Peter Kyne: Coastside Author (4)


When, as an adult, he began writing, some of the plots in Peter Kyne’s books included businessmen, the deals they cut and the maneuvering for power that went on in back rooms–all crafted with experience gained working in a Half Moon Bay general store.

East Coast critics never took Kyne’s work seriously, dismissing him as a “local atmosphere writer.” [Jack London, he wasn’t.]

Eventually Half Moon Bay got too small for Peter Kyne and he decided he needed real adventure, lying about his age and enlisting in the army in 1898, in the midst of the Spanish-American War. Off he sailed to the tropical Philippines, with dreams of good plots for stories in his head–but where instead he fell ill with diseases that accompany poor sanitary conditions.

When Kyne returned from Manila and shed his army uniform, he was ready for a quieter life, so he signed up for business school and was hired as a bookkeeper for a shipping firm on the San Francisco waterfront. [This front-row position would prove to be the best choice for finding good plots for stories!] For one thing, he was there when the hardened stevedores came out swinging with their fists when they went on strike for higher wages and better work conditions in 1903.

…to be continued…