Posts Tagged ‘Articles’

New Mike Hammer Novel Out Today

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014
King of the Weeds Hardcover
Hardcover:

E-book:

King of the Weeds Audio
Audio MP3 CD:

KING OF THE WEEDS, the sixth Spillane/Collins Mike Hammer novel, is available now. Those of you who received advance copies can post Amazon reviews now. (Thanks to those of you advance ANTIQUES CON readers who’ve gotten around to posting Amazon reviews.)

Also available will be Stacy Keach’s audio reading of the novel, pictured here. I haven’t heard this yet but will be listening to it very soon – hearing perhaps the most famous screen Mike Hammer read these new Mike Hammer books is a very special treat for me.

As you probably know, the Edgar-nominated Mike Hammer short story, “So Long Chief,” did not win. The MWA has always had a tough time with Mike Hammer and Mickey Spillane (don’t get me started), so I am not surprised. That’s why I didn’t attend the banquet.

Instead, I stayed home and finished another Hammer story for the same magazine (The Strand), “Fallout,” which deals with Mike Hammer and Pat Chamber getting rockily back on friendly footing after the events of THE GIRL HUNTERS. This the sixth Mike Hammer short story I have developed from shorter Hammer fragments in Mickey’s files. That leaves one left to do. These seven stories, plus “Grave Matters” (a Hammer story I originally wrote as a “Mike Danger” with Mickey’s input) would round out what I hope will be an eventual collection. What’s nice about the fragments is that they are the start of Spillane stories, and nobody every wrote better beginnings in fiction than Mickey.

J. Kingston Pierce of the essential blog The Rap Sheet several years ago did the definitive in-depth interview with me. He has returned with a similarly in-depth follow-up on the occasion of the publication of KING OF THE WEEDS. It’s in the two parts. The first part, which is entirely Hammer-centric, appears at the Kirkus web site.

Part two, which is much wider-ranging, appears at the Rap Sheet.

Here’s a brief but very nice KING OF THE WEEDS review at Singular Points.

The American Airlines in-flight magazine has done an overview of continuations of mystery and thriller characters, including Mike Hammer and a quote from me.

And here’s a better-late-than-never one of THE FIRST QUARRY.

* * *

I had my first band job of the year Saturday night. Crusin’ played for a plus-40 Singles Dance, a perfect crowd for us, and a nice crowd danced every song and applauded after every song, too.

This is part of a “hiatus” year for the band due to our drummer, Steve Kundel, having school age kids who generated lots of concerts, sports events and other literal fun and games that require something once known as “parenting.”

In addition, we were worn down by a fairly rigorous schedule for a bunch of guys with real jobs (if, in my case, writing can be called that). We played 24 times last year. This year I have scheduled five. And no bars.

It felt very good to be with the guys again and out there performing once more. I strongly considered hanging it up at the end of last year, but couldn’t face the thought of having live rock ‘n’ roll performing a thing of my past. All of us – with the exception of our young (44) drummer – are reeling in the years, and the rigor of the last five steady years of playing is best behind us. The playing itself is physically demanding – I refuse to sit down while playing keyboards – and the loading of the equipment remains a delight, if by “delight” you mean waking up the next morning in screaming lower-back pain.

I do think fulltime writers like me need to have some outside activity, and I don’t mean mall-walking. It’s nice to get out in the world and see what’s happening – even if it does include a geezer who comes up to the stage and wonders aloud, “Don’t you people do any waltzes?”

That’s right, girls, he’s single….

M.A.C.

Ask Not Why I Write

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013
Ask Not Audiobook

The audio of ASK NOT, read by Dan John Miller (the great actor who read all of the preceding Heller novels and short story collections for Brilliance), is available now at Amazon. Recorded Books offers no CD retail edition, but the rather expensive library edition on CD ($102.75) is available, though not through Amazon.

For those of you used to downloading audios, Amazon appears to have it right now. The Recorded Books site lists the download as available December 1, and the CD version for libraries not until Feb. 22. I have contacted the publisher to see if those dates are correct.

I am as anxious as anyone to hear Dan’s reading, because he really is the definitive voice of Nate Heller. I will be leaving my buggy and butter churn behind very soon and getting an MP3 player, so I can download ASK NOT as well as the Audible downloads (first time on audio!) of QUARRY, QUARRY’S LIST, QUARRY’S DEAL, QUARRY’S CUT, QUARRY’S VOTE and (in January) THE WRONG QUARRY.

