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

A Real Bookstore

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
Centuries and Sleuths Signing 2014
Barbara Collins and Max Allan Collins with fan Andy Lind

Barb and I did a signing at one of our favorite bookstores, Centuries and Sleuths in Forest Park, Illiniois, this Sunday past. The turnout was modest but included some of our most dedicated fans – one of whom brought two cartons of doughnuts! (Thanks, Rick!) The relatively small group meant that these hardcore fans could ask all kinds of knowledgeable questions, and that was a real pleasure. Among them were Andy Lind – Cedar Rapids fan relocated to Rockford who came all that way – and Mike Doran, old TV expert par excellence and frequent poster here.

Hosts Augie and Tracy Aleksy are ever gracious, good-humored and interested in what authors have to say. We signed some stock for Augie, and since we are doing no more signings this year (and probably few to none next), you may want to pick up signed copies from Centuries and Sleuths. You can call Augie at 708-771-7243, and the e-mail is csn7419@sbcglobal.net. He has signed copies of KING OF THE WEEDS, ANTIQUES CON, THE WRONG QUARRY, and – yes – SUPREME JUSTICE. He has a good quantity of signed ANTIQUES and Hard Case Crime QUARRY titles, too.

What makes Centuries and Sleuths unique is the combination of history and mystery – not just historical mysteries, but books on history. Right now Augie is concentrating on World War One (“celebrating” its 100th anniversary), and has all sorts of non-fiction titles available on the subject, but also fiction. He’s ordering in THE LUSITANIA MURDERS, for instance, in its Thomas & Mercer paperback edition.

Walking into a bookstore like Centuries and Sleuths is a reminder of what makes book buying such a pleasure in a real store with an expert hand-selling owner who really cares. If you are lucky enough to have a good indie bookstore, particularly a mystery bookstore, within your home area, please support them.

As a guy published by Amazon, I buy a good number of books there. But I have a simple rule that I try to follow. If I spot a book in an actual store – and it’s a book of which I was unaware – I buy it there. I don’t look it up on Amazon to get the cheaper price.

I have another rule that pertains to bookstores where I do a signing – I always buy a book there. It amazes me when authors do signings at bookstores and don’t repay the venue with a purchase. Maybe not all authors like books.

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Here’s a nice little write-up about COMPLEX 90.

And out of nowhere comes this fun write-up on the film THE EXPERT for which I wrote the screenplay. The writer doesn’t know the extensive backstory – such as my working for many months on a DIRTY DOZEN version for older actors, then when Jeff Speakman was cast at the last minute had to throw together a very different version – but his views are smart and entertaining.

The Kindle Taproom has a swell write-up on my favorite of the Mallory novels, A SHROUD FOR AQUARIUS.

Finally, a writer picks his five favorite Mike Hammer novels, and there are some interesting surprises, including his favorite (the undervalued SURVIVAL…ZERO!) and THE BIG BANG.

M.A.C.

Centuries & Sleuths Signing

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

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….

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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.

M.A.C.

The November Man

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
The November Man

You should probably see THE NOVEMBER MAN, the new Pierce Brosnan espionage thriller. I attach the “probably” because for all its merits, Brosnan’s return to Bond territory is less than great. It’s a movie easy to damn with faint praise – “pretty good,” “not bad” – but for anyone who’s a fan of the Bond films, this is required viewing.

It’s a typically convoluted spy thriller, with Bourne-ish element and even Le Carre aspects, with strong if not mind-blowing action scenes. But what it mostly has to offer is Brosnan thumbing his nose at the Bond producers who let him go prematurely. Brosnan was excellent in his four Bond films, and not at all to blame for the unfortunate excesses of DIE ANOTHER DAY, which proved to be his final outing.

Here he demonstrates both charisma and toughness, and a streak of brutality not seen in Bond since the Fleming books themselves. Thematically, the film has him as a legendary secret agent who retired ten years ago and now is getting yanked back into the game. He’s up against Luke Bracey’s younger agent – read: Daniel Craig (there’s an even more direct reference early on, when Brosnan’s shown photos of agents who were recent victims of a Russian assassin, and the final dead agent is identified glumly by Brosnan as “Craig”). Fleming’s famous “blunt instrument” description of a good secret agent is invoked, and the female lead, quite good, is “Bond Girl” Olga Kurylenko (QUANTUM OF SOLACE). We’re not meant to think that Brosnan’s character might really be Bond – as was the case with Sean Connery in THE ROCK – but these references add up to a sort of kiss-his-ass valentine to the Bond films. My favorite moment might be Brosnan yanking a guy off a motorcycle but not climbing on and riding off – just stepping over the thing on his shark-like way.

