Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Allan’

Carry On Spying

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

This week my update will be primarily links to the three articles and the several interviews I’ve done to promote COMPLEX 90, plus an encouraging round of reviews for the novel…as well as reviews for other books. With the links to the articles and interviews, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to hear me pontificate.

All I’ll say, by way of anything personal, is that Barb and I loved the new STAR TREK movie (STAR TREK INTO THE DARKNESS) and I may discuss it next week. The reviews and audience response has been great, but a small vocal minority hates the film, and somehow it’s being labeled a box-office disappointment despite being the top movie of the weekend, pulling in over $70 million. Longtime readers of this blog/update may remember that Barb and I have been fans so long that we go back to when “Trekkie” wasn’t an insult. How much did we like the new film? We went on Thursday, and we went back on Sunday. We haven’t seen a movie twice in a theater in ages. It’s a great movie, if you have any real liking for STAR TREK at all, and I would put it slightly above the first (also wonderful) film with this cast and director.

This week, I am working on the galleys of WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER and will be continuing preliminary work on KING OF THE WEEDS. I will also be doing my draft of the first chapter of ANTIQUES SWAP – we have to turn in the first chapter of each of the antiques novels early, so it can be previewed in the new book.

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There are a few days left to enter the giveaway for a free copy of COMPLEX 90 at My Bookish Ways.

Here is my Huff Post piece on memorable spy films from novels. There’s accompanying video.

And here are ten memorable Cold War-era spy novels that I write briefly about.

At Military.com I wrote about “The Friends of James Bond” – really, the imitators of James Bond.

Here’s a well-conducted interview at the Geek Girl Project.

And another well-done interview (by the interviewer, anyway) at Fanboy Comics.

The reviews for COMPLEX 90 keep rolling in. Here’s a nice one at Celebrity Cafe.

Here’s another good one at City of Films.

This is a very interesting if patronizing review from a writer who gets that Mike Hammer is a characterization and not a blueprint for behavior. It’s a fun read from someone who clearly dug the book but is a little ashamed about it.

This write-up at Unreality Mag is more an article than a review, but certainly worth a look.

I particularly liked this review from a young woman who doesn’t allow her dislike of the ‘60s era male hubba-hubba view of women get in the way of having a good time.

This is from Ed’s Blog – not Ed Gorman, another smart guy named Ed. (Ed Gorman, by the way, was kind of enough to link to the Huff Post piece at his blog. Thanks, Ed!)

Here’s another smart, fun review of COMPLEX 90. Something about the book seems to inspire entertaining reviews.

This is a disappointing though not entirely negative review from, surprisingly, Bookgasm, where my stuff is generally well received. Are some reviewers getting jaded, as I deliver a new Hammer every year? Well, that’s not gonna go on forever….

Here’s a swell review of ANTIQUES CHOP from Jerry’s House of Everything.

And yes, SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT is still generating some nice reviews.

The reprints of the early Quarry novels are starting to get some attention from reviewers, as in this write-up from Just a Guy That Likes to Read.

This review links the recent Lawrence Block “Keller” novel with QUARRY. Nice company, but, uh…I was first. Ungracious of me? Don’t care.

A West Virginia newspaper has a review of the Frank Nitti Trilogy from a high school junior who does a bang-up job. You don’t know how much it pleases me to see a new generation picking up on Nate Heller.

David Williams has been reviewing the Hellers in smart, succinct fashion for a while now. Here’s a link to some of his Heller reviews, starting with the most recent of his write-ups, on ANGEL IN BLACK. He doesn’t care much for two of my favorite entries in the series, FLYING BLIND and MAJIC MAN, but nobody’s perfect.

M.A.C.

Complex 90 Out Today

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
COMPLEX 90 Audiobook

Hardcover:

E-Book:

Audio CD:

Audio MP3 CD:

Actually, COMPLEX 90 – the new Mike Hammer novel – will be published tomorrow, since I write these blog posts a day in advance. The cover we’re showing off here is the Blackstone audio version, read by Stacy Keach. I haven’t heard it yet, but it’s one of the greatest joys of my career to listen to Stacy reading these Spillane/Collins novels on audio.

