It’s always dangerous for agents to become too friendly with their clients, for friendship compromises objectivity, and though I much prefer twisting publishers’ arms to those of authors, every once in a while we find ourselves in a position of leaning on a client. In any case, if you’re going to be friends with an author, it’s better for the author to become a friend than vice-versa. Both the friendship and the business relationship last longer.
At least that is demonstrably true of my relationship with T. R. Fehrenbach, whose first story I sold in the dawn of history (I can’t stop you from googling dates but you’ll get no cooperation from me) and who today represents the longest author friendship I have ever enjoyed. And “enjoyed” is the right word. In my apprenticeship at Scott Meredith Literary Agency I handled for Fehrenbach – “Ted” – a number of books that have turned out timeless classics such as Lone Star, justly hailed as the greatest one-volume history of Texas ever written, and This Kind of War, an account of the Korean War that has never been surpassed. Fehrenbach is a Texan and was an officer in the Korean action and he certainly knew whereof he spoke when he wrote those books. But he also wrote a history of Mexico and a book about Swiss banks among others, excellent works combining scholarly research and a lively, entertaining style. E-Reads is happy to carry a number of these works and we invite you to read them.
During my tenure at Scott Meredith, Ted and I exchanged letters that ventured far afield from business correspondence. Our subjects ranged from philosophical to personal but we never stepped over a line that might make it difficult for me to be businesslike with him and for him when the going got rough. As someone who had never served in the armed forces I looked up to him reverently. He assured me that it took as much courage to go up against a publisher as it did to go up against armed troops. It was flattering to be thought brave by a soldier and I have always been grateful that he never made fun of me for buying into this truly preposterous notion.
When I started my own agency, Ted became a client, but our friendship has endured. And some of his supporters are honoring him with an award named in his honor, details of which will be included in an interview with Mr. Fehrenbach which will be posted shortly.
– Richard Curtis