Posts Tagged ‘Antiques A Go Go’

Go Go Gone

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

As predicted, Barb and I wrapped up the eighth “Trash ‘n’ Treasures” mystery, ANTIQUES A GO GO, last week. It took through Thursday to finish it – I always take a couple of days to go over a manuscript and do a final tweak before sending it off. Still seems strange not to be packaging up an actual manuscript and instead just sending an attachment to an editor.

The book is something of a change of pace, as it takes Brandy and her mother to Manhattan, but I won’t dwell on that book, since the new one – ANTIQUES CHOP – is about to come out. I think CHOP may be my favorite of the series (the new one is too fresh in my mind for any kind of judgment beyond, “Whew! Glad to get that outa here!”). For those of my readers fearful of trying a “cozy,” this one has axe murders in it. So put on a bib and dig in.

I’ve alluded to a Kickstarter project here that would take one of my Dreadtime Stories radio plays into low-budget feature-film territory. We had a lot of great things in our favor, among them the participation of Danielle from AMERICAN PICKERS, my longtime cinematic collaborator Phil Dingeldein (a d.p. on PICKERS), Malcolm McDowell as narrator, and of course the Fangoria brand-name. But at the very last minute (we were going to meet on Sunday afternoon, with my son Nate coming in from St. Louis for Kickstarter consulting), a different Fangoria deal interceded to make ours untenable. The good news is that Phil and I will likely be involved in some aspect of this new direction. I’m hopeful we can involve Danielle, too. We’d spent a lot of time (including me doing three or four drafts of “House of Blood” as a screenplay) gearing up for the Kickstarter effort with producer Carl Amari, so there’s disappointment in the mix, but also the promise of filmmaking to come.

Speaking of films, I can recommend OBLIVION, a very smart s-f adventure with Tom Cruise. The reviews are mixed on this one, but I am solidly in the plus column. The art direction alone is worthy of your attention, but the screenplay has some nice surprises, and it’s a well-directed film in general, though a big shoot-‘em gun battle seems out of place and maybe patched-in to satisfy studio execs.

This weekend my band Crusin’ played two nights in a row – a real oddity for us, because I try very hard to avoid that. It’s more like twice a month I’m after. And I will freely admit that on Sunday, I felt like I’d fallen down a flight of stairs (I’m writing this on Monday and feel only marginally better). I continue to enjoy the band, but sometimes it’s starting to feel like that moment in the action movies where the old star says, “I’m getting too old for this shit!” You know, right before a helicopter blows up?

This week I am looking at galley proofs of THE WRONG QUARRY and ASK NOT.

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The three-part look at the Nolan series by Dan Luft over at the Violent World of Parker has wrapped up with a discussion mostly about SPREE. This is a nice series of articles, and with some smart commentary. Occasionally, though, Dan misses the mark fairly wide – he’s about the only reader I’ve ever encountered who disliked the use of the Comfort family in SPREE. He claims to really like the book, except for the Comforts, which is kind of like loving everything about JURASSIC PARK except the dinosaurs.

Here’s a really nice COMPLEX 90 review. Coming up soon, by the way!

This BLOOD MONEY review is basically positive, but it’s a little odd, albeit in an interesting way. It continues to be weird reading reviews of stuff I wrote forty years ago.

Here’s a very good TRUE DETECTIVE review. It’s amazing how resilient that book has been. Published thirty years ago, it sold more copies in the last year (e-book format) than in its first several.

Mel Odom, himself a hell of a writer, has some interesting things to say about BYE BYE, BABY, the first book in the Nathan Heller JFK Trilogy.

Finally, here’s yet another positive look at SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT (mine, not Wertham).


Lady, Go Die! Nominated

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

LADY, GO DIE!, last year’s Mike Hammer, has been nominated for the Scribe Award presented by the International Association of Media and Tie-in Writers. As you may recall, KISS HER GOODBYE won this award last year.

It’s a tough category this year, with science-fiction/fantasy and mystery bundled together, and more submissions in a single category than ever before in the organization’s history. Mystery and other “general” fiction will be broken back out into their own category next year. It may be a cliche to say it’s an honor just to be nominated, but with competition like this, it’s the truth.

