Posts Tagged ‘Celebrities’

The Little Death Recording in Chicago, Trash ‘n’ Treasures

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

This Monday (July 13), at a recording studio in Chicago, my novel for audio, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER: THE LITTLE DEATH, was recorded with Stacy Keach and a gifted cast, including Second City/SNL star Tim Kazurinsky. The cast did great and producer/director Carl Amari was generous enough to allow me to sit in and give occasional direction myself. My pal Mike Cornelison (ELIOT NESS himself) came along from Des Moines to play Captain Pat Chambers of Homicide.

Max and Stacy Keach and Carl Amari
Max with Stacy Keach and Carl Amari

Max and Tim Kazurinsky
Max with Tim Kazurinsky

Mike Cornelison with Stacy Keach
Mike Cornelison and Stacy Keach

This three-hour, full-cast audio novel will be released by Blackstone Audio in October, and I have to say I’m really, really excited about it. Hearing Stacy read THE GOLIATH BONE was a thrill, but to be in the studio with him reading my lines (with Tim, Mike and other wonderful Chicago actors) made the thirteen year-old Mike Hammer fan in me very happy indeed.

“Barbara Allan,” which is to say Barb and I, are pleased to announce that we have won the following:

The Romantic Times 2008 Toby Bromberg Award for Most Humorous Mystery

Here is how the Romantic Times editors describe the honor:

“The Toby Bromberg Award is named in honor of RT’s longtime mystery reviewer, who passed away in 2002. To honor Toby Bromberg’s memory and to celebrate her enthusiasm and love for authors and the mystery genre, we have created an annual award to be given in her name.

“This year we are proud to announce the seventh recipient of the Toby Bromberg Award for Most Humorous Mystery Novel, Barbara Allan aka Max Allan Collins and Barbara Collins, for ANTIQUES FLEE MARKET, published by Kensington.”

Barb and I are thrilled to receive this award, the first such honor for the Trash ‘n’ Treasures series (although not our first nomination), and are particularly happy that the book and series were singled out for this particular award. The humor aspect of those books — often commented on by EQMM reviewer Jon Breen, who has expressed a suspicion that we are spoofing the cozy genre in the Brandy Borne and Mother mysteries — is second only in our collective mind to character.

We would be the first to admit that the mystery itself is of a secondary concern to us. We often comment on the fact that the series we love most — Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe novels — is one whose entries we can re-visit again and again, rarely remembering “who did it,” but having so much fun with Archie and his boss that we don’t care. In fact, we like it, because we can enjoy the stories again and again.

Antques Bizarre

This is not to say we don’t care about the mystery. Just that it’s not our major concern, although we’ve tried to work on that side of things, and the forthcoming ANTIQUES BIZARRE (next March, as usual from Kensington) is probably the best mystery we’ve done so far.

ANTIQUES FLEE MARKET will be out in paperback in November, with a terrific new cover. In the spirit of humor, we’ve been lobbying for more comic-oriented artwork and Kensington has really come through for us, as you can see here.

I know some of my fans — the hard-bitten Nate Heller and Quarry bunch — avoid these novels. I often have male fans tell me their wives love the books. Fine. But be secure enough in your masculinity to read these, because humor plays a big part in most of my work, and these novels are the funniest stuff I (help) turn out.

Whether we’re spoofing the genre of not, well…let me fill you in on how we came to do this series. Barb and I had done two standalone novels together. The first, REGENERATION, was a minor paperback original bestseller; the second, BOMBSHELL, our Marilyn Monroe Meets Nikita Khrushchev thriller, wound up at Five Star, where it was one of that small company’s best sellers…but we’d had higher hopes. We thought it was time to find a series to do together.

Antques Bizarre

Michaela Hamilton, who had been my first Nate Heller editor at NAL, had moved to Kensington Books. We were chatting on the phone about how nice it would be to work together again, but she said, “I’m doing cozies…that’s not exactly your cup of cyanide.” (Cozy editors talk that way.) (Actually, they don’t. I made that up.) Anyway, I said Barb and I had been wanting to do a series together, and that we were big Christie fans (although Christie isn’t really that cozy — those are nasty, violent books) and would love to take a swing at the genre.

