Posts Tagged ‘Marilyn Monroe’

Target Lancer Out Today

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Today (Nov. 27 2012) marks the official publication date of the new Nate Heller novel, TARGET LANCER, although it’s been spotted (snagged) in bookstores here and there for several weeks.

As is often the case, I didn’t receive my copies till just a few days ago (day before Thanksgiving). It’s a handsome book, and features a raised, foil title that is very attractive, and a nice surprise. I hope the book attracts some attention, both for Nate Heller and for the relatively unknown information about the JFK assassination that it reveals.

I am preparing to go out on a two-week book tour for TARGET LANCER, and I face a problem lots of writers do: my mind is filled with the novel I just completed, ASK NOT, the follow-up to LANCER, and I have to shift gears to discuss what to me is an “old” book.

I am happy and frankly relieved to have finished The JFK Trilogy (which began with BYE BYE, BABY). Funny thing – I have lately started to get “name-dropping” criticisms where Heller himself is concerned, and this goes back to the people who don’t grasp the concept of the saga…namely, that we are accessing and experiencing famous crimes/mysteries/events through the eyes of a traditional Chandleresque private detective. And that it is therefore necessary for past cases, however famous, to be mentioned and occasionally dealt with. I believe Heller and I do that with humor – nobody has to remind Heller that he’s been bodyguard to a shocking number of famous murder victims. To me it’s curious that nobody questions Perry Mason having hundreds of murder trials (factoring in the TV show – but even just the books it’s around 100) or Poirot and Nero Wolfe having seventy-some murder cases each, and so on. Readers seem to get the “suspension of disbelief” aspect of the genre in those cases. But some get tripped up by the famous nature of Heller’s cases and clients.

The fact is, Heller almost always fills the role (or roles) of somebody in history – often a real-life private eye. That lays a far more believable groundwork than any strictly fictional case could ever provide. And it occurred to me the other day that I had completed a JFK Trilogy in which JFK himself appears only once, in a not terribly flattering scene (in BYE BYE, BABY).

The reviews so far for TARGET LANCER have been stellar, but I anticipate getting the “name-dropping” dig again. One critic, who liked the book a lot, complained about Heller breaking the fourth wall and talking to the reader. That’s not going to stop, either.

If you still need a nudge, check out the sample chapter (the first) available at the fine Criminal Element web site. [Note from Nate: Leave a comment at that link before November 30 to enter a drawing for a free copy!]

Here’s a spiffy TARGET LANCER review you might want to check out.

And here’s a cool if short mention of LANCER.

Part one of a three-part in-depth look at my Nolan and Jon series has been posted at the Violent World of Parker (that’s Westlake’s Parker, not Spenser’s Parker). It’s very interesting and well-done, focusing on the first three novels (MOURN THE LIVING, BAIT MONEY, BLOOD MONEY), and not always loving them. That’s okay. I realize I was a precocious kid and talented but not really good yet. My God, MOURN was written, what? 44 years ago! As you might guess, I made a couple of comments that are posted there as well, which you may find worthwhile.

For those keeping track, I have just completed a screenplay called HOUSE OF BLOOD that I hope will be my next indie movie. It’s a back-door pilot for a Fangoria’s Dreadtime Stories TV series (based on producer Carl Amari’s radio show that I’ve written about half of the scripts for). It may be a Kickstarter project, so stay tuned for lots more info.

Next up is a thriller called WHAT DOESN’T KILL YA. Matt Clemens is on board for this one, and we’re meeting today for him to deliver story and research materials he’s been working on. I start the book tomorrow, but it will be complicated by the two-week book tour.

You may have noticed I am going directly from one project into another (the screenplay, based on a radio script of mine, was started the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and completed the Sunday after), which is not ideal. But things got piled up on me this year. ASK NOT was a punishing project, particularly the research.

And I have also been very busy helping prepare fourteen back-list titles of mine for Thomas & Mercer to reprint – that’s fourteen covers, cover copy, galley proofs, etc., that had to be dealt with. These novels appear next month (that’s right, December 2012), as both trade paperbacks and e-books, and I’ll have more info for you soon.

Even with me working intermittently on the HOUSE OF BLOOD script, we managed to have a great Thanksgiving with Nate and his bride Abby and their demented dog Toaster. Barb cooked a fantastic traditional meal that calls into extreme doubt her insistence that she’s not a good cook. We saw an excellent 3-D movie, LIFE OF PI, which I highly recommend, and I spent so much on blu-rays on Cyber deals that I will probably have to keep this work pace up for another couple years. I even had a band job Saturday night at Ducky’s Lagoon in Andualusia, Illinois. So, yes, it was a busy weekend.

Next week, if I get ambitious, I may take a swing at rating the 24 James Bond films in order of excellence (and lack thereof) with my comments. Barb and I have been plowing through the 22-blu-ray boxed set. For the record, I don’t count the spoof movie of CASINO ROYALE (or the early TV show), but I do count NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN. It has Sean Connery playing James Bond. That makes it more official than any movie with anybody else playing James Bond.

That doesn’t mean that some of the non-Connery movies aren’t better than a few of the lesser Connerys. But let me explain this – Sean Connery is James Bond the way John, Paul, Ringo and George are the Beatles. Everything else, however well played, is Beatlemania.


Hammer on Screen

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

It’s finally official: Warner Bros plans to bring Mike Hammer back to the screen. Read about it here.

The Deadline story got picked up everywhere, though some blogs did not just re-fry the story, but did an actual article/commentary, like this somewhat offbeat one.

There seems to be an assumption that I, THE JURY will be the first film (note the illos for the original Deadline piece). But the Warners contract excludes the following Hammer novels: I, THE JURY; MY GUN IS QUICK; KISS ME, DEADLY; and THE GIRL HUNTERS, all of which have already been made into films (I, THE JURY twice). The books that the film will draw upon are: ONE LONELY NIGHT, THE BIG KILL, THE SNAKE, THE TWISTED THING, THE BODY LOVERS, SURVIVAL…ZERO!, THE KILLING MAN, BLACK ALLEY, THE GOLIATH BONE, THE BIG