Here is the organization’s press release, which anyone out there is welcome to cut and paste into their own blog or web site.


The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers is pleased to announce the Scribe Award nominees for 2013.

Acknowledging excellence in this very specific skill, IAMTW’s Scribe Awards deal exclusively with licensed works that tie in with other media such as television, movies, gaming, or comic books. They include original works set in established universes, and adaptations of stories
that have appeared in other formats and cross all genres. Tie-in works run the gamut from westerns to mysteries to procedurals, from science fiction to fantasy to horror, from action and adventure to superheroes. Gunsmoke, Murder She Wrote, CSI, Star Trek, Star Wars, Shadowrun, Resident Evil, James Bond, Iron Man – these represent just a few.

The Scribe Awards are presented at ComicCon San Diego.

IAMTW congratulates the following nominees:

Darksiders: The Abomination Vault Ari Marmell
Pathfinder: City of the Fallen Sky Tim Pratt
Mike Hammer: Lady, Go Die! Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

Star Trek: The Persistence of Memory David Mack
Star Trek: Rings of Time Greg Cox
Tannhäuser: Rising Sun, Falling Shadows Robert Jeschonek
Dungeons and Dragons Online: Skein of Shadows Marsheila Rockwell

Poptropica Astroknights Island Tracey West
Clockwork Angels Kevin Anderson

Batman: The Dark Knight Legend Stacia Deutsch

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises Greg Cox
Dark Shadows: Dress Me in Dark Dreams Marty Ross
Dark Shadows: The Eternal Actress Nev Fountain
Doctor Who Companion Chronicles: Project Nirvana Cavan Scott/Mark Wright

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My draft of ANTIQUES A GO GO will be completed this week. I have been “in the bunker” (as we say around here), working for two weeks with only one day off. I had intended to take a day off this weekend, but we ran into a plot hole that needed patching, which had a domino effect that Barb and I had to chase through the entire manuscript. The good news is that it improved the book, specifically its mystery aspect.

Barb’s work on the novel has been stellar, from providing a very good 200-page-plus rough draft to packets of information on every New York/New Jersey aspect of the story (it takes place at a comic con in Manhattan with a detour to New Jersey and a strangely familiar strip joint called the Badda-Boom). Taking Brandy and Mother out of Serenity has been tricky and frankly hard, but I think it’s going to be rewarding.

With any luck, the book will go go to our editor in New York around Thursday – assuming our final read-through doesn’t reveal another nasty plot hole that will send the Barbara Allan road crew out with shovels and hot asphalt.

Barb and I did take time off to see 42, the Jackie Robinson bio-pic (we can’t stay away from our new local theater). We almost didn’t go because the previews made us feel like we already knew the story, and that every beat of it was going to be predictable. Well, the latter was sort of true, but the execution of the film, the sharp dialogue, the strong characterization, and the effective acting (Harrison Ford does well in his first character role as pioneering baseball owner Branch Rickey) make this one you should see. There is a majestic score that works too hard at telling us what to feel, but that may be designed to take the edge of the harshness of what Robinson and his wife were put through. The period detail is excellent (although there is the occasional dialogue slip – “We’re on the same page” is not a late ‘40s expression). Small carps. Big rewards. Don’t skip this one.

The Quarry Cinemax pilot continues to get widespread Net coverage, but I won’t bother you with links to any of it, because it’s all been covered before.

But here’s a really nice, actually wonderful review of SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT.

And a cool SEDUCTION review at the wonderfully named Trash Mutant.

Yet another SEDUCTION review here.

Here’s a belated A KILLING IN COMICS review, a tad on the patronizing side but okay.

And here’s a brief but very nice tribute to Mickey Spillane.


Quarry on Cinemax

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

The QUARRY pilot, recently green-lit by HBO/Cinemax, has been cooking for about a year. I was never involved as a writer, but Graham Gordy and Michael D. Fuller, the two writers who wrote the pilot – and are developing a first-season story arc – began by spending two hours on the phone with me. I was hugely impressed not only by their intelligence and creativity, but by their excellent taste – they love the QUARRY books. Their familiarity with the material, and the way they “got” it, made me feel I was in good hands. They asked all the right questions.

