Posts Tagged ‘Awards’

21 Years Later—A Third Shamus!

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

I’m afraid my long streak of losing the Shamus has been broken – “So Long, Chief,” the Spillane/Collins story that appeared in the Strand magazine and was nominated for an Edgar – won the Shamus Best Short Story award Friday night at the PWA banquet in Long Beach. Very gratifying to have the Spillane/Collins collaboration receive this kind of validation.

Bouchercon 2014
MAC Receiving 2014 Shamus Best Short Story for “So Long, Chief”

All the winners are at this link.

Bouchercon 2014
Left to right: Grant Bywaters, Sue Grafton, Brad Parks, Lachlan Smith, M. Ruth Myers, M.A.C.

The event was well-attended – over one hundred in a packed room at Gladstone’s restaurant – and the reviews were generally very good. Barb and I filled in for usual hosts Bob Randisi and Christine Matthews, as Bob is recovering from eye surgery and not able to travel. The food was quite good, and the service too, and the waterfront setting nicely noir; but the venue wasn’t ideal – poor sound system and rather crowded, with a cramped presentation area. But a certain sense of intimacy was created.

Bouchercon 2014
Barb and S.J. Rozan, who is about to present the Best Paperback Award

Speeches were short and to the point, and warm memories of Jerry Healy and Marty Meyers, both of whom we lost this year, made for a somewhat bittersweet mood (as did the absence of Bob and Christine). The two big names in female P.I. fiction made a rare joint appearance, as Sara Paretsky presented the Best Novel Award, and Sue Grafton picked up the “Hammer” award for her character Kinsey Millhone – that award, named for Mike Hammer, goes to a character that has had a big impact on the genre as well as longevity.

Bouchercon 2014
Barb presenting the Hammer Award to Sue Grafton

For me – beyond the highlight of winning a Shamus after a 21-year dry spell, what the Private Eye Writers of America banquet meant was the end of a rewarding if punishing first full day at Bouchercon.

Bouchercon 2014
Kensington editor Michaela Hamilton, agent Dominick Abel, and Barbara Collins

It began with a breakfast with my TOR/Forge editor, the funny and very smart Claire Eddy, as we discussed Nate Heller’s future (which is of course in the past). At eleven I did a two-hour interview (with a full camera crew) for Thomas & Mercer, creating material for a new Kindle mystery site. Then back to the convention hotel (the modernistic and rather unfinished-looking Hyatt) for an hour-and-a-half signing of ASK NOT at a TOR-sponsored hospitality suite event. From there came a 3:00 panel on obscure but worthwhile mystery writers (I did Ennis Willie, Horace McCoy and Roy Huggins, as well as made a case for Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series as a hardboiled private eye series of comparable stature to Hammett, Chandler, and Spillane). Always fun to be on a panel with the great Gary Phillips, and audience members were taking notes like a bunch of court reporters.

Bouchercon 2014
Left to right: Sarah Weinman, M.A.C., Gary Phillips, Charles Kelly, Sara J. Henry, Peter Rozovsky

Immediately thereafter, I appeared on a panel on screenwriting and adapting books to film – well-attended and pretty good, but a little “inside” – after which Barb and I ran over to the restaurant to put the PWA banquet in motion.

First thing Saturday, Barb was on a terrific panel – one I frankly had figured would be pretty thin (pets in mysteries) – where she really knocked it out of the park. The other panelists were also very strong and (almost) as funny as Barb. After that, we did our only Con-sponsored signing, as there had been no time the day before to sign after my two panels. Immodestly I will say that we had a huge line and I signed non-stop for an hour and a half, during much of which Barb was signing, too. Such great people, such enthusiastic readers. What a joy.

More meetings followed, with editors from Thomas & Mercer and Kensington, all positive and fun. T & M presented me with a plaque for selling 175,000 copies of SUPREME JUSTICE in June 2014 alone. Our friend and editor Michaela Hamilton (whose guy Eugene George generously provided some of the pics here) talked to Barb and me about the ANTIQUES series, and some Caleb York brainstorming went on as well.

