.    

His character Travis McGee made his first appearance in 1964 in The Deep Blue Good-bye, starting a run of 21 bestsellers featuring him.   Each title in the series includes a color, the last being The Lonely Silver Rain shortly before MacDonald’s death.    This past May, Nathaniel Philbrick - author of In The Heart Of The Sea and Mayflower - said:  "I recently discovered John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series … and it's as prescient and verbally precise as anyone writing today can possibly hope to be."

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