Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lunch with Allan Cole

CIA, Blue Meanies, Hollywood and the Creative Life

I met writer Allan Cole probably seven years ago. He's one of those characters with whom I instantly clicked. We had a lot in common. We both traveled a lot. We both worked as newspapermen. We both had failed marriages and literary aspirations.
Allan's life story is far more interesting than mine; in fact it is off the scale of normalcy.
Allan was a "CIA Brat," and as such he traveled the world with his parents from age 7 until his junior year in high school, when the family moved to Southern California.
Allan was a chef and then a newspaper reporter and editor for 14 years. He got married and had kids, but he had a burning yearning to write more creatively.
On the side he began writing with a high school buddy named Chris Bunch. His wife did not understand his desire to be a novelist and screenwriter and it cost him his marriage, but in 1979 the gamble paid off. Cole and Bunch sold the first of what would be eight Sten science-fiction novels, and they also sold a screenplay for a new television series called "Quincy."
TV scripts were the gravy train for Cole and Bunch, but they continued to churn out novels: seven more Sten books, a Timura Trilogy, Lords of Terror and a Vietnam novel, "A Reckoning for Kings."
Allan married Bunch's sister Kathryn, but he broke off with Chis and both went solo (Bunch died two years ago).
Since he moved to Boca Raton Cole wrote a comic detective thriller "MacGregor," and more recently two semi-autobiographical books: "Tales of the Blue Meanie," set in Venice Beach California in the 1960s and "Lucky in Cyprus," set in the mid-1950s.
Allan and I enjoy Mexican lunch at the Baja Cafe several times a year, always on Allan's nickel.
"I just got some royalties," Allan usually says.
A year ago Allan collapsed in the Athens airport. It was a heart attack, open heart surgery and a wakeup call.
"I want to get as much out as I can, while I still can," he told me.
Allan is a lot more knowledgeable about the Internet and digital revolution than I, and he's full of great ideas. He's 65, and I hope he reaches his goal of writing about some of the more personal things in his incredible life, especially a violent incident in California so horrific it would strain the credibility of the wildest TV crime show.
Keep up the good work, Allan.
You can learn about him at www.acole.com.