The con flew by, obviously, and since we’re having nasty Iowa weather (it’s 12 degrees as I write this), that California sun (and Ocean breeze) (and palm trees) were tough to leave behind. It was gratifying to meet and talk to so many fans, but unfortunately a lot of them were surprised to find us there. Both Barb and I were left out of the program book, though we had submitted mini-bios and pics as requested; and my name was spelled inconsistently in the schedule of panels and on my name tag (lots of “Allen”). It’s a byproduct of Bouchercon being a fan-run con – though that is part of its charm – because the tastes of local fans can lead to some sloppy handling of authors attending.

Bouchercon 2014
Phoef Sutton, M.A.C., Lee Child, and Lee Goldberg

SPOILER ALERT: Bitch session follows.

I will present my personal award for general crappiness to American Airlines. Sunday was a nightmare getting home. American Airline neglected to inform us that the last leg of our flight home (Moline) had been cancelled – we only found out semi-accidentally, getting ready to board a flight to Dallas/Fort Worth when we volunteered to check our carry on items. At that point the counter guy stumbled onto the info that we couldn’t get home from Dallas today. So we didn’t board and sought out the customer service area, where a long line of displaced customers stood like Titanic passengers hoping to find room in a life boat. There one chatty employee was blithely handling everybody in an I-have-all-the-time-in-the-world manner.

I had better luck with an AA 800 line rep, although much of the news was bad – even if we went to Dallas/Ft. Worth and got a hotel room, there were no Moline flights out the next day. Our Long Beach Bouchercon trip seemed about to include two days (minimum) in Dallas. Finally I re-routed to Chicago, where there were also no Moline flights available, but with some difficulty I was able to line up a rental car for us to drive home. Again, no help from AA – they seized just about everybody-on-the-flight’s carry-on bags (ours had already been sized and deemed well within bounds by AA staff on entry of the terminal), and sent them to baggage claim, dooming us all to lost time. Then, to top off their service from hell, they gave us the wrong baggage claim carousel number – I just happened to spot what looked like our carry-ons down at another carousel, where they were taking a ride to oblivion. So AA cost us yet more time, when it was already 11 p.m. The Enterprise rental car outfit was terrific, however, as was National, the sister company through whose 800 number I was able to find a car to get us home.

At 3:15 a.m.

So farewell, American Airlines! Allow me to middle-finger salute you as you fly into that so richly deserved oblivion where you dispatched the carry-ons that you had so feverishly wrested from our grasp.

* * *

Here’s a terrific review of ASK NOT at I Love a Mystery. Full disclosure: it’s by Larry Coven, who appeared in my films MOMMY’S DAY and REAL TIME: SEIGE AT LUCAS STREET MARKET.

And check out this nice DEADLY BELOVED review at the Just a Guy That Likes to Read blog.

M.A.C.

Fiddling With Nero

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

[UPDATE: The Davenport, Iowa Books-a-Million signing has been postponed to August 9, 1 – 3 pm.]

First things first: Barb, Matt Clemens and I are doing a rare triple signing this coming Saturday (July 5) at the Books-a-Million at 4000 E 53rd Street in Davenport, Iowa. From 1 pm to 3. We’ll be signing, among other things, SUPREME JUSTICE, KING OF THE WEEDS and ANTIQUES CON.

Speaking of SUPREME JUSTICE, it goes officially on sale today after its month-long promotion on Amazon Prime for Kindle Readers. For the first time, real books (you know, with paper and everything) are available of this title. By the time you read this, we should be zeroing in on 800 reviews. I have never had anything reviewed so many times before, and I may comment at a later date about some interesting trends among the Amazon reader-reviewers.

The other big news is that – surprising the hell out of me – ASK NOT has been nominated for the Nero Award. Check out the full list of nominees here.

I am thrilled to pieces for a lot of reasons. First, I felt ASK NOT deserved award recognition and both the Edgars and the Shamuses ignored the final book in the JFK Trilogy. Second, this is one of two awards I really, really want to win (I still crave an Edgar, because…well, because I deserve one after forty-plus years of this).

My reasons for wanting a Nero are unique to that award. The major reason, obviously, is that it represents Rex Stout and his great detectives, Nero and Archie, and Stout is on my very short list of favorite mystery writers. (Frankly, I figured the Stout-like SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT might snag a Nero nod, and that ASK NOT would likely get Shamus-nominated. They switched it up on me.)

