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Old 01-30-2009, 11:20 PM
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Novels by Famous Non-Writers


I've read "Sock" by Penn Jillette and it wasn't great, but it wasn't horrible either. Ex-WWE wrestler Mick Foley wrote his autobiographies without a ghost and they were bestsellers. This gave him the idea that he could write, so he wrote a novel. I've read his bios, which were OK, again, but I haven't yet tried his novel.

I scanned the first few pages of Hugh Laurie's book at the bookstore and it was really funny and cool. OTOH, I read the first page of one(he has more) of Ethan Hawke's novels and it gave me a headache. I laughed when he played a writer in "Before Sunset." I've heard good things about Steve Martin's novel "Shopgirl," but I haven't read it or seen the movie, either. He has more, too.

Which novels by people famous for something other than writing are good? Which are great? Which are godawful horrible?
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Old 01-30-2009, 11:27 PM
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I've heard that Professor Tolkien has tried his hand at fiction!
  #3  
Old 01-30-2009, 11:32 PM
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I enjoyed Shopgirl, but it's a very odd book. I would almost want to say it's chick lit (but it's not quite. If you liked Janet Ivanovich's Stephanie Plum detective series), it's like that but without the action and drama. It's got quirky humor, but it's pretty much a romantic novel and a "what am i doing with my life" sort of theme. I've read another one of his books, and enjoyed that one too, but I cannot recall ANYTHING about the plot, other than it read like Shopgirl, but the plot was completely different except with the same theme of the "what am i doing with my life" vibe pervading it.

I love The Autobiographies of Mick Foley. But really only the first one would be remotely appealing to those who aren't big fans of the wrestling world. The first one is just a GREAT look at his life, and just feels like he's sitting you down and talking straight to you. The other ones get kind of redundant and less exciting, and really just offer nitty gritty details that unless you follow wrestling aren't that great. But the Original Novel by him... I always love reading it, as I find it inspirational in a weird sorta way.

I think i should pick up the Hugh Laurie book, he seems like he'd be able to write a good book.
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Old 01-31-2009, 12:01 AM
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Bill O'Reilly wrote a hilariously lurid crime novel called Those Who Trespass. It's a testament to O'Reilly's ego that the novel features not one, but two Mary Sues. A good one and a bad one. The bad one is a egotistical TV journalist who goes around killing industry people who piss off Bill O'Reilly. The good Mary Sue is a no-nonsense, Irish detective named O'Malley.

The battling Sues are also both studs who women find irresistable, and they vie over the affections of a beautiful sex object.

O'Reilly includes some cringe-inducing sex scenes in the book, some of which Al Franken quoted for PALATR value in his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. There's also ascene where the bad Sue chokes a woman named Hillary with her own panties and throws her off a balcony.

It's an atrocious book, exactly the kind of amateur fiction you can find on people's blogs, but it's entertaining in how revealing it is about the author.

I own a copy of the Laurie book, by the way. It's pretty good. It's got a slightly absurdist, Douglas Adams-ish kind of humor to it. Definitely more readable than you'd expect from the average TV actor.
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Old 01-31-2009, 12:07 AM
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About 20 years back, U.S. Senators Gary Hart and William Cohen teamed up to write a lame spy novel called "The Double Man."
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Old 01-31-2009, 12:11 AM
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Haven't read it but Nicole Richie wrote a book (don't know if it qualifies as a novel) called The Truth About Diamonds.
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Old 01-31-2009, 12:17 AM
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Haven't read it but Nicole Richie wrote a book (don't know if it qualifies as a novel) called The Truth About Diamonds.
I haven't read it, but from what I understand
SPOILER:
they're hot
.
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Old 01-31-2009, 12:18 AM
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Old 01-31-2009, 12:27 AM
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f gordon liddy of watergate fame wrote a real stinker of a novel.

michael Palin of monty python fame wrote 'hemingways chair.' it was decent but no humor and was a pretty depessing read.

all of andt mcnabb's books might be considered fiction. there's a doper that is a Regiment veteran that could weigh in on this.
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Old 01-31-2009, 09:27 AM
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Didn't both Pamela Anderson and Paris Hilton "write" novels? Lynn Cheney wrote one, with lesbian sex on the pioneer trail, or sumpin'.

