While Emma Peel was knocking them dead over in the UK, American TV audiences got their own private-eyeful in the 1965 TV series Honey West. West’s creator called her a cross between Marilyn Monroe and Mike Hammer. She was fashionable, an expert in martial arts, smart and her favorite companion was a pet ocelot named Bruce.
Played by the saucy, sultry Anne Francis (Forbidden Planet), Honey West was the first leading female detective and certainly influenced later shows such as Police Woman and Charlie’s Angels. Her character was first introduced on an episode of Burke’s Law but in spite of an Emmy nod for Best Actress the series was canceled after the first season.
But the Honey West story doesn’t start or end there. The character was the star of eleven novels published between 1957 and 1971. Now, after a 40 year break, Honey West is back in action thanks to Moonstone Books and authors Win Scott Eckert and Matthew Baugh.
Their new novel has Honey West teaming up with another classic TV character – but you might have to rummage around in the back of your brain to remember Thomas Hewitt Edward Cat. Personally, I had a questions, so I called Win Scott Eckert in to have a little chat.
“Honey West and T.H.E. Cat” – give me the why and the how.
Win: Moonstone has the license to Honey West and is doing an anthology of short stories, to which I was invited to contribute. I gravitate toward mashups and crossovers and asked Moonstone if they were using any other characters in the right time frame. They suggested T.H.E. Cat. I knew the character (I have the four Dell comics published in the ’60s), but had not seen the show, which is unfortunately not available in an authorized DVD release. Nonetheless, I managed to get access to all the episodes and loved the show. So, Honey and Cat it was. (By the way, Honey and Cat also met in a two-issue comic just published by Moonstone; that story takes place shortly before our novella, “A Girl and Her Cat“).
When I turned in my story, all parties felt it was worth expanding. My fellow writer and friend Matthew Baugh had some ideas for additional plotlines, so away we went.
I assume it’s written as it would have been in the period? Honey doesn’t have a cell phone or does she?
Win: Absolutely. When I took this on I read all eleven Honey West novels, watched the entire TV series, and then reread the first three novels. As I said I watched the entire T.H.E. Cat TV series, and took copious notes on both characters. I worked up a timeline for Honey, and Matthew Baugh created a timeline for Cat. Both of these are included in the book, which takes place in June 1967.
Moonstone has been doing comics, but this is the first actual novel, is that correct?
Win: Yes, that’s right. To be fair, its a novella, depending on your word count definitions, but its a long novella.
Are there more in the works?
Win: There may just be! Matthew and I have worked up an outline for a sequel.
Let’s talk classic TV. Tell me about a few of your favorites.
Win: I love ’60s television: The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Star Trek, The Avengers, Danger Man / Secret Agent, The Saint, The Wild Wild West, The Green Hornet, The Prisoner, and The Persuaders are among my favorites. And of course Honey West and T.H.E. Cat! In fact, I co-edited three Green Hornet anthologies for Moonstone and contributed a story to each one.
If you could write a novelization of any TV show, classic or current, what would it be?
Win: I’d love to write an original U.N.C.L.E. novel or Wild Wild West novel. Both series have great characters with a rich background universe in which to play. Really, I’d love to do tie-ins for any of the shows I mentioned, I really enjoy the slick and cool vibe of the shows that era produced.
Oh Win, please, please, please write that Wild Wild West novel. I could really use with a new dose of classic James West!
Want to get your hands on Honey West? Honey West and T.H.E. Cat: A Girl and Her Cat is available at Amazon or from Moonstone Books. You should also visit Win Scott Eckert’s website, it’s a treasure trove of goodies for the retro crime drama fan.