I think there’s a good deal of Archie Goodwin in Nate Heller – who is kind of a mix of Marlowe, Hammer, Spade and the aforementioned – but never expected to have a Heller nominated. Why? Thanks for asking. I’ll tell you, and I’ll tell you also not only why I won’t win, but why it’s a small miracle that I was nominated.

The nominees are supposed to be “in the tradition of the Nero Wolfe series.” Here, prominent among the guidelines, is this: Contains no overt sex or violence. Goddamnit, stop laughing!

Anyone who has ever read a Nate Heller novel knows why I never expected a Heller to be nominated for a much-coveted (by me) Nero. Anyone who has read ASK NOT knows that there’s plenty of overt sex and no small amount of violence. We had a Barbara Allan ANTIQUES nominated a few years back, and I thought that was my only shot.

I’ve always resented that guideline, by the way, because there’s plenty of sex and violence in Stout’s Nero Wolfe stories. Or does the Wolfe Pack think Archie and Lily Rowan spend their overnights playing Parcheesi? As for violence, have they ever read THE GOLDEN SPIDERS or THE BLACK MOUNTAIN? Or any number of others? Pfui.

But maybe two or three explicit scenes with Nate Heller boffing a stripper doesn’t qualify as overt sex any more. Times have changed, after all. Maybe smoking cigarettes waiting for a guy you’re asphyxiating isn’t considered all that violent, these days. Hope so.

Still, I would love to win that thing, for a very sincere if shallow reason – it’s the most beautiful award out there. A bust of Nero Wolfe!

And that’s no flummery.

* * *

Reviews for SUPREME JUSTICE are beginning to sprout like mushrooms (which is better than mushrooming like sprouts) on the Net. Like this nice one. [Note from Nate: With a giveaway contest!]

Some reviews are less than SUPREME but still appreciated and not negative…

…and this one falls into that category, too.

Finally, here’s a short but sweet (if anything about this novel could be said to be sweet) review of THE WRONG QUARRY.

M.A.C.

Shamus Times Two

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
Seduction of the Innocent

I’m very pleased to have two Shamus nominations this time around, for SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT in Best Paperback and the Spillane/Collins “So Long, Chief” in Best Short Story. I was a little surprised that SEDUCTION got nominated, and disappointed ASK NOT didn’t. But you never know about these things, and I would be especially thrilled if “So Long, Chief” won (it lost the Edgar) because it would be a nice honor for the Spillane/Collins collaborations.

This makes, I believe (math is involved, so…), 21 Shamus nominations. There are other writers who have won more times than my two, but nobody, and I mean nobody, has lost the Shamus as many times as I have. That will be me, somewhere mid-crowd the night of the awards, waving a giant rubber “We’re #1” hand.

SUPREME JUSTICE continues to do very well on Amazon. It’s #3 overall among all e-books, and #1 in both political thrillers and crime. The reviews have hit 315 as I write this, fairly astonishing when you consider that QUARRY’S EX has 14 reader reviews. We continue to get a lot of nice four- and five-star write-ups, with continued sniping from conservatives offended by what I consider to be the very mild political content. I received copies of the finished book today and it looks very nice (unfortunately, the infamous “Glock” mistake was not corrected in time – boy, do the gun guys hammer us on that one).

Not all conservative readers have tried to sabotage the book with an unfair rating or review. A good number make some passing comment about the hero’s liberal leanings, but go on to say positive things about the novel. I have to say that Matt Clemens and I never saw this coming. We really thought we’d struck a neutral tone.

But the problem comes from readers assuming the lead character of a novel speaks for the author. If that were true, then I’d be a right-wing vigilante, as the co-author of the Mike Hammer novels, and a sociopath/misanthrope based upon the Quarry novels. (Some who know me well may go along with that last assumption…).

It’s been an interesting ride, and I hope it will continue when June is over and the book is more widely available. I think it’s fair to say this is a more mainstream novel than what I usually do, although I’ve always felt that the Heller novels have mainstream appeal, but no publisher (with the exception of Amazon with the reprints) has ever played that up.