Steve Martin's Shopgirl was surprisingly good, I thought.

Last edited by Savannah; 01-31-2009 at 09:28 AM. Reason: To add Lynn.
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Old 01-31-2009, 09:36 AM
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I believe G. Gordon's actually written several novels.

Chuck Colson wrote one - GIDEON'S TORCH, I didn't care for it.

Sociologist & Catholic priest Andrew Greeley started writing novels in the 1970s & that pretty much became a major career for him. I was into them for a while and I do still like some of them but when a new Fr/Msgr Blackie mystery comes out now, I usually pass on it.
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Old 01-31-2009, 09:54 AM
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Kinky Friedman is first and foremost a country western singer/songwriter, who later wrote mysteries.

Attorney Andrew Vachss wrote several mysteries about a vigilante named Burke.
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Old 01-31-2009, 09:56 AM
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Former second lady Marilyn Quayle wrote a novel 'Embrace the Serpent,' which, despite the promising title, is tragically not about a sex-filled voodoo rite.

British PM Winston S. Churchill won a Nobel Prize in Literature mainly for his non-fiction, but he did write one novel, Savronola. (Oddly, at the time he wrote it, there was a best-selling American novelist also named Winston Churchill. Lists of best-sellers from the early 20th century now need a footnote explaining, 'No, it's not that Winston Churchill.')

Dick Francis was well-known as a jockey before becoming a successful author.
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Old 01-31-2009, 10:00 AM
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Supposedly, William Shatner wrote some novels (I say "supposedly" because he pretty much hints in each of them who his ghostwriter was). The same for Leonard Nimoy, Newt Gingrich, and Richard Dreyfuss, but both had other writers to do the heavy lifting.

Fannie Flagg was famous as an actress and TV game show regular before writing some very well-received novels.

Barry Sadler became famous as a singer/songwriter ("Ballad of the Green Berets"), but when his music career flagged, he became a successful writer of thriller novels (the later ones were ghosted, but he wrote the first few himself).
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Old 01-31-2009, 10:01 AM
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Both James Brady and Michael Walsh are well known non-fiction writers who have penned novels. Walsh's "As Time Goes By" is a good expansion of the story of Casablanca.
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Old 01-31-2009, 10:14 AM
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Lynn Cheney wrote one, with lesbian sex on the pioneer trail, or sumpin'.
Cheney's written several novels, I believe. Scooter Libby wrote a historical fiction novel about imperial Japan.
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Old 01-31-2009, 10:23 AM
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Carrie Fisher and Ben Elton have both written very well received novels.

The most successful person on this list was definitely B-movie actress Jacqueline Susann.
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Old 01-31-2009, 10:49 AM
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About 20 years back, U.S. Senators Gary Hart and William Cohen teamed up to write a lame spy novel called "The Double Man."
If this is the William Cohen who was Secretary of Defense under Clinton, he's also an accomplished poet.

I've read Hugh Laurie's novel, and thought it was great. His long-time comedy partner, Stephen Fry, has written quite a few novels, none of which I've been fortunate enough to read.
  #19  
Old 01-31-2009, 11:33 AM
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Jimmy Buffet of Margaritaville and Parrothead fame has a number of books under his name. The only one I've read is "Where is Joe Merchant?" - it was surprisingly good.
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Old 01-31-2009, 11:35 AM
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Jim Webb famously wrote a novel set in Vietnam where a dad pops his boy's penis in his mouth. I think George Allen somebody may have mentioned it during his senate campaign.
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Old 01-31-2009, 11:50 AM
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I haven't read them/it, but I remember seeing at least one novel by actor Rupert Everett at the library. A quick search on Amazon shows he wrote a novel called Hello, Darling, Are You Working?, an autobiography, and what looks like a book of poetry.
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Old 01-31-2009, 01:32 PM
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I've read Hugh Laurie's novel, and thought it was great. His long-time comedy partner, Stephen Fry, has written quite a few novels, none of which I've been fortunate enough to read.
Stephen Fry wrote four novels (so far). I think they're good.
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Old 01-31-2009, 01:35 PM
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Jimmy Carter wrote a Revolutionary War novel called Hornet's Nest. It is, in a word, AWFUL.

