On Writing,  publishing

Chet Cunningham

One of the great modern pulp writers…

Chet Cunningham just died. Since we have been talking about pulp writers to admire from the old days, I thought I would mention his passing at 88. He was writing up to the end from what I understand.

Author of around 450 books, but as most writers who are prolific, a real list is almost impossible to put together. I hope someone has it somewhere.

And as with most of the old pulp writers, most of you will have never heard of him, even though chances are you read his work over the years.  He tended to write one book a month, but was known at times to produce them much faster, even under a week when a publisher was stuck for a book.

He also did amazing things for newer and experienced writers in his area, including sponsoring all sorts of support vehicles for young writers and teaching some as well.

One of the great modern pulp writers. And most of his books were written on a manual typewriter, at least the first few hundred.

As I have said before, pulp writers with the work ethic and the love to tell stories still exist. However, we now have one less, sadly.


  • Mark Kuhn

    Sad news about Chet, Dean. I know Chet wrote a number of books for Gold Eagle Publishing for the Executioner and Mack Bolan series. He also wrote a few books in the Penetrator series, not sure who published those.
    You can see a list of all he wrote for them at mackbolan.com. Pick the Executioner series, scroll down and click on Chet’s name and you will see a complete list.

    • dwsmith

      Yeah, he also wrote for a number of the western series as well as original westerns and numbers of science fiction. His books were all over the place which is why I said most people will have read something of his without knowing it. Sort of like my books, only Chet was way ahead of me. Sadly, now, I might get a chance to catch him, but not in any way I would want.

  • Dayle

    He was the father of a good friend of mine, romance writer Christine Ashworth. Sadly I never hot to meet him, but he was still an inspiration!

  • Mark Kuhn

    His Executioner books were among the better written entries in the series. Westerns by him I would have easily missed because it’s not a genre I normally read, except the occasional Louis L’Amour short story, here and there.

  • Sean McLachlan

    I see that he started in journalism like I did. That’s a good training ground for creative writing. You quickly learn to write to deadline and ignore the myth that is “writer’s block”. If you have an 800 word article due in an hour, it better be done in an hour or there’s going to be a big white gap in the paper and you’ll be out of a job!
    Might be a good blog post for Kris there, didn’t she get her start in journalism?

    • dwsmith

      She did. I’ll pass the idea along. And I agree with Chet, there is no such thing as writer’s block. Projects get stuck at times, but a writer (a person who writes) will move to another project if not possible to unstick quickly the first project.

      But wow have I heard writers use writer’s block as a whiney excuse for not getting past their own fears.

  • Sheila

    Sorry to hear of his passing. Always sad to lose a fellow writer.

    I’d bet my former brother-in-law probably read a lot of Chet’s westerns. He was a huge fan of the genre and had lots of books (not quite as many as I had, but getting close!).