Centuries & Sleuths Signing

September 9th, 2014 by Max Allan Collins

As I’ve mentioned here, Barb and I are doing precious few signings these days, but this Sunday (September 14) we will be at Centuries & Sleuths in Forest Park, Illinois, at 2 p.m. for a discussion and signing. This is a very cool bookstore and ideal for us – it’s a mix of mystery and history, and owner Augie Aleksy is one of the sweetest, most knowledgeable book store guys you could ever hope to meet. The area the store nestles in is full of fun shops (lots of antiquing – like I said, perfect for us) and restaurants.

Here’s the address: 7419 Madision Street, and the phone number is 708-771-7243. For those outside the Chicago area, I’m sure you could order books through Augie and have them signed at the event. Not sure exactly what he’s got on hand, but it’ll likely be: SUPREME JUSTICE, KING OF THE WEEDS, THE WRONG QUARRY and ANTIQUES CON.

Speaking of things I used to do all the time but do only infrequently now (get your mind out of the gutter), Crusin’ did one of its remaining two 2014 gigs this past Saturday. We appeared at Fruitland Fun Days in Fruitland, Iowa, and did 2 ½ hours with just a short break. Glamourous show biz stuff: playing on a truck flatbed with the park bathrooms behind us.

Fruitland Fun Days

Appearing after us was Jake McVey, a rising country star whose stuff I actually like, very rock ‘n’ roll – amazingly nice guy, and his bandmates were extremely complimentary.

In fact, Jake said he thought we’d be perfect for the Midwestern casino circuit and offered his recommendation and networking help. Twenty years ago, maybe even ten, that would have been tempting – casino money tends to be terrific. But we are winding down. Guitar player Jim Van Winkle is probably moving soon – not far away, but far enough to make gigging very occasional – and drummer Steve Kundel has school age kids (and concerts and games to go to). We will always be available for Bouchercon, though.

Fruitland Fun Days

Since my Hollywood trip, things are heating up on that front, and it makes Crusin’ a luxury I dare not indulge in. At least not much. For example, the day after a gig I am so sore, tired and often hoarse that I can’t work (and I am frequently on deadlines that require at least six days a week).

For those of you wondering what we’re working on, Barb is doing her draft of the third of three ANTIQUES Christmas novellas for the e-book trade. We do hope to collect these eventually, likely with a fourth novellas exclusive to the collection. I’ll be getting to my draft (it’s called ANTIQUES ST. NICKED) later this week.

I am working on a TV script – my first – for a top-secret project. I was given two weeks and delivered it in one week. Got notes on Friday. Today I will turn in the second draft on the day the first draft was due. Am I showing off? Not really. Maybe a little. But I like to demonstrate, when I have a deadline-driven new assignment, that I can deliver.

I am convinced that’s how I got the DICK TRACY gig back in 1977. I got the phone call to participate as one of several writers doing try-out scripts, and that same day I wrote it. They had it in lightning speed (at least the “Special Delivery” variety, since this was way before FAXing, e-mail and even Fed-Ex). And they called off the competition and hired me.

Of course, they eventually fired me with lightning speed in 1993….

* * *

I am pleased (maybe even a little bit thrilled) have J. Kingston Pierce – one of our best, smartest crime fiction reviewers – place one of my novels on his all-time favorite list. Jeff has selected the sometimes overlooked ANGEL IN BLACK, the “Black Dahlia” Nate Heller, which is among my personal favorites.

Here the film version of ROAD TO PERDITION is #2 on a list of the five best movies based on graphic novels. Nice things are said about the original book, as well.


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12 Responses to “Centuries & Sleuths Signing”

  1. Joe Menta says:

    Hmmm, you mention your TV project on the same day that info is appearing on the ‘net about HBO possibly mounting a 50’s-era noir crime drama to be produced by David Fincher and James Ellroy. Are you the third spoke in that creative wheel? No need to confirm or deny, haha.

  2. Robert says:

    Let’s cross our fingers and hope for a Heller series!

  3. Max Allan Collins says:

    I have made no secret of my dislike for James Ellroy’s work, and the circumstances don’t exist where I’d be part of a project of his.

    As for Heller, very early days….