Publisher’s Weekly asked me to write a piece for their “Why I Write” series, and it’s in this week’s issue. I can’t provide a link because the PW site is for subscribers only. So I’ll share the piece with you here:

WHY I WRITE
by Max Allan Collins

Why do you write?

Many writers have a glib comeback for this question. Samuel Johnson famously said, “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” Asked what inspired him, Mickey Spillane would reply, “The urgent need for money.” And I have often described my career as an ongoing effort to avoid a real job.

Certainly earning a living is a valid reason to write; but really, getting paid is what allows me to write – and has made me a full-time writer since 1977. I take pride in not having a day job, and when asked why I write so much, I usually say, “To keep the lights on.” Anyway, what else am I supposed to do with my time?

The ranks of successful authors include lawyers, doctors and in particular teachers – noble professions, but part-time scribes all. Early on I taught at a college myself, though never more than half-time, having sold my first two novels at the University of Iowa’s Writers Workshop. Teaching drains the creative juices that writing requires, and I got out of academia as soon as possible.

Stories have been my main interest longer than I can remember. My mother read me Tarzan books at bedtime and encouraged me to read Dick Tracy comic books (her favorite strip). Chester Gould’s famous dick led me into Sherlock Holmes, Ellery Queen and the Saint, and – by junior high – Sam Spade, Phillip Marlowe and Mike Hammer, an interest fostered by the wave of TV private eyes of the late ‘50s. My sixth-grade teacher told me I would never be successful because I insisted on writing “blood and thunder” (the title of my 1995 Nathan Heller novel, by the way).

Television and movies encouraged my interest in history, with “The Untouchables” a prime contributor. As a kid, I became fascinated in the real people (Wyatt Earp, Eliot Ness) who fed our popular culture. I was also taken with the people who created that popular culture. I didn’t want to be Dick Tracy when I grew up – I wanted to be Chester Gould. Didn’t take me long to figure out the only thing more fun than being told stories was telling them yourself.

I have an abiding interest in the history of crime fiction – for example, completing Mickey Spillane’s in-progress Hammer manuscripts – but also the way history has informed crime fiction. This has led to my best-known works, the graphic novel Road to Perdition and the Nathan Heller “memoirs” (Ask Not, the “JFK” thriller recently published by Forge).

My career began in Iowa City forty years ago with the sale of my first crime novels, and a love for language, thanks to Raymond Chandler and other noir poets. Now I find myself working harder than ever, risking my reputation by being too prolific, because I am all too aware that I’m in the third act of my career, and there are many more stories I want to tell.

For money, yes. But mostly for the sheer joy of it.

* * *

The same issue of PW has a nice overview of recent novels with JFK assassination themes, with ASK NOT prominently mentioned (and the cover shown). This, too, is for subscribers only. But the magazine is on the stands, should you want to take a look.

Finally, here’s a very interesting ASK NOT review.

M.A.C.

Navigating the Weeds

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Let me wish everyone a safe and fun Fourth of July. I will be playing an outdoor gig with Crusin’ in Muscatine (the Brew, five p.m. till 9 p.m.) and I am hopeful the current decent weather will hold up. Last year, playing a similar gig on the Fourth in a heat wave damn near killed me.

This will be a short update, because I am very deep in the writing of KING OF THE WEEDS, which is a difficult but rewarding project. I hope to finish the novel before San Diego Comic Con, which comes up soon (July 17 – 21), where I’ll be meeting with the Titan folks to discuss the possibility of three more Hammer novels from shorter Spillane fragments.

What makes this one especially tricky is that Mickey started the book twice, with one version containing only one of the two major plot strands. Then he combined the manuscripts, but when he set the book aside to do THE GOLIATH BONE instead, he had not yet done the carpentry to merge the two versions. This makes for a dizzying task as in most cases even the names of characters are different between versions, and some scenes appear twice, accomplished in two different ways. This means I have to make choices as well as weave and blend material together, in addition to adding my own connective tissue and input.

But it’s a most interesting book, conceived by Mickey as the final Mike Hammer novel (much more overtly than he did in his GOLIATH BONE manuscript). It’s not as rip-roaring as LADY, GO DIE! or COMPLEX 90, but it should be very strong.

More on it later.

Quick movie recommendation: THE HEAT is a very funny buddy cop movie with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, populated by any number of funny people in character parts.

* * *

Here’s our first WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER review. Just a reminder that this thriller, which Matt Clemens worked on with me, comes out in September.

Here is a lovely valentine to Mickey Spillane with some nice nods to my work on the unfinished novels.

And this terrific COMPLEX 90 review is well worth a look.

M.A.C.

