Posts Tagged ‘Bye Bye Baby’

Target Lancer Out Today

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Today (Nov. 27 2012) marks the official publication date of the new Nate Heller novel, TARGET LANCER, although it’s been spotted (snagged) in bookstores here and there for several weeks.

As is often the case, I didn’t receive my copies till just a few days ago (day before Thanksgiving). It’s a handsome book, and features a raised, foil title that is very attractive, and a nice surprise. I hope the book attracts some attention, both for Nate Heller and for the relatively unknown information about the JFK assassination that it reveals.

I am preparing to go out on a two-week book tour for TARGET LANCER, and I face a problem lots of writers do: my mind is filled with the novel I just completed, ASK NOT, the follow-up to LANCER, and I have to shift gears to discuss what to me is an “old” book.

I am happy and frankly relieved to have finished The JFK Trilogy (which began with BYE BYE, BABY). Funny thing – I have lately started to get “name-dropping” criticisms where Heller himself is concerned, and this goes back to the people who don’t grasp the concept of the saga…namely, that we are accessing and experiencing famous crimes/mysteries/events through the eyes of a traditional Chandleresque private detective. And that it is therefore necessary for past cases, however famous, to be mentioned and occasionally dealt with. I believe Heller and I do that with humor – nobody has to remind Heller that he’s been bodyguard to a shocking number of famous murder victims. To me it’s curious that nobody questions Perry Mason having hundreds of murder trials (factoring in the TV show – but even just the books it’s around 100) or Poirot and Nero Wolfe having seventy-some murder cases each, and so on. Readers seem to get the “suspension of disbelief” aspect of the genre in those cases. But some get tripped up by the famous nature of Heller’s cases and clients.

The fact is, Heller almost always fills the role (or roles) of somebody in history – often a real-life private eye. That lays a far more believable groundwork than any strictly fictional case could ever provide. And it occurred to me the other day that I had completed a JFK Trilogy in which JFK himself appears only once, in a not terribly flattering scene (in BYE BYE, BABY).

The reviews so far for TARGET LANCER have been stellar, but I anticipate getting the “name-dropping” dig again. One critic, who liked the book a lot, complained about Heller breaking the fourth wall and talking to the reader. That’s not going to stop, either.

If you still need a nudge, check out the sample chapter (the first) available at the fine Criminal Element web site. [Note from Nate: Leave a comment at that link before November 30 to enter a drawing for a free copy!]

Here’s a spiffy TARGET LANCER review you might want to check out.

And here’s a cool if short mention of LANCER.

Part one of a three-part in-depth look at my Nolan and Jon series has been posted at the Violent World of Parker (that’s Westlake’s Parker, not Spenser’s Parker). It’s very interesting and well-done, focusing on the first three novels (MOURN THE LIVING, BAIT MONEY, BLOOD MONEY), and not always loving them. That’s okay. I realize I was a precocious kid and talented but not really good yet. My God, MOURN was written, what? 44 years ago! As you might guess, I made a couple of comments that are posted there as well, which you may find worthwhile.

For those keeping track, I have just completed a screenplay called HOUSE OF BLOOD that I hope will be my next indie movie. It’s a back-door pilot for a Fangoria’s Dreadtime Stories TV series (based on producer Carl Amari’s radio show that I’ve written about half of the scripts for). It may be a Kickstarter project, so stay tuned for lots more info.

Next up is a thriller called WHAT DOESN’T KILL YA. Matt Clemens is on board for this one, and we’re meeting today for him to deliver story and research materials he’s been working on. I start the book tomorrow, but it will be complicated by the two-week book tour.

You may have noticed I am going directly from one project into another (the screenplay, based on a radio script of mine, was started the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and completed the Sunday after), which is not ideal. But things got piled up on me this year. ASK NOT was a punishing project, particularly the research.

And I have also been very busy helping prepare fourteen back-list titles of mine for Thomas & Mercer to reprint – that’s fourteen covers, cover copy, galley proofs, etc., that had to be dealt with. These novels appear next month (that’s right, December 2012), as both trade paperbacks and e-books, and I’ll have more info for you soon.

Even with me working intermittently on the HOUSE OF BLOOD script, we managed to have a great Thanksgiving with Nate and his bride Abby and their demented dog Toaster. Barb cooked a fantastic traditional meal that calls into extreme doubt her insistence that she’s not a good cook. We saw an excellent 3-D movie, LIFE OF PI, which I highly recommend, and I spent so much on blu-rays on Cyber deals that I will probably have to keep this work pace up for another couple years. I even had a band job Saturday night at Ducky’s Lagoon in Andualusia, Illinois. So, yes, it was a busy weekend.