The budget doesn’t allow Bourne or Bond level stunts and set pieces, and the script is uneven. The usually first-rate Bill Smitrovich (Lt. Cramer in TV’s NERO WOLFE and a co-star of THE LAST LULLABY) is given some bad dialogue and responds by chewing the scenery like a starving billygoat. But it’s worth seeing for anyone with an affection for Brosnan as Bond.

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Here’s a nice article that gives Terry Beatty and me some credit for the re-birth of crime comics via MS. TREE.

Vanity Fair online, of all places, has this positive look at novelizations, with quotes from me and my pal Lee Goldberg.

Here’s a nice discussion of Mickey Spillane and Mike Hammer, with an emphasis on the radio version and mentions of my completions of unfinished work from Mickey’s files.

Finally, this link to an early ‘60s ALLEY OPP comic book includes a nice boost for my documentary, CAVEMAN: V.T. HAMLIN & ALLEY OOP.

The San Diego Comic-Con International site posted a photo of author Jonathan Maberry and me at the 2014 IAMTW tie-in panel.

M.A.C.

Hooray For…

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Barb and I spent most of last week in Hollywood (California, not Florida). I rarely make trips out there, but this trek was to make “pitches” to various networks about a Heller TV show, and to take a few meetings (there’s a nasty phrase) about the QUARRY TV show.


Beautiful blonde spotted in the Beverly Hills Hotel lobby. Movie star?

First, QUARRY. Though a pick-up has not been announced, everything looks good – promising, let’s say. The meetings I took, both with the writers heading up the potential series and with the top execs at Cinemax, were encouraging.

As for Heller, the pitch meetings went very well and we have some interest. If you’re Heller fan, it’s premature to start doing cart wheels. At this stage, assuming a HELLER series will happen is like sending out birth announcements on your way out to a singles bar hoping to pick somebody up. But it’s a start.


Confused tourist outside CAA shortly before being seized by security.

The pitch process was interesting and a little odd, from a book writer’s point of view, anyway. For a long time – almost a year – I have worked with a top management company to develop a “pitch document.” I don’t remember ever polishing a piece of writing more times or more thoroughly, and I had expected I’d either be reading it or working from an outline of it. I practiced doing it both ways with Barb (don’t take that out of context) and hated the two approaches equally. One of the handful of things I do well is speak extemporaneously, and neither approach tapped into that.

Early in our marriage, when I was starting to publish novels and would do speaking engagements for the Rotary or whatever, I would prepare not at all, and it would make Barb very nervous, very anxious. She insisted that I prepare, that I do the next speech from notes. I did, and I sucked. After that, Barb gave her blessing to me winging such speeches, and never got nervous for me that way again.

I was relieved when, last Monday, my prep for the pitch meetings (set for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) included the news that I would not be using the pitch document. That I would be talking extemporaneously to the network execs. I don’t get nervous or anxious in front of audiences, and these pitch meetings included very high ranking people at some of the most famous cable networks. But I was loose and not intimidated, and pretty funny frankly, which I think helped.

Oddly, the pitch document was not left behind at any of the five networks we saw. Apparently you need to have such a document in case somebody asks to see it. But nobody did.

It was a stressful trip (my God I hate those freeways), and expensive, which is why I’ve only gone out to LA for pitch meetings on two prior occasions in the last ten years. But HELLER is important to me, and is a series I would like to be involved in myself, as opposed to just handing it off to talented writers and doing the occasional script.

We’ll see.

Did I mention it was expensive out there? It’s a shock to a couple of Iowa rubes to go out for a light lunch at a casual corner cafe and spend sixty bucks for it (a salad for Barb, fish tacos for me). But I was able to stop at my two favorite places in LA – Amoeba Records and Book Soup. At the latter, a customer recognized me as I was buying a magazine, and was dismayed at not having any of my books along for me to sign. Here’s a tip: everywhere you go, bring my books along. You never know when I’m going to show up.


A director and his star on the red carpet.

On the social side, Barb and I had dinners with Leonard and Alice Maltin; actor (Second City vet) Larry Coven of MOMMY’S DAY and REAL TIME: SIEGE AT LUCAS STREET MARKET; and Mommy herself, Patty McCormack. The latter was a splurge evening for us – we took Patty to supper at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and sat in a booth talking up a storm for almost four hours. I was a director taking his star to the Polo Lounge, and it felt very good.

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Here’s a nice review of SUPREME JUSTICE, which has drifted down the Kindle bestseller charts some but is still hanging on nicely.

M.A.C.