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Topic: Magicians Who are/were fiction writers
Message: Posted by: MarkFinn (Jun 5, 2020 02:36PM)
Folks,
I hope this is an appropriate place for this query. I'm trying to put a list together of magicians who also wrote stories and novels (or novelists who were also magicians). The most obvious one, I think, is Walter Gibson, who wrote the Shadow and many other pulp characters, and featured magic prominently in his stories.

The most recent author I can think of is James Swain, who writes the Tony Valentine series about a guy who busts cheaters in Vegas and solves mysteries on the side.

There has to be more than that, right? Lots of actors these days letting it slip that they are lifelong fans and amateur magicians, but not so much for the writers. Are there any others, past or present, that I'm not aware of? Any help would be most appreciated.
Message: Posted by: Russo (Jun 5, 2020 03:52PM)
Was Conan Doyle also a Magician?? He was with an acquaintance of HOUDINI. And was interested in Seance. ??????????
Message: Posted by: Thomas Henry (Jun 5, 2020 04:32PM)
Hi Mark,

Charles Dickens was an avid amateur magician and put on many full evening performances for friends.

Does that count?

Thomas Henry
Message: Posted by: MarkFinn (Jun 5, 2020 05:12PM)
It certainly does! I did not know that, and I consider myself fairly well-read. Cool!
Message: Posted by: DGillam (Jun 5, 2020 08:34PM)
Besides editing "The Phoenix" and writing four wonderful books on magic, Bruce Elliott also wrote mystery and science fiction stories for pulp magazines and edited men's magazines.
Message: Posted by: MarkFinn (Jun 5, 2020 10:19PM)
Outstanding! I will add him to the list. Very cool.
Message: Posted by: MarkFinn (Jun 5, 2020 10:23PM)
Oh, I just connected the dots. He wrote some of the Shadow novels after Gibson. But his non-Shadow stuff was well-regarded. I've read a few of his stories. Didn't know about the magic side of his life.
Message: Posted by: Thomas Henry (Jun 5, 2020 11:56PM)
Hi again, Mark,

I learned of Dickens' conjuring exploits way back in 1975 when as a young college student I made a pilgrimage to his still-standing house on Doughty Street in London.

Your reminding me of this got my curiosity up and I did a quick search on the Web. It seems an entire book has been written on Dickens the magician.

https://muse.jhu.edu/article/586791

The reviews give it high marks for research and low marks for writing style!

But just had another memory come back. When visiting Dickens' house, I struck up a conversation with the curator, and she said I might also enjoy seeing the Lewis Carroll exhibition elsewhere currently on display (at Hatfield House). I went, and lo! Turns out he too was an amateur magician performing for friends.

There you go: another one. Lewis Carroll not only performed magic, but also privately contributed to the literature of the subject. Somewhere around the overstuffed bookshelves here, I have an entire book which collected all of his magic effects under one cover.

So Lewis Carroll: professional mathematician, amateur magician, but most remembered today for [i]Alice's Adventures in Wonderland[/i].

Thomas Henry
Message: Posted by: David Todd (Jun 7, 2020 05:29AM)
Here are two more for your list:

Sid Fleischman - https://www.sidfleischman.com/

Clayton Rawson - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clayton_Rawson


.
Message: Posted by: David Todd (Jun 7, 2020 05:38AM)
Although primarily known as a filmmaker , I would say Woody Allen is a writer who has had a great interest in magic from his childhood to the present. (I recently read his memoir ,"Apropos of Nothing", and he frequently mentions his interest in magic.)

Magic themes are often found in his films (which he also writes) and short stories.
Message: Posted by: David Todd (Jun 7, 2020 05:51AM)
Steve Martin.

Like Woody Allen, I think most people would probably think of him as a stand-up comic and a film actor , but he also writes. His play, "The Zig-Zag Woman" has an obvious magic theme (an actual Zig-Zag illusion features prominently in the play).
Message: Posted by: rhettbryson (Jun 15, 2020 06:19AM)
The prolific magical inventor Edward Morrel Massey also wrote fiction.
Left Hand Left
Five Were Called
Through The Lens
The Adventures of a Boy Magician (teaches magic but was a fiction story)
Message: Posted by: Anatole (Jun 21, 2020 08:47PM)
I'm not sure if Paul Gallico qualifies as a magician per se, but he wrote two great novels that featured a magic theme--both with a main character--Alexander Hero--who was a parapsychologist/paranormal investigator: _Too Many Ghosts_ and _The Hand of Mary Constable_.

He also wrote _The Man Who Was Magic_--a novel about a city of prestidigitators where a magician who does genuine magic sort of applies for residency.

