by Greg Shepard
Gary Phillips introduced me to Arnold Hano back in 2012. Gary thought it was a crime that none of Arnold’s fiction was currently in print. And as I soon discovered, Hano had certainly written some interesting books. A crime thriller, several noir westerns, a baseball story, a couple historical novels, a few movie tie-ins, not to mention a handful of gritty short stories. He had edited a couple of western collections for Lion Books back in 1948, and then went on to edit Lion Books itself for the next five years. But he also wrote the definitive baseball fan book, A Day at the Bleachers, the book he’s really best known for.
Most of Arnold’s fiction was written pseudonymously. His baseball book was not. But it was his fiction I was interested in. And that’s where Arnold and I really met—over his noirish tales of the old west. I really enjoyed working with Arnold on the three volumes we published at Stark House. It got easier as we went along. I remember his notes on our first two introduction–for 3 Steps to Hell (So I’m a Heel, Flint and The Big Out) and The Last Notch—because he was merciless on setting the record straight where the writer had gotten a fact or two wrong. Not mean-spirited about it, just emphatic that we get the details right.
Mostly we communicated by email, but I did get on the phone with Arnold a few times. He was sharp as a tack. Didn’t talk about himself much, but he definitely wanted to know everything we had planned for his books. A real straight-shooter, a no nonsense kinda guy. It was a privilege to work with him, to get six of his novels back into print and introduce them to a new audience. I owe Gary a lot for introducing me to Arnold Hano. And Arnold, it was a pleasure knowing you.
Greg Shepard is the publisher of Stark House Press, in Eureka, CA. Born in Ft. Collins, Colorado, he grew up in Northern California, spent his childhood in the Sacramento area, and later Marin County and Pacifica. He has, at various times, been a painter, graphic designer, rock music critic, clerk, book buyer, publisher’s sales rep, book distributor, tenant relations coordinator. Shepard wed Cindy Brown in 2013. He has two sons by previous marriages, Justin and Cole, and a house full of books, movies, music, animals and art.