I have been promised two scripts per season, if the pilot is picked up. I’ve read and given notes on the pilot script, and I’m very happy – the writers solved problems that I knew they would face, and did so in ways that hadn’t occurred to me. I was thrilled (though surprised) to find out that the series would be set in “period” – that is, the early seventies. As I’ve said elsewhere, you know you’ve been around a while when something that was contemporary when you wrote it is presented as a period piece by filmmakers.

QUARRY (and that was my original title for the novel, not THE BROKER) was begun at the University of Iowa in 1971. It did not get a particularly warm reception in Workshop (the instructor, William Price Fox, was dismissive, but then that was typical) though two or three in the class thought it was great. I completed it after graduation, in 1972, after selling BAIT MONEY and NO CURE FOR DEATH. It took three or four years for QUARRY to sell, and I’d almost given up on it. When it sold, I immediately got a contract to write three more.

At the time, I thought it was the most original thing I’d done. It took a step past the Richard Stark “Parker” books that had so influenced “Nolan,” by challenging the reader with a killer (not a thief) in a first-person (not “safe” third-person) narrative. I still think Quarry is one of my two major contributions to the mystery genre, the other being Nathan Heller (and the combination of history and noir). I would put the PERDITION saga in next position, and MS. TREE right after that.

I am very hopeful that QUARRY will become a series, and a really good one – it can be done (see JUSTIFIED). I know that both HBO and its sister Cinemax wanted to do it – that Cinemax, because it’s in the midst of a major re-branding with an action/adventure slant, wound up with it. If the casting goes well (one of the key aspects), QUARRY should be in good shape. They have a terrific director (John Hillcoat) lined up, and the producers are also top-notch. I will probably have some kind of producing capacity myself, which will be essentially creative consulting. That’s still being negotiated.

The news was all over the Net last week, and you can read the first story that came out right here.

I will not post every re-hash of that information, but here’s a typical example.

And I was happy to see Jeff Pierce include the news at the Rap Sheet.

I’ve done only one interview on the subject, for a local paper, the Quad City Times, written by David Burke (who was on the ROAD TO PERDITION junket!).

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I am working on ANTIQUES A GO GO. Barb gave me a great first-draft, very funny with great NYC color (it’s set at a comics con in Manhattan). I’m having a blast.

We went to two entertaining movies this weekend: a really strong 3D conversion of JURASSIC PARK, which actually improves the movie, and a respectful re-boot of THE EVIL DEAD. The latter is not really a comedy, despite what some reviews say, and harkens more to the first grim EVIL DEAD than the overtly comic EVIL DEAD 2 and ARMY OF DARKNESS. If you are an EVIL DEAD fan, as Barb and Nate and I are, you will want to sit through the credits for a nice surprise.

I have a couple more links to share, starting with this nice inclusion of DEADLY BELOVED and THE FIRST QUARRY on a Hard Case Crime “essentials” list.

And the reprint of KILL YOUR DARLINGS has elicited this nice review.


Short and Sweet

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

My son says that I am turning into “that guy at the end of 60 MINUTES” (he wasn’t sure whether that was Mickey Rooney or Andy Rooney), meaning that I am starting to make this update the home of weekly curmudgeonly rants. So this week I’ll devote myself to mostly positive short takes.

Last week was spent writing a long Mike Hammer short story (almost 12,000 words) for Otto Penzler’s series of mini-books with a bibliophile theme. Otto sells these in his legendary Mysterious Bookshop in NY. Otto says he will publish the mini-book, entitled IT’S IN THE BOOK, late summer. We’ll provide a link when the time comes.

Speaking of Mike Hammer short stories, you’ll find “So Long, Chief” in the new issue of The Strand. These Mike Hammer short stories are developed from fragments in Mickey Spillane’s files, usually five or ten pages. I’ve worked up half a dozen short stories so far (two more fragments await) with an eye on an eventual Hammer short story collection.

