Harry Jones started writing his first book, Montana Nemesis, whilst he was recuperating from an ulcer in Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, in 1959. It was most likely the crushing boredom of on enforced hospital stay, combined with a lack of other reading material, that forced Jones to read a couple of westerns, a genre that he would probably not otherwise have read. By the time he’d finished reading the second book he was convinced that he could write westerns at least to the standard of the books he had just read. The fact that the ensuing manuscript was accepted for publication immediately on submission to an agent would tend to support the fact that he was right.
Jones completed three–quarters of Montana Nemesis in the three weeks before he was discharged from hospital and finished the book back at the family home, in Priory Road, Shirehampton. Jones submitted the manuscript to Curtis Brown, an agency that dealt with all of the major publishing companies, and with whom he was to remain for the next five years.
The agency secured a publication deal with Frederick Muller, and Montana Nemesis was scheduled for publication on 9 December 1960 in their Sombrero Western series. Jones was paid £100 for the book for UK publication only. Curtis Brown attempted to secure overseas publishers for Montana Nemesis, though it would appear that nothing ever came of this – nor did it for any of the books published by Frederick Muller.
Just to prove that the first book was no flash in the pan, Jones submitted his next western, Cattleman’s Gold, even before Montana Nemesis was published. Based on Muller’s acceptance of his first two books (the contract for Cattleman’s Gold was signed on 16 August 1960), Jones was elected to Associate Membership of the Society of Authors in October 1960.
As an aside, how gentle or otherwise Jones’ wife, Alice, was in typing up the manuscript for Montana Nemesis might be conjectured by the fact that the first known submission on author’s income to the Inspector of Taxes included £5 depreciation on the typewriter.
Original copies of Montana Nemesis are incredibly hard to find and even some of Jones’ children do not have copies with dust jackets – one without jacket recently sold on Amazon for £16 in fairly poor condition, though the Boots Booklovers Library Club sticker is worth a closer look (see image).