This is, I think, one of the strongest of the collaborative Hammers, as it answers a lot of questions about Mike and Velda’s relationship, and it’s a sequel to perhaps the Mickey’s best book of the ‘60s – THE GIRL HUNTERS. Yes, the Dragon (the surviving half) is back. What great fun, writing about Mike Hammer in his espionage agent mode in a book begun by Mickey at the height of the James Bond spy craze. Fun, too, imagining Mickey as Mike in a movie playing in your demented brain. Well, my demented brain, anyway.

People often ask how I decide what order to do these books in – I had half a dozen substantial (100 pages or more) Spillane “Hammer” manuscripts to choose from. GOLIATH BONE was a no-brainer choice – it was the final book Mickey was working on, and was the longest manuscript (of the Hammers, that is – DEAD STREET was shy only of the last three chapters). Also, it had a 9/11 aspect that threatened to date it. So it was first up.

THE BIG BANG was a great ‘60s novel, with Hammer taking on drug racketeers, and just a great manuscript from Mickey, with one of his most outrageous endings. It won second position as a way to really show off Mike at his best. KISS HER GOODBYE, with its ‘70s setting and themes, was a natural progression. I held back the greatest find – LADY, GO DIE!, the unfinished sequel to I, THE JURY – for the fourth position, because my initial contract was for three books, and I wanted something very strong to launch the second trio, particularly if I had to change publishers…which I did.

COMPLEX 90 needed to be held back a while, because the anti-Commie aspect of it would only court trouble with the Hammer haters. I needed Mike to be back for a while before going there. Also, though Mickey wrote about Russian espionage in ONE LONELY NIGHT and THE GIRL HUNTERS, the Cold War theme is not what Hammer is best known for.

Shortly (yet this month) I will begin work on KING OF THE WEEDS, a novel designed by Mickey as a sequel to BLACK ALLEY and as the final Hammer novel. Mickey set it aside after 9/11 seemed to require Mike Hammer to wade into the war on terror. So these six novels begin with the final Hammer novel (THE GOLIATH BONE), and wind up with what Mickey had intended to be the final novel (KING OF THE WEEDS), making that the penultimate one, I guess.

Is this the end of the Spillane/Collins Hammer stories? Probably not. I am expanding short Hammer fragments into short stories (most recently in The Strand, “So Long, Chief”), and in two or three more stories will have enough for a collection. There’s also the possibility of doing a book that offers prose versions of the two audio plays. And there are three more significant Hammer fragments that I hope to turn into novels. When I say “substantial” unfinished manuscript, I mean that Mickey left behind at least one hundred pages and often plot and character notes.

When I say “significant” unfinished manuscript, I mean at least forty pages and sometimes plot and character notes.

I am hopeful readers and my current publisher will agree that the Mike Hammer canon should be completed. I see no reason for me to do original Hammer stories, not with the wealth of Spillane material at my fingertips. There are even non-Hammer fragments that could be Hammer-ized if need be. If the movie happens, anything is possible.

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Last week was taken up with preparing materials for my producing partner, Ken Levin, to take with him to LA for meetings. Barb and I wrote up a TV proposal for the ANTIQUES series, and I put together an Eliot Ness in Cleveland TV proposal. In addition, I did a full-scale rewrite of “House of Blood,” turning it from an 85-page feature film script into a 58-page TV pilot script.

This week I’ll be meeting with Matt Clemens to work on the plotting of SUPREME JUSTICE, my second Thomas & Mercer novel. My friend Brad Schwartz and I have been working on a Teddy Roosevelt project, and the screen treatment of that will be finished probably today. Then I will be doing articles for Huffington Post and other web sites to promote COMPLEX 90.

Did I mention it’s coming out today?

A lot of Net activity to report and share.

A Minneapolis radio station has Part One of the Gary Sandy-starring version of MIKE HAMMER: ENCORE FOR MURDER produced at the International Mystery Writers Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky, last year. They will post Part Two next week. This is a lot of fun, but the host gives perhaps the most shambling introduction I have ever heard, starting with a discussion of the character “Mickey Spillane” who debuted on radio before the publication of I, THE JURY. You learn something every day….

The great web site Bookgasm had a lively, complimentary review of ANTIQUES CHOP, now a bouncing baby one week old.