We wrote a proposal from my notion of doing a Red Hat Society mystery, with an elderly eccentric detective and her forty-something widowed daughter. Michaela wrote back and said we didn’t understand her market. She needed a young-ish female protagonist, although a sidekick older gal was fine, as well as the following: a cute pet, a memorable, even exotic setting and an overall gimmick (i.e., crossword puzzles, recipes, etc.).

As a writing exercise (since I generally don’t believe in writing to market), we took a shot. We made the young protagonist a Prozac-addled divorcee of around thirty who had screwed up her marriage in the big city and went running home to Mama. We made Mama a bipolar diva of local theater who made Auntie Mame look low-key. For the cute pet, we (not caring for cats) gave our girls a diabetic and blind dog (based on a pet of ours we’d recently lost). For the town, the “exotic” setting was just our hometown, changing Muscatine to “Serenity” (after the TV series), making it an “antiquing” town (which to some degree it was). For our gimmick, we had antiques, but didn’t go the big ticket route, Sotheby’s and so on, rather having our girls be flea market, yard sale and even dumpster-diving bottom feeders. We gave our sample chapters outrageous puns for titles, and put on a supposedly helpful (but mostly just funny) tips for collecting antiques.

When we were finished, we really liked what we had (two chapters and a proposal), but thought Michaela would roll her eyes at our blatantly tongue-in-cheek, even subversive approach. We figured we had something Kensington would turn down, but that we might be able to market elsewhere. Instead, we got the best acceptance letter ever — one word in an e-mail: “More.”

We are working on the fifth novel now — ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF. As for how we can collaborate and stay married, I’ll save that for a later update.


Message from M.A.C. – September 19, 2008

Friday, September 19th, 2008

This is probably my record year for number of books published (and for me that’s saying something, I know). But I’m really proud of what Barb and I have accomplished of late, and want to make sure you’re aware of what’s out there already, and what’s coming.

Antiques Flee Market

In September from Kensington, “Barbara Allan” (Barb and me) will have the reprint of ANTIQUES MAUL (ISBN 978-0-7582-1194-1) out and the new “Trash ‘n’ Treasures” mystery, too: ANTIQUES FLEE MARKET (ISBN 978-0-7582-1195-8), with a Christmas theme. It’s been getting the best reviews of the series yet. These are funny cozies with an edge, and fans of my tougher stuff may be surprised by how much they’ll enjoy these…and we’ve just signed to do two more!

The Goliath Bone

Very soon Harcourt will publish the first new Mike Hammer novel in over a decade — THE GOLIATH BONE (ISBN 978-0-15-101454-5), which I completed from Mickey Spillane’s nearly finished manuscript. This is the first of at least three Hammers I will complete from manuscripts Mickey entrusted to me. To say this is an honor and a thrill is an extreme understatement. It’s also getting great advance notices. Do not miss this one!

The success of THE LAST QUARRY (which has been made into the film THE LAST LULLABY, on the festival circuit now) has led to the new prequel, THE FIRST QUARRY (ISBN 0-8439-5965-7), which Hard Case will publish in paperback in the fall. This is also getting wonderful advance reviews. This one is definitely not cozy, and could be the nastiest noir novel I’ve ever written….

I’m pleased to report that in December VCI Home Entertainment is bringing out my documentary, CAVEMAN: V.T. HAMLIN & ALLEY OOP on DVD! It’s a great package, with an extended Will Eisner interview and a panel discussion at a Des Moines Historical Museum screen of the film that features me, producer Mark Lambert and the current OOP writer and artist team, Jack and Carole Bender. CAVEMAN has been seen several times on Iowa PBS as part of the celebration of the OOP strip’s 75th Anniversary. (This means all of my indie films will now be available on DVD.)

