It’s inevitable; rich or poor, kind or evil, good or bad… eventually, the Grim Reaper comes a-knocking and everyone has to answer the door, no matter what Blue Oyster Cult tells you. And he doesn’t really care if you’ve got work to finish, either, which is why nobody ever invites him over for drinks or some ice cream. This usually means that when a writer checks out, he leaves behind either a bunch of finished manuscripts, enough material for somebody else to write a manuscript… or just a name that’s worth enough that they’ll keep turning out novels with his name on them no matter what. Here are eight who did just that.
Elliot Roosevelt got pretty far on the family name, seeing as he was the son of FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt, and thus proved that, yes, they had actually done it, much to the surprise of… well, pretty much everybody. You ever seen a photo of Eleanor Roosevelt?
This wasn’t to say he was particularly successful; his big achievement in life was a huge scandal over the purchasing of warplanes, and he spent most of his life living off his mom. In fact, even after he died, he lived off his mom, by writing mystery novels where she was the protagonist.
Eventually, when it was time to go mooch off of mom in the afterlife, his estate announced there were enough manuscripts lying around to publish for a while. That is, if by “enough manuscripts” you meant “hiring a ghostwriter to churn them out”. It took years before his publisher got busted.
David Feintuch, unlike some Sci-Fi authors, didn’t crank it out. He took his time, he worked carefully, and the result was the highly popular Seafort series, which is basically Horatio Hornblower in space, except more melancholy because now we know Hornblower’s life was really kind of crappy. It was actually a pretty neat series as it depicted a space-faring military as a military instead of a battalion of testosterone-filled douchebags.
He’d written seven and had an eighth ready to go… and… well… that’s it. It’s been three years since Feintuch passed on, and he makes the list because, dammit, we want that eighth book!
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Have a friend who calls himself an “author”, but has never published anything? Has a crazy girlfriend that you have to hide all the good booze from, and possibly the cat, whenever she unexpectedly drops in to annoy you? Does he get wasted all the time and wallow in his own tragedy? Blame F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald was, as anybody who went to high school had pounded into their heads, a brilliant author who captured the Jazz Age with incredible skill. He was also a raging drunk who was married to a lunatic, thus teaching generations of idiots that in order to be a brilliant artist, you had to have severe illnesses and mental problems.
Needless to say, Fitzgerald’s liver went out before he was done with his last novel, appropriately called “The Love of the Last Tycoon”, but was shortened to “The Last Tycoon” to leave out some of the teenage drama. Since he still owed a lot of people money (mostly liquor distributors), it was published to pay off his debts and complete his contract, thus creating the image of the tragic artist for annoying suburban kids to latch onto for generations.
OK, do you really need us to sum this one up? Really? There’s one of you who hasn’t heard of him? Fine, Kafka; bureaucrat, Czech, genius, wrote stories about man being crushed by unknowable bureaucracy, wrote the story about the dude who woke up as a cockroach, wrote a lot of parables… in short, was one of the most influential authors ever.
And we wouldn’t know about it because he wanted all that brilliant literature burned and made very sure his friend understood him. Luckily, his friend wasn’t that good of a friend.