Anne Louise Bannon is the author of the Old Los Angeles series, the Operation Quickline series, and the Freddie and Kathy 1920s series. You can find out more about her at her website, or by clicking here, see her last post here, and find her books here.
My friends tell me that one of the things I should be proud of as a writer is that I’m prolific. And I’m always afraid that me being prolific is discouraging to my other writing friends. The reason I’m prolific is probably because of my background as a journalist. Daily, or even weekly deadlines do not give the dreaded Writer’s Block a chance. So, I’m used to cranking words out. But there’s another reason I have an extensive backlist. I’ve been writing fiction for a very long time.
I haven’t published all of it. Frankly, a lot of it needs rewriting. I am putting out more books than most folks, though, and it’s because years ago, I wrote a bunch of novels. In particular, starting forty years ago this month, I first started a series of books featuring Lisa Wycherly and Sid Hackbirn. Lisa was a nice girl – church-going and saving herself for marriage. Sid… Well, he was anything but – an atheist who slept around because, having been raised among a bunch of bohemians, beatniks, and hippies, sex was what you did.
Sid was also a top-secret counter-espionage agent who needed a partner for his business. The initial book, That Old Cloak and Dagger Routine, was supposed to be a spy thriller. But then, two things happened. One, I discovered I’m really not that interested in or that good at spy thrillers. Two, I got more interested in the characters than I did in the spy business. Sid and Lisa came to life that September of 1982, and kept talking to me, and three years later, I’d cranked out twelve short novels and one collection of short episodes – one of which is in our Blackbirds Anthology, Taking Flight.
The novels have been re-written, multiple times. I’m a much better writer now than I was. As for publishing them, I’m featuring them on my blog in serial form – something I’ve been doing since the early 20-teens, at least. As for the 40 years, well, I’m having fun with it. That’s a lot of years for characters to be inhabiting my head. I may as well celebrate it. In fact, Sid’s voice has been showing up more and more in the books, so I thought I’d let him reflect on how he met Lisa, and basically re-wrote the first scene of That Old Cloak and Dagger Routine from his perspective forty years later. It was a fun exercise and went live on my personal blog over the weekend.
As Lisa and Sid not only grew on me, they grew as characters, and the series is not only growing again, it’s morphing. The fact that Quickline dies is in the prologue of the very first book. But Sid and Lisa get new jobs eventually, and you’ll see that when we get through the 1980s. That hasn’t changed. I left the series set in the time I originally wrote it because, well, Sid couldn’t believably sleep around today like he did originally. What has changed is me, and as a result, so did Lisa and Sid. And that’s something to celebrate.