Here’s a nice write-up on COMPLEX 90 at the Geek Girl Project.

I haven’t listened to this interview, but I was on the phone a long time, so be forewarned that you may need Red Bull to make it through. The guys interviewing me were great, but I’m afraid I blathered even more than usual.

Here’s a cool Nerds of a Feather write-up of COMPLEX 90 (out today!) (over doing?).

The news about HOUSE OF BLOOD winning that IMPA award was covered neatly at the Fangoria web site.

The SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT reviews are still comin’ in! Check out this cool one at Nerd Bloggers.

I was very pleased by this NO CURE FOR DEATH review – having a smart reviewer approve of a book written forty years ago is kind of amazing. Not as amazing as me writing it when I was six, but amazing.

This is a very intelligent review of THE BABY BLUE RIP-OFF from a guy who forgives me for being a liberal. (I’m taking something for it.)

And at this late date, we’re still being told that ROAD TO PERDITION was based on a graphic novel. Who’da thunk it?

THE TITANIC MURDERS gets a very nice write-up here.

And, finally, here’s the review you were all waiting for – of SKIN GAME, the second DARK ANGEL book (not published today…but still in print!). Matt Clemens co-wrote the DARK ANGEL novels with me, and they are among our best collaborations, in both our opinions.

M.A.C.

Antiques Chop In Stores Now!

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
The quaint Midwestern town of Serenity is about to hit the small screen. Brandy Borne and her dramatically ditzy mother, Vivian, will be starring in Antique Sleuths, a reality TV show based on the duo’s antiquarian adventures—and their troubling talent for solving deadly crimes. What better shooting set than a creepy old house, the site of a 60-year-old unsolved axe murder?

The location is perfect until Bruce Spring, the show’s producer, meets a fatal axe-ident, mortally mauled just like the home’s previous owner. The first suspect on the chopping block seems typecast for the role of killer—he was found at the scene of the attack, clutching a stained axe. But as Brandy and Vivian chop around for clues, plenty of other suspects stick out their necks…

It seems the show’s cameraman clashed with Bruce—could he be the culprit? What about the acrimony between Andrew, the harried homeowner, and Bruce, whose dirt-digging documentary all but accused Andrew of the original unsolved crime? And who’s driving that blood-red Toyota that keeps making unscripted cameo appearances? If Brandy and Vivian are going to get to the bottom of this mystery, they’ll have to be extra careful not to wind up on the cutting room floor—in pieces!

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Antiques Chop

Antiques Chop, the latest Trash ‘n’ Treasures mystery from Barbara Allan, hits shelves real and virtual today. Chop has been quick to earn critical praise, with Publishers Weekly saying, “The characters, both primary and secondary, shine with brassy humor, and series fans will applaud Vivian’s reach toward TV fame,” and Bill Crider calling it “a cozy with an edge” and suggesting you should “read the book. You’ll have a great time, and you can thank me later.”

Buy Antiques Chop at your local bookstore or online today!

Antiques Chop
Hardcover | E-Book Amazon Google Play Nook Kobo iTunes Sony Reader

And if you need to catch up on Brandy and Vivian’s adventures, Antiques Disposal is now available in paperback and reduced price e-book.

Antiques Disposal
Paperback | E-Book

Max’s regularly scheduled update continues below. And next week, we’ve got something a little different coming out as Mike Hammer slugs his way to shelves near you with Complex 90. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with liking both!

Bloody House

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013
IMPA 2013

In Des Moines over the weekend, Barb and I attended the 22nd annual Iowa Motion Picture Association awards banquet. My screenplay “House of Blood” was nominated for Best Screenplay (Unproduced), and won the Award of Excellence.

The IMPA is an organization I was extremely active in from the mid-90s until maybe five years ago. I am a three-time president, and Barb and I ran the award shows (with me hosting and Barb giving out the awards) for maybe half a dozen years. I was on the IMPA board for ten or twelve years, and this required a monthly drive (about a three-hour one) into Des Moines, which finally wore us down. But I made a lot of friends there, some of whom I got to see at the Saturday night event – we had the fun of sharing a table with screenwriter Shirley Long, the “godmother” of the IMPA, and documentarian Kent Newman, also a multiple past prez of the organization. The evening of course brought to mind my late friend and prized collaborator, Mike Cornelison, who won numerous IMPA awards himself. A number of people spoke to me about Mike. Being on his home turf brings the loss sharply into focus.