  4. Joe Menta says:

    I found some of Ellroy’s early work interesting, until he started- in my view- to take himself way too seriously, resulting in works that were too self-consciously “literary” and “artsy”, to the point where the stories were all but impossible to follow. Your own work (especially the Hellers) shows that a writer can add richness, nuance, subtlety, all that stuff, without losing sight of the honored craft of telling a good yarn.

  5. Max Allan Collins says:

    Ellroy is representative (in the crime fiction world at least) of the author would rather impress than entertain. There are readers who would rather be impressed than entertained, too, otherwise Ellroy and a good many literary writers wouldn’t have an audience. I want to tell a good story vividly, with humor and emotion, and there’s an audience for that, as well.

    To be fair, I haven’t read all that much of Ellroy. I avoided THE BLACK DAHLIA because I knew I’d be writing my own novel on the crime. I got halfway through L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and found it ridiculous in its juvenile idea of “dark” characters and activities. I’ve read some of his short stories and (supposed) non-fiction. The writing is too self-conscious for me to get all the way through a book, though I’ve tried a few times. I admit to be repulsed by his shameless self-promotion (and as a self-promoter myself, that takes some doing) and his shameful exploitation of his mother’s sad life. I don’t believe his self-biography, his life of young crime and so on, but that’s instinct not research.

    That said, plenty of people whose opinions I respect think he’s wonderful. So feel free to chalk my opinions up to petty jealousy.

  6. Robert says:

    I like Ellroy’s writing, and I think his over the top “darkness” is part of the fun. Stapling together Don Delillo’s, Ross MacDonald’s, and Thomas Pynchon style together too may not always be good, but it’s never be boring. That said I am super glad someone with more credibility than me doesn’t find any piece of his “biography” besides his mom’s death credible. He is a hundred percent a phoney. And pimping out your dead mom or your father over and over and over again in a quest for literary credibility AND cheap true crime money is grotesque.

    Hopefully the Heller show goes from early days to Emmy days though. HBO wouldn’t know what to do with it, but Showtime, Cinemax, or Amazon could make a really, really great prestige period drama out of it, and in Amazon’s case it’d also sell the backlist they publish!

  7. Max Allan Collins says:

    Your defense of Ellroy’s writing is a good one. I know some people don’t understand my liking of Spillane, who also goes over the top. Too me, the difference is Spillane is a natural artist/storyteller and Ellroy is a patchwork man. I say this knowing full well that there are elements of Spillane, Hammett and Chandler (among others) in my work, but I like to think my own voice dominates.

  8. Hey Max,

    Just pre-ordered KILL ME, DARLING from Amazon. Due out in March. I was wondering what the time frame of the story is? The short story-line says it takes place in Miami, can’t wait to get my hands on it! If it is even close to KING OF THE WEEDS, or COMPLEX 90 then it will be a real treat!

  9. KILL ME, DARLING falls right after KISS ME, DEADLY. The manuscript I worked from, while shorter than the previous six, is quite significant as it’s among the earliest (dating to around ’53) and represents a false start on THE GIRL HUNTERS. Here Hammer, coming off a several month long bender because Velda ran out on him, pursues her to Miami where’s she’s become the moll of a notorious gangster.

    I loved doing this one because it was the younger, crazier Mike Hammer. I’ve loved doing them all, but I really get a kick out of it when I can do the first phase of Hammer, as in LADY, GO DIE! and this one.

  10. Gerard says:

    I am working on a TV script – my first

    After such a varied and long career I’m surprised that was your first TV script.

    I like Ellroy’s writing and his over the top public persona. I wouldn’t want to spend personal time with the guy, he sounds miserable.

  11. Max Allan Collins says:

    I should have said episodic TV script, although in a way the CSI video games almost qualify. The documentaries I did, as well as the ELIOT NESS one-man show, were done with TV in mind. MOMMY first appeared on Lifetime and it, like MOMMY’S DAY, were never intended for theaters, strictly direct-to-video and cable.

    I haven’t seen him in a long time, but James and I have always been friendly on a personal level. I never found him hard to get along with and in fact appreciated his enthusiasm for his writing and for crime fiction. But his misbehavior on panels at cons very early on put me at odds with his contrived public persona.

    I find him embarrassingly self-conscious as a writer, and an unbearable read. But, as I have said, many people I respect think he’s terrific. Taste is taste, and there’s nothing to be done about it.