Among the very rare group of writers whose books have sold over 100 million copies, the inventor of the police procedural with his dozens of 87th Precinct novels, the author of The Blackboard Jungle, and the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” Evan Hunter as the boy Salvatore Lombino was art editor of his school art-literary magazine and cartoonist for its paper. He won a city-wide competition for a scholarship to the Art Students League and continued art studies at Cooper Union until interrupted by enlistment in the navy in World War II.

In my interview with him at his Connecticut home, he recalled drawing portraits of everyone on the destroyer who was willing to sit for him, and then he “drew all the smokestacks, the torpedo tubes, the depth charge racks… And when there was nothing left to draw I borrowed a typewriter… and wrote several stories and found I liked it a lot.”

The transition was imaginatively freeing for him: “I was trained to see things with a frame around it. . . There is no frame in writing. You just go.”

Enjoy the interview and please check out The Writer’s Brush: Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture by Writers for more than 400 plates of artwork by great writers and the stories behind them.

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