----- Amado "Sonny" Narvaez
Message: Posted by: dbjb (Oct 4, 2020 10:47AM)
Is anyone actively collecting Fiction related to magic and allied arts these days? That would include fiction written by a magician, with a major or minor character as a magician, with a magic theme, with a magic principle or prop featured in the story line? I am familiar with Leo Behnke's lists in INSIDE MAGIC years ago and several lists and/or publications that Michael Cannick put out. I acquire and list magic ficton occasionally on my book sales list, but they tend to be overlooked by most. Is this an interest area for anyone else? Any help appreciated. Thanks. Be safe and be well. - Dan (Dan@BradbuyBooks.com)
Message: Posted by: Russo (Oct 5, 2020 10:44AM)
I have 'The Magician's Wife' by Brian Moore (1998) and a Kids book,'The Boy Who Made Magic' by Marjory and Earl Schwalje (1958)
Message: Posted by: Leslie Melville (Oct 17, 2020 09:59AM)
The late Val Andrews wrote several Sherlock Holmes stories in the style of Conan-Doyle, some of them magic/theatre related; i.e. Sherlock Holmes and The Houdini Birthright,Sherlock Holmes and The Egyptian Hall Adventure, Sherlock Holmes and the Charlie Chaplin Affair etc. etc.

The ones that I have read are quite enjoyable and if you are into the subject, I can recommend them!

https://www.thriftbooks.com/a/val-andrews/517252/

Leslie
Message: Posted by: Gerald Deutsch (Dec 30, 2020 05:41PM)
A story I wrote some years ago-----

MAGIC IN THE DEPARTMENT STORE

By Gerald Deutsch
4/21/10

I’ve been doing magic since I was in grade school and I briefly toyed with juggling and ventriloquism and in high school I got a part time job in a department store, hoping as a salesman I could show some tricks to customers. But alas, Mac, the store manager, assigned me a job as a stock boy. In the basement. Alone.

I hated being alone and smoked cigarette after cigarette as I did my work down there. Alone. Yes, in those days I smoked. Two packs a day. Well, one day Mac caught me smoking in the basement. That wasn’t allowed. “Hey kid,” Mac said, “Make that cigarette disappear. Now!” I looked up in apparent fear and I put the cigarette into my left hand, snapped my right hand over my left and opened my left hand. The cigarette was gone! “Okay?” I asked Mac. “Hey kid, come up here.” I was a salesman!

But that didn’t mean I would do magic all the time. Even back then I knew that there was a time and a place for doing magic. A lot of magicians don’t understand this. They bore people to death. I would do magic for customers only when it was appropriate.

I must digress for a moment. I once – it was long ago – did magic at a wake. The deceased wasn’t someone I knew but I was there to pay respects to a friend. But as I and a few of my friends approached the body I had a wicked thought. I pretended to see something and pulled a quarter out of the dead man’s nose. My wife slapped my arm and told me to behave. But that was long ago.

Anyway, back to the department store. Most of my tricks were done for the staff at coffee breaks etc. Everyone loved them – everyone that is except Dave. Dave was a salesman in the men’s department but unlike me, he was full time. I wasn’t assigned to any one department but went where I felt it was necessary and I actually sold merchandise in all six departments – men’s, women’s, boy’s, girls, infant’s and domestics. And unlike Dave, I didn’t have to work Saturday evenings. After all, I was in high school and we went out on Saturday nights.

One of my favorite tricks was to steal a spectator’s watch while doing a trick – which, was always returned as soon as the trick was over. This was Mac’s favorite trick and he loved to see me do this. One day a customer went over to Mac and was upset, saying she had lost her watch. “Jerry,” said Mac. “Could you come up here a minute?” She, of course found her watch in her handbag.

But then, sadly, Mac got hurt and had to leave to store permanently and – yep – you guessed it – Dave became my boss. He was mean. I would guess he was jealous that I was going to go to college and this was only a part time job etc. So when I mentioned to Dave that I had a special date planned for that Saturday night, he decided I would be working that Saturday. I was upset but – well – I worked that Saturday.

Dave and I were the last one’s in the store that night and Dave checked out the basement and the store to be sure all customers were out. Then, as we were outside and leaving, I had a wicked thought. Using my basic ventriloquism we heard a voice from the metal doors leading to the basement.

“Hey – where is everyone? Its dark in here—“ Dave became concerned. “Who’s in there?” he asked. “It’s me – How do I get out--?”

“Dave,” I said, “It must be a joke. I’m going home.”

“Well I can’t go home,” said Dave. “I have to go back in and see who’s there.”

“There’s no one there Dave. I’m going. Goodnight.”

And as Dave went back inside I smiled. Until my hand started to talk to me. (As most ventriloquists’ hands do).

“That was mean,” it said.

“I told him there was no one there.” I said trying not to feel guilty.
Message: Posted by: Gerald Deutsch (Dec 31, 2020 04:06PM)
Here's another

By the time I got to high school, I was ready for high school.