Mussolini wrote a novel called The Cardinal's Mistress that was a bestseller before he became Il Duce. No idea if it's in print/in English.

Actor Stephen Collins (best known recently probably for the dad on Seventh Heaven) wrote a novel called Double Exposure. I haven't read it personally, but it's been heavily recommended to me.

Last edited by Sampiro; 01-31-2009 at 01:37 PM.
  #24  
Old 01-31-2009, 01:51 PM
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Steve Martin's Shopgirl was surprisingly good, I thought.
I liked both Shopgirl and The Pleasure of My Company, and thought they worked well as audiobooks read by the author.
Quote:
Originally Posted by China Guy
michael Palin of monty python fame wrote 'hemingways chair.' it was decent but no humor and was a pretty depessing read.
Yes, a good novel, but certainly not Pythonesque.

Eric Idle has also written a novel, The Road To Mars, that's a bit more fun.

If you want to get picky, a lot of the people mentioned in this thread aren't really non-writers, they're just non-novelists, who are well-known for writing other things, such as screenplays, comedy routies, sketches, songs, or non-fiction. The other examples I can think of all fall into this category:

Michael J. Nelson has written a novel called Mike Nelson's Death Rat! It's a good humorous novel but, the title notwithstanding, not in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 vein.

Martin Gardner, best-known for writing about recreational mathematics and about science and pseudo-science, has written a novel called The Flight of Peter Fromm about religion in America. I really enjoyed it, though it's probably not for everyone. In places it reads like a good novel; in other places it reads like a history of twentieth-century theology.

Johnny Cash wrote a novel called Man In White, about the apostle Paul. I wasn't particularly taken by it, but apparently many people like it.

Has anybody read Jimmy Carter's novel? From what I've heard, it's not the reatest read, though not a total failure. (On preview, I see Sampiro's opinion.)
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Old 01-31-2009, 07:59 PM
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There are plenty of examples of folks who haven't written fiction trying their hand at it, especially in science fiction.

Carl Sagan wrote Contact. You certainly couldn't say he wasn't a writer -- he'd written lots of popular scienvce before, not to mention many professional papers. But that's the first fiction by him I know of.


There's an anthology called Great Science Fiction by Scientists that includes a fictional story by mathematician Norbert Weiner called "Brain". It's about gangsters. There are lots of other examples in the collection (it's all works by non-writers).

http://www.amazon.com/Great-Science-...3453543&sr=1-1

Heck, Johannes Kepler, discoverer of Kepler's Laws of Motion (among a great many other things) wrote Somnium, in which a student of Tycho Brahe's gets transported to the Moon (Kepler was, himself, a student of Brahe's)
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Old 01-31-2009, 08:14 PM
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William F Buckley wrote a number of spy novels.
Does Stephen Colbert count? -- I Am America and So Can Youand of course the Tech Janssen novel.
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Old 01-31-2009, 08:29 PM
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Tony Curtis wrote at least one novel Kid Andrew Cody & Julie Sparrow. He has also had a painting displayed at the Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan.

Anthony Bourdain wrote two mysteries in the 90s well before he became famous with Kitchen Confidential. Bone in the Throat and Gone Bamboo both received glowing reviews.
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Old 01-31-2009, 08:34 PM
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William F Buckley wrote a number of spy novels.
Does Stephen Colbert count? -- I Am America and So Can Youand of course the Tech Janssen novel.
Buckley was a hugely prolific writer. He wrote numerous letters, articles, columns, and many books apart from the spy novels. In fact, he became famous originally because of a book he wrote shortly after college entitled God and Man At Yale.

This from Buckley's eulolgy, delivered by his son Christopher:

"How many words flowed from those keyboards. I went up to Yale recently to inspect his archive of papers. They total 550 linear feet. To put it in perspective, the spire of St. Patrick’s rises 300 feet above us. By some scholarly estimates, he may have written more letters than any other American in history. Add to that prodigal output: 6,000 columns, 1,500 Firing Line episodes, countless articles, over 50 books. He was working on one the day he died."
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Old 01-31-2009, 08:38 PM
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Nick Cave wrote And the Ass Saw the Angel, a rather good Southern Gothic novel. He also wrote the screenplay for The Proposition.

