Posts Tagged ‘Interviews’

Complex 90 Out Today

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
COMPLEX 90 Audiobook

Hardcover:

E-Book:

Audio CD:

Audio MP3 CD:

Actually, COMPLEX 90 – the new Mike Hammer novel – will be published tomorrow, since I write these blog posts a day in advance. The cover we’re showing off here is the Blackstone audio version, read by Stacy Keach. I haven’t heard it yet, but it’s one of the greatest joys of my career to listen to Stacy reading these Spillane/Collins novels on audio.

This is, I think, one of the strongest of the collaborative Hammers, as it answers a lot of questions about Mike and Velda’s relationship, and it’s a sequel to perhaps the Mickey’s best book of the ‘60s – THE GIRL HUNTERS. Yes, the Dragon (the surviving half) is back. What great fun, writing about Mike Hammer in his espionage agent mode in a book begun by Mickey at the height of the James Bond spy craze. Fun, too, imagining Mickey as Mike in a movie playing in your demented brain. Well, my demented brain, anyway.

People often ask how I decide what order to do these books in – I had half a dozen substantial (100 pages or more) Spillane “Hammer” manuscripts to choose from. GOLIATH BONE was a no-brainer choice – it was the final book Mickey was working on, and was the longest manuscript (of the Hammers, that is – DEAD STREET was shy only of the last three chapters). Also, it had a 9/11 aspect that threatened to date it. So it was first up.

THE BIG BANG was a great ‘60s novel, with Hammer taking on drug racketeers, and just a great manuscript from Mickey, with one of his most outrageous endings. It won second position as a way to really show off Mike at his best. KISS HER GOODBYE, with its ‘70s setting and themes, was a natural progression. I held back the greatest find – LADY, GO DIE!, the unfinished sequel to I, THE JURY – for the fourth position, because my initial contract was for three books, and I wanted something very strong to launch the second trio, particularly if I had to change publishers…which I did.

COMPLEX 90 needed to be held back a while, because the anti-Commie aspect of it would only court trouble with the Hammer haters. I needed Mike to be back for a while before going there. Also, though Mickey wrote about Russian espionage in ONE LONELY NIGHT and THE GIRL HUNTERS, the Cold War theme is not what Hammer is best known for.

Shortly (yet this month) I will begin work on KING OF THE WEEDS, a novel designed by Mickey as a sequel to BLACK ALLEY and as the final Hammer novel. Mickey set it aside after 9/11 seemed to require Mike Hammer to wade into the war on terror. So these six novels begin with the final Hammer novel (THE GOLIATH BONE), and wind up with what Mickey had intended to be the final novel (KING OF THE WEEDS), making that the penultimate one, I guess.

Is this the end of the Spillane/Collins Hammer stories? Probably not. I am expanding short Hammer fragments into short stories (most recently in The Strand, “So Long, Chief”), and in two or three more stories will have enough for a collection. There’s also the possibility of doing a book that offers prose versions of the two audio plays. And there are three more significant Hammer fragments that I hope to turn into novels. When I say “substantial” unfinished manuscript, I mean that Mickey left behind at least one hundred pages and often plot and character notes.

When I say “significant” unfinished manuscript, I mean at least forty pages and sometimes plot and character notes.

I am hopeful readers and my current publisher will agree that the Mike Hammer canon should be completed. I see no reason for me to do original Hammer stories, not with the wealth of Spillane material at my fingertips. There are even non-Hammer fragments that could be Hammer-ized if need be. If the movie happens, anything is possible.

* * *

Last week was taken up with preparing materials for my producing partner, Ken Levin, to take with him to LA for meetings. Barb and I wrote up a TV proposal for the ANTIQUES series, and I put together an Eliot Ness in Cleveland TV proposal. In addition, I did a full-scale rewrite of “House of Blood,” turning it from an 85-page feature film script into a 58-page TV pilot script.

This week I’ll be meeting with Matt Clemens to work on the plotting of SUPREME JUSTICE, my second Thomas & Mercer novel. My friend Brad Schwartz and I have been working on a Teddy Roosevelt project, and the screen treatment of that will be finished probably today. Then I will be doing articles for Huffington Post and other web sites to promote COMPLEX 90.

Did I mention it’s coming out today?

A lot of Net activity to report and share.

A Minneapolis radio station has Part One of the Gary Sandy-starring version of MIKE HAMMER: ENCORE FOR MURDER produced at the International Mystery Writers Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky, last year. They will post Part Two next week. This is a lot of fun, but the host gives perhaps the most shambling introduction I have ever heard, starting with a discussion of the character “Mickey Spillane” who debuted on radio before the publication of I, THE JURY. You learn something every day….

The great web site Bookgasm had a lively, complimentary review of ANTIQUES CHOP, now a bouncing baby one week old.

