My Race with SeaBiscuit:
The True Tale of a Tie-In

November 2003
by Jim Riordan

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When one of my authors called in mid-June of this year and insisted that I come down and see some letters belonging to a neighbor of hers, I had no clue that I was about to produce a book in a little more than a month so that a movie would fuel its sales.

The letters–more than 300 of them–were to the race horse Seabiscuit or his owner, Charles Howard, and they were marvelous. Written during 1939 and 1940, they included Valentine’s Day and birthday cards from children, a letter of congratulations from Mr. Warner of Warner Bros., and a letter dated March 21, 1940, from an officer aboard the ill-fated U.S.S. Indianapolis. The neighbor was Barbara Howard, Charles’s granddaughter by marriage. She had the letters because Charles’s wife, Marcella, had given them to her.

On June 16, Barbara and I agreed that Seven Locks would publish Letters to Seabiscuit and start production that very day with the goal of having copies for sale by July 25, when Seabiscuit, the movie, was going to premiere. We selected letters to use, factoring in content, readability, and length, and decided to reproduce them instead of setting them in type. In their aged (but readable) condition, they evoked that time gone by, the era when Seabiscuit was part of our national image.

There was only one choice for an endorsement that would lend instant credibility to the book: Laura Hillenbrand, whose Seabiscuit: An American Legend was the bas…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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