As an avid reader, there were some authors who wrote books that stuck with me for many years long after I had read them. Their names stuck in the back of my head surrounded by memories of the stories they crafted, the characters I grew to admire, the places I read about, and the settings, situations and locations I actually read the books. I remember taking some books with me to camp, some were with me when I was overseas, some were stuck down the back of my pants when I was forbidden to bring them on a trip when I was 8 (lol).
Now that time has passed, and now that we have the glory of the internet, I am sometimes taken to fits of nostalgia where curiosity takes the better of me, and I wonder.. who were these authors? Sure, I knew their bio’s from the back of the book as well as anyone, but I always knew there was more to the story than just the little blurbs.
Well, it turns out that the full story was more than I could have ever imagined. You see, back in the 80s and 90s, there seemed to be a strange habit of pen name writing in the military fiction genre. One of my favorite authors was Jack Hawkins who wrote the “Chopper 1” series, but it turns out his real name was Nicholas Cain, and he actually wrote the great Saigon Commandos series, the War Dogs series (under Nik Uhernik) and wrote the last book of the Vietnam Ground Zero series. He ended up writing over 30 books and I had read probably all of them without knowing they were by the same guy!
Oh and the Vietnam Ground Zero series? The cover’s said they were written by Eric Helm, but it turns out that Eric Helm was really the pen name for two guys writing together, Kevin Randle and Robert Cornett! Randle actually wrote the Scorpion squad series and the SEALs series as Steve MacKenzie!
It amazes me how instead of spreading the wealth, a relatively few people actually got all of my dollars. :) In addition, I can’t help but wonder why they felt the need to constantly change names for each series? I can understand doing different genres and story types, but the books were all targeted to the same audience, so why not capitalize on name recognition instead of having the reader go “Well, I like the cover and topic, but dunno who the guy is.. I guess I’ll take the chance.”
Another one is William Keith who writes as William Keith, Keith Douglass, Ian Douglas, and H. Jay Riker, but he tends to change his name based on whether he is writing SciFi or military fiction which is understandable.
I guess it’s all a part of the mystery of “house names” and pen nams that goes into the publishing world, but I tell ya, it still rocks my socks to realize that some of my most beloved books and authors that I thought were completely separate were actually the same guy.
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