You Say Hello, I Say Bye Bye

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

The mass market paperback of the latest Heller novel, BYE BYE, BABY, is out today, with a cover I much prefer over the hardcover edition’s. I also made a few corrections to the text, so completists may wish to double dip to get the final version.

Speaking of covers, here is the revised cover of the next Heller, TARGET LANCER. The version on Amazon has yellow lettering that I found nauseating, and my editor went to bat for me and got this big improvement.

Bye Bye Baby
Target Lancer

Something happened yesterday that was not a big deal but demonstrates the odd position I find myself in at times. A guy called at 8:30 Sunday morning, leaving a message that I should call him – a stranger. Now maybe 8:30 Sunday morning is late for you. For us, it’s early, very damn early (while we live in Iowa, we are not farmers), particularly when I get in at 3 a.m. after a band job. In addition, the ringing phone woke my wife, who does not always have the gentle disposition you might imagine.

Fifteen minutes later, he called again – 8:45 a.m., finding us up and awake (thanks to him). He was calling Sunday morning because he was writing a book about the Irish in Iowa and thought I would like to help him. He was not in particular a fan, although he was familiar with ROAD TO PERDITION (which takes place in Illinois, not Iowa). I tried not to be rude – he seemed friendly and good-natured – but I told him his project was not in my wheelhouse, but that I could give him one useful piece of advice: don’t call strangers at 8:30 Sunday morning.

Writers have a lot of trouble with this kind of thing. Most of us don’t have unlisted numbers, because we want to be accessible as freelancers. A controversial essay has bounced around the net by a successful screenwriter who says (I’m quoting from memory here), “No, I will not read you f**king screenplay. I will also not ask you to clean my f**king house, or wash my f**king car.” Professional scribes are always having people – seldom anyone close to them – expect them to read manuscripts and help them on their way to a successful career.

And it gets awkward. I often have reviewers with blogs ask for blurbs for books they’ve written. This reeks, not so vaguely, as of tit for tat. They’ve given me good reviews, now I’m expected to do likewise for them. It’s harder when a fan, particularly one you’ve corresponded with or know from frequent book signings, wants you to read a manuscript or a self-published book. I get it – they want my approval, on one level, and on another they, too, have a vague sense of having supported me, so I should support them.

When I decline – or worse, say yes, and the book goes on a pile of things I intend to get to, but never do – I feel guilty. I was once a fan who approached Don Westlake, after all – although in fairness, I don’t recall ever asking him to read my stuff (although my first agent, knowing Don and I were friendly, did). And I should note that by the time Mickey Spillane and I became friends, I was about a decade into my career.

For me the greater problem is time – I am reading research all of the time. I am working on my own fiction all of the time. And I avoid reading fiction while I’m writing it, because I don’t want to be stylistically influenced. What little recreational reading I did is, frankly, in the bathroom. I recently finished Rick Harrison’s excellent book on his show “Pawn Stars” (don’t remember the title). I read something else light before that, but I don’t remember what.

Further complicating this is that I am frequently asked to blurb books by other authors. Often directly or through editors, sometimes my own editors, who I don’t want to alienate. And I am put in a position of having to ask other writers to blurb me, a spot editors put writers in constantly. So this makes me a hypocrite and, possibly justifiably, a rude jerk, if I say no.

On the other hand, if you are interested in cleaning my house or washing my car, let me know.

* * *

The cyber tour for LADY, GO DIE! seems to have wrapped up, and the fruits of my labors are blossoming all over the web.

Here’s a fun write-up by Jedidiah Ayres who picks his top five M.A.C. projects.

And here’s a well-done interview with me, about my continuing the Spillane legacy.

The interviewer above takes an in-depth look at the Spillane films here, and follows with a nice review of LADY, GO DIE! (although like a lot of critics who like the book, he seems ashamed of himself).

I was asked to pick my top ten films noir by Film School Rejects. I expected lots of heat (big heat) on my picks, but so far my choices have not been unduly attacked.

This very good interview/article appeared in the Oklahoman and got picked up all over the place.

Here’s an excellent LADY, GO DIE! review at Comic Attack.

Another UK response to LADY, GO DIE! is a tad condescending, but on the whole smart and positive.

A really nice review here, though the comments show what Mickey remains up against.

Here’s a brief, basically very nice review of TRIPLE PLAY. But it demonstrates how odd internet blog reviews can be. The reviewer complains that the language is “dated” (before admitting it’s appropriate to the time frame of the tales) and then claims these stories lack suspense because they are about some of the major crimes of the 20th Century – arguably, the Lipstick Killer is a well-known crime, but the other two are obscure.

M.A.C.