Posts Tagged ‘Awards’

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.

Edgar Nom and Life with Mickey

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

I am pleased, and a little astonished, that “So Long, Chief,” a short story by Mickey Spillane and me that appeared in the Strand magazine, has been nominated for an Edgar. The story is one of around five I’ve done so far with an eye on developing a Hammer short story collection, utilizing the shorter fragments in Mickey’s files.

I’ve been nominated a bunch of times for Edgars, but this is only my second for fiction (the previous one was for the Ms. Tree prose short story, “Louise”). Nate Heller has never rated a nomination; Quarry either. ROAD TO PERDITION wasn’t eligible in any category because it’s a graphic novel.

This nomination rights an embarrassing wrong: while he was named a Grand Master Edgar by the MWA (thanks to the efforts of Don Westlake, Otto Penzler and others), this is Mickey Spillane’s first Edgar nomination.

Barb and I have not decided whether we’ll attend the awards ceremony in New York. If I go, I may jinx it, and we already have trips planned this year for San Diego Con and Bouchercon. And I have a lot of work on my plate. We’ll see.

See the full list of short story nominees, and my stiff competition, here.

In other Spillane news, there’s a Mickey book that I didn’t write that’s about to come out: MY LIFE WITH MICKEY by the effervescent Jane Spillane. I can’t wait to read this myself. Mickey’s lovely widow has attracted lots of press, particularly in the South. Check this wonderful piece out.

I should note that the journalist got one bit a little wrong – Jane found a section of the climax of THE GOLIATH BONE in Mickey’s pick-up, complete with post-it’s…not LADY, GO DIE! To order MY LIFE WITH MICKEY, go here.

I have wrapped up QUARRY’S CHOICE. It went out yesterday to editor Charles Ardai, and was one of the harder Quarry novels for me. First, I had the potential TV series hanging over my head (still no news); and second, in the midst of much reviewer love for the hitman-killing-hitmen aspect of recent Quarry novels, CHOICE is only the third novel to deal with Quarry when he was working for the Broker. (There’s also a short story.) There’s a lot of sex in this one. How much? Well, Barb said I’m now officially a dirty old man.

She’s kidding, of course (aren’t you, honey?) but it touches upon the reaction some reviewers and readers have to the sex in my novels, particularly Quarry ones. Are these scenes gratuitous? Well, a book as dark and violent as any Quarry novel is inherently gratuitous. But I try to use sex scenes for characterization purposes. In THE WRONG QUARRY, a casual, nasty bit of back alley sex shows Quarry and the woman at a sort of low moral ebb; but a later, tender sexual encounter between them reveals they have stirred better impulses in each other. Similarly, an over-the-top sex scene involving a barely legal wild child means to demonstrate its relative emptiness compared to conventional but loving sex with a much older woman. Anyway, that’s what I hope those scenes do.

Scenes of violence in Quarry novels tend to be either very understated (“I got out the wrench”) or go into gory Spillane-style excessive description. A flat scene of violence can indicate the protagonist’s emotional numbness to such carnage; a highly descriptive depiction of that carnage can remind you of the actual physical and human toll.

I share these thoughts with you, because a good number of the reviews – and I mean the positive ones – of THE WRONG QUARRY talk about the book as pulpy fun, and I hope that’s the case, because as I said here last week, I consider the books to be black comedies. But in my novels – in any good fiction dealing with sex and violence – such scenes do not occur in a vacuum. They intend to reveal character.

The reviews of THE WRONG QUARRY continue to roll in. This is one of my most-reviewed books of recent years, and really only one of them (probably numbering close to 35 by now) could be called mixed or negative. (Guess which review I fixate upon.)

I was thrilled to get this glowing notice from one of the key reviewers in contemporary mystery/crime fiction, J. Kingston Pierce at the Rap Sheet.

Careful reading this fun review – there’s a major spoiler (I had to ask the reviewer to attach a SPOILER WARNING before the paragraph in question, which she graciously did).

Here’s another good one.

And another.

Finally, here’s yet another did-you-know-it-was-a-comic-book rewrite about ROAD TO PERDITION, book and film.

M.A.C.

Holiday Edition

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Santa delivered an early present to the M.A.C. household by way of an award for MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN (by Jim Traylor and me), courtesy of the great movie-fan publication CLASSSIC IMAGES, for “Best Film Noir Book of 2013.” Specifically, it was given by reviewer Laura Wagner in her year’s end Book Points column. Ms. Wagner also singled out MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN for one of the Best Covers of 2013 as well as honoring the book’s Photo Layout. These last two honors were shared with several other books, but the Best Film Noir Book is mine and Jim’s alone.

