Posts Tagged ‘Bye Bye Baby’

Cover Boy

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
Deadly Pleasures

Seeing my face on the cover of the current DEADLY PLEASURES (Summer 2001, issue 66), is gratifying if frustrating – I’d have looked better twenty or even ten years ago. But it’s nice to see Nate Heller get this kind of attention – editor George Easter told me I’d get the DP cover when I wrote another Heller (this was during the drought between CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL and the current BYE BYE, BABY). And he kept his word.

The issue is an embarrassment of riches, because editor Easter reviews/discusses seven of the books I have out this year (he skips ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF, either not knowing about “Barbara Allan” or just not liking the cozy stuff). Ted Fitzgerald in the same issue provides a rave review of BYE BYE, BABY as well, and Roger M. Sobin does retro coverage of FLYING BLIND, comparing it to the 2009 film “Amelia” (which I thought was dreadful…the film, not Sobin’s solid discussion).

When Jon Breen retired from regularly writing the review column in ELLERY QUEEN MYSTERY MAGAZINE, “The Jury Box,” I thought I was cooked. Jon was a big booster of my stuff and reviewed me regularly. I figured the new guy, Steve Steinbock, would have more sense. Fortunately, he doesn’t, as the new EQMM (December 2001) gives generous “Jury Box” attention to a slew of my novels, leading off with a four-star BYE BYE, BABY review.

This kind of coverage is so important. For those of you who think my ego is out of control, when I mention such things, well, you’re probably right…but the real appeal of it to me is that the books get attention and gain more readers. That’s not really an ego-driven desire. It’s on the most basic level a desire to keep the lights on in this joint. I can’t stay in business if the books don’t sell, and I have never been a success on the level of a Harlan Coben or Lee Child. I remain a freelance writer desperately avoiding getting a real job.

Here’s a great write-up on the Nate Heller series worth checking out.

And here’s one specifically about the new Heller collection, CHICAGO LIGHTNING.

Oddly, this is a nice review of DEAD STREET, reacting as if the book just came out. The comments below the smart review reveal the level of idiocy that Spillane can elicit in apparently intelligent readers.

This week the new Titan collection of Simon and Kirby crime comics comes out, with my introduction. USA TODAY interviewed me about the book and about S & K.

Work continues apace on SPILLANE ON SCREEN as Jim Traylor and I keep the words flying between Iowa and Georgia. It’s a McFarland book and will be horrendously expensive, no doubt, but it’s gonna be worth it.

M.A.C.

Eliot Ness, Pat Chambers, R.I.P.

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Someone on my Facebook page suggested that at my age I shouldn’t be surprised by the passings of friends. But I have lost two of my best friends, both artistic collaborators, in under a week. It feels like the Apocalypse, one drop at a time. We joined Chuck Bunn’s family and friends Sunday afternoon for a celebration of his life…a lovely event, really, but for me it was in the shadow of a second death, the day before.

Michael Cornelison was my friend. No question. But beyond that, he played such a key role in my adventures in indie filmmaking that it’s hard to imagine ever making another film without him. He co-starred with Patty McCormack in both “Mommy” films (playing two different parts, disappearing into each so completely that few viewers noticed he was in both films…in lead roles!). He was the cop lead in “Real Time: Siege at Lucas Street Market.” He starred in three award-winning short films of mine, and he narrated both “Caveman: V.T. Hamlin and Alley Oop” and “Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane.” His last stage appearance, earlier this year, co-starring with his talented son Nick, was in a five-minute play I wrote for a Des Moines competition (we were the judges’ pick the first of two nights). He played Captain Pat Chambers to Stacy Keach’s Mike Hammer in the Audie-winning “The Little Death” and in this year’s “Encore for Murder.” And of course he was the star of the one-man show “Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life,” which Phil Dingeldein and I preserved as an HD film.