Last week something delightful happened – Harlan Ellison called to say how much he liked SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT (mine, not Dr. Wertham’s). Harlan is one of my two favorite science-fiction writers (the other being Ray Bradbury) and one of my favorite writers, period. He was a huge influence on me as a young writer. I admire not only his prose but his passion, and his willingness to fight authority. That he likes my work means more than I can say, and that he occasionally takes the time to call me up and say so just flat out amazes me. It’s an honor to be sharing a publisher with him – Hard Case Crime has just brought out a new edition of his first novel, WEB OF THE CITY, which I bought back when it was called RUMBLE. Thank you, Harlan.

Our local Blockbuster went out of business and had a blow-out sale that to this Blu-ray/DVD collector was like Black Friday times ten – the final two days, Blu-rays and DVDs were a buck a piece. I am just starting to plow through my finds ($150 or so of ‘em), but already I have found a real gem, a Jackie Chan movie from 2010 that I’d never heard of: SHINJUKU INCIDENT. Some of you know that I used to have a regular column in Tom Weisser’s great Asian Cult Cinema magazine, and this film would have rated a rave and a full column there. Jackie plays a Japanese illegal in China in the ‘90s, a good-hearted soul shaped by circumstance and necessity into a crime boss. This is unlike any Jackie Chan movie I’ve ever seen, and it really is an Asian take on SCARFACE, as the DVD cover promises, right down to the shocking violence.

On a wholly different note, I have been watching Warners Archives’ new Wheeler and Woolsey collection. I like a lot of vintage comedy teams that other people (like everybody in my family) find irritating and/or revolting. For example, I am a fan of the Ritz Brothers (do you own a sign photo by the team?) and Olsen and Johnson (if you have a signed photo by them, I’ll buy it). But, yes, I also like the more accepted teams, from the Marx Brothers to Abbott and Costello and of course Martin and Lewis. Wheeler and Woolsey arguably belong in this last group. They were very popular (21 films in the late twenties and thirties for RKO) but because of Woolsey’s death in 1938, they were prematurely over…and Wheeler was unable to shape a film career on his own. Woolsey wears horn-rimmed glasses and smokes a constant cigar, sort of a combo of Groucho and George Burns (who lifted much of his schtick from Woolsey), and is a wiseguy con man character, while Wheeler is a lovable simpleton constantly eating an apple or a banana. Neither is the straight man, and both sing and dance, with Wheeler playing the romantic leads, often with Betty Boop-ish cutie Dorothy Lee. They are very much in the Marx Brothers theater of the absurd wheelhouse, and often share that team’s writers (of both scripts and songs). Some of their early movies are very creaky (DIXIEANA is worse than a trip to the dentist), and their later ones range from okay (HIGH FLYERS) to dreadful (SILLY BILLIES). But at their best, they are terrific, as in HIPs, HIPS HOORAY and COCKEYED CAVALIERS (both with Thelma Todd, a onetime Nate Heller squeeze). HIPS is in the Wheeler-Woolsey collection, and so is the very good mystery comedy THE NITWITS, and of the early ones another comedy crime entry, HOOK, LINE AND SINKER, is fun. The collection is mostly good, and on single discs or double features the Archive has such wonderful Wheeler and Woolsey titles as PEACH O-RENO, KENTUCKY KERNELS (with Spanky from Our Gang), and the crazed political satire DIPLOMANIACS (co-written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz). Their pre-code stuff is extremely racy, by the way (when a dish asks Woolsey if he’s looking at her knees, he says, “Oh, I’m above that”).

Barb and I went to the new GI JOE movie at the fancy new theater in town, and it’s entertaining enough, though it makes OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN look like a Ken Burns documentary. Mostly I’m just glad I didn’t get hired to turn it into a novel. The previous GI JOE was the only time I wrote a movie novel and felt I hadn’t been able to transcend a poor script (as I did with DAYLIGHT and I LOVE TROUBLE, for instance). With GI JOE, I just fought the thing to a draw. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that I haven’t had a movie novelization gig since….

Today I start on my draft of ANTIQUES A GO GO – Brandy, Vivian and Sushi in New York at a comic book convention.

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Bill Crider, whose website is one of my favorites, and who is a terrific writer his own self, has delivered a COMPLEX 90 review that is, in the author’s immodest opinion, spot on. One of my favorite reviews ever.