Junior High was in Astoria – High school was in Bayside – Bayside High School. We had moved.

Astoria was tough – I was bullied. I had my dad drive me to school but I insisted he let me off a few blocks away so no one would see. I did well in junior high – in fact they made me the head of “the visual aid squad” – the group that runs the movie projectors etc. Not bad for an 11-year-old. I could leave classes anytime. Then I had an idea. I told the teacher in charge I needed an assistant and when he agreed I picked the toughest kid in the school – Anthony Baomonte. I was never bullied again.

And by the time I got to high school I was a magician.

Bayside High School. I was 13. Classes were coed – boys and girls together – except gym – separate classes for boys and girls. Gym and the pool. I learned why there were separate classes for boys and girls. No clothes – no bathing suits for the pool. We swam nude.

And I did magic and told jokes in every class.

One of my favorite tricks was to borrow a quarter, put it in my left hand, snap my right hand over it and show both hands empty. The quarter had vanished. I then reached into my pocket and produced the quarter and returned it to the lender. I became famous for this trick. Mostly with the teachers – kids didn’t have quarters to risk.

I was the MC for the senior show. I remember one line I was told not to use – but I did anyway – and got a good laugh.

“I don’t mind Bayside High School – it’s just the principal of the thing--.”

But teachers would come up to me with a friend or another teacher and hand me a quarter and I would “do my thing” – making the quarter vanish and then produce it from my pocket.

One thing I remember clearly was that day during swimming class.

There I was with the other boys – naked being inspected by the teacher. When the teacher got to me he handed me a quarter.
Message: Posted by: Russo (Jan 1, 2021 08:48AM)
Reminds me when I was in High School (1953-55 ) I was known by the "Jocks" as the 'little boy who play'd with Dolls' what they didn't know was I was helping my family (Self-Mom-Sis) a welfare Family,(lost Dad when I was 5) income by doing "A Puppet/Ventriloquism Show" at Birthday Parties, all over the Los Angeles County. Also when 16- was asked to Entertain at a Hospital Ward -it was a Girls ward - met a Cute Patient (15)- 3 years later we were Married ( for "63" Blessed Years) .
Message: Posted by: Gerald Deutsch (Jan 1, 2021 09:12AM)
Another story---

Magic With Magicians
Gerald Deutsch
June 29, 2014

I have been into magic as a hobby since before I was a teenager and I have met – and continue to meet magicians from all walks of life.

There are professional magicians – that is magicians that depend on performing magic to make a living, at parties or at restaurants or at nightclubs. And there are amateur magicians who, like me, do magic as a hobby.

Some amateur magicians are practitioners in various professions as for example, the gastroenterologist that came up with the colonoscopy, business moguls, or myself, a CPA and attorney.

The remarkable thing about the gathering of magicians is that a group can include a variety from (i) different racial or religious groups, (ii) different nationalities, and (iii) different economic backgrounds. The only question is how well an individual can do a particular effect (called “effect” not “trick”) or “sleight of hand move” or how well that individual can present an effect. A truly meritorious standard to meet.

And such a gathering of magicians can, of course be as few as two participants and such a session would involve the performance of an effect or a move with the goal of, if not fooling the others, getting their admiration, criticism or suggestion.

I had such as “session” with two “wall street giants” years ago at a downtown restaurant after the market closed that day. I, like one of the other fellows, was a student of one of the greatest close up magicians of the era – Slydini – and unlike most of his students, I adopted his principles to fit my personality and I was able to use those principles for effects that Slydini never did. I was doing this for my companions when a well dressed executive with a younger woman sat down at the table next to ours.

That didn’t concern us except that I had to be careful not to expose what I was doing as I performed for my companions. Therefore I had another “angle” I had to be concerned about. Not much of a problem. But the three of us pretty much ignored our new neighbors as we performed for each other.

Suddenly the executive at the next table called to us. We had not been aware that he and his companion had been watching us. “Would you mind showing ‘my friend’ a few of your tricks?” he asked. Well, we magicians would rather perform for “laymen” than for other magicians so we were delighted to do what he asked.

One by one each of us traded seats with this executive and we did some magic for the young woman, the “companion” of the executive.

They left and we three continued our session.

Finally it was time for us to go and we called the waiter and asked for our check.

“Oh your check has been taken care of by the gentleman that sat at the table next to yours. He said you were great magicians.”

I smiled at my friends and said, “Well guys, I guess we’re professionals now.”
Message: Posted by: Gerald Deutsch (Jan 2, 2021 09:18AM)
And another

Bully-

By Gerald Deutsch
5/6/12

My brother Mike was having dinner with us when the phone call came and my wife Jan went to answer it. I saw she was upset.

“I’ll talk to him again Mary. I know. I’m so sorry.”

