Every writer needs to read Gunshots in Another Room: The Forgotten Life of Dan J Marlowe by Charles Kelly. His experience in writing mirrors pretty much all of ours. The book does a great job of pointing out that he wasn't a top-tier writer. And financial success and fame eluded him. This doesn't mean that he wasn't a critically acclaimed writer. It is evident with such books as The Name of the Game Is Death, One Endless Hour and The Vengeance Man. But according to the biography, Marlowe was mostly scraping by and considered a genre author.
It also points out some interesting things. One of those being that he was a Republican . To me the author feels this was very evident in his approach to writing, in that he was very concerned about money and the bottom line. It was this mindset he felt that led to Marlowe watering down his character Earl Drake in The Name of The Game Is Death for his "Operation" series . Along with his political leanings the book also points out that he had some sexual fetishes. This made for a very complex man. Kelly points out that his sexual proclivities do show up in his writing. Along with that, there is a definite sense of repression that is embedded in his work as well.
I like his work a lot. So, I need to be careful how I word this. Despite the three above examples of his brilliance, based on this biography and some of the other books that I've read, namely Shake A Crooked Town, he was a rung above being a hack. But like I said earlier, this is a pretty realistic situation for a writer. Not everyone is going to be a Stephen King, who incidentally praised him in his Hard Case novel The Colorado Kid.
I guess what I can take from this book is that, and not to second-guess the man, but if you're going to be a writer, you need to go all out and write for the love of the craft and not just money. That is advice I need to work on following myself . Because most of the time, I have stars in my eyes.