Sunday, April 18, 2010

Talmage Powell on Words and Writing

Oh, the marvels of the internet. While doing research on pulp editor Fanny Ellsworth, I came across this fascinating interview with pulpster Talmage Powell courtesy of the Vintage Library. Here are some of his reflections on the craft of writing.
In the matter of style, if I have one some academic will have to define it. I never thought of it consciously. My personal method was to think first of a predominating effect I wanted a story to build to and achieve, both in structuring and in the writing, which influenced the choice of words. Characterization and atmosphere creation also determined the nuances and I've sometimes spent half-a-day hunting the precisely right word, more often than not experiencing defeat...

Pulp, it turns out, constitutes only a small part of my work, but it was perhaps the most important phase. It demanded writing discipline; it required the constant exercise of originality; it offered the opportunity to learn and employ techniques that are essential in any genre of creative writing. It was the exercise that provided the foundation from which I have remained in print for a half-century.
Read the full interview here.


  1. My grandparents were Mimi and Talmage Powell's landlords early in the Powell's marriage and remained lifelong friends with them. I knew them as a young girl and became fascinated with Talmage's work with Alfred Hitchcock. I missed this Pulp period and am grateful you posted these comments. Sorry it took me so long to find them!


  2. I’d just read Start Screaming Murder when I came across these highly interesting remarks by Talmage Powell. I think his remarks could also apply to Fletcher Flora, whose novel The Brass Bed I also read recently.
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    "Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"


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