Raymond Chandler was one of my early writing influences and literary heroes. It's a dangerous mix; if you read a lot of Chandler, you'll try to write like him, and nobody writes Chandler like Chandler. Even Robert B. Parker, a brilliant writer, couldn't ape Chandler effectively when he finished Chandler's unfinished manuscript Poodle Springs. Chandler lived the last part of his life in La Jolla, CA, where I managed Hunter's Books for years. When he put La Jolla into his last finished novel, Playback, Chandler called it Esmerelda.
Bob Parker sent his detective Spenser to La Jolla in Pale Kings and Princes. He kept the name Esmerelda, and he used Chandler's name for La Valencia, the luxury hotel that sat across the street from my bookstore: Casa del Poniente. From our front window we could watch the valets run back and forth, parking cars for the hoi polloi (Audrey Geisel--Mrs. Doctor Seuss--drove a Cadillac with the plate GRINCH on it). Parker wrote this in the book: "The pink stucco hotel in the middle of the main drag had a big canopied patio out front and a discreet sign that said CASA DEL PONIENTE. Three valet carhops stood alertly outside in black vests and white shirts waiting to do anything you told them to do. I nosed in and parked in front of a bookstore across the street from the hotel."
Bob was a pal and had been to the store on multiple occasions; the reference was intentional, and appreciated. That and making a pilgrimage past Chandler's house from time to time--and owning and reading every book he ever wrote--are my tenuous connections to Chandler. I'm a fan, and always will be.
So I'm delighted by the news that Chandler's getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next year. Not a lot of writers have been so honored (but among the few are my late friend Ray Bradbury, and the aforementioned Dr. Seuss). It's a recognition of Chandler's impact on the movie business, both through the scripts he wrote and through the many adaptations of his books. It's about time.
Speaking of writing and writers, the International Thriller Writers The Big Thrill online publication has an interview with Simon & Schuster editor Sarah Knight, who edits the work of another friend, James Lee Burke, among others. In the interview, she describes what she looks for in a submission, and offers some Dos and Donts for authors. If you're an author, or want to be, check it out.