That merely speaks to my collaborations with Mike. In the ‘70s and ‘80s he was in Hollywood, where he starred in three pilots, was a guest star on many major shows (including but not limited to HILL STREET BLUES, WHITE SHADOW, BJ AND THE BEAR, DALLAS, REMINGTON STEELE, KNOTS LANDING, HUNTER and, in a recurring role, THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO), and appeared in numerous films, notably MY FATHER’S HOUSE with Cliff Robertson, WHERE THE BUFFALO ROAM with Bill Murray and LOST IN AMERICA with Albert Brooks. In high school he landed a role in Norman Lear’s COLD TURKEY with Dick Van Dyke, and in his later years was a staple of indie film in Iowa (a nice role in THE FINAL SEASON, for instance) and was damn near the bedrock of Des Moines theater. He essentially discovered writer/director Frank Darabont when they collaborated on the short Stephen King film WOMAN IN THE ROOM, which went to home video as part of the NIGHTSHIFT collection and sparked Darabont’s filmmaking career. Additionally, Mike was one of the movers and shakers (writing, acting, directing) behind the legendary old-fashioned radio drama show out of Des Moines, REJECTION SLIP THEATER, which ran for ten years on WHO and was covered on NBC’s TODAY SHOW.

Mike left a body of work as a working actor that would be impressive even if he hadn’t mostly operated out of his home state. I met him in the mid-‘70s when he was acting opposite my sister-in-law Kathe Mull at Charlie’s Showplace in Des Moines. I had used Charlie’s as a pattern for a theater in QUARRY’S DEAL, and Mike had read that, got a kick out of it, apparently dug my writing, and we became friends. Shortly after that he was off to California for almost a decade. When he returned, he began nudging me toward indie filmmaking. We developed several potential indie films (check out my story “Firecracker Kill” for one of them), way way way ahead of the curve. Finally “Mommy” turned our dreams into reality. He was my right arm as well as my lead actor on all my productions. He was child actress Rachel Lemieux’s dialogue coach, for example, on “Mommy.” But most of all, as Patty McCormack said: “He is such a wonderful actor.”

This does not touch on the many visits and phone calls where we talked not just shop but our abiding love in pop culture. He was a jazz guy and I rock ‘n’ roll, but we coincided everywhere else. We would talk James Bond and MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. We would talk Tarzan and WILD, WILD WEST. We would talk about obscure TV shows of our youth like T.H.E. CAT and JOHNNY STACCATO. He would tell me about his actor friends, mentor Robert Lansing and roommate Peter Weller. I would rhapsodize about Mickey Spillane and he would share his love for Doc Savage.

He lived the life he wanted to live. He had a substance abuse flirtation in Hollywood but threw it off like a coat gone out of fashion (that may be in part why he moved back to Iowa – we never spoke directly of it). He was a “gentleman drinker” (as he put it) until he was told quit or die – he quit, but he continued smoking and his eating habits would have killed me long, long ago. He was at once selfish child and generous grown-up (perhaps that was why we bonded so), and a caring, sweet friend who (again, perhaps why we bonded) operated off of an engine of enthusiasm.

In his prime, he was a leading man (“Mommy” caught that) who should have been very famous and successful. I often told him he was the kind of leading man I most admire – the really good-looking guy who has a twinkle of humor and a wellspring of intelligence, masculine but not macho. Think James Garner or Paul Gross. With a break or two, he could have been so much more than he was, and yet what he accomplished is almost mind-boggling…and mostly from Iowa.

He called me the night he summoned an ambulance. The liver problem that he’d been told meant he’d die in ten years – eighteen years ago – had finally caught up with him. While he waited for the ambulance, he thanked me for my friendship and support and told me he loved me. I told him I loved him, too. We talked for about forty-five minutes.

Then the ambulance came.

UPDATE

This weekend Barb and I attended the GLIBA event in Dearborn, Michigan – Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association. I spoke at the Saturday night banquet (as did Christopher Moore and Luis Alberto Urrea, both great guys). I only had fifteen minutes, so I took a risk and just opened it up for questions – with Barb as a shill in the audience to pick up the slack if the audience members were shy. I think it went well. I was there to talk about BYE BYE, BABY and the upcoming TARGET LANCER. Some good if sometimes tense conversations with indie booksellers flowed out of their concerns (and frankly resentment and hostilities) over e-books in general and Amazon in particular, and of course I’m being reprinted by AmazonEncore, so some view me as sleeping with the enemy. But the conversations were constructive, and a step in the right direction.

