Welcome to the
Frederick Nolan website
(a sort of autobiography in the making)
"The best possible equipment for a writer
is a built-in, shockproof shit detector."
-- Ernest Hemingway.
This is me back in the day (left) with Artie Pine
and on the right, that incredibly prolific writer of westerns,
As you can see, we weren't feeling any pain.
Looking back, I sometimes feel like the snail in the old joke
who was mugged by three tortoises.
When the rat cops came and asked him if he could
give them a description of his attackers,
the snail shook his head.
"It all happened too fast," he said.
And that's how it felt for me.
The contract with Morrow was signed in July, 1974,
the same month they published The Algonquin Project,
A whole lot of other stuff was happening as the year raced by.
My work charts show that between signing that contract and May, 1975
when I delivered The Mittenwald Syndicate, and two more “Angel” westerns,
not to mention regular fortnightly issues of The Gee Report,
while also revelling in reading British and American reviews of
The Ritter Double Cross, and Kill Petrosino!
and enjoying the appearance in paperback of
The Oshawa Project and four “Angels”.
Between delivery of The Mittenwald Syndicate and its publication,
I set out to fulfil a lifetime ambition by writing the life stories of
my two favourite composers -- Rodgers and Hart -- well, Hart really.
The idea of doing a biography of Lorenz Hart had been
an impossible dream for many years,
but I had never really had the time -- or the money --
to travel to the United States
and track down some of the people
who had known and worked with him.
Now I had the dough, I set out on
an intensive period of research
during which I interviewed some of the greatest stars
of the Broadway (and Hollywood) musical.
Try to imagine what it was like for the me
who once sat enraptured in a shabby Liverpool cinema
watching Words and Music, MGM's "biopic" of Rodgers & Hart ,
all at once magically transported into fairy-tale Broadway/Hollywood,
now sipping cognac at his Beverly Hills home with Gene Kelly,
or elsewhere listening to the reminiscences of such Broadway giants as
Helen Ford, George Abbott, Arthur Schwartz, Vivienne Segal, Edith Meiser,
Jessie Matthews, Larry Adler, Howard Dietz, Irving Berlin, Dorothy Fields,
Mary Martin, Joshua Logan, Dorothy Hammerstein, Alec Wilder,
Harry Warren, Muriel Angelus, Agnes de Mille, Celeste Holm,
Jan Clayton, Benay Venuta, Irving Caesar, Harry Warren ...
and finally, unbelievably, to spend three hours
talking with the maestro himself --
* * * * *
... and then
(for a change)
something completely unexpected happened ...
I’ll let Publisher's Weekly's Paul Nathan tell the story,
datelined June 2, 1975
in his “Rights and Permissions” column in Publishers Weekly --
one of the places to get your book mentioned,.
“Several weeks ago a rave notice for
When it was published by Morrow last July, Paul Nathan again:
Nolan’s story of a secret plot put together just after World War II
to assassinate one of America’s most famous—and hated—generals
attracted a modest amount of critical attention,
but not until the Times review burst upon Hollywood
did the author’s agent Arthur Pine receive
his first inquiry about film rights.
Then the calls began to flood in.
With no fewer than ten producers expressing interest,
the book has gone to Martin Rackin Productions
under a step arrangement that will carry
the total price to $100,000 by the start of shooting.
In addition Nolan is cut in for 5% of the producer’s share of profits."
Meanwhile, The Hollywood Reporter noted,
Artie Pine—“not one to quit while he’s ahead” --
was checking into the Beverly Hills Hotel
“to push other film sales for writer clients,
not the least of which will be
Nolan’s newest novel ‘The Mittenwald Syndicate.’”
Which, although it was not to be published
until the following summer,
had already been bought for paperback
by Sphere Books in London
(Pan, Corgi, Coronet and Mayflower were the underbidders)
for GBP10,000 ($25,000).
On top of all that we sold Italian, Spanish, Finnish,
Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Japanese
and book club rights as well as
serialisation rights in the Sydney Daily Mirror.
Is that exciting, or what?
as summer time ended,
regretfully but necessarily terminating publication of The Gee Report,
I was fully occupied putting together an outline for a big, sexy historical novel
about the men (and women) who built the US transcontinental railroad
and listening to “The Richard Rodgers Story” –
five one-hour programmes written for
the BBC’s Radio One channel,
narrated by Jessie Matthews, another star of the 1930s ...
I was already moving on to my next project.
Well, not altogether my next project:
more accurately Artie Pine’s.
“For the one-man industry that is Frederick Nolan,
1976 gives every indication of being a good year—
the best yet, in fact.
Martin Rackin and Berle Adams are planning
to go into production with
a film adaptation of his 1974 novel
“The Algonquin Project.”
His forthcoming novel “The Mittenwald Syndicate”
has just been auctioned for British paperback …
with Sphere Books making the high bid of £10,000 —
one of the company’s top advances.
Warner Books has guaranteed a substantial sum
to acquire softcover rights to
another novel, “Carver’s Kingdom”
which exists only in outline.
Before next fall, when he expects to deliver the manuscript
based on this outline, Nolan will have completed
his assignment for Macmillan [
as collaborator on the autobiography of Jay J. Armes.
Armes is a
who, in spite of having no hands,
is among the most successful —
and most flamboyant—in the business.
Magazine articles and TV appearances
(with more of the latter coming up
in a series built about him)
have popularized him to such an extent that
Mattel is making a Jay J. Armes toy.”
Paul Nathan again:
So in December 1975 I spent a week in
who was, to quote the shout-line for the book,
“The world’s most successful private eye.
He works like Raymond Chandler and lives like James Bond.”
He had a Navajo Indian bodyguard,
he had a helicopter, he had his own private zoo,
he had a house with a stream running through the living room,
he had a submachine gun clipped to the dashboard of his limo,
he drove a flashy red Corvette,
he had his own shooting range in the basement ...
and, although it didn't slow him down any,
he had steel hooks instead of hands,
the result of a childhood accident when
he picked up a railroad warning torpedo and it exploded.
So in December 1975 I spent a week in
How could you not write a terrific book about a guy like that?
By the first week of February I had a draft and
delivered the final manuscript at the end of March—
boy, if only every book you wrote would spill onto the page that fast!
Here's the book.
And the man himself, ten times larger than life.
Are you beginning to see why
this page is headed "Wildest Dreams"?
All this, and then in the spring of 1976,
The Mittenwald Syndicate became a reality.
In London, Cassell & Co.
(where my old friend Michael Legat was now editorial director)
announced the UK hardcover edition for a 24 June publication,
and in New York William Morrow followed suit.
Here's how the book looked on both sides of the Atlantic ...
which one do you think suggests the content best?