As many of you know by now, we lost award winning book and screenplay author, Warren Murphy, last week.    Although he wrote over two hundred books, he was most famous for his Destroyer series featuring hero, Remo Williams, which he co-wrote with the late Richard Sapir.  His wit and humor, as well as his take on the current political scene, will be missed.   One may have forgotten that he also wrote the screenplays for both The Eiger Sanction and Lethal Weapon 2, as well as comics, mysteries, satire and short stories.  He was also a willing teacher, helping other writers to improve their skills and always ready to encourage them in their endeavors.

                Warren Murphy was a prolific writer of the ‘70s and ‘80s as were writers such as Mickey Spillane and John McDonald and Michael Avalon, who like many others, wrote under numerous pseudonyms.   I know there were many more such writers beyond those I just mentioned. It was almost like a club where they were producing a similar genre product, in this case, adventure stories, for the same group of manufacturers, AKA publishing houses. I happened to be married to one of these writers. Most of these guys were paid paltry sums to produce fast, page-turning action adventure involving evil bad guys and beautiful women, writing them rapidly enough to keep current with their rent and utilities.   Considering the numbers of books sold back then and the people who still collect and reread these books today, the writers succeeded in keeping up with demand.

                Their real success is not based on how many books were sold in those days but in the number of young people who became hooked on reading because of their fast paced stories.  Personally, Jerry and I received many letters from people who stated that they had had no interest in reading and that they were turned off by the books they were supposed to read in high school.  Somehow, they got their hands on a Survivalist or Mercenary book or a Destroyer or Nick Carter and found that reading could be a pleasurable experience and then they never stopped turning the pages.  Reading about good guys versus bad guys and the concept of good should triumph over evil, mixed with a little romance was and still is good for the soul and the spirit.  A good story is a good story and makes the reader stop to think of what they would have done in the same situation.  Some of these people tried their hands at writing their own stories and some succeeded and became the next generation of storytellers.

                Jerry’s dad had  to grow up quickly.  Being the only boy in the family with four sisters and a mother to support, he didn’t have the opportunity to spend much time in school; instead, he spent his time working at anything that would help bring home money.  He was smart and would spend any free time he had with his nose in a book that he had picked up somewhere.  If his father caught him reading, the book was taken away and usually thrown into the fireplace and Jack would be given a lecture about idle hands.  Fortunately, this didn’t stop Jerry’s dad from continuing to read.

                Jerry grew up seeing his father spending a good portion of his free time reading.  Many times I saw Jack with a paperback book protruding from his back pants pocket. His dad’s favorite authors were Harold Robbins, Mickey Spillane, and Zane Grey.  In fact, when he passed away, he was buried with a few books to read while waiting to pass through the pearly gates.  As Jerry grew older, his dad would read favorite passages to his son and, eventually, pass his favorites over for Jerry to read.  The two of them later became fans of the James Bond books and this became a special link that they shared.   Unfortunately, Jerry’s dad passed away before any of Jerry’s books were published.  John “Jack” Ahern would have been so proud of his son.

                Reading has been called “the window to the world.”  It can teach you about the world as it is, and can open your imagination to what it could be.  There is no end to the stories that can be told as long as we have great storytellers to tell them.




I have sad news; another great team has been broken up.  When I think of teams, I immediately envision the greats such as Hope and Crosby, Fred and Ginger, Sonny and Cher and Martin and Lewis, all household names to most of us -- well, known to most of us beyond a certain age.  How about Batman and Robin? One of the most recent team pairings became local legends, Shelby, and Oreo.  They soaked up the sunshine together and watched the neighborhood; they had the same human friend, Lilly, who loved them both and showered them with hugs.  Shelby and Oreo even shared their food; if Oreo left any food in her outdoor feeding area, Shelby would gobble it up before it had any chance of growing stale and, when Oreo had a successful hunt, she left the feathers under a certain bush so that her canine friend was gifted.

                We understood that her life would be different once her six kittens were born.  By the way, they were born in Lilly’s bedroom closet.  Oreo stayed home with the kids and took care of them as would any full-time mom, leaving them for just moments in order to satisfy her own needs.  If she didn’t meet up with Shelby, she would circle the house and leave her scent on the downspout by the back door and at the base of the Butterfly Bush which was her favorite hiding place when hunting birds.  Sometimes she would wait at the front door to remind me to leave her some food.

                The day finally came when all of her children had been placed in forever homes and her responsibilities declined.  She would come around and expect to be fed more than once a day and, seeing as how skinny she had become, I obliged.  She and Shelby would still have meaningful conversations as they wandered about with me trailing behind them, but these sessions were now less frequent.  Then one afternoon we noticed that Oreo’s cat food was uneaten; Shelby took care of that as she wouldn’t have wanted it to spoil or be eaten by some other creature.  This became part of Shelby’s routine for many days to come. 