Next week, if I get ambitious, I may take a swing at rating the 24 James Bond films in order of excellence (and lack thereof) with my comments. Barb and I have been plowing through the 22-blu-ray boxed set. For the record, I don’t count the spoof movie of CASINO ROYALE (or the early TV show), but I do count NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN. It has Sean Connery playing James Bond. That makes it more official than any movie with anybody else playing James Bond.

That doesn’t mean that some of the non-Connery movies aren’t better than a few of the lesser Connerys. But let me explain this – Sean Connery is James Bond the way John, Paul, Ringo and George are the Beatles. Everything else, however well played, is Beatlemania.

M.A.C.

Hammer on Screen

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

It’s finally official: Warner Bros plans to bring Mike Hammer back to the screen. Read about it here.

The Deadline story got picked up everywhere, though some blogs did not just re-fry the story, but did an actual article/commentary, like this somewhat offbeat one.

There seems to be an assumption that I, THE JURY will be the first film (note the illos for the original Deadline piece). But the Warners contract excludes the following Hammer novels: I, THE JURY; MY GUN IS QUICK; KISS ME, DEADLY; and THE GIRL HUNTERS, all of which have already been made into films (I, THE JURY twice). The books that the film will draw upon are: ONE LONELY NIGHT, THE BIG KILL, THE SNAKE, THE TWISTED THING, THE BODY LOVERS, SURVIVAL…ZERO!, THE KILLING MAN, BLACK ALLEY, THE GOLIATH BONE, THE BIG BANG, KISS HER GOODBYE, LADY, GO DIE!, COMPLEX 90 and KING OF THE WEEDS. I believe the posthumous short stories are also included. The screenplay may draw upon one of the novels specifically, or it may be a new story using elements from a number of them. I will almost certainly not be given the opportunity to write a screenplay (the first one for sure), but I will be consulting and am officially an exec producer, as is Jane Spillane. Whether the film will be contemporary or period, I don’t know. I prefer period, but unlike some, I feel contemporary can work.

Here’s an interesting TARGET LANCER review from an Australian writer not familiar with the JFK assassination, except superficially.

Here’s another overseas view of Heller, this time a BYE BYE, BABY review from the excellent critic, Mike Carlson.

Here’s a particularly nice TRUE DETECTIVE review that came in.

And out of the blue, here’s a review of the graphic novel ROAD TO PERDITION 2: ON THE ROAD (a nice one!).

I continue to be burrowed in on ASK NOT. It’s a tough book, and my head swims with research. I am breaking lots of rules with this one, but since I invented this particular game, I have no guilt. I had hoped to be done by election day, because Barb and I are planning to spend that day working out of my presidential candidate’s local office, making phone calls and driving people to the polls. But it’s probably going to take me till mid-November. Longer if the wrong guy wins and I get really, really depressed.

M.A.C.

PWA Hammers it Home

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Barb and I are freshly back from the Bouchercon in Cleveland. As you may know, neither BYE BYE, BABY nor QUARRY’S EX received a Shamus award (there are no sadder words than those seen all around the net today about those two novels: “Also nominated were”). But to my astonishment, the Private Eye Writers of America presented me with The Hammer, the award honoring a private eye character who has had a long, influential run. Here’s the official language:

“The Hammer – a commendation celebrating a memorable private-eye character or series, and named after Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer – was presented to Nate Heller, the character created by Max Allan Collins.”

It was presented by my pal John Lutz, whose introductory speech was generous and gracious. Coming from a writer of John’s talent and standing made this surprise an even bigger treat. I frankly thought when John was called to the podium for the Hammer presentation that he was winning the award for his great Nudger character, until he began talking about the detective being honored in terms of Chicago, Capone and having bedded both Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield.


L to R: MAC, John Lutz

Incidentally, I believe John was on the committee that gave TRUE DETECTIVE the Shamus for Best Novel in 1984.

This was part of a delightful evening on the Nautica Queen (in the rain on rolling waters), where Barb and I (and cohort Matthew Clemens) hobnobbed with tons of writers and editors and assorted publishing folk, including (but not at all limited to) agent Dominick Abel, writer John Gilstrap, writer/editor Joe Pittman (who with Michaela Hamilton, also present, edited the Penguin run of Nate Heller), EQMM editor Janet Hutchings, Sara Paretsky, Parnell Hall, and so, so many more. The grand bash was thrown by PWA founder Bob Randisi, and beautifully organized by his significant other, Christine Matthews.

Bouchercon itself was fine, if not one of the best of these events. The dealer’s room was small, there were some unfortunate screw-ups (double-booking the ballroom where Kensington’s party was to be held), and I personally wasn’t crazy about some of the panel topics. My personal gripe was that I was in Cleveland but was not put on a panel to discuss local hero Eliot Ness (who appears in the graphic novel ROAD TO PERDITION, about half of the Heller novels, who I write about in his own Cleveland-centric series, and have done an Edgar-nominated play and award-winning film about). All writers have such bitches, but I think mine just might have some validity.