Then Jan turned to our son Bobby. “That was Marty’s mother. You’ve done it again haven’t you? You and your friends are bullying that boy. Why?” Our son just shrugged guiltily. I was about to say something when my brother Mike said he had to go.

Mike is an amateur magician and before dinner he asked for a deck of cards.

“Look. I have a new trick. I’m shuffling the deck and now watch. I’m going to cut to the four aces.” He did.

“Hey, that’s neat,” said Bobby.

“Would you like to learn to be a magician Bobby?” It was just what Bobby wanted to hear. Now Mike had gone.

Mike and I had discussed Bobby’s bullying of Marty. Mike told me that those that bully have a self esteem problem and bullying makes them feel better about themselves. I had suggested that maybe Mike could teach his nephew some magic to help his self esteem and Mike thought that was a good idea and he was going to start tonight.

“Why did he go?” asked Bobby. “He said he was going to teach me magic.”

“Bobby,” I said to our son, Your uncle told me that he will only teach magic to people that have very high moral ideals. When he was in college he would play poker with his fraternity brothers and he told me that one day he was dealing and using his magician skill he was able to see the next card to be dealt to himself and he saw he would lose. He knew he could do a ‘move’ that would give him a different card. He knew then that if he did – though no one would know – he would be doing something dishonest. He dealt the card that was there and lost. But he felt better about himself.

“Tonight he was going to teach you magic but I guess he heard your mother on the phone with Marty’s mother.”

I saw the sad look on my son’s face. I hoped it was reflecting regret – and resolve.

Later that night Mike called to tell me that our son had called him and they had a long conversation and Bobby told my brother that he really wanted to learn magic and after a long talk our son agreed he would not bully Marty anymore.

Mike had dinner with us again two weeks later and at the end of the meal he said he had a coin trick to show us. He asked my wife if she had a quarter and, smiling, she reached into her purse and found one and gave it to my brother. Mike put the quarter under his napkin and told Bobby to reach under the napkin to make sure the quarter was there. He did. It was. Then he moved the napkin to my wife and then to me and we both told Mike the quarter was there. Mike made a magical gesture over the napkin and then – and then – to everyone’s amazement, the quarter was gone!

Bobby really wanted to learn that trick and he begged Mike to teach it to him. Together they went into Bobby’s room.

Mike told me later what happened.

He told Bobby that a confederate was used.

“A what?” asked Bobby.

“A confederate – a stooge – a plant. Your father was my confederate.”

It was something I had been doing for my brother for years. When everyone felt under the napkin to be sure the coin was there, I was the last and I took the coin.

“You have to be sure no one suspects the confederate Bobby,” he told our son. “Why don’t you teach this Marty some tricks and then he can be your confederate. Based on the way you’ve bullied him in the past no one would suspect him.”

Bobby and Marty both became good magicians. And good friends.
Message: Posted by: Necromancer (Jul 14, 2021 04:59PM)
Marvin Kaye, magician and writer of magic books, was a highly regarded author of mysteries, horror, science fiction and fantasy.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvin_Kaye
Message: Posted by: Necromancer (Jul 14, 2021 05:49PM)
Henning Nelms published two mystery/crime novels under the pen name Hake Talbot, of which "Rim of the Pit" is an acknowledged classic.
Message: Posted by: bobmag56 (Jul 21, 2021 04:44PM)
John Dickson Carr is known as the master of Locked Room Mysteries. He also wrote as Carter Dickson. Not sure if he actually was a magic performer, but his stories sometimes used magic principles (like mirrors). He was a good friend of Clayton Rawson. I agree that Rim Of The Pit was excellent and used magic principles.
Message: Posted by: Necromancer (Aug 2, 2021 12:31PM)
[quote]On Jul 21, 2021, bobmag56 wrote:
John Dickson Carr is known as the master of Locked Room Mysteries. He also wrote as Carter Dickson. Not sure if he actually was a magic performer, but his stories sometimes used magic principles (like mirrors). He was a good friend of Clayton Rawson. I agree that Rim Of The Pit was excellent and used magic principles. [/quote]

So did a poll among experts of the genre conducted in 1981. Rim of the Pit was named second best of all time, after Carr's The Hollow Man.

Another name for the collection: magician Andrew Mayne has published 16 novels, is a three-time Thriller Award finalist and an Edgar Award finalist.
Message: Posted by: tommyellison (Sep 17, 2021 03:16PM)
I write a little fiction every year around April 15th... [MIC DROP]
Message: Posted by: federico luduena (Oct 7, 2021 09:33AM)
It took me a moment to get the joke! To the wealth of information already provided, I would add the name of William Lindsay Gresham, whose "Nightmare Alley" has been adapted to the screen once more. The latest version will be released this December. Guillermo del Toro wrote and directed.