It’s been about two months now since anyone has seen Oreo.  Shelby still starts off her morning sniffing the drain spout next to the back door, checking for her scent around the Butterfly Bush and even looking under the car where Oreo liked to escape the afternoon sunshine. When I see Shelby staring out through the front door window, I know she still is waiting for her friend to cross the street and run up onto the porch, but Oreo isn’t coming.

Life for so many of us settles into a certain routine, a routine that we assume will go on forever.  We expect the same people will be part of our lives forever, the same opportunities available at all times, the same world that we are all part of.  For good or bad, ours is a world that is static, forever changing, and we, through the course of time, learn from it and change with it accordingly.  This is life; this is how we grow, through our experiences.  I understand, but how do you explain it to a hound dog with a broken heart?




"You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time."  This statement was made by monk and writer, John Lydgate, in Fifteenth-Century England.  One only has to be reminded of what's been happening in the US recently to readily agree.

All gays are exhibitionists or perverts and shouldn't have civil rights bestowed on them until they straighten up.  The General Lee is a symbol of southern prejudice?  Come on, get real!  Oh, let us not forget that our Constitution needs to be changed because it is so out of date and thereby meaningless and irrelevant to this modern generation and its needs.  These are all issues we have to work out as a country.

Life goes on as we strive for perfection.  We strive, we reach, but I doubt that we will ever achieve it. What seems perfect to one of us usually causes another to cry out in anger or shame.  Let's face it; we are not an agreeable group of people.  We are diverse and that is what makes us special.

This country was settled by unhappy people who came to America wanting to escape a bad situation in their own homeland, who sought to better themselves in a new, less restrictive environment.  This country was also settled by people who were brought here against their will and enslaved, such as the Africans, Irish and Germans.  Many of these people did not arrive with smiles on the faces, loving and agreeing entirely with every other group's varying cultures and beliefs.  Hate and prejudice traveled with and arrived here with the first shipload of future Americans.  Time didn't heal all wounds, but things were either dealt with, replaced with new issues of more importance at the time or ignored by the general populace.

Wave upon wave of these new issues washed ashore over the course of time, issues that were sometimes unthinkable to some citizens who instead, chose to stow them in a place far away, adrift, not to be thought of or talked about.  But like Pandora's Box, unpopular and controversial issues have a way of surfacing and spreading, demanding our attention.  When we ignore and refuse to intelligently discuss issues, arbitration may be necessary, especially when those on one side or the matter or the other demands action to be taken.

Just like children fighting over the last cookie, a person who has been given the authority, may step in and make the decision based on the facts that he or she is privy to.  The outcome may be agreeable to all concerned or it could lean heavily toward one participant's advantage.  Another result might be that it is determined that the cookie will remain uneaten.

The obvious resolution to this dilemma would have been to share the cookie equally and skip the middleman, right?  What are the chances of that happening?

I won't say if I approve or disapprove of the Supreme Court's recent decisions, but they sure did open up a giant bag of worms!  Stay tuned for season 226 next year of The Supreme Court Rules Again!




A few days ago I was walking the aisles of the BLADE Show in Atlanta with my son, Jason and my two teenage grandsons, Alec and Aidan.  Since Jerry’s passing, a day trip to BLADE has become a mother/son outing which I hope can continue, maybe even with the grandsons in attendance as well.  Seeing what’s new and what stays popular is always a reason to be there but, more importantly, getting together with industry friends and catching up on what’s new with their families and such is priceless.  We call or email friends who are coming in for the show and set up a time and place to meet, then go our separate ways and maybe get together later to discuss what we saw that was of special interest.

Our family tradition for as long as I can remember is that the first stop taken once we get through the exhibition hall doors is the Crawford Knives table.  Pat and Wes and the Aherns go back many decades; Wes and Jason meeting and working shows such as this when they were young teens.  I’ll never forget how the two of them managed to order and actually get a pizza delivery person into the SHOT Show.  Pat has been making quality custom knives since 1972 and now Wes is giving his old man some slack, taking over most of the daily chores involved in their business.  Crawford knives have found their way into my purse on many occasions as well as Jerry’s pockets.  Occasionally, one of their knives has dangled on a neck chain or, disguised as an ordinary object, tucked away in a desk or dresser drawer. Their table always has new and interesting knives and is knee deep in attendees. 

