A Guide to the Jesse Sublett Papers, 1978 - (ongoing) (Bulk: 1983-1995)
Jesse Sublett was born May 15, 1954, in Johnson City, Texas. He was valedictorian of Johnson City's LBJ High School Class of 1972, and attended Southwest Texas State University from 1972-1974 as an English major.
From 1974 until 1986 Sublett lived in Austin, where he played a dominant role in defining the live music scene as bass player and/or lead singer for a number of bands, most notably The Skunks, who recorded three records between 1978 and 1983.
During this time, Sublett began writing short pieces for the Austin Chronicle, including record and restaurant reviews, and in 1984 he was assigned to write a short piece on the club circuit which bands like The Skunks played. Instead, he submitted a semi-parodic music mystery entitled "Traveling the Hardboiled Highway," which imitated the style of a hardboiled detective novel. This marked the birth of Martin Fender, the central character in Sublett's first three novels. He submitted a second Fender piece, "The Nature of the Crime," which the Chronicle's editorial staff declined to publish but which they encouraged him to re-work as a novel. After finishing the re-titled Capitol Crimes, he wrote Rock Critic Murders with the intention of selling the two novels as a series. While waiting for the attention of publishers on the first two books, he began work on a third novel, Blunt Instrument.
In 1987 he moved to Los Angeles in order to be closer to the spirit of his hero Raymond Chandler. He continued to play music on the West Coast while awaiting responses from publishers and re-writing Blunt Instrument. Shortly thereafter, Lisa Kaufman at Viking took an interest in his work and agreed to publish Rock Critic Murders.
Sublett has written several screenplays, and served as story editor for the Disney series Adventures of the Old West. During 1994-1995 he ventured into nonfiction, writing a history of the Texas Turnpike Authority.
Sublett now lives in Austin with his wife Lois Richwine, their son Dashiell, and two cats.
Book manuscripts, screenplays, drafts, cartoons, clippings, correspondence, photographs, ephemera, sound recordings, and realia documenting Sublett's careers as a rock musician and writer. Copies of certain letters to Richard Holland, Curator of the Southwestern Writers Collection, have been retained when they shed light on some phase of Sublett's creative life. The records are organized into the following five series: 1. Writings; 2. Reviews and Publicity; 3. Photographs; 4. Ephemera; 5. Realia. Within each series, the records are arranged chronologically when possible.
Series 1: Writings, 1983-1995.
Subseries A: Misc. Early Stuff, 1985-1988, 1 folder, Accession No. 93-025. This series, kept as a discrete group of materials by Sublett in his home, contains drafts of some of his short pieces for the Austin Chronicle, including The Nature of the Crime (1984), a piece never published but which prompted the Chronicle's editorial staff to urge Sublett to write a novel. The rest of the items relate to Rock Critic Murders: consent and release forms, an early title page design containing a saguaro cactus, and blurbs solicited from James Ellroy, Gerald Petievich, and Kinky Friedman.
Subseries B: Austin Chronicle, 1983-1985, 1 folder, Accession No. 93-025. Articles and stories appearing in the Austin Chronicle: "The Big Tape", "X-15: The 4-Track Walkman", and "Crying on the Shoulder of the Road" (Nov. 24, 1983); "Traveling the Hardboiled Highway", record review: Madonna Madonna (Mar. 23, 1984); "How to Make a Record" (Nov. 30, 1984J); "Martin Fender and the Flat-Top Kid", short piece on Raymond Chandler for a feature on mystery writers (Dec. 13, 1985).
Subseries C: Novels, 1984-1987, .5 linear feet, Accession Nos. 93-025, 95-195. Contains a letter to Richard Holland explaining the sequence of Sublett's works; a 2nd draft of Rock Critic Murders, a first draft of the book which ultimately becameTough Baby entitled Blunt Instrument, and a completely-rewritten second draft of Tough Baby entitled The Big Hurt.
Subseries D: Screenplays, 1988-1993, .5 linear feet, Accession No. 93-058, 95-195. Contains a short note to Richard Holland describing Hale Storm as a first draft, and versions of Hey Joe, Rock Critic Murders, Pay the Devil, Hale Storm, Shadows in the Sun, (with Stephen Purvis), and two versions of In the West (with Stephen Purvis and Tom Huckabee).
Subseries E: Non-Fiction, 1995, 2 folders, Accession No. 95-195. Notes and drafts for History of the Texas Turnpike Authority.
Series 2: Reviews and Publicity, 1982-1992, 1 folder, Accession No. 93-025.
Interviews, reviews, and notices documenting both Sublett's music career and his writing career.
Series 3: Photographs, [1978?]-1990, 1 folder, Accession. No. 93-025.
Candid shots and publicity photos of Sublett and the Skunks.
Series 4: Ephemera, 1982-1992, 1 folder, Accession. No. 93-025.
Posters and postcards advertising the Skunks, Boiled in Concrete, a novel by Andrew Vachss, and a magazine cover for which Sublett modeled.
Series 5: Sound Recordings, 1979-1982, 1 folder, Accession. No. 93-025.
1 45-rpm record; 1 2-record set (with lyrics); 1 cassette representing the recorded output of the Skunks.
Series 6: Realia, 1978-1982, 1 folder, Accession. No. 93-025.
Artifacts from Sublett's musical career.
Open for research.
Jesse Sublett Papers, Southwestern Writers Collection/Texas State University-San Marcos.
Gifts donated by Jesse Sublett, 1993-1995.
Processed by David Bruner, September 1996.
Detailed Description of the Collection