Leonard Cohen wrote The Favorite Game and Beautiful Losers, although both before he came famous as a singer-songwriter.

William Morris wrote a series of novels towards the end of his life, but he's much more famous for other things.

Disraeli, of course, wrote many novels.
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Old 01-31-2009, 09:46 PM
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G. Gordon Liddy has already been mentioned. Howard Hunt also wrote several books (significantly in Hunt's case, he managed to have them published under a penname without being identified as the author). The works of both authors are good within the limits of the action thriller genre.

David Niven wrote a novel or two. I read one of them (Go Slowly, Come Back Quickly) which I recall enjoying.

Gene Hackman and Richard Dreyfuss have both written historical novels but I think they may have had co-authors.

Last edited by Little Nemo; 01-31-2009 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 01-31-2009, 09:58 PM
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I fdlipped through the Hackman one. He did have a co-author. If I recall correctly, it was a Civil War adventure story about an escape from the Andersonville POW camp. I think it was called Escape from Andersonville. I got the distinct impression from skimming through it that it had probably started life as a pitch for a movie idea, then been adapted into a ghost written novel when it couldn't be sold.

It's not a bad concept, though. Andersonville is an interesting subject.

Last edited by Diogenes the Cynic; 01-31-2009 at 09:59 PM.
  #32  
Old 01-31-2009, 10:50 PM
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Scott Turow spent 8 years as an assistant US attorney after graduating from Harvard Law School. Then as a law firm partner, started on his career as a novelist. No cite, but IIRC he writes most of his books on the train commute to and from work.
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Old 01-31-2009, 11:20 PM
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This probably does not count, but Margaret Mitchell was a newspaper writer when she wrote Gone with the Wind. Wasn't that her only novel? If that's true, then it was her only foray into fiction.
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Old 01-31-2009, 11:29 PM
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Anthony Bourdain wrote two mysteries in the 90s well before he became famous with Kitchen Confidential. Bone in the Throat and Gone Bamboo both received glowing reviews.
I read a few dozen pages of one of his retardo-chic novels -- he writes like a monkey.

What kind of nard-seeking cunt editor would have published something like his turd "Sweet Valley High"-wannabe novels? I really want to know.
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Old 01-31-2009, 11:37 PM
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I was at the bookstore today and noticed novels by Glenn Beck and Joan Rivers, but on closer inspection, they both appear to have been ghostwritten.
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Old 02-01-2009, 02:32 AM
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Les Claypool wrote South of the Pumphouse. Claypool is one of the best bass players in the world. As a novelist, Claypool is one of the best bass players in the world.

Actually I quite liked his book. Literature for the ages? Well, probly not, but I thought it was very funny (in a twisted and dark way). Some of his music can be a little "challenging" but his writing style is very straight-forward and accessible.
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Old 02-01-2009, 03:59 AM
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China Guy writes:

> Scott Turow spent 8 years as an assistant US attorney after graduating from
> Harvard Law School. Then as a law firm partner, started on his career as a
> novelist. No cite, but IIRC he writes most of his books on the train commute to
> and from work.

Siam Sam writes:

> This probably does not count, but Margaret Mitchell was a newspaper writer
> when she wrote Gone with the Wind. Wasn't that her only novel? If that's true,
> then it was her only foray into fiction.

People, read the title of the thread. The OP doesn't ask for writers who had other jobs. Most writers had other jobs. It's nearly impossible to get started in writing without having another job. This thread is about people who were famous for something other than writing who then wrote a novel.
  #38  
Old 02-01-2009, 04:15 AM
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Nick Cave wrote And the Ass Saw the Angel, a rather good Southern Gothic novel. He also wrote the screenplay for The Proposition.
There's also a new novel, due to come out probably September this year.
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Old 02-01-2009, 04:18 AM
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I've got a signed copy of Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe, co-written by George Takei. I haven't had the heart to read it, but it might actually be worth something.
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Old 02-01-2009, 05:24 AM
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The same for Leonard Nimoy, Newt Gingrich, and Richard Dreyfuss, but both had other writers to do the heavy lifting.
I was going to mention Newt Gingrich. Do you have any knowledge of their writing process or are you just assuming? I highly recommend the books to any one who likes alternate history. I read the books because I am a fan of William Forstchen and they do read like his novels. I also read the Dreyfuss book and enjoyed it. I would put it on the bottom half of Turtle dove's work but still worth the read.

