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Excerpts from Gordon T. Allred Master's Thesis
The Making of Kamikaze

 

Chapter 1 - Conception of a book Chapter 2 - Interviewing and Querying Chapter 3 - Research Chapter 4 - Documenting Chapter 5 - The Rough Draft Chapter 6 - The Book Begins Chapter 7 - Creative Problems

Chapter 6
The Book Begins

Following the publication of our lengthy article, "I was a Kamikaze pilot," I expressed my satisfaction to Cavalier for its efforts, and, as an afterthought, mentioned that I had contemplated expanding it into a  book some day.

This indeed, was merely an afterthought, for I had become sternly realistic by this time. I had read too many accounts of cruel publishers, of how book manuscripts ran a gamut of readers, and were generally rejected before they ever reached the actual people in power– aloof, unsympathetic, austere individuals. In less than two months, however, an astonishing letter arrived:                   

"December 15, 1956

"Dear Mr. Allred,

"This letter is sent you with the hope that you would be interested in writing a book based in part on the material in “I Was A Kamikaze Pilot” which appears in the January issue of Cavalier Magazine. You have captured the alien point-of-view in a way that  makes it totally absorbing reading.
“We have been particularly fortunate in our sales in recent months of such books as U-BOATS AT WAR (200,000 in paper, 2,000 in clothe),  THE ROAD TO STALINGRAD (150,000 in paper, 2,000 in cloth).
"Since I imagine that this letter will be forwarded air-mail, I am attaching only the covers of these books. You may be familiar with our publishing. We do books simultaneously in a paperbound and in a hardbound edition, unless we are lucky enough to rouse book club interest in which case we postpone the paperbound.

“Yours sincerely,
“Ian Ballantine
 
A publisher approaching me! My first feeling was one of total incredulity, my second, to write back immediately -- a joyous yes. However, I managed to restrain myself long enough to inquire about the publishing house, since I only know it by name at the time. It proved to be a reputable firm, which published a variety of material, which at, the particular time was having great success with war books, a great many written from the enemy viewpoint
After several days had elapsed, my initial exploring over, I sent out a "feeler," indicating my interest, requesting further information regarding Ballantine policies, what sort of book they expected, length, etc. Additional correspondence transpired, including the following!
 

"January 13, 1957
 
“Dear Mr. Allred,

  “I am delighted that you are interested in writing the book on 'I Was a Kamikaze Pilot.'   I have asked our Associate Editor, MacLennan Farrell, to write you with what suggestions we have for the book.
"Our normal procedure is to ask an author for an outline and sample chapters, and on that basis we propose a contract involving an advance payable in part on signing, and in part on delivery of the finished ms. Of course we already have before us a large sample of your very good writing. If we had an outline and a tentative date when the ms. might be finished, we would draft the contract.
“At the moment we are getting extremely good sales on enemy point of view books, and so we would be eager to publish quickly.

"Yours sincerely,
"Ian Ballantine."

Some time in March 1957 my phone rang. It was a call from New York. A Mr. Stanley Kauffmann, of Ballantine’s staff, had been assigned to contact me, to "sound me out." Apparently they were concerned over my delay in committing myself. Mr. Kauffmann, unlike those publishers I had conjured up in my imagination, was cordial, even casual. At the end of our conversation, I agreed to read over their contract, with the understanding that I would sign in duplicate and return one copy to them, provided I liked the offer.
Upon receiving the contract, I covered it thoroughly with the aid of a lawyer.  It looked good. The advance royalty was not "big money," but it was a fair hourly wage. furthermore, some of the possibilities loomed very lucrative, possibilities that some writers are said to fast and pray for.

Regardless, unless I simply couldn’t produce, the contact was binding, the money promised, and no speculation about it. With something that definite to go on. I felt capable of approaching my work with enthusiasm.


Chapter 1 - Conception of a book Chapter 2 - Interviewing and Querying Chapter 3 - Research Chapter 4 - Documenting Chapter 5 - The Rough Draft Chapter 6 - The Book Begins Chapter 7 - Creative Problems

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