For the past several months, Barb and I have been out in the midwest, appearing at bookstores and libraries and other events, talking about various books (including those just mentioned) and other projects. Here’s what we’ve been talking about:

Red Sky in Morning

STRIP FOR MURDER from Berkley Prime Crime — a snazzy trade paperback, a Rex Stout-style mystery that combines graphic novel elements (my longtime MS. TREE cohort Terry Beatty did the comic art), and is a lot of fun. The story is loosely based on the notorious Al Capp (Li’l Abner)/Ham Fisher (Joe Palooka) feud.

RED SKY IN MORNING (ISBN 978-0-06-089255-5) is by “Patrick Culhane” — the byline I began with the Wyatt Earp/Al Capone novel, BLACK HATS (in mass-market paperback now, ISBN 978-0-06-089254-8). This one is special to me, a book I’ve planned for decades based on my father’s experiences in the Navy in WW 2 as a young officer in charge of black sailors handling explosives in the Pacific. It’s my CAINE MUTINY, hinging on the infamous Port Chicago disaster, but there is a mystery. You may have this on the way — please don’t miss RED SKY. EQMM’s Jon Breen says it’s one of my best.

In movie/TV world, my New York Times bestseller AMERICAN GANGSTER picked up the “Scribe” for Best Novel at San Diego Comic Con from the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. Current tie-ins of mine included THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR (ISBN 978-0-425-22313-0) and X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE (ISBN 978-0-06-168771-6), and the second CRIMINAL MINDS novel, KILLER PROFILE (ISBN 978-0-451-22382-1). The third CRIMINAL MINDS, FINISHING SCHOOL (ISBN 978-0-451-22547-4), is out in November from NAL (my fave of the 3).

X Files: I Want to Believe
Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz at Forbidden Planet

In non-literary news, I’m thrilled to report that my ’60s garage band, the Daybreakers, has been inducted into the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Over the Labor Day weekend, we appeared with seven other inductee bands in concert at Arnold’s Park on Lake Okoboji, to a packed house of over 1000 rock fans. What made this truly special was that the original line-up of the band — guitarist Mike Bridges, bassist Chuck Bunn, guitarist Dennis Maxwell and drummer Buddy Busch (and me) — were able to assemble from around the country and reunite both to be honored and to perform for the first time together since 1968. We did half an hour and, frankly, we killed — a magical set in which we took a major risk, doing mostly original material at an oldies show!

Of course, our major claim to fame nationally (make that our only claim to fame nationally) was our infamous single “Psychedelic Siren”/”Afterthoughts.” “Siren” is one of the most anthologized garage-band songs of the ’60s, currently available on a Sundazed CD called GARAGE BAND ’66: Speak of the Devil. We managed to reproduce the siren sound on stage and the crowd went nuts. We also played live, for the first time, “I Need Somebody,” an original written by our late great bandmate, Bruce Peters.

Daybreakers Hall of Fame Collection

A limited edition of 100 CDs called “THE DAYBREAKERS aka Crusin’ — The Hall of Fame Collection” was pressed for the show. This is essentially the long-out-of-print “Thirty Year Plan,” and is filled with Daybreakers/Crusin’ recordings, studio, demo, live, from 1967’s “Psychedelic Siren” to the ’90s songs from the “Mommy” movies. We have about forty of these left.

For $15 postpaid (plus $7.50 for shipping outside the U.S.), you can get a copy of “The Hall of Fame Collection.” For $25 (plus $7.50 for shipping outside the U.S.), you can get a copy signed by the entire band (there are only 15 of these).

[2013 EDIT: All options temporarily sold out! We’ll recheck our remaining stock and make a new post soon!]

We have uploaded footage of “Psychedelic Siren” from our Hall of Fame performance. Check back soon for more clips!

And Crusin’ has added Daybreaker bassist Chuck Bunn to the mix, and will be performing more in the midwest than in recent years. Stay tuned!