Posts Tagged ‘Bye Bye Baby’

2012 Shamus Nominees—M.A.C. up for Two!

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

NEWS FLASH:

The Private Eye Writers of America (PWA) just announced this year’s Shamus Awards nominees, and M.A.C. made the cut not once but twice—for BYE BYE, BABY and QUARRY’S EX. Here’s the full list, and Max’s Update continues below.

2012 Shamus Awards Nominees

BEST HARDCOVER PI NOVEL

Bye Bye, Baby by Max Allan Collins / Tom Doherty
1222 by Anne Holt / Scribner
When the Thrill is Gone by Walter Mosley / Riverhead Books
A Bad Night’s Sleep by Michael Wiley / Minotaur
The Highly Effective Detective Crosses the Line by Richard Yancey / Minotaur

BEST FIRST PI NOVEL

The Plot Against Hip Hop by Nelson George / Akashic
Claire Dewitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran / Houghton Mifflin
The Ocean Forest by Troy D. Nooe / Ingalls
The Shortcut Man by P.G. Sturges / Scribner
The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams / Bantam

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL PI NOVEL

Quarry’s Ex by Max Allan Collins / Hard Case Crime
Threat Warning by John Gilstrap / Kensington
Serial by John Lutz / Kensington
Long Pig by James L. Ross / Perfect Crime Books
Fun & Games by Duane Swiercyzinski / Mulholland

BEST PI SHORT STORY

“A Bullet From Yesterday” by Terence Faherty in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (Jan.)
“Mr. Monk & The Sunday Paper” by Lee Goldberg in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (July)
“Who I Am” by Michael Z. Lewin in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (Dec.)
“Vampire Slayer Murdered in Key West” by Michael West in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (Sept. / Oct.)
“Dancer in a Storm” by L. A. Wilson in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (Jan. / Feb.)

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.

From Huff Post to Penthouse

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012
Barnes and Noble Davenport Signing 2012
Barnes and Noble Davenport Signing 2012

Lots of nice readers stopped by to chat and buy a book or two (or more) at our book-signing at the Davenport Barnes & Noble Sunday afternoon. The store got in lots of interesting titles besides LADY, GO DIE! and ANTIQUES DISPOSAL – all of the Quarry Hard Case Crime titles, all of the Eliot Ness “Speaking Volumes” trade paperback reprints, among other titles. The hardcovers of BYE BYE, BABY and ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF are there, too. We signed all the stock. We are not doing a major tour, so if you want signed books, you can contact Paul at CRM2970@bn.com. He’ll help you out.

I am not writing an in-depth Update this week because there is plenty to read about me and by me right now as my Internet “tour” continues to generate lots of web attention.

Of the interviews I’ve done, the standout is (not surprisingly) by Jeff Pierce of The Rap Sheet, who really went in depth about the writing process behind LADY, GO DIE!

The big flashy, splashy appearance was an article with slide show I did at Huffington Post on the game-changing detectives. Be sure to read the comments to see how many “readers” don’t bother to read what they’re commenting on.

Here’s a brief behind-the-scenes article by me followed by an excerpt from LADY, GO DIE!

The Playlist did an interesting, mostly favorable review of LADY, GO DIE! that got picked up all over the place.

The Criminal Element posted an essay I wrote for them discussing “noir” as the replacement word of “hardboiled.”

George Kelly briefly, nicely discussed LADY, GO DIE! as a “forgotten book.” Well, it was forgotten by Mickey….

In the midst of the Spillane flurry, Bill Crider posted a great review of ANTIQUES DISPOSAL. Bill’s site remains my favorite in the mystery field, even when he isn’t reviewing me.

I wrote a brief blog on the Mike Hammer movies for Destroy the Brain. For the complete story, take advantage of the Barnes & Noble huge discount on the just-published MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN by Jim Traylor and me.

Here’s another nice LADY, GO DIE! review from Daily Rotation.

Finally, check out this month’s Penthouse – Mike Hammer is mentioned on the cover, and LADY, GO DIE! gets an excerpt with cool art on the inside. Yes, you should read it for the articles and the fiction…like I do.

M.A.C.

