Posts Tagged ‘Damned in Paradise’

Note From The Bunker #2

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

[Nate’s note: Before we get to the regularly scheduled Update, we have some breaking news:


Cinemax today officially announced an eight-episode series order to drama pilot Quarry. Production will begin March 30 on location in New Orleans and Tennessee. Created and executive produced by Graham Gordy & Michael D. Fuller. Based on the novels of Max Allan Collins, the show will be directed and executive produced by Greg Yaitanes (Banshee), along with executive producer Steve Golin (True Detective).

Quarry tells the story of Mac Conway (Logan Marshall-Green), a Marine who returns home to Memphis from Vietnam in 1972 and finds himself shunned by those he loves and demonized by the public. As he struggles to cope with his experiences at war, Conway is drawn into a network of killing and corruption that spans the length of the Mississippi River. Jodi Balfour, Peter Mullan, Nikki Amuka-Bird and Damon Herriman co-star, along with Jamie Hector, Edoardo Ballerini and Skipp Sudduth. “This nuanced and dynamic show marks an exciting moment in the evolution of Cinemax programming,” said HBO’s Michael Lombardo.

An HBO Entertainment production in association with Anonymous Content, the series is also executive produced by Matt DeRoss, David Kanter, Max Allan Collins and Ken Levin. Additional writers on the series include Jennifer Schuur and Max Allan Collins.

Cinemax has been making strides in original programming with dramas Banshee and The Knick, the latter earning the sister HBO network its first awards nominations.

And now, back to the Update….]

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Here’s the first major review for the upcoming Mike Hammer novel, KILL ME, DARLING – and it’s a great one from Publisher’s Weekly no less:

Kill Me, Darling

Set in 1954, Collins’s seventh posthumous collaboration with Mike Hammer creator Spillane (after 2014’s King of the Weeds) is one of his best, liberally dosed with the razor-edged prose and violence that marked the originals. The New York City PI has hit the bottle hard after his longtime assistant and love, Velda Sterling, abandoned him with a one-word note. Then Mike’s friend on the NYPD, Pat Chambers, tells him that Velda has surfaced in Miami, on the arm of Nolly Quinn, a notorious mob-connected pimp. Mike cleans himself up and heads south to rescue Velda from Quinn, only to find that she doesn’t want to be rescued. Collins faithfully follows Spillane’s successful formula, including frequent gunplay, menacing thugs, and betrayal. He even matches Spillane’s colorful turns of phrase (e.g., “My bullet shattered his smile on its way through him and out of the back of his head”). Agent: Dominick Abel, Dominick Abel Literary Agency. (Mar.)

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I am still working on the new Quarry novel and might finish this week, if all goes well. But a writer never knows. I often say that I never get writer’s block, which is the kind of boast than can catch up with you. No writer’s block, that’s true in its way, but I do have bad days.

A typical bad writing day for me happens as follows. I have a very good writing day, turning out more pages than usual, and I am floating on a cloud of genius. Then, that night, going to bed around midnight, having gone blissfully and quickly asleep, I wake up at 1:30 a.m. Wide awake. I do my best to get right back to sleep, but no go. I go downstairs, read something until I get sleepy, which takes an hour to two hours. Then I sleep in my recliner for a while, wake up after a while and trudge back to the bedroom, where I get to sleep right away. But I wake up at the usual time, after a very disrupted night’s “rest.”

The writing day that follows is almost always a disaster. I do write. But I am not my usual nimble self. What’s normal for me is ten to fifteen pages of finished draft. Last week, after my rocky night, I spent all day on four pages.

Some of that has to do with the research that is now required of a Quarry novel, now that they have become historical books themselves, in their quirky way. I spend as much time chasing details on Google or in reference works as I do writing – not that different from the Heller process.

But the way I do a Quarry novel is much different than a Heller. Because of the historical crimes involved, a Heller novel is tightly plotted, with each chapter detailed in at least a paragraph in a document that can be anywhere from ten to thirty pages long. With Quarry, my chapter outline reverts (not surprisingly) to the approach of my early career, with each chapter indicated by a sentence or two. For QUARRY IN THE BLACK, my outline says for chapter one: “Quarry gets job from Broker.” Another says: “Quarry and Southern gal connect at club.” That’s it. The rest is done on the fly.

That really works for Quarry, but if I’m having an off day? He is just not himself. Like I am not. Sometimes I can power through it. Sometimes I can come back in the evening (which I did with the four pages mentioned above, which turned into seven) but not always. Being older doesn’t help.

And there’s that other thing that writers never talk about – that as writers we change from day to day. Make that second to second. Back in the ‘80s, before word-processing programs automatically saved every now and then, I lost an entire chapter of the Eliot Ness novel, THE DARK CITY. It was devastating. When I knew the chapter was gone, really really gone, I started over and did my best to remember it.

Of course, I couldn’t. The chapter, as it now exists, covers the same ground. But it’s not as good as the one I lost. If I were to lose this little essay and start over, it would be substantially different and none of the phrasing would be replicated. In the mid-‘80s, I lost a chapter of PRIMARY TARGET (aka QUARRY’S VOTE) and the same process happened: I tried to remember it and only came up with a shadow of what it had been.

If a writer starts working on a story or chapter in a novel on Monday morning, even working from a detailed outline, it will be substantially different that if he waited till Tuesday afternoon. We, like what we write, are works in progress. We hope it’s progress, anyway.

