Posts Tagged ‘Deadly Beloved’

21 Years Later—A Third Shamus!

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

I’m afraid my long streak of losing the Shamus has been broken – “So Long, Chief,” the Spillane/Collins story that appeared in the Strand magazine and was nominated for an Edgar – won the Shamus Best Short Story award Friday night at the PWA banquet in Long Beach. Very gratifying to have the Spillane/Collins collaboration receive this kind of validation.

Bouchercon 2014
MAC Receiving 2014 Shamus Best Short Story for “So Long, Chief”

All the winners are at this link.

Bouchercon 2014
Left to right: Grant Bywaters, Sue Grafton, Brad Parks, Lachlan Smith, M. Ruth Myers, M.A.C.

The event was well-attended – over one hundred in a packed room at Gladstone’s restaurant – and the reviews were generally very good. Barb and I filled in for usual hosts Bob Randisi and Christine Matthews, as Bob is recovering from eye surgery and not able to travel. The food was quite good, and the service too, and the waterfront setting nicely noir; but the venue wasn’t ideal – poor sound system and rather crowded, with a cramped presentation area. But a certain sense of intimacy was created.

Bouchercon 2014
Barb and S.J. Rozan, who is about to present the Best Paperback Award

Speeches were short and to the point, and warm memories of Jerry Healy and Marty Meyers, both of whom we lost this year, made for a somewhat bittersweet mood (as did the absence of Bob and Christine). The two big names in female P.I. fiction made a rare joint appearance, as Sara Paretsky presented the Best Novel Award, and Sue Grafton picked up the “Hammer” award for her character Kinsey Millhone – that award, named for Mike Hammer, goes to a character that has had a big impact on the genre as well as longevity.

Bouchercon 2014
Barb presenting the Hammer Award to Sue Grafton

For me – beyond the highlight of winning a Shamus after a 21-year dry spell, what the Private Eye Writers of America banquet meant was the end of a rewarding if punishing first full day at Bouchercon.

Bouchercon 2014
Kensington editor Michaela Hamilton, agent Dominick Abel, and Barbara Collins

It began with a breakfast with my TOR/Forge editor, the funny and very smart Claire Eddy, as we discussed Nate Heller’s future (which is of course in the past). At eleven I did a two-hour interview (with a full camera crew) for Thomas & Mercer, creating material for a new Kindle mystery site. Then back to the convention hotel (the modernistic and rather unfinished-looking Hyatt) for an hour-and-a-half signing of ASK NOT at a TOR-sponsored hospitality suite event. From there came a 3:00 panel on obscure but worthwhile mystery writers (I did Ennis Willie, Horace McCoy and Roy Huggins, as well as made a case for Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series as a hardboiled private eye series of comparable stature to Hammett, Chandler, and Spillane). Always fun to be on a panel with the great Gary Phillips, and audience members were taking notes like a bunch of court reporters.

Bouchercon 2014
Left to right: Sarah Weinman, M.A.C., Gary Phillips, Charles Kelly, Sara J. Henry, Peter Rozovsky

Immediately thereafter, I appeared on a panel on screenwriting and adapting books to film – well-attended and pretty good, but a little “inside” – after which Barb and I ran over to the restaurant to put the PWA banquet in motion.

First thing Saturday, Barb was on a terrific panel – one I frankly had figured would be pretty thin (pets in mysteries) – where she really knocked it out of the park. The other panelists were also very strong and (almost) as funny as Barb. After that, we did our only Con-sponsored signing, as there had been no time the day before to sign after my two panels. Immodestly I will say that we had a huge line and I signed non-stop for an hour and a half, during much of which Barb was signing, too. Such great people, such enthusiastic readers. What a joy.

More meetings followed, with editors from Thomas & Mercer and Kensington, all positive and fun. T & M presented me with a plaque for selling 175,000 copies of SUPREME JUSTICE in June 2014 alone. Our friend and editor Michaela Hamilton (whose guy Eugene George generously provided some of the pics here) talked to Barb and me about the ANTIQUES series, and some Caleb York brainstorming went on as well.

The con flew by, obviously, and since we’re having nasty Iowa weather (it’s 12 degrees as I write this), that California sun (and Ocean breeze) (and palm trees) were tough to leave behind. It was gratifying to meet and talk to so many fans, but unfortunately a lot of them were surprised to find us there. Both Barb and I were left out of the program book, though we had submitted mini-bios and pics as requested; and my name was spelled inconsistently in the schedule of panels and on my name tag (lots of “Allen”). It’s a byproduct of Bouchercon being a fan-run con – though that is part of its charm – because the tastes of local fans can lead to some sloppy handling of authors attending.

Bouchercon 2014
Phoef Sutton, M.A.C., Lee Child, and Lee Goldberg

SPOILER ALERT: Bitch session follows.