Sex And Violence

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

When I set out to write hardboiled mystery novels, very much influenced by Mickey Spillane and the Gold Medal writers, I made sure my work was strong on sex and violence. I still do. Not only are these ingredients key to the noir sensibility, they represent (as I’ve said numerous times) the big topics: life and death.

And while my historical novels have an element of education/information in them, the primary purpose is to entertain, and usually in the fashion that I established early on – meaning there will be sex and violence.

Over the years this has been commented on occasionally by reviewers, but not really that often – the subject tends to come up in a more general way, i.e., why is there so much sex and violence in noir fiction?

But in the past several years, I have been getting criticized much more often about the sexual component of the books. I don’t mean to defend myself here or to complain about those reviews – I am just observing that there seems to be something afoot in the culture, something more staid, even more prudish. I graduated high school in 1966, so the sexual revolution was all around me, reflected in popular culture from underground comix to nudity-flung films.

So what’s up lately with this anti-sex scene sentiment? And almost always coming from men. Men who don’t want to read about sex. Which strikes me as bewildering. These comments often come from readers who otherwise like the books. Here’s an excerpt from an Amazon Review of CARNAL HOURS that is otherwise a rave:

“The author seems determined to inject some short, steamy sex episodes in each book. These are gratuitous and serve no purpose other than to establish the ‘ladies man’ reputation of Heller, which could be accomplished without the silly detail. I’m not prudish but each time these short episodes struck me as stupid and juvenile.”

I might wonder why any reader of book with the word “carnal” in the title would be surprised to find sex scenes in that book. But this Amazon reviewer is joined by a handful of professional reviewers who have lately made similar comments. George Easter, for example, in the fine magazine Deadly Pleasures, made that his sole carp in a very positive review of BYE BYE, BABY.

Again, I mention this because I find it odd, not to complain about it or defend myself. I will say this: anyone who considers the sex scenes in Nathan Heller novels to be mere gratuitous porn isn’t really paying attention. I don’t believe there is a single Heller sex scene involving my guy with some casual pick-up in a bar or whatever – there are references to such happenings, but they remain off-stage. The sexual encounters are there for characterization reasons, usually to build emotion and establish a closeness, even a love, between Heller and a woman who is crucial to the tale being told, often tragic romances as in TRUE DETECTIVE, TRUE CRIME, THE MILLION-DOLLAR WOUND, FLYING BLIND and BYE BYE, BABY. Some of these are real women, like Amelia Earhart, Sally Rand and Evelyn MacClean Walsh, and this gets me nasty letters at times (“How dare you?”). I had death threats over my depiction of Earhart as bisexual. Here’s the thing: Nate Heller didn’t have sex with any of these women, because Nate Heller is a fictional character.

My sex scenes do make people uncomfortable at times, and I’m rather proud of that. A mystery writer pal of mine, when TRUE DETECTIVE came out, was offended (perhaps the term is “grossed out”) that Heller used condoms and he and the lady in question cleaned up after the act. The sex was too real, apparently. An editor talked me into toning down oral sex passages in ANGEL IN BLACK…between Heller and his wife (oral sex was both characterization and a major clue in that novel).

Anyway, if you guys out there want to skip the sex scenes, fine by me. My generation of guys would more likely have underlined them. If this is progress, count me out.

And isn’t it interesting that none of these reviewers have ever complained about the graphic blood-splattering violence in my work?

* * *

We had a very nice review for the upcoming Barbara Allan, ANTIQUES DISPOSAL, in Publisher’s Weekly.

Our good friend and that good writer Ron Fortier wrote a lovely review of ANTIQUES DISPOSAL on his fun Pulp Fiction web site.

Brandywine Books posted yet another fine Heller review, this time looking at TRUE DETECTIVE.

The low price ($2) this month of FLYING BLIND on Kindle e-book caught some nice attention here.

Perfect Crime Books has announced their Nolan reprint series, with all the covers posted.

The quirky and entertaining Temple of Schlock reviewed THE CONSUMMATA, and back on my birthday took an eccentric look at QUARRY’S EX.

Nate is heading to Japan for a month on a business vacation. He will still be handling the weekly Updates, but they will likely be a little shorter in the near future. Also, I’m working on ANTIQUES CHOP, which means you may be spared these longer entries until I am finished and Nate returns.

M.A.C.