A number of people lately have asked me what order to read the Quarry novels in. Chronological would seem to make sense, like starting with THE FIRST QUARRY, moving to QUARRY’S CHOICE, then QUARRY aka THE BROKER, sliding the later-written books into continuity. But THE BROKER was written when I was in my early twenties; THE FIRST QUARRY and QUARRY’S CHOICE were written by a man in his sixties. Do you understand why my advice would be to read the books in the order I wrote them? Because the writer who did the first four Quarry novels was a very different one.

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Here’s an okay review of SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, but the reviewer doesn’t quite get it….

Here’s a fun review of DAMNED IN PARADISE.

And now, with the blessing of being snowed in, I will head back to the bunker. Only I’m already there.


Memorable or Favorite or Best or Greatest…?

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
Complex 90

I am writing this in our hotel room in St. Louis, where Barb and I have spent a delightful Mother’s Day weekend with our son Nate and his bride Abby. Great food, great company, even great weather. We caught a crime movie called MUD, easily the best film I’ve seen this year, with a definite SLINGBLADE feel (and that’s a good thing) – writer/director Jeff Nichols has a real feel for the South and its rhythms, and has assembled an amazing cast. See it.

But I hate this keyboard, so this will be short. Also, I spent last week writing two lengthy articles for the Huffington Post and Flavorwire (I have one or two more to do) to promote COMPLEX 90, and am “talked” out. These will be posted in the next week or so. This is hard work that doesn’t pay, strictly PR, and the subject this time – spy novels – is not one I’m as familiar with as the previous ones I did Huff Post pieces on (detective novels and controversial comics).

What I hate about these things is that I say my piece and then get beat up over my choices. That most of the responses are from idiots doesn’t help much. I have asked that my list be labeled “memorable” spy novels (the Huff piece is movies from spy novels), to get away from this “best” or “greatest” concept that always causes dissent. Of course, these people will argue with your “favorite” choices, too, as if that weren’t inherently a personal call.

This coming week I will do some more of this freebie writing to promote the new book, and will begin prep work on KING OF THE WEEDS, the last of the substantial Spillane/Hammer manuscripts. The new novel is a sequel to BLACK ALLEY, so I’ll be spending a lot of time with it. Then I’ll spend time with Mickey’s manuscript, reading and re-reading it, making notes, marking up my work copy. Probably two weeks prep before writing begins. This is bittersweet, because KING will mark the completion of the basic goal I set for myself in taking on Mickey’s unpublished work – getting these six additional Hammers completed (and DEAD STREET and the Morgan the Raider sequel, THE CONSUMMATA). I very much want to keep going with the shorter but significant manuscripts that remain, but I am relieved and even thrilled that I’ve been able to see these major works see completion and publication.

COMPLEX 90 reviews are starting to roll in, like this great one from Crime Fiction Lover.

This is a very cool one, too, from Impedementia.

This one from Bullet Reviews is quirky but favorable.

Boing Boing has a first chapter excerpt.

David William continues his short but sweet Nate Heller reviews with sharp looks at DAMNED IN PARADISE and BLOOD AND THUNDER.

My old buddy Ed Gorman (such a great writer – you’re missing out if you’re not reading him) was nice enough to post an article I did a while back on my favorite crime novels.

Finally, here’s part two of the Gary Sandy-starring live production of ENCORE FOR MURDER.


January Kindle Sale: DAMNED IN PARADISE, $2.99

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

This month, Amazon is featuring Nathan Heller novel DAMNED IN PARADISE on sale for $2.99 on the Amazon Kindle store. Nominated for the 1997 Shamus Award for Best P.I. Hardcover, DAMNED IN PARADISE is a great entry into the Heller series, and one not to miss for already fans. Here’s Publishers Weekly‘s write-up:

“Seven of the eight volumes in this series, which blends classic American crime with the fictional efforts of detective Nate Heller, have been nominated for Shamus awards (two have won). This tale warrants another. Collins gives us pre-statehood Hawaii and the Massie case, which revolved around the alleged abduction and rape of a Navy lieutenant’s wife and the subsequent murder of a suspect by lieutenant Thomas Massie and his mother-in-law. The sensational crime stirred racial hatreds in Hawaii and stoked a movement to place the territory under military rather than civilian rule. It’s 1932, and Heller, wrapping up his involvement in the Lindbergh kidnapping case (Stolen Away), lunches with Clarence Darrow. Darrow has been lured out of semi-retirement to defend Massie, his mother-in-law Grace Fortescue and two seamen against charges of murdering one of the five mixed-race youths accused of raping Thalia Massie. As Darrow’s investigator, Heller cuts through the incompetence, corruption and confusion that surrounded both the original crime and the subsequent murder of the suspect. Collins’s vivid sketch of a deeply divided polyglot culture is spiced with colorful real-life characters in Darrow, Buster Crabbe and Chang Apana, the Hawaiian policeman who served as a model for Charlie Chan.”

A good number of Max’s other novels are on good deals right now too — click this link for an Amazon search — with most digital titles under 5 bucks. Now’s a great time to load that Kindle up for the coming year. And all these books are also available in handsome physical editions at all major online retailers as well as your local bookseller through Stay tuned below for your regularly scheduled update.