To help celebrate, why not pick up a copy? Yes, yes, it’s expensive, but it so happens McFarland is running a 20% off sale on not just MICKEY SPILLANE but all of their titles till December 31st. Here’s a link for those of you who didn’t blow everything on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Big Book of Christmas Mysteries

And speaking of the holidays, my personal favorite of my short stories – “A Wreath for Marley,” my CHIRSTMAS CAROL MEETS THE MALTESE FALCON yarn – is included in the terrific new fat-as-Santa anthology, THE BIG BOOK OF CHRISTMAS MYSTERIES, edited by my jolly old friend (well, maybe not jolly) Otto Penzler. What an honor to be included with such personal heroes of mine as Rex Stout, Agatha Christie and Donald E. Westlake. I have arrived, even if I had to sneak down the chimney to do it.

A Bird for Becky

“A Wreath for Marley” features Richard Stone, a Heller-like detective in Chicago in the forties; it’s the basis for my as yet unproduced screenplay, BLUE CHRISTMAS. There is one other Stone story, “A Bird for Becky,” also with a holiday theme – Thanksgiving. It’s just come out as an e-book, available on Amazon, for a mere 99 cents. Yes, I should have promoted this in time for Thanksgiving, but since you’re full of holiday spirit (and maybe undigested turkey), maybe you’ll give it a try, anyway.

A couple of movie recommendations. FROZEN, which should be seen in 3-D, is a Disney CGI musical about princesses…hey, wait! Hold up! Come on! Listen for a second….It’s very good and often witty, incredibly well-animated, with music by the co-writer of THE BOOK OF MORMON score, and the lead – complete with excellent singing – is VERONICA MARS herself, Kristen Bell, who hasn’t been given a shot a vocalizing like this since the wonderful REEFER MADNESS TV movie. And for a completely inappropriate second feature, try HOMEFRONT, with Jason Stratham in redneck Louisiana up against that peckerwood James Franco, in a ‘70s Bronson-style melodrama from a screenplay by Sylvester Stallone (also a producer). If you trade your brains in for a bucket of popcorn before entering, you will have a fine violent time (I did).

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ASK NOT reviews continue, like this very strong one (if a bit patronizing) from Woody Haut. Seems Woody thinks it’s unlikely that Nate Heller could be involved in so many famous crimes – really, Woody? Never occurred to me….

Here’s an ASK NOT interview with a bit of a forensics slant.

LADY, GO DIE! has received a nice write-up here.

And here’s a strong review about Stacy Keach’s reading of GOLIATH BONE on audio.

Finally, you’ll enjoy this reassessment of Mickey Spillane from a reviewer who followed my suggestion to read more than just I, THE JURY before giving his final verdict. (Get it? Jury? Verdict?)

M.A.C.

Nero Nom For Antiques Disposal—Satisfactory

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Barb and I (and for that matter our son Nate) are huge Nero Wolfe fans. Our preferred mode of enjoyment is the fine series of audio books read by Michael Pritchard, which Barb and I have listened to perhaps five times. I am also a fan of Bob Goldsborough’s continuation of Rex Stout’s great series – he was a role model for me in my work on Mickey’s unfinished novels.

So it was with particular pleasure and even a little pride that Barb and I learned that we’d been nominated for the Wolfe Pack’s prestigious Nero Award. This award is, rivaled only by the Edgar, the remaining award in mystery fiction that I still dream of winning – in part because it’s physically cool, being a bust of Wolfe himself. Read about it at the Rap Sheet, where you can see who the other three nominees are (like I’m going to tell you!).

The other big news this week is that top-flight actor Stellan Skadrsgard (THOR, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO), has been cast as the Broker in the Cinemax QUARRY pilot. This will be a recurring role, if the pilot goes to series, at least for the first season (regular readers of the Quarry books know why the Broker will not likely be around for the long haul…).

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: I have learned that reviews of WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER cannot go up on Amazon until after the book has been published. So those of you got review copies from me will have to wait until then, although you can post at Goodreads any time and the also on blogs of your own. When the book comes out in September, I will remind you to post those reviews.

By the way – and this was mentioned in a comment response here, but many of you may not have seen it – I am close to signing with Hard Case Crime to do another Quarry novel, which I would write later this year. The title will probably be QUARRY’S CHOICE. It will not be a “list” novel, but will return to the period where Quarry works for the Broker. (THE WRONG QUARRY will be out in January, and I immodestly suggest it’s among the strongest in the series.)

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Favorable reviews of COMPLEX 90 continue to roll in, but I really get a kick out of it when a young woman like the reviewer at Nerds in Babeland connects with Mike Hammer and his world, particularly a smart one who recognizes how strong Velda and the other female characters are.

A very well-conducted interview, part of the COMPLEX 90 blog tour, is here, at Celebrity Cafe.

And here’s another one, nicely handled by the interviewer, at blogcritics.

David Williams continues to review Heller novels in succinct, smart fashion, as in this look at BYE BYE, BABY.

And Just a Guy That Likes to Read liked reading TRUE CRIME very much, as his review indicates.

An annotated reprinting of my BATMAN comic strip story (illoed by the great Marshall Rogers) is here. I’ve posted this before, but this is a revised, expanded version.

And here’s a fun look at the “Barbara Allan” Marilyn Monroe thriller, BOMBSHELL, a book that really got lost between the cracks until Thomas & Mercer gave it a new lease on life.

M.A.C.