Posts Tagged ‘King of the Weeds’

New Mike Hammer Novel Giveaway

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
King of the Weeds

Last week, my offer of a dozen ARC’s (advance reading copies) of ANTIQUES CON to readers willing to do an Amazon review found all twelve spoken for within 24 hours.

This week I have a similar offer, and it just might go quicker (we will post here and on Facebook when the offered books are gone). [Note from Nate: We’re all out again. Thanks for the terrific response!] I have a dozen copies (not advance reading copies, but the real deal, and I’ll sign them) of KING OF THE WEEDS, the Mike Hammer novel going on sale May 6. Again, this is predicated on your willingness to write an Amazon review (also encouraged are Barnes & Noble reviews and blog reviews in general). Do not try to post your review before May 6 – Amazon does not allow advance reviews except from their own selected cadre.

This week our son Nathan visited Barb and me for several days, and during that time our author copies came of not only ANTIQUES CON and KING OF THE WEEDS, but Nathan’s BATTLE ROYALE (the cult classic Japanese novel of which he did a new, superior translation). Kind of amazing: every time the doorbell rang, there were more boxes of our books! (And an angel got its wings, of course.)

Battle Royale Remastered

Nathan’s presence was fortuitous in another way – he was here to participate for Barb and me (and Mrs. Nathan Collins, Abby) in the frantic on-line event known as the San Diego Con making hotel rooms available. The rooms go in under twenty minutes, and the good ones (downtown) are gone in under two minutes. Nathan took under 90 seconds to enter the required info, including a list of six hotels in order of preference, and – thanks to computer dexterity on Nate’s part that both his mother and I lack – we were rewarded with rooms at the Marriot Marina next door to the convention center. This is winning the nerd lottery. We have been attending San Diego Comic Con for many, many years…and this is the first time we’re staying at everybody’s first choice for lodgings.

Right now I am working on ANTIQUES SWAP – really dug in on it. Another week and a half, I would estimate, and my draft will be complete. Barb did such a great first draft that my work has been easy – or as easy as writing ever gets, which isn’t very.

Allow me to quickly comment on a few recent TV series and movies.

First, TV. JUSTIFIED is a great show and had a terrific season finale, setting up one last great big season with Raylon Givens and Boyd Crowder facing off one last time. ARCHER – renamed ARCHER VICE – is winding up its latest season, and it remains my favorite series on TV, just a truly demented guilty pleasure, should any of you be able to experience guilt. On Blu-ray, we watched three JACK IRISH movies, a very good hardboiled private eye show from Australia based on a novel series – beautifully shot, well-written, well-acted, with Guy Pierce excellent as the somewhat forlorn (but not despairing) lead. At least as good is the new season, the sixth, of GEORGE GENTLY with British TV superstar, Martin Shaw. These four movie-length episodes are superior to most of what you might see at the movies themselves. Set in the changing times of the late ‘60s, with a father-and-son relationship between an older and younger cop, GENTLY is as good as anything in the UK crime department with the possible exception of SHERLOCK.

Onto film. I didn’t hate CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. [Note from Nate: mild spoiler alert] In fact, there is much to like, in particular Chris Evans’ portrayal of Cap, and Scarlett Johansson in a skin-tight cat suit. Audiences are reacting very well to this one and I feel like a bit of a spoilsport not to be caught up in its spell. But every surprise is predictable, and it suffers from the oh-so-serious rendering of childish concepts Stan Lee threw off in his sleep decades ago. Guys, SHIELD is not the CIA – it’s an imitation of UNCLE, as in MAN FROM. The Winter Soldier is Bucky, and Bucky is Captain America’s Robin, fer chrissakes. You would think I would relish these movies, having grown up on Marvel (and Atlas before it). But the fun has been drained out, largely. By the way, almost all of the endless fight scenes are incoherent. When a CAPTAIN AMERICA movie’s biggest surprise is that Robert Redford is not the Red Skull, we have a problem here at the Merry Marvel Marching Society (yes, I was a charter member).

For wild action that is not incoherent, although it’s gory as hell (in a good way), catch THE RAID 2. Though it lacks the purity of the single-setting first film, RAID 2 has more fantastic action set pieces than you can shake a baseball bat at (and there will a baseball shaken). This is the rare Asian crime film that actually beats John Woo at his own game.

But the best movie I’ve seen this year – though it’s admittedly not to every taste – is THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL. I run hot and cold on Wes Anderson. Hated MR. FOX, loved MOONRISE KINGDOM. Was annoyed by DARJEELING EXPRESS, was crazy about RUSHMORE. This new film is his best, combining all of his obsessions and quirks into one very funny, very moving film, with a mindboggling cast that is unlikely to be repeated, even in another Wes Anderson film. Anderson is a novelist on screen, but one who shares the vision inside his skull with the viewer.

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Here’s a blast from the past: a review of THE HISTORY OF MYSTERY.

