Monday, November 5, 2012

Crime Fiction Alphabet: Letter Y

We are nearing the end of the 2012 Edition of the Crime Fiction Alphabet. Kerrie had the original inspiration over at her blog Mysteries In Paradise. Head on over to her blog to check out who is currently posting and what has been submitted in the past. This week I have decided to spotlight my favorite author.

Crime Fiction Alphabet: Letter Y

Y is for Alan Geoffrey Yates

Alan Geoffrey Yates (August 1, 1923 – May 5, 1985) was an Australian-British author of crime fiction. He was born in London and served with the Royal Navy from September 1942 until around September 1946. Mr. Yates served at D-day until October 1944, then he was transferred to the Pacific Theater, being stationed out of Australia, rising to the rank of temporary sub lieutenant. After the War he worked as a sound recordist at Gaumont-British Films for two years and then moved to Australia in 1948, becoming a citizen that same year. Yates then tried his hand as a salesman in Sydney and then as a public relations staff member at Quatas Empire Airways. He wrote under the names Caroline Farr, Dennis Sinclair, Alan Yates, Alan G Yates, A G Yates, Carter Brown, Peter Carter-Brown, Peter Carter Brown, Roger Garradine, Tod Conway, Sinclair MacKellar, and Paul Valdez.

 A Brief History Of Australian Publishing

After the end of the war, paper rationing was lifted and five Sydney printers in turn added fiction to their publishing lists: Action, Calvert, Cleveland, Currawong and Horwitz.  These publishing houses started out as family printeries catering to a small readership of trade journals, sporting publications and comics. The demand for original fiction meant that the printer soon became a busy publisher. Many publishers blossomed, died and merged overnight. This accounts for the confusing  profusion of names (Associated General Publications becomes Transport Publishing becomes Horwitz Publications),  Soon presses ran hot, churning out hundreds of thousands of soft-covered pocket sized books with enticing titles such as Death in a Nudist Camp, Nude in a Boot and Cosmic Calamity. Though westerns dominated at first, science fiction soon followed. Two publishers in particular, Currawong and Horwitz, printed the majority of original Australian science fiction. But the premier press for early science fiction was Horwitz. Horwitz contributed two monthly publications to early Australian science fiction: Scientific Thrillers from 1948 to 1952 as a book series and Thrill Incorporated from 1950 to 1952 as a pulp magazine. Authors were little more than journeymen, they wrote under house names and thus earned no cultural capital as writers. Their material was commissioned to be written to a genre and to a set length, with the material was usually edited without their consent, and was paid piecemeal. The authors were paid little over 1 pounds sterling per thousand words and received no royalties. If the stories were sold to overseas publications, companies retained copyright.  Freelancers like Gordon Clive Bleeck, Russell Hausfeld, Stanford Hennell and Alan G. Yates cropped up and wrote as Hans Karlson, Boris Ludwig, Ace Carter, and Belli Luigi. Unfortunately due to lost and/or inaccurate records, it is uncertain who wrote what. Alan G Yates was one of the few freelancers to turn professional.

Now Back To The Story
While working as a PR Officer at Qantas, Mr. Yates was freelancing for a handful of the smaller presses. His first published work was for Invincible Press as a western. His first published work at Scientific Thriller was titled, Hypnotic Death appeared in January 1949, and then he was then silence for almost two years, Fatal Focus November 1950.  In the meantime he filled the pages of Thrills Incorporated with space soaps. His recollections are worth recounting in full in his autobiography published in 1983.

I wrote under 'Paul Valdez" for that one and still have a sneaking
  affection for Valdez, wherever he is. There was also 'Thrills
  Incorporated', which was: 'Fantastic adventures, but these stories of
  tomorrow are only one jump ahead of science ... you too can take a
  trip to the world of space ships and interplanetary travel ..." Short
  stories only were required for this magazine and strictly in terms of
  space opera. Very often, when the editor was running to a tight
  schedule he would have the artwork already done and hand you a
  picture, saying 'Three thousand worlds and a title, old boy, and I do
  need them by Friday."
    One picture he gave me didn't allow a lot of scope as far as the
  title was concerned, I thought, so I called it 'Jet-Bees of Planet J'.
    He took another look at the picture when I brought in the
  manuscript, then looked at the title again
    'See what you mean, old boy'. He nodded approval. "Sort of
  self-propelled by their own farts.' (Yates 31-32)

Yates, Alan G. Ready when you are, C.B: the Autobiography of Alan Yates alias Carter Brown Melbourne: Macmillan, 1983.

In 1953 He signed a 30-year contract with Horwitz to produce two novelettes and one full-length novel a month. Specifically he was contracted to write “Scientific Thrillers” and “Lovely Mysteries.”  After the Scientific Thriller series ended, Yates concentrated on the Carter Brown stories.  He started writing full-time in 1953 and wrote at least 317 novels between 1953 and 1985, mostly crime and detective stories, selling tens of millions of copies. His books were set in the United States and were published throughout the Anglo world. They were also very popular in Europe where they were translated into French, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Russian, Finnish, German, Portuguese, Romanian, and Dutch. In Asia, some of the novels were translated into Thai. His early books were intended only for Australian audience, but when the Carter Brown series was picked up by the New American Library, he found readers also in the United States. There his book covers were often illustrated by Barye Phillips and Robert McGinnis.

Mr. Yates combines a little humor, a little titillation, and a thoroughly questionable grasp of American slang to create something that was compulsively readable. In 1960 Lyall Moore of Horwitz calculated that Yates had published about eight million words: “but to get there he has probably written twice the number.”  Given Yates’ ability to write 40,000 words overnight, Horwitz was confident when they signed a contract with Signet (New American Library imprint) for Yates to produce one new novel per month.  He had been writing that for the past several years. His early books have a disclaimer at the end: “Written on an IBM Selectric.”  Electric typewriters were like high end laptops in those days. Alan G Yates died on May 5, 1985 and is survived by his wife Denise, three sons, and a daughter, Priscilla.

Some Nice Covers

Thanks For Visiting


  1. Scott - This is really interesting background information, for which thanks. It is astounding to me how prolific Yates was! I couldn't even imagin writing that many novels that quickly.

  2. This is very interesting. I love all this detail about Yates. And the book covers.