Last edited by Loach; 02-01-2009 at 05:27 AM.
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Old 02-01-2009, 05:27 AM
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I've got a signed copy of Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe, co-written by George Takei. I haven't had the heart to read it, but it might actually be worth something.
I read that when it came out. I seem to remember liking it but I remember nothing else.
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Old 02-01-2009, 05:52 AM
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Darryl Lict writes:

> I've got a signed copy of Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe, co-written by George Takei. I
> haven't had the heart to read it, but it might actually be worth something.

I've got a signed copy too. Takei has been to a lot of conventions and signed a lot of books. It probably isn't worth as much as you think.
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Old 02-01-2009, 07:43 AM
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Chris Elliott wrote a novel called The Shroud of the Thwacker, about a modern detective who travels back to the late 1800s to stop a serial killer. It was written as a comedy, but it wasn't funny. At least, not intentionally. It could be funny in a MST3K-subject kind of way.
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Old 02-01-2009, 04:08 PM
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...Disraeli, of course, wrote many novels.
Heh. He was quoted as saying, "When I want to read a good book, I write one."

I read a very bad scifi novel which Newt Gingrich wrote before he became Speaker of the House. A friend of mine has read his Civil War alternate-history books and says they're pretty good.
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Old 02-01-2009, 04:45 PM
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Craig Ferguson, the late night talk show host and comedian, wrote "Between the Bridge and the River" Really, a terrific first novel.

Last edited by Jettboy; 02-01-2009 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 02-01-2009, 09:44 PM
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Siam Sam writes:

> This probably does not count, but Margaret Mitchell was a newspaper writer
> when she wrote Gone with the Wind. Wasn't that her only novel? If that's true,
> then it was her only foray into fiction.

People, read the title of the thread. The OP doesn't ask for writers who had other jobs. Most writers had other jobs. It's nearly impossible to get started in writing without having another job. This thread is about people who were famous for something other than writing who then wrote a novel.
For what it's worth, I believe Mitchell was a fairly well-known local socialite and popular newspaper columnist before writing her novel.
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Old 02-02-2009, 12:40 AM
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Don Imus wrote God's Other Son, a farce about televangelist who's a supposed brother to Jesus. Worth a few chuckles every now and then, but it wasn't very good.
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Old 02-02-2009, 04:14 AM
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Astronaut Buzz Aldrin co-wrote a couple of science fiction novels with John Barnes. I don't know how involved Buzz was in their creation. I read one; It wasn't bad but it wasn't good enough for me to remember what it was about.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:23 AM
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I've got a signed copy of Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe, co-written by George Takei. I haven't had the heart to read it, but it might actually be worth something.
I've read it. It's OK (futurstic ninja who swordfights and has a real invisibility cape). I suspect co-author Robert Lynn Aspirin had more to do with the writing than Takei, though.

Walter Koenig has co-written a couple of SF novels, and Shatner's name, as mentioned above, is on a few. I'm surprised more Trek actors dont have their names on books.

Nimoy, I suspect, really did write his books. But they're not fiction, and I haven't read them.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:29 AM
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I've got a signed copy of Mirror Friend, Mirror Foe, co-written by George Takei. I haven't had the heart to read it, but it might actually be worth something.
I've read it. It's OK (futurstic ninja who swordfights and has a real invisibility cape). I suspect co-author Robert Lynn Aspirin had more to do with the writing than Takei, though.

Walter Koenig has co-written a couple of SF novels, and Shatner's name, as mentioned above, is on a few. I'm surprised more Trek actors dont have their names on books.

Nimoy, I suspect, really did write his books. But they're not fiction, and I haven't read them.
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