Friday, June 16, 2017
The Digest Enthusiast, Espionage, and Me
One of the things that has me devouring each issue is the realization that my writing career is entwined with the digests. My first professional short story sale in the late 1970s was to a digest-sized children's magazine (Young World), my third professional mystery sale was to a digest (Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine), and my stories have since appeared in several current and now-defunct digests (Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Espionage, and more). I even have a story coming out next year in Weirdbook, a publication I first sold to in 1990 when it was a full-size publication, but which has been resurrected as a digest.
One category of digests not yet covered by The Digest Enthusiast is the sex digests, which I wrote for early in my career, and which provided me with an opportunity to contribute to Espionage.
The sex digests had titles such as Chic Letters, Hustler Fantasies, Letters, Turn-On Letters, Uncensored Letters, and so on. The primary content of these publications were "true" letters from "readers" describing their sexual encounters. Some of these digests were low-budget affairs containing little else but letters and others were more like their full-sized men's magazine counterparts, with photographs and actual short stories and articles. I wrote for both kinds.
At that point I had already placed a few mystery short stories in other publications (Mike Shayne, for one), and I was a regular contributor to the sex digests Jackie Lewis edited. Even though I was an unknown--compared to many of Espionage's other contributors--Jackie purchased my stories and splashed my name on the covers as if it meant something.
Well, it did to me.
Learn a little more about Jackie, Jeri, the digests they published, and the start of Espionage: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1985-02-22/features/8501100834_1_bimonthly-publication-penthouse-science-fiction