We also had a lovely luncheon with my pal Brad Schwartz and his great parents. Brad is a senior in college now and working on a very exciting Orson Welles project – the “Ness kid” has come a long way! Speaking of which, just hours after our luncheon, Brad was the first fan I heard from about the death of Mike Cornelison – he and his parents had driven from Ann Arbor to Des Moines to see the play, “Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life.” Brad is a Ness buff and considers Mike’s Ness the best of all. So do I.

Here’s what the Des Moines Register had to say about Mike.

QUARRY’S EX got some major love on the net this week. This particular review has been picked up all over the place.

And here’s a Playlist double-feature review of both QUARRY’S EX and THE CONSUMMATA.

Here’s another fun CONSUMMATA review.

Both QUARRY’S EX and THE CONSUMMATA are reviewed here, the former a rave, the latter less so but not a pan by any means.

Finally, Tom Piccirilli’s blog has some nice things to say about CHICAGO LIGHTNING.

M.A.C.

A Crusin’ R.I.P. / Consummata Net Work

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Chuck Bunn

Before I start this update, I need to say a word about my friend Chuck Bunn. Chuck was part of the original Daybreakers line-up, back in ‘66, our bass player and high-harmony guy, and he left the band summer of ‘67, shortly before we went to Nashville to record “Psychedelic Siren” – he was off to college out of state, and after that to the U.S. Army. In later years he joined us in Crusin’ – first in the ‘80s, again in the ‘90s, and for the last three years he’s been part of the current line-up.

Chuck returned to the band after the reunion of the original Daybreakers for the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction concert in 2008. He informed me that he was battling cancer, but that he had it under control. And frankly he was the same feisty, energetic, stubborn, indispensable guy, and showed no signs of infirmity. I’d been playing keyboard bass, and our rhythm guitarist/co-lead singer Andy Landers was about to leave the band, so I thought Chuck would make a good addition. Playing bass with the band gave him something to do, even to live for (he retired early upon getting his medical news), only he wasn’t just a good addition, he was a great one. The kind of band member who steps up and keeps equipment in repair and builds gizmos and drives the van and generally keeps things going, like my late buddy Paul Thomas used to do.

But about three months ago, Chuck’s battle turned a nasty corner, and he began to fail. His last two gigs were tough – he sat down through most of them, the farthest thing from his style. His last gig was the recent, very well-received Bouchercon dance at St. Louis. He passed away Sunday morning. He had been a soldier, a teacher, a contractor, a plant worker, a husband, a father, certainly a friend, and all those things are important. More important than rock ‘n’ roll. But Chuck might well say there isn’t anything more important than rock ‘n’ roll. And it never did any good arguing with him, so we’ll leave it at that.

The Consummata and More

There’s a great display of Hard Case Crime covers with commentary by Charles Ardai himself on the Huffington Post. Amazingly, one day last week (I believe Friday) the CONSUMMATA cover was on the front page of the Post! Either they don’t know Mickey’s politics…or they do know mine.

I have done a dizzying number of interviews in support of THE CONSUMMATA and QUARRY’S EX. Sometimes these are phoners, other times I answer an e-mail list of questions, and in one case below, it’s a podcast of the actual interview. I have endeavored to vary my responses, but some repetition is gonna turn up. Trust me.

Here’s one at Popdose.

And one at Daily Blam.

Daily Rotation did one, too.

So did Fandomania.

As did Shockya.

Nerd Caliber, too.

Here’s a podcast from Film School Rejects.

Boing Boing asked me to write about other authors I read – this one was picked up in part and in whole a bunch of places, probably because of my frankness. This is worth checking out.

Here’s a nice follow-up to the Boing Boing piece by writer Max Gladstone.

There was also a lot of general CONSUMMATA coverage, like this blog post from my pal Ed Gorman.