Next stop on our annual tour is Benchmade where Les and Roberta de Asis hang out.    Balisong USA started manufacturing balisongs in the late 1970s, and then changed its name to Pacific Cutlery in the early 1980s, before finally becoming Benchmade. After seeing a demonstration of what the knife could do in the hands of a pro like martial artist, actor, stuntman and author of one of the first books published in the US on Balisong knives, Jeff Imada -- who also incidentally, was the fight/stunt consultant for all the TWILIGHT movies -- it was decided that our character Natalia, in the SURVIVALIST series needed such a knife as one of her primary weapons. After all these years, Natalia still lets her Butterfly knife soar and always hits her mark. Family life and children haven’t slowed her up any more than being the First Lady of the United States. 

Moving over to stage right is the booth where A.G. Russell and his wife Goldie hold court.  They graciously take the time to talk to everyone who comes over to speak with them, showing new designs as well as knife show favorites.  His name, as well as Goldie’s, are legends in the knife industry and to collectors. A.G. Russell Knives is the largest reseller of knives in the world, founded in 1964. In 1970, he co-founded the Knife Collectors Club and the Knifemakers' Guild, both of which are the oldest continuously functioning organizations of their types.  He was the first member of the Knife Digest Cutlery Hall of Fame and produced the first commemorative pocket knife.  In 1975, he designed a knife that Jerry fell in love with and carried with him either inside his waistband or tucked inside his boot.  Jerry even gave John Thomas Rourke, the lead character in the SURVIVALIST series, a STING boot knife that was good for hunting and everyday tasks as well as for personal protection.  His Sting has been through a lot over the years and has helped keep our hero alive and well.  Rourke still carries a Sting 1A with a black chrome finish, ready for its next challenge.

 In the SURVIVALIST time frame, over 650 years have passed.  In our world, Natalia, with her Balisong and Rourke with his Sting have now been fighting the good fight for almost 35 years, the series premiering in 1981.  I think that sounds like a great endorsement for their choice of edged weapons. Jerry picked the best for his own personal carry and for those fictional characters that fought to stay alive.

Old friends, new friends, endearing friends.  Friends that you share a common bond with, new friends that might surprise you, friends that you trust to be there when you need them; they all can be found at the Blade show. 





                  The five Ws should be found in any type of story.  Of what use would an account of a crime be without stating the who, what, where, when and why?  Maybe the facts are not found in the first paragraph like a newspaper account but eventually the reader would be given the particulars, otherwise there would be nothing left to tell; the facts are an integral part of the story. 

                The same premise holds true for both fact and fiction.  You’re reading about a person entering a room; what does he see?  The two-seater airplane is ready for takeoff and the bad guys are right behind the hero and the beautiful woman he just rescued.  Enemy fire is closing in on our couple and they reach the plane just moments ahead of the advancing hail of lead.   What does our hero do to get off the ground and into the air?  A couple goes to an elegant, expensive restaurant for a romantic night on the town.  The gentleman slips the maitre d some cash, and the maitre d seats them.  Where?  What do they order?  If there is music in the background, what is being played?  What are they wearing?  Did I mention this town that they’re in is Rio de Janeiro?

                When reading a work of fiction do you just assume that the author knows everything? Jerry was fond of the books of a particular writer who was popular a number of years ago and still is until he caught her in a series of gun errors.  He figured if she hadn’t checked her accuracy in that field, how could you be sure she was correct in others?  He totally gave up on her because he could no longer believe a word her characters said.

Today, with the help of Google, you can get information on just about everything, but as to how good or bad that information is, can be dubious.  Getting expert advice can sometimes be challenging.  When the majority of our books were being written such as the TAKERS, THE YAKASA TATTOO and the SURVIVALIST series, the internet was not available in the Ahern household but hard copy reference books and a telephone were.  We had and I still do have a pretty good reference library but tracking someone down with the specific information you need and talking with them and asking them questions is still the best way to go.

                I remember spending hours talking with a person who was knowledgeable in the rites associated with Voodoo and getting straight which Loa would you need to help you in various situations and which were good and which could really make a bad situation worse.  We had a lady who had spent her life as a missionary help us with the nuances associated with the Portuguese language which would differentiate one class of person from another.  We got to know her rather well and would spend time over at her house learning a great deal from her about the various cultures surrounding the Amazon.  We killed people (only bad ones, of course) and saved lives through various medical procedures as told to us by physicians, piloted nuclear submarines and fought the Japanese mafia all with a little help from our friends. 

                I just want to thank you all for the help you have given over the years, not just for our books, but for all books, to published writers and someday soon published writers.  Without your knowledge and insight, we may not have had the courage to include topics that were a stretch for us to even imagine.  Without being able to talk and discuss with you that which you know far more about than we do, we may never have thought of the various twists and turns we were able to include in our stories.  Thanks for listening to our stupid questions and not laughing too much and for not changing your phone number or email address because you thought we were stalking you.  Hopefully, some of us have been able to take from you and pass it on, inspiring others to learn more.