Here’s a nice write-up on COMPLEX 90 at the Geek Girl Project.

I haven’t listened to this interview, but I was on the phone a long time, so be forewarned that you may need Red Bull to make it through. The guys interviewing me were great, but I’m afraid I blathered even more than usual.

Here’s a cool Nerds of a Feather write-up of COMPLEX 90 (out today!) (over doing?).

The news about HOUSE OF BLOOD winning that IMPA award was covered neatly at the Fangoria web site.

The SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT reviews are still comin’ in! Check out this cool one at Nerd Bloggers.

I was very pleased by this NO CURE FOR DEATH review – having a smart reviewer approve of a book written forty years ago is kind of amazing. Not as amazing as me writing it when I was six, but amazing.

This is a very intelligent review of THE BABY BLUE RIP-OFF from a guy who forgives me for being a liberal. (I’m taking something for it.)

And at this late date, we’re still being told that ROAD TO PERDITION was based on a graphic novel. Who’da thunk it?

THE TITANIC MURDERS gets a very nice write-up here.

And, finally, here’s the review you were all waiting for – of SKIN GAME, the second DARK ANGEL book (not published today…but still in print!). Matt Clemens co-wrote the DARK ANGEL novels with me, and they are among our best collaborations, in both our opinions.

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.

Murder Me Quickly

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

No, that’s not the name of a missing Stacy Keach MIKE HAMMER TV movie. It’s what some readers, critics, and editors wish I would provide them with: a murder in the first chapter. Better still, the first page.

Antiques Maul

This is a relatively new phenomenon, at least as pertaining to my work. It first turned up when the editor on the ANTIQUES series (a very good editor at that) was unhappy that the murder in ANTIQUES MAUL didn’t occur until a third of the way into the book. Barb and I did not want to drastically restructure the novel, nor do any elaborate rewrite, so our solution was to begin with the murder and flash back to the events leading up. Our editor put up with that easy fix, but I don’t think she was really happy. (By the way, ANTIQUES MAUL has been long out of print and will be back in paperback, with a new and much better cover, very shortly.)

From time to time, complaints that murders in my mystery novels take too much time to happen began popping up in blog reviews and in Amazon customer comments. SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT has sparked a lot of those, in the midst of mostly highly laudatory responses. You see, the murder victim, the Dr. Frederic Wertham stand-in Dr. Werner Frederick, doesn’t get bumped off till half-way through.

And don’t accuse me of neglecting to give you a spoiler alert, because any mystery reader who doesn’t realize in the first chapter or two that Dr. Frederick is going to be the murder victim is a very new and naive mystery reader indeed. The very Golden Age traditional set-up brings most (not all) of the suspects on stage, and spends a good deal of time with Wertham in order to show why people might want to kill him. To my way of thinking, one function of a good murder mystery is to paint a portrait of the murder victim. If the murder victim is just a pawn in the game of Clue, then why not just play a round of friggin’ Clue? The book should, in part, be a character study of the murder victim.

Didn’t any of these readers and reviewers ever read a Perry Mason novel or see the classic TV series? Maybe not. But Erle Stanley Gardner took his sweet time killing the murder victim, whose identity was almost always obvious to the reader. Murders frequently don’t occur till a third of the way – sometimes half of the way – through many great mysteries by the likes of Agatha Christie and Rex Stout.

Since I read precious few contemporary mysteries these days, maybe the world and time have passed me by. Well, here’s me waving them goodbye and not giving a damn.

Is it TV that has trained people to expect the murder victim right away? Most of the mysteries shows I watch are British, and some – like the droll MIDSOMER MURDERS – do tend to dispatch the murder victim quickly…although not until a good number of suspects have been trotted out, and after we have met the murder victim in the flesh, and have seen what it is about him or her that makes them eminently killable. By the way, an hour mystery show is not a 300-page novel.

Part of why our ANTIQUES editor wants the murder to come quickly is the practice of putting a sample chapter from the next book at the end of the current paperback of the previous book. This is good marketing, and I get it, I really do…but that strikes me as a tail wagging a dog (in this case, Sushi) (a reference for readers of the series). To me, the only valid question is, “What is good for the novel?” Writing with an eye on how the book will be marketed is undignified even for a lout like me.

SEDUCTION has received a lot of praise (and maybe a smidgen of criticism) for spending many of its pages on the comics industry in the 1950s. As I’ve mentioned here before, at the suggestion of my editor and my agent, I trimmed perhaps 10,000 words of material on the subject, in an effort to make sure the book wasn’t too “inside baseball.” One much published (and inaccurate) mini-synopsis of the book has Dr. Frederick murdered on his way to testify at the Congressional hearing on comic books and juvenile delinquency. In the book, however, the doc makes it there alive and well; we get both his slanted, unfair testimony and that of the Bill Gaines stand-in, Bob Price, on stage.

I will be goddamned if I will omit something that important – to the novel, and to me – just to get a corpse on stage a few chapters earlier. I am not at all interested in the Short Attention Span Reader.

This is not to say I don’t occasionally kill the victim right away. In the first Jack and Maggie Starr mystery, A KILLING IN COMICS, the murder does happen at the end of the first chapter…but not until after we’ve met a passel of suspects at the cocktail party where the murder occurs.

The point is, if there is one, that I structure each murder mystery as seems best for the successful rendering of said mystery. In SEDUCTION, getting a full picture of Dr. Frederick, as well as a real sense of the state of the comic book industry in 1954, struck me as key. The overwhelmingly positive response to the novel convinces me I was right.

* * *

This weekend Nate was home for some general computer and web site work, and for some preliminary talk about our possible Kickstarter film project (more soon). He, his mom and I went to the new theater (the Palms) here in Muscatine and saw a really big, really dumb action movie called OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN, which you’ve probably heard described (accurately) as DIE HARD IN THE WHITE HOUSE. It is absurd and often extremely stupid. It is also enormously entertaining, particularly if you like tough guy stuff that ventures into the brutal. Gerard Butler goes on my short list of potential screen Mike Hammers.

Somebody (not me) posted a nice You Tube vid about SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT. Here’s your chance to get an auditory glimpse of the great audio-book reader Dan John Miller (who has done all of the Heller audios to date) as Jack Starr.

The terrific Film Rejects site did a podcast interview with me here. Might be worth your time.

And the SEDUCTION reviews keep comin’, like this one at Celebrity Cafe.

And this one at Pulp 300.

Here’s a comic-oriented review at Con Sequential.

And a short but sweet one at My Big Honkin’ Blogspot.

And another at Atomic Moo (gotta love these blog titles).

Here we are at Kvlt Kvlture.

And finally a perhaps overly analytical review at Chamber Four.

M.A.C.

“Veronica Mars” and Kickstarter

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

It’s been all over the place – not just the Net – that the “Veronica Mars” movie has been funded via Kickstarter. The two-million dollar goal was reached in ten hours (and I contributed, thanks to Nate giving me a heads up). Last time I looked they were at $3.5 mil. “Veronica Mars” is a huge favorite among the Collins clan, and I rate it as probably the best private eye show of all time (make it a tie with “City of Angels”). So this is very good news. No, I did not contribute enough to get a speaking part….

Just as this is happening, serious discussions are under way to do an M.A.C. Kickstarter project. We are looking at doing a “Fangoria/Dreadtime Stories” film here in the Midwest, and the goal will be considerably less than $2 mil. Carl Amari, Phil Dingeldein, Nate Collins and I will be meeting very soon to put together our plan of attack. A draft of the script is written – “House of Blood” – and you can access the radio show version, free right here.

Stay tuned for developments.

Warm Bodies / Oz the Great and Powerful

Barb and I saw two very good movies this weekend – the zombie romance “Warm Bodies” and “Oz the Great and Powerful.” The former initially didn’t grab me, as I think I’m zombied out; but it quickly showed itself to be very much its own quirky animal, clever and funny with a surprisingly good heart. The latter we saw at the new 10-screen cineplex in Muscatine, a lavish movie palace that I can’t believe is in our little home town – we’ve had four shabby screens for so long, I feel like I’m hallucinating. “Oz” is something of a return to “Evil Dead” form for director Sam Raimi, and James Franco is charming and funny as the charlatan at its center. We saw this in an IMAX-style theater in 3-D – excellent, eye-popping 3-D, Raimi really taking advantage of the medium – and it was enormous fun, a valentine to L. Frank Baum and the original MGM musical. It’s not perfect – the pacing can be sluggish and ten or fifteen minutes of trims would have made this a near masterpiece. On the other hand, we walked out of JACK THE GIANT SLAYER a few weeks ago (starring Nicolas Hoult, who has the odd honor of having the lead in both the excellent WARM BODIES and the dreadful JACK at the same time).

* * *

SEDUCTION reviews continue to pop up, like this great one at that stellar book-review site, Bookgasm.

Here, at Books and Writers is a brief interview that covers some new ground.

My old pal Mike Gold – whom with George Hagenauer of course, was instrumental in the research of the first five Nate Heller novels – weighs in with a clever review at Comic Mix. Lovely words, although I do think he sells the band Seduction of the Innocent rather short.

We interrupt these SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT reviews to bring you a swell LADY, GO DIE! one from Popcults.

Meanwhile, back at SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, Spinetingler has a review that couldn’t have been much better if I wrote it myself.

Finally, here’s another excellent review, this time from the American Culture.

M.A.C.