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Monday, July 24, 2023

Integrity and imagination: Good writing companions


“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, 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 a 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.

So, MacDonald decided to give writing a further try.  After hundreds of rejection slips a second story was finally accepted, this time from Dime Detective which paid him $40.  Encouraged, he re-worked other stories and was off and running.  Ultimately, he sold more than 
500 short 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 then, it also holds the distinction of being the focus of two feature films, both box office successes.    

His Travis McGee character made his first appearance in 1964 in The Deep Blue Good-bye, starting a run of 21 "McGee" bestsellers with each title including a color. "My purpose," MacDonald wrote about the McGee success,  "was to entertain myself first and other people second."  Seemed he did both quite well.


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