I will present my personal award for general crappiness to American Airlines. Sunday was a nightmare getting home. American Airline neglected to inform us that the last leg of our flight home (Moline) had been cancelled – we only found out semi-accidentally, getting ready to board a flight to Dallas/Fort Worth when we volunteered to check our carry on items. At that point the counter guy stumbled onto the info that we couldn’t get home from Dallas today. So we didn’t board and sought out the customer service area, where a long line of displaced customers stood like Titanic passengers hoping to find room in a life boat. There one chatty employee was blithely handling everybody in an I-have-all-the-time-in-the-world manner.

I had better luck with an AA 800 line rep, although much of the news was bad – even if we went to Dallas/Ft. Worth and got a hotel room, there were no Moline flights out the next day. Our Long Beach Bouchercon trip seemed about to include two days (minimum) in Dallas. Finally I re-routed to Chicago, where there were also no Moline flights available, but with some difficulty I was able to line up a rental car for us to drive home. Again, no help from AA – they seized just about everybody-on-the-flight’s carry-on bags (ours had already been sized and deemed well within bounds by AA staff on entry of the terminal), and sent them to baggage claim, dooming us all to lost time. Then, to top off their service from hell, they gave us the wrong baggage claim carousel number – I just happened to spot what looked like our carry-ons down at another carousel, where they were taking a ride to oblivion. So AA cost us yet more time, when it was already 11 p.m. The Enterprise rental car outfit was terrific, however, as was National, the sister company through whose 800 number I was able to find a car to get us home.

At 3:15 a.m.

So farewell, American Airlines! Allow me to middle-finger salute you as you fly into that so richly deserved oblivion where you dispatched the carry-ons that you had so feverishly wrested from our grasp.

* * *

Here’s a terrific review of ASK NOT at I Love a Mystery. Full disclosure: it’s by Larry Coven, who appeared in my films MOMMY’S DAY and REAL TIME: SEIGE AT LUCAS STREET MARKET.

And check out this nice DEADLY BELOVED review at the Just a Guy That Likes to Read blog.

M.A.C.

Quarry on Cinemax

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

The QUARRY pilot, recently green-lit by HBO/Cinemax, has been cooking for about a year. I was never involved as a writer, but Graham Gordy and Michael D. Fuller, the two writers who wrote the pilot – and are developing a first-season story arc – began by spending two hours on the phone with me. I was hugely impressed not only by their intelligence and creativity, but by their excellent taste – they love the QUARRY books. Their familiarity with the material, and the way they “got” it, made me feel I was in good hands. They asked all the right questions.

I have been promised two scripts per season, if the pilot is picked up. I’ve read and given notes on the pilot script, and I’m very happy – the writers solved problems that I knew they would face, and did so in ways that hadn’t occurred to me. I was thrilled (though surprised) to find out that the series would be set in “period” – that is, the early seventies. As I’ve said elsewhere, you know you’ve been around a while when something that was contemporary when you wrote it is presented as a period piece by filmmakers.

QUARRY (and that was my original title for the novel, not THE BROKER) was begun at the University of Iowa in 1971. It did not get a particularly warm reception in Workshop (the instructor, William Price Fox, was dismissive, but then that was typical) though two or three in the class thought it was great. I completed it after graduation, in 1972, after selling BAIT MONEY and NO CURE FOR DEATH. It took three or four years for QUARRY to sell, and I’d almost given up on it. When it sold, I immediately got a contract to write three more.

At the time, I thought it was the most original thing I’d done. It took a step past the Richard Stark “Parker” books that had so influenced “Nolan,” by challenging the reader with a killer (not a thief) in a first-person (not “safe” third-person) narrative. I still think Quarry is one of my two major contributions to the mystery genre, the other being Nathan Heller (and the combination of history and noir). I would put the PERDITION saga in next position, and MS. TREE right after that.

I am very hopeful that QUARRY will become a series, and a really good one – it can be done (see JUSTIFIED). I know that both HBO and its sister Cinemax wanted to do it – that Cinemax, because it’s in the midst of a major re-branding with an action/adventure slant, wound up with it. If the casting goes well (one of the key aspects), QUARRY should be in good shape. They have a terrific director (John Hillcoat) lined up, and the producers are also top-notch. I will probably have some kind of producing capacity myself, which will be essentially creative consulting. That’s still being negotiated.

The news was all over the Net last week, and you can read the first story that came out right here.

I will not post every re-hash of that information, but here’s a typical example.

And I was happy to see Jeff Pierce include the news at the Rap Sheet.

I’ve done only one interview on the subject, for a local paper, the Quad City Times, written by David Burke (who was on the ROAD TO PERDITION junket!).

* * *

I am working on ANTIQUES A GO GO. Barb gave me a great first-draft, very funny with great NYC color (it’s set at a comics con in Manhattan). I’m having a blast.

We went to two entertaining movies this weekend: a really strong 3D conversion of JURASSIC PARK, which actually improves the movie, and a respectful re-boot of THE EVIL DEAD. The latter is not really a comedy, despite what some reviews say, and harkens more to the first grim EVIL DEAD than the overtly comic EVIL DEAD 2 and ARMY OF DARKNESS. If you are an EVIL DEAD fan, as Barb and Nate and I are, you will want to sit through the credits for a nice surprise.