And there were almost as many reviews – all favorable – of THE CONSUMMATA as interviews with me. Like this one at Guilty Conscience.

And this one at Mostly Fiction.

Fandomania weighted in with its own review.

The terrific pulp serenade posted a CONSUMMATA review, too.

Just to mix things up, here’s a nice review of BYE BYE, BABY by a high school student (darn good writer).

Finally, check out this posting on the Birth of Hard Case Crime from the wonderfully titled site, Boiled Hard.

M.A.C.

St. Looie Postscript

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Bouchercon was a blast. Among many friends I got to see and spend time with were Bob Randisi, John and Barbara Lutz, Christine Matthews, Ted Fitzgerald, Jeff Pierce, Ted Hertel, Dick Lochte, Christa Faust, Deadly Pleasures editor George Easter, EQMM editor Janet Hutchings, Mystery Scene editor Kate Stine, agent Dominick Abel, editor Michaela Hamilton, Strand editor Andrew Gulli, and so many more. I can say with no humility whatsoever that the two times I signed I had huge lines, damn near rivaling the guests of honor — Barb and Matt Clemens signed with me, so I can’t take all the credit. I was part of two lively panels — one on comics, another on the future of the private eye genre — on Thursday and Saturday respectively.

Crusin' at Bouchercon 2011

Along the way, I gave “shite” (my new favorite word courtesy of my new favorite pal Ali Karim) to my shy and retiring buddy Gary Phillips both on and off the comics panel, jawed with Sara Paretsky, and with Crusin’ backed our guest artists Bob Randisi, Joelle Charbonneau, Bryan Gruley, Mark Billingham and Guest of Honor, Val McDermid. Everybody was great — Bob has a fine voice and gave Elvis a run for it on “Can’t Help Fallin’ in Love,” Joelle (a stunning redhead in a green gown) had the pipes to do justice to “Be My Baby,” Mark and I did a raucous “Saw Her Standing There” while the charismatic Val joined Mark for a stirring Orbison/k.d. lang-style “Crying.” Finally Bryan blew the roof off the dump with a “Gloria” that Van Morrison might have envied.

In addition, the performance (on Saturday night) found Crusin’ very well-received with dancing from the start and applause after every tune. A rough load-in at the Renaissance Grand (as my late friend Paul Thomas said, “The ass end of a hotel is never pretty”) was the only mote in the eye of a wonderful night.

Bill Crider (with whom I also jawed, his lovely wife Judy, too) was nice enough to post a pic from the dance with some comments from attendees thereafter.

The Shamus awards on Friday were fun at the Busch brewery, where some have accused me of eating two pieces of a cake that was not quite big enough to serve the entire group. This is a libelous notion, but perhaps my losing the short story Shamus was karma….

I was honored to read Ed Gorman’s acceptance speech for receiving the PWA life achievement award, the Eye. Much deserved, and a graceful, modest acceptance from Ed, who had to remain in Iowa at the bat cave (it’s not Batman’s cave, it’s just a cave full of bats).

Some very nice web attention has come up for various of the new MAC books. KISS HER GOODBYE got a strong write-up from the L.A. Review of Books, for example.

Sons of Spade gave BYE BYE, BABY a short but very enthusiastic and insightful review here.

A very flattering review calling me the James Brown of the mystery writing game (my apologies to Gary Phillips, but after all I am the hardest working man in show business now that James is gone) appeared at Bookgeeks.

And I got a nice recommendation from Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego for BYE BYE, BABY.

Finally, the Library Journal had wonderful things to say about THE CONSUMMATA.

My apologies to anyone at the con I didn’t mention. There were so many friends and friendly faces that it was a very pleasant blur. Also great for Barb and me was spending time with son Nate and his girl Abby, who came to the Crusin’ dance. I am in fact still in St. Louis as I write this on the Monday after the great Bouchercon weekend, spending more time with my fantastic son (he’s fantastic even if it was his idea to go to the horrible psuedo-noir “Drive” yesterday).

Finally, a big shout-out to Jon and Ruth Jordan, the brawn and the beauty.

M.A.C.