Archive for the ‘Message from M.A.C.’ Category

The Legend of Caleb York

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015
The Legend of Caleb York
Hardcover:

E-Book: Amazon Google Play Nook Kobo iTunes

Audio MP3 CD:

Audio CD:

Audible:

THE LEGEND OF CALEB YORK is available as a hardcover right now. I can wait while you order it. (Collins humming themes from “Maverick” followed by “Rawhide,” concluding with a rousing rendition of the title song of “The Gunfight at O.K. Corral”). (You have to admit the song would not be as cool if it were “The Gunfight in the Vacant Lot Between Two Buildings Adjacent to the O.K. Corral.” Not only do we sometimes have to print the legend, sometimes we have to sing it.)

Okay, you’re back? Just for your info, there’s an audio book, too, which I’ll report on once I’ve listened to it, and a large print edition for people with eyesight even worse than mine.

If you’re a fan of Mickey Spillane’s, or mine, or both, you will surely want to grab this. In the late 1950s, Mickey wrote a screenplay, “The Saga of Cali York,” for his pal John Wayne that never got produced. It was one of three unproduced screenplays waiting for me in the Spillane files that Mickey had his wife Jane turn over to me. I based the novel on Mickey’s screenplay, which I thought was very good – it’s a traditional 1950s western in the vein of a really top-notch Randolph Scott, Joel McCrae or Audie Murphy flick.

What separates “York” from other westerns is the Spillane-style toughness and the explicit violence. Wayne presumably did not produce the film because his company Batjac got in financial hot water due to the way-over-budget production of THE ALAMO. But it’s also possible the over-the-top violence, at times anticipating Sam Peckinpah, made it a problematic project. It’s somewhat sexually steamy for the 1950s, too.

Writing the novel was tricky. I am right now in the early days of writing a sequel, utilizing material from Mickey’s notes and various drafts of the “York” script, and I spend as much time on Google doing research – and utilizing two shelves of my office library cart with books on the Old West – as I do writing.

Just the same, nobody should expect the level of historical accuracy that I bring to the Nathan Heller (or other historical crime) novels of mine. While I try to drop in tidbits of authenticity, Mickey was clearly operating in a movie/TV world, specifically of the ‘50s. Think of the Warner Bros. westerns of that period, or movies by Howard Hawks, John Ford, and Budd Boetticher. That’s the world.

So I don’t know how western fans will react. And I’m not sure how Heller fans will, either. BLACK HATS showed me taking the Heller approach to Wyatt Earp, but the Spillane westerns I’m doing for Kensington (there will be at least three) are definitely exploring the myth. Exploring it violently, but exploring it.

Not many reviews yet, but two really nice ones popped up last week, including one by modern-day pulpster, Ron Fortier.

And here’s a good one, very smart I think, from the Kindle Taproom.

Speaking of Spillane, I was thrilled to get another Mike Hammer review from the UK’s great Mike Carlson. He really digs KILL ME, DARLING.

Another Hammer review popped up for a title released a few years back, THE BIG BANG.

And, finally, out of nowhere came this write-up about the DICK TRACY comic strip collection, DICK TRACY AND THE NIGHTMARE MACHINE.

M.A.C.

M.A.C.: Most Wanted

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Quarry & Mike Hammer News

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

The New Orleans Times-Picayune interviewed me recently and if you will follow this link, you’ll find pictures from the set of the Cinemax QUARRY TV series as well as a three-part interview with me that is the most in-depth look at Quarry and his creation that I’ve ever provided.

I admit I was shocked that they used my entire interview – I had thought I was being interviewed for background on a broader piece, and expected a handful of things I said to be used as “pull” quotes. But they ran the whole thing, which is great, although occasionally I seem to be speaking English as a second (or perhaps third) language.

I THE JURY 82

For Mike Hammer fans, there’s good news – the under-rated Armand Assante I, THE JURY has received its first (albeit no frills) DVD release in America. I would have much preferred a Blu-ray with special features (like a commentary from yours truly), but we take what we can get.

For years what I had was a Japanese laser-disc that blurred all the sexy bits, and there’s a lot of ‘em. This is a made-on-demand DVD from Fox Cinema Archives and can be found at Amazon and elsewhere for around twenty bucks. Some people are gun-shy about MOD DVD’s, but I have tons of ‘em and have never had a problem. One proviso: While the DVD is in my house as I type this, I have yet to break the shrink wrap and screen it. If I’m disappointed in the transfer, I’ll let you know next week. [Note from Nate: Amazon instant video also has it in HD.]

Mickey did not like this version of I, THE JURY, but I am a fan. I would put it in the upper tier of Spillane films, probably in this order: KISS ME DEADLY; I, THE JURY (‘53) and THE GIRL HUNTERS (a tie for second place); and the I, THE JURY remake with Assante. The latter was a hard movie to see back in ‘82. Terry Beatty and I drove to a Chicago suburb to see it (returning the same night).

Here’s a brief excerpt on the I, THE JURY remake from MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN by Jim Traylor and myself:

Assante’s performance has a psychotic edge that makes his Hammer, updated or not, the definitive screen portrayal to date of the young Mike Hammer. Somewhere in there with the Brando and Stallone bits is a sense of the Mick himself: Assante has watched Spillane, obviously, and has the bantam walk down pat – as with Biff Elliot and Spillane, Assante confirms that a small, broad-chested Hammer has a bulldog rather than bully quality needed for character empathy in the page-to-screen transfer of the brawling hero.

The Assante Hammer is outraged; he’s prepared to risk anything for his goal, because his Hammer simply does not give a damn; if he dies in the course of his quest, so be it – “You take life too serious,” he advises several terrified unwilling participants in his various war games. Another time he tells Charlotte that he “may take a few suspects out along the way – I’m not perfect.” Dat’s Mike Hammer, ‘80s style.