I have a couple more links to share, starting with this nice inclusion of DEADLY BELOVED and THE FIRST QUARRY on a Hard Case Crime “essentials” list.

And the reprint of KILL YOUR DARLINGS has elicited this nice review.

M.A.C.

Bittersweet Edgar Noms

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

The Edgar nominations were announced last week, and I was pleased to see two books I contributed essays to were chosen in the Best Critical/Biographical section: BOOKS TO DIE FOR and IN PURSUIT OF SPENSER (Matt Clemens co-authored the essay in the latter, dealing with the Spenser TV series). I admit to my disappointment that Jim Traylor and my MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN didn’t get a nod. I am never surprised to be absent in Edgar fiction categories – that’s the biggest crap shoot on the planet – but I felt we had a decent shot in this smaller, more specific category. There’s always the Anthonys….

Today I doing a final pass on a Mike Hammer story, “So Long, Chief,” developed from a particularly strong ten-page Spillane fragment. It will likely appear in The Strand, and I am gradually completing enough Hammer stories to see the possibility of a collection glimmering on the horizon.

Matt Clemens and I met this week and put the finishing touches on WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU. The book definitely reflects my interest in the wave of Nordic mystery fiction, which I’m mostly familiar with via foreign TV adaptations. Barb and I watched a new Varg Veum film last night, for example, and have gone through all of the available Wallanders (as well as the Brit version). The longer TV cut of GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is superior to the films (apparently it’s not uncommon for TV movies and series to have limited theatrical releases in that part of the world, before expanded television versions are aired). While it’s dangerous to look at a country’s output of crime fiction as a genre unto itself, I am fascinated by the Nordic mix of political intrigue and social ills. WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU doesn’t reflect the political side in a major way, but does (I think) represent a move away from the CSI-oriented forensics thrillers that Matt and I have previously explored.

* * *

A nice review of the 2007 Ms. Tree prose novel, DEADLY BELOVED, has turned up on the web.

My friend, the fine writer Ed Gorman, wrote a very generous piece on SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT.

Here’s a so so review of SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, a patronizing piece from my point of view. It also quotes a PW review from a reviewer who doesn’t know the meaning of the word “parody” (hint: not interchangeable with pastiche).

More SEDUCTION reviews are available at Goodreads.

And here’s a nice, insightful review of “A Little Faith,” the story Matt Clemens and I did for the anthology DARK FAITH INVOCATIONS.

M.A.C.

Target Lancer Book Tour Stops Announced

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

See elsewhere on this page for the full list of dates with start times for the TARGET LANCER tour.

New York remains the center of publishing and we have many friends there, as well as a few relatives. So the hurricane bearing down upon the East Coast is much on our minds, and we request that your thoughts and prayers be with the residents of the states getting the brunt of this latest blast of extreme weather.

I continue to work on ASK NOT, the follow-up to TARGET LANCER. This has been a brutal, even punishing experience, due to the mass of research material and the difficulties that material presents. What I have been wrestling with throughout is how much time compression to use, in order to make the narrative more compelling. That kind of thing is common in writing Heller: balancing the “true detective” mandate of giving an accurate look at history against the need to do an exciting suspense story. Time compression is definitely the biggest liberty I take, on just about every Heller, and this one is no exception. With luck, I have about two weeks to go.

We will very soon have a You Tube promo for TARGET LANCER that my longtime collaborator Phil Dingeldein shot for me. Phil and I continue to explore doing a new low-budget horror film, probably starring Danielle from AMERICAN PICKERS, on which Phil is a key shooter and occasional director.

Advance TARGET LANCER reviews continue to flow in, like this great one from a first-rate writer, Ron Fortier.

I enjoyed this LADY, GO DIE! review by a reader who is grappling with his dislike of Mike Hammer as a character, or at least certain aspects of Hammer’s character, but is starting to like the books. I would point out to a lot of Hammer’s critics, who don’t like the way he seems to be sadistically enjoying the punishment he dishes out, that Hammer reacts that way when dishing out violence upon bad guys. He’s a selective sadist.

Here’s another LADY, GO DIE! review, short but fun.

A review of DEADLY BELOVED has popped up, after all this time. Generally a decent review, but the reviewer doesn’t quite grasp the larger-than-life, tongue-in-cheek nature of the material.

Similarly, this good review of QUARRY’S EX doesn’t entirely “get” Quarry himself, but it’s fun to see a new, presumably younger reader grappling with the character.

Here’s a cool review of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS MURDER, which will soon be available in a new edition from Thomas & Mercer (both trade paperback and e-book).

A week from the day this appears, Barb and I will be working in the local Obama office. Yes, I am revealing what everyone already knows: that I support the current President. How can the guy who is continuing Mike Hammer vote for a Democrat? (This is a question my friend and partner Jane Spillane must ask herself everyday!) Well, it speaks to some of the character issues that critics are perplexed with above. I think Mike Hammer is a fantastic character, but I wouldn’t vote for him for president. Not that Obama’s opponent is Mike Hammer, by any means. After all, it was a Hammer-like team sent by my guy that took down Bin Laden.

M.A.C.