The panel I did appear on was fun but odd, because none of us participating cared much for the topic – MANFICTION. Even the Jon Lovitz-like moderator Andrew Gulli (STRAND editor) disavowed it, about two-thirds through. The discussion primarily focused on thrillers, and the need not to write just for men, but for human beings, which includes women. I thought Barb’s panel, on MYSTERY MATURES (older sleuths – like Mother in the ANTIQUES novels) was much better. Barb was the moderator and the panelists were a varied but articulate and humorous group – Barb did a fantastic job, very funny and deft, and you came away wanting to buy every panelist’s book. That’s the perfect panel.

The biggest disappointment for me was not at all the con’s fault. So many of my friends were not there. Some of the familiar faces that were M.I.A. (another list that could be much longer) were Charles Ardai, Bill and Judy Crider, Gary Phillips, Jeff Pierce and Jon and Ruth Jordan. Without those folks, it just wasn’t exactly Bouchercon for me. But I did get to touch bases with writer Mike Dennis, the legendary Otto Penzler (key in getting Mike Hammer back into print), and writer Dave Zeltzerman, founder of the Top Suspense Group. Again, that’s a short list – I could add Ted Hertel, George Easter, Ted Fitzgerald, Ali Karim and on and on.

Also, the opening night (hosted by Thomas & Mercer) was at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, where I saw such dizzying artifacts as the electric piano Zombie keyboardist Rod Argent used on “She’s Not There,” a guitar on which Bobby Darin composed songs, the Vox Continental used by Ray Manzarek on “Light My Fire,” and the silver-gray mod suits worn by the Beatles. Barb took pics of Stevie Nicks’ various dresses and almost got us kicked out.

On a further positive note, Barb and I (and also Matt and I) had business breakfasts and assorted meetings with editors from Thomas & Mercer and Kensington and more, and for all the doom and gloom preached about current publishing, things look bright for MAC, Barbara Allan, and the Collins/Clemens team.

M.A.C.

Target Lancer

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Though the book won’t be out till November, we are starting to get some very nice notices on the new Heller. I was pleased (actually relieved) to see Publisher’s Weekly’s highly positive review.

Randy Johnson, at his Not the Baseball Pitcher web site, also has a nice TARGET LANCER write-up.

Asked about what he’s been reading, Bill Crider is quoted as saying he’s enjoying the ARC of TARGET LANCER. Knowing Bill, he’ll probably review the book closer to pub date.

Bookgasm has been very supportive of my work – although there have been occasional less than glowing notices there – but that fine site has posted a fantastic review of BYE BYE, BABY. This is not so belated as it seems: the reviewer is working from the paperback reprint. Incidentally, a surprising number of typos and a few historical goofs have been corrected in that edition. If you are a Heller fan (or maybe fanatic), that’s the version you’ll want to read. There’s a promise of a TARGET LANCER review in the Bookgasm write-up, as well.

Goodreads has a bunch of mostly positive reviews on CHICAGO LIGHTNING that you might find worthwhile.

Keeping up with my movie mentions, I want to recommend two this week. First, PARANORMAN is a first-rate 3-D movie (see it that way) with wonderful stop motion animation and terrific character design. It has kid appeal – it’s about a middle-school outsider who is bullied because he claims to see and talk to dead people – but it works just fine for adults, particularly those interested in horror and fantasy.

Second, HIT AND RUN is a great crime comedy melodrama that stars Veronica Mars herself, Kristen Bell (wasted on Showtime’s unpleasant HOUSE OF LIES) opposite her significant other, Dax Shepard, who also wrote and co-directed. Shepard, besides being the lucky bastard who gets to live with Kristen Bell (I say this as the lucky bastard who gets to live with the former Barbie Mull), is mostly known for playing villains in film comedies like EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH as well as holding down one of the leads on the TV series, PARENTHOOD. This is the kind of movie I used to see all the time in the ‘70s – quirky, walking the line between comedy and drama, with sharp, natural dialogue, lots of interesting characters, plus plenty of action (it’s a car chase movie). I’m also reminded of Don Westlake’s ‘60s and ‘70s comedy novels. You want to know how good this movie is? Tom Arnold is hilarious in it. So, in a much different way, are Bradley Cooper and Beau Bridges. It is in times in wonderfully poor taste, but in a much smarter way than most bad taste movies – including gags involving prison rape and racial stereotyping. It’s also a tender love story. I haven’t checked Rotten Tomatoes, but I bet at least half the critics hate this. Don’t listen to them.

M.A.C.