Radio Wolinsky

The Probabilities Archive: Frank Bonham (1914-1988), 1986 interview

Frank Bonham (1914-1988), author of stories and novels in the western genre from the pulp magazine era to the 1980s, author of young adult novels from the early sixties to his death, also author of stories in other fields, including mysteries and science fiction, interviewed in the fall of 1986 by KPFA’s Lawrence Davidson, assisted by author Bill Pronzini for the Probabilities radio program. Digitized, remastered and re-edited in December 2018 by Richard Wolinsky.


Richard Wolinsky:

In late November 2018, I attended John Fisher’s one-man show, “A History of World War II” at the Marsh in San Francisco, (the show runs on Thursdays and Saturdays through February 2, 2019. For more information: and tickets).  During his monologue, John mentioned a book written for juveniles that started his obsession with the Second World War by a writer named Frank Bonham.

I remembered that years ago, my former co-host, the late Lawrence Davidson of Cody’s Books, had interviewed Bonham, whom he’d known primarily as a writer of western novels and pulp magazine stories. This was one of many interviews with former pulp magazine writers that were heard on the Probabilities radio program on KPFA in the 1970s and 1980s. After pulling out the undated tape, recorded in the fall of 1986 and not heard since its initial airing in January, 1987, I discovered that Lawrence’s co-host was Bill Pronzini, the prolific author as of now of more than 80 mystery and historical novels, and some 350 short stories. I’d assumed as I digitized and edited the original 2-part program that Bonham was forgotten today. Not so: a quick look on Amazon reveals that over a dozen of his books are still in print at the end of  2018, including his one best-seller, a young adult novel called Durango Street.

From the Goodreads website:

<< Frank Bonham (February 25, 1914 – 1988) was an author of Westerns and young adult novels. Bonham wrote 48 novels, as well as TV scripts. Bonham was born in Los Angeles. He was a UCLA graduate. Bonham was known for his works for young adults written in the 1960s, with tough, realistic urban settings, including The Nitty Gritty and Durango Street, as well as for his westerns. Several of his works have been published posthumously, many of which were drawn from his pulp magazine stories, originally published between 1941 and 1952. Durango Street was an ALA Notable Book.>>

The mystery novel he had just completed and discusses at the end of the interview appears never to have been published.

Bill Pronzini’s latest novels are The Violated, a psychological suspense novel and Give A Damn Jones, an off-beat westers, and coming up The Flim Flam Affair, number eight in the Carpenter & Quincannon series of historical mysteries set in San Francisco in the 1890s.





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