Cussedness Corner

"My work may be garbage but it's good garbage." Mickey Spillane

The Editor and I: A long anecdote


When I first started out in publishing, my first sale was in 1978 to Amazons! edited by Jessica Amanda Salmonson. The anthology came out from Daw in November of 1979 and won the World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology in 1980.

At that time, I had a novel making the rounds titled The Moonstone of Reyanon. Daw rejected it so I sent it to Dell. The Dell line was edited by James Frenkel. He was a spindly little guy with kinky hair and a charming smile that had just a whiff of mischief. He told me he loved the book and wanted to buy it. But before he could issue a contract, Dell decided that the science fiction/fantasy line was not making enough profit and canceled the line. I sent it next to Donning/Starblaze. The editor, Hank Stine, bought it.

A few months later, I married Hank. We honeymooned at the World Science Fiction convention in 1980, which was held that year in Boston. A whirlwind of parties ensued, including one at Charles Platt’s where I got kissed by Harlan Ellison while he playfully insulted my husband. “I can’t believe you married this beast.”

Jim Frenkel was there and I got a bit testy with him. However, instead of responding with anger, he followed me out the door and asked, “Why are you being this way?”

I turned bright red and apologized. That was the beginning of a long friendship.

A few years later, Jim started Blue Jay books on a shoestring. The American Bookseller’s Convention was held in Dallas and money was tight for Jim. He knew I had family in Texas, and I volunteered to ask my grandmother if he could stay at her home while he was in town for the convention and save on the cost of a hotel. She agreed. Mama and Jim got along very well while he was staying there; although I kidded him for several years about being alone with my grandmother.

I left fiction for journalism in 1982. I did not write another piece of fiction until 1994, when Forry Ackerman asked me to write a story for the anthology he was doing with Jean Stine called “I Vampire: Interviews with the Undead.” That story was “Visiting the Neighbors.”

In 1997, I wrote a new novel, My Sister’s Keeper, and went looking for an agent. By then Jim had sold his publishing company and opened an agency. I had not spoken with him in several years, so it was with more than a little trepidation that I called him up. We talked for a long time, catching up on everything conceivable and he told me that if the novel was as good as my early stuff that I had an agent. It was and i did.

When Jim closed the agency to accept a full time job with TOR, he matched me up with Jack Byrne, who is a lovely person and a good agent. However, the books didn’t sell. When Jack submitted the books to TOR, Jim could not be the one to evaluate them because that would have been a conflict of interest since he had once repped them.

These days, the spindly little guy I remember has disappeared. He’s still short, but he’s not … well … thin any longer. Jim and i still talk on the phone and exchange emails. There is getting to be too few of us left from the old days.

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This entry was posted on June 27, 2007 by in Janrae Frank.

Janrae Frank

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