The organization has hit some rough patches in recent years, reflecting the film industry in Iowa getting tarnished when an ambitious tax-credit program went belly up in a haze of scandal and buck-passing. I don’t know what really went on, but I do know this multi-million dollar program was run by one man in an OFFICE SPACE-style cubicle at the Department of Economic Development. This was a huge government bungle, and is responsible for me having to seek doing my indie film work in Illiniois and Louisiana (and California, of course). There is talk, among some legislators, of the industry making a comeback in this area, and a new Film Office chair person will be named soon. I am guardedly hopeful.

The “House of Blood” screenplay that won was the feature film version. It now looks like I will be converting the script into a one-hour TV anthology format, bringing it back closer to its original form as a 45-minute Fangoria’s Dreadtime Stories radio play. Serious talk is afoot for both a series, which I’d be heavily involved in, and a slate of four movies, which I have been told would include two M.A.C. properties, possibly with me directing. I’ll keep you informed.

The keynote speakers – very informal and funny – were Darryl and Darryl from Newhart – Tony Papenfuss and John Voldstad. I spoke to John and he was a very sweet guy, and a fan of ROAD TO PERDITION. He was one of the many great comic actors in one of our family’s favorites, STRIPES.

On the way to and from Des Moines, Barb and I listened to the Brilliance audio of THE LONDON BLITZ MURDERS. That novel, which I was quite proud of at the time, received little attention when originally published, and has received some harsh reviews at Amazon and particularly Amazon UK. So I was a little gun shy about listening to it. But I was pleasantly surprised – I think I did just fine, writing a true-crime story set in the UK with Agatha Christie as the detective, even if some of the Brits at Amazon UK think I was about as convincing as Dick Van Dyke in MARY POPPINS. My credibility takes a huge jump thanks to the reader, British actress Anne Flosnik, who does an incredible job. To my ears, she really brought Agatha and the book to life. After hearing her (and Simon Vance on THE HINDENBURG MURDERS), I would be tempted to have all of my books read by actors with English accents. On the other hand, I can’t imagine a better Nate Heller than Dan John Miller. (Unfortunately, Brilliance won’t be doing the forthcoming ASK NOT – another company will be, TBA – but I will certainly recommend Dan.)

If you are a longtime reader of my work, I think you might have a really good time revisiting my novels in audio form. Brilliance has done a fantastic job with the Hellers, the “disaster” novels, the Mallorys (Dan John Miller again), and assorted others (REGENERATION, BOMBSHELL, MIDNIGHT HAUL).

Speaking of Amazon reviews, let me remind readers that a great way to support the writers you enjoy is to write and post a review at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads and other sites. A two- or three-line positive review at Amazon, and nice high star rating, takes little time and is most helpful to authors. There are some dumb readers out there, and nasty ones, who do authors damage, and you can help. I speak not just for myself, but for any author whose work you enjoy. Those star ratings are important, because they are averaged. And so often the bad ratings are not for the book, but for perceived bad service, or in my case now and then, a reader angry that ROAD TO PERDITION or CSI: SERIAL turned out to a “comic book.”

End of telethon, although your continued contributions would be appreciated.

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Here’s a nice SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT review from Blogcritics, which got lots of play on the Net.

And another one from BookSteve’s Library. The reviewer has some problems with the front end of the novel, because he’s so familiar with the history already, but gets on board when the mystery kicks in. It’s been interesting to see how many readers really love the front end of the book, with its fairly detailed account of the comic-book witch hunt, and how many others prefer the mystery portion that kicks in half-way. This reviewer falls into a small but distinct category of readers who are a little bored by encountering history they’re already familiar with.

Here’s a very nice and flattering review of the new edition of NO CURE FOR DEATH, from a Kindle site. This was my second novel (well, third if you count MOURN THE LIVING) and it’s a relief to see a reviewer liking it at this late date.

Finally, here’s a terrific review of ANTIQUES CHOP from Bill Crider (himself a helluva writer).

M.A.C.