Predictably, Spillane despised the film; most of his objections stemmed from (Larry) Cohen’s script, understandably displeased that his straightforward detective plot had been abandoned. He reserved his most dismissive comment for Assante: “He wore Italian heels,” as if this were enough to invalidate the film.

Even the update’s most obviously strong point did not impress Spillane – he dismissed the portrayal of Velda as “a preppie.” If so, this is a pistol-packing preppie, who likely shot the alligator on her shirt.

Very proud of that book, by the way. I believe it’s sold under 100 copies, and I wish I were kidding. If you like Hammer/Spillane, don’t be put off by the high price.

Elsewhere on the Hammer front, KILL ME, DARLING seems to be very well-received, but we could really use some more Amazon reviews. Last time I looked we only have five. I realize this is a very old song I’m singing, but if you like a book, if you like an author, take time to post at least a brief one or two sentence review and a nice high-star rating, to boost them. I speak mostly of myself here, obviously, but you really should be doing this for any author whose work you like.

Today (Monday as I write this), Barb and I will dig in on the first of two-days work on prepping ANTIQUES FATE for Kensington. I finished my draft on Friday, and we took Saturday off, meeting my research associate George Hagenauer for lunch at a great Italian restaurant in Dubuque called Vinnie Venucchi’s. Among other things, George and I (with Barb kibitzing) discussed the next Heller. The rest of the day Barb and I spent in that cool tourist trap Galena, where I was able to pick up the last two Richard Bissell books I needed at a used bookstore (Bissell wrote 7 ½ Cents, the basis for the musical Pajama Game, and is my favorite Iowa author other than Barb and me) (and Ed Gorman).

Sunday I did a draft of the pilot outline for the TV project that I can’t talk about yet.

So, anyway, today I will be reading the ANTIQUES FATE manuscript and making corrections and revisions in red pen, and Barb will be entering those and tweaking as she goes. For those keeping count, this is the third novel I’ve finished this year (two of them collaborative, of course). Actually, I finished four novels this year, but the Heller novel, BETTER DEAD, was completed early in January on the heels of several months of writing last year.

* * *

Here’s a very nice review of KILL ME, DARLING.

And finally here’s a graphic novels to film piece that highlights ROAD TO PERDITION.

M.A.C.

Stacy Keach Kills Me!

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Kill Me, Darling Blackstone Audiobook

This week, the audio book of KILL ME, DARLING will be released with the great Stacy Keach as the reader. The book is already available from Audible for download, and Barb and I started listening to it in the car on a trip to the Quad Cities this weekend, and are saving the rest for our next, longer-distance car trip. What a wonderful job Stacy is doing.

Check out the great audio book cover, which I actually prefer to the Titan one (which is very cool, but ignores the Florida setting).

It’s hard for me to express what it means for me to hear Stacy Keach read these novels (he’s done the prior six Spillane/Collins “Hammer” collaborations). Stacy – and I know him well enough to name-drop with that familiarity – is the most famous and certainly the most popular screen Mike Hammer of all time. I was not always crazy about producer Jay Bernstein’s TV version of HAMMER, but Stacy was consistently terrific and he captured the character beautifully, even perfectly. He became the Hammer of several generations.

Of the various Hammer projects I’ve been involved with, the two audio “radio play”-style full-cast, full-length dramatizations for Blackstone are among my favorites. The first one, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER VOLUME TWO: THE LITTLE DEATH won the Audie for best original work, and the second, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER VOLUME THREE: ENCORE FOR MURDER, was similarly nominated. I am very proud of those two audios, and owe a big thanks to producer Carl Amari. Also, since my late friend Mike Cornelison played Pat Chambers in both, they hold a special place in my heart.

We almost missed out on having Stacy read the audio of KILL ME, DARLING – in fact, we almost missed out on having an audio at all. For reasons I can’t fathom, although I may have been asleep at the wheel myself, Blackstone Audio was not approached in a timely fashion. Audio publishers like to be publish simultaneously with the books themselves. I didn’t check on this until early February, and when I found the ball had been dropped somewhere along the line, rushed to get Blackstone and Stacy together on this. Bless them both for jumping on board with little notice. As it is, the audio is appearing a couple of weeks after the book’s initial availability.

If you’re a Hammer fan and you haven’t listened to Stacy Keach read these new Hammer novels, you are really, really missing out.

From my point of view, a Hammer novel doesn’t feel real to me until I’ve heard Stacy read it.

I was nervous about KILL ME, DARLING – although frankly I love the book – because it was the first time I had a shorter chunk of Mickey’s work to expand and complete (less than fifty double-spaced pages as opposed to one-hundred). Would readers and reviewers find this as authentic a Hammer novel as the previous ones? So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Partly, I think, that’s because this is only the second of the Hammer’s I’ve completed that dates to Mickey’s most popular period (late forties/early ‘50s – the other being LADY, GO DIE!, chronologically the second Hammer novel). KILL ME, DARLING is the book that would have followed KISS ME, DEADLY – in other words, it picks up right where that hugely popular novel left off…right where Mickey left Hammer fans dangling for what would be a decade.

The next partial Spillane “Hammer” manuscript I complete will also be from the ‘50s. I feel privileged and thrilled to be able to fill in those missing years.

* * *

Regular readers of these updates will know that KILL ME, DARLING was created from a false start on THE GIRL HUNTERS. So it’s fun and interesting that (thanks to the Scorpion Blu-ray/DVD releases) that the Spillane-starring movie version of that novel is getting fresh attention.

Here’s one fun look at the film, with some mentions of my contributions to the blu-ray.

And here’s another.

In the meantime, I’m back to work on ANTIQUES FATE.

M.A.C.