It’s odd to see myself compared to (and sometimes accused of ripping off) novelists I’ve never read, like Grisham and Balducci. Some of my mystery-writer approach seems to throw the thriller readers – Matt and I consciously have injected a mild mystery element into both SUPREME JUSTICE and WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER, with surprise villains that aren’t incredibly hard to figure out but do give the narrative a little twist. Most thrillers i.d. the villain up front. Also, some Amazon readers have complained about the “rushed” ending, which to me is just a typical picking up of the pace as we head to the resolution. As Mickey used to say, nobody reads a book to get to the middle.

But I have no intention of leaving out what I’ve learned writing mystery and suspense from any thrillers I may do…as if these labels were anything truly useful.

* * *

My son Nate and Mrs. Nate (Abby) came to visit over Father’s Day weekend. I am still recovering from finishing KILL ME, DARLING (and my back injury), so it was a fairly low-key weekend, although we installed Roku in both my TV viewing areas (living room and office), which was fairly intense and topsy-turvy-making (in a non-Gilbert and Sullivan sense). Thank God for Nathan’s savvy about such things. The electrical hook-up in my office was similar to the one for the Christmas tree in A CHRISTMAS STORY.

We saw a very funny movie, 22 JUMP STREET, which is one of the best sequels I’ve ever seen largely because of its contempt for sequels, and for the “bromance” genre. All of us loved it, and Barb wants to see it again.

A few non-Amazon reader reviews for SUPREME JUSTICE have started to appear on the Net. Here’s one from the intriguingly named 5 Minutes for Mom site.

And here’s another from Night Owl Reviews.

This site describes the SUPREME JUSTICE “blog tour,” which is an advance look at sites where reviews and interviews will be appearing.

M.A.C.

Pitcher This

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Longtime followers of these updates may recall that I’ve been involved for around two decades with an organization called the Iowa Motion Picture Association. I’m in fact a three-time past president. The existence of this group makes my friends on either coast chortle with demeaning delight. Nonetheless, a lot of top professionals in the field belong to this organization.

IMPA Awards 2014

Our annual meeting and awards presentation was this weekend past. Usually it’s held in Des Moines, but this time we met in Burlington, which is about sixty miles from me. The event was held at the newly refurbished and very cool Capitol Theater.

Last week the president of the organization got in touch with me about participating in a “speed pitching” session. The keynote speaker, Barry Morrow – Academy Award-winning screenwriter of RAIN MAN – would be hearing five minute pitches followed by five minutes of critique and interaction. My knee-jerk reaction was to say, “No thanks,” because after all – I know everything!

Then in a cooler, more rational mood, I agreed to participate. The IMPA folks were grateful, because I would be an established pro showing the younger aspiring types how it’s done. But that was not how I viewed it.

You see, for several months I have been struggling – under the guidance of a big-time talent/production management outfit – to put together a pitch for Nate Heller on TV. And it’s been a rugged road. I am used to selling one story – almost every book I’ve sold over this long career has been via a proposal – but trying to describe a TV series, based on the entire Heller canon? Mind-boggling.

Just lately my most recent take on the pitch has been more warmly received. So – not being a complete idiot – I realized having the opportunity to pitch it to a pro like Barry Morrow was a favor the IMPA was doing me, not the opposite.

Barry Morrow

It went very well. If I were a better writer, I could describe how generous, smart, kind and incisive Barry’s help was. But ironically his general remarks at the end of the pitch session – and some brief conversation before and after – were what showed me the way for improving my pitch. At least I think so.

Briefly, Barry emphasized being a storyteller when you pitch. To come in the door telling a story – “You should have seen the truck I was stuck behind! Its wheel was going to fall off. I’m lucky to be alive!” That kind of thing. But I also realized that instead of telling who Heller was in my pitch, I needed to open with a story sequence that demonstrated who he was.

Hollywood has a way of making a book writer’s brain seize up. I had completely forgotten the most basic rule of narrative – show don’t tell.

I have already rewritten the pitch, and having delivered the earlier version out loud, I have confidence where before I was a mass of misgivings.

MAC Best Unproduced Screenplay

At the awards presentation Saturday night, I won for Best Unproduced Screenplay, for a MIKE HAMMER pilot script I wrote so that my producing partner Ken Levin and I would have one in our pocket, should the movie that keeps threatening to happen not do so.

Next week we’ll have at least one giveaway of advance copies to readers willing to commit to an Amazon review. See you then!

M.A.C.