And here’s a fun review of THE WRONG QUARRY, specifically of the audio version read by the great Dan John Miller.

M.A.C.

Trimming the Weeds & a Reprehensible Ranger

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

I have completed KING OF THE WEEDS, the final novel created from the six substantial Mike Hammer manuscripts in Mickey Spillane’s files.

This does not mean my collaborations with Mickey are at an end – I hope to fashion three more novels from shorter but still significant manuscripts. There are also short Hammer fragments (five or six pages) that I will continue to flesh out into short stories with an eventual collection the goal. In addition, considerably more non-Hammer material awaits in Mickey’s files, including three unproduced screenplays that I hope to turn into novels. Plus, there are short but significant non-Hammer fragments ranging from a chapter to two or three chapters, sometimes with notes, that could possibly be converted into Hammers. In addition, several outlines for Hammer novels remain (like the one I used as the basis for the audio play ENCORE FOR MURDER).

Mickey wrote and published thirteen Mike Hammer novels. I think it would be very cool if I could add another six novels (to the six I’ve completed) plus a short story collection and double that list. On the other hand, I have reached my first and most important goal – to complete the manuscripts on which Mickey had done considerable work. In several cases – like COMPLEX 90 and the Morgan the Raider novel THE CONSUMMATA – the books had even been announced in the publishing trades. I think Mickey truly intended to go back and finish most of these.

As I’ve mentioned, I will be talking with the folks at Titan at San Diego Con about continuing Hammer. I will report when I get back.

Now, while I say I have “completed” KING OF THE WEEDS, I still have work left to do. I have finished the book in the sense that I have reached the end of it. I revise as I go, a minimum of three passes per chapter and often more, with Barb editing along the way – she seeks out inconsistencies, word repetition, missing words, and makes suggestions. I always enter her corrections and deal with any revisions growing out of her edit before I move on.

Today I start the process of reading and revising. I work with red pen on a hard copy, and Barb enters the corrections and revisions as we go. How long this process takes varies book to book – a Quarry novel may take a day or two, whereas a Heller could take a whole week. This Hammer novel, which has a very complicated plot, will take two days minimum. If I hit something that strikes me as problematic, all bets are off – I will go back to the machine and start re-writing any troubled section. This happens seldom, though.

This was a tough one. I think it turned out well, and my fears have lessened that the older Mike Hammer might not please new readers who know only the wild and woolly private eye of THE BIG BANG, KISS HER GOODBYE, LADY, GO DIE! and COMPLEX 90. But the final chapters are as wild a ride as you’ll find in any of those. And I think the older Mike Hammer, with his career winding down — KING OF THE WEEDS was conceived by Mickey as the last Mike Hammer novel, after all – is very interesting.

Next week, we will be going to the San Diego Comic Con. By “we” I mean Nate, Abby, Barb and me. We will post our schedule (including two panels Nate is on) here next week. Then we will probably post brief daily updates from the con.

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The Fourth of July weekend was a lot of fun with very beautiful weather. The Crusin’ gig at the Brew in Muscatine went extremely well, and lots of locals who hadn’t seen us in a while got to see the current strong line-up – earning us many great comments.

We also spent a good deal of time with my old high school buddy Ron Parker and his very cool wife Vickie, visiting from Florida where they retired after careers in the military. Ron is very smart and funny, but don’t tell him I said so. He is one of the last surviving members of our group of poker-playing pals who went through school together. How far back does this go? Well, we began playing poker together when MAVERICK was airing first-run episodes. Ron and I reminisced about Jon McRae, the basis for the John character in NO CURE FOR DEATH, and our late friend Jan McRoberts, whose mysterious death I fictionally explored in A SHROUD FOR AQUARIUS. Jim Hoffmann, who produced the MOMMY movies, was also part of that group, is also gone. Alive and well of the poker players are Mike Bloom, Nee Leau, John Leuck and David Gilfoyle – the latter the funniest of a very witty bunch of guys. Dave was nicknamed “Wheaty,” and you will meet him in my previously unpublished 1974 novel SHOOT THE MOON, if you buy the Perfect Crime collection EARLY CRIMES coming out late this summer.

The Lone Ranger

With Ron and Vickie, Barb and I went to THE LONE RANGER. I don’t like to write negative reviews, but I found the film reprehensible – misguided, misjudged, misbegotten. If we hadn’t have been with friends, we would have walked out. Disney is a company built on family entertainment, and THE LONE RANGER of radio and TV was the most wholesome of western heroes – he used silver bullets so that would not shoot his gun carelessly, and (like Superman) never killed. This LONE RANGER is an unpleasant western filled with stupid violence put together by a gifted director who wanted to pay tribute to ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and not the actual source material. The new film’s Lone Ranger is a clumsy goofus and Tonto a nasty lunatic. The tone is uneven to say the least – forced unfunny humor is interspersed with bloody violence. And it’s as slow and long as you’ve heard. Oddly, much of the 2013 LONE RANGER seems culled from the previous disastrous take on this material, the notorious 1981 flop THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER, which did not make a star out of Klinton Spilsbury. Remember that one? The producer alienated every baby boomer on the planet by suing the ‘50s TV Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore, to keep him from doing personal appearances in his mask. LEGEND is a hard film to see – my widescreen copy is from overseas – but it’s actually better than this new RANGER film (faint praise), which lifts from LEGEND such elements as making John Reid (think Clark Kent) a virtuous attorney, turning Butch Cavendish a madman, setting an action set piece on a moving train, mounting a Gatling gun massacre, and showing the Ranger and Tonto dynamiting a bunch of stuff (a bridge in the new picture, a dam in the other).

The 2013 movie actually ends with the Lone Ranger finally uttering his signature line, “Hiyo Silver, away,” and Tonto telling him never to say that again. The Ranger apologizes, of course. The final line of the movie is a reminder that “tonto” means “stupid” in Spanish. These filmmakers are embarrassed by the material they were hired to re-boot, and should be ashamed of themselves. When would Barb and I have walked out had we not been with Ron and Vickie? How about when Tonto, for a cruel gag, drags a barely conscious, wounded Lone Ranger through horse dung? Or maybe when the grand steed Silver drinks beer and belches. RULE NUMBER ONE IN ADAPTING FAMOUS MATERIAL: Do not have contempt for it.

M.A.C.

Navigating the Weeds

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Let me wish everyone a safe and fun Fourth of July. I will be playing an outdoor gig with Crusin’ in Muscatine (the Brew, five p.m. till 9 p.m.) and I am hopeful the current decent weather will hold up. Last year, playing a similar gig on the Fourth in a heat wave damn near killed me.

This will be a short update, because I am very deep in the writing of KING OF THE WEEDS, which is a difficult but rewarding project. I hope to finish the novel before San Diego Comic Con, which comes up soon (July 17 – 21), where I’ll be meeting with the Titan folks to discuss the possibility of three more Hammer novels from shorter Spillane fragments.

What makes this one especially tricky is that Mickey started the book twice, with one version containing only one of the two major plot strands. Then he combined the manuscripts, but when he set the book aside to do THE GOLIATH BONE instead, he had not yet done the carpentry to merge the two versions. This makes for a dizzying task as in most cases even the names of characters are different between versions, and some scenes appear twice, accomplished in two different ways. This means I have to make choices as well as weave and blend material together, in addition to adding my own connective tissue and input.

But it’s a most interesting book, conceived by Mickey as the final Mike Hammer novel (much more overtly than he did in his GOLIATH BONE manuscript). It’s not as rip-roaring as LADY, GO DIE! or COMPLEX 90, but it should be very strong.

More on it later.

Quick movie recommendation: THE HEAT is a very funny buddy cop movie with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, populated by any number of funny people in character parts.

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Here’s our first WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER review. Just a reminder that this thriller, which Matt Clemens worked on with me, comes out in September.

Here is a lovely valentine to Mickey Spillane with some nice nods to my work on the unfinished novels.

And this terrific COMPLEX 90 review is well worth a look.

M.A.C.

Complex 90 Now On Kindle!

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

After an inexplicable screw-up has finally been resolved, the new Spillane/Collins Mike Hammer novel, COMPLEX 90, is available as a Kindle e-book.

This week’s blog entry will be very short, because my son Nate was in Georgia over the weekend with his wife Abby, at a wedding, and will still be on the road when normally he would post this. So I am making his life (and, well, mine, a little) easier with this brief entry.

I will be starting the sixth and final Mike Hammer novel (of the substantial Hammer manuscripts in Mickey’s files), KING OF THE WEEDS, today. I was supposed to do that last week, but more galley proofs came in as well as some other unexpected writing chores. Chronologically, this is the penultimate novel in the saga – it was conceived to be the last Hammer, until 9/11 inspired Mickey to put it aside to write THE GOLIATH BONE. It is, in some respects, a sequel to BLACK ALLEY, the last Hammer published during Mickey’s lifetime.

Again, for those of you who want to see more, the best way to make that happen is to encourage other readers to pick up COMPLEX 90 (in whatever form) and post reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. There are three more significant (if shorter) Hammer manuscripts, all from the 1950s, that could be the next three novels.

By the way, the offer of advances proofs of WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER saw the ten copies disappearing quickly, ditto the five offered review copies of ANTIQUES CHOP. Of the former, I am trying to get another five or six copies to fill the requests that trailed in. Many thanks to those of you who offered to read and review these novels – the books are going out today.

Reviews of COMPLEX 90 continue, like this A-plus one from Pullbox Review.

Finally, the very sharp UK reviewer, Mike Carlson, is less effusive but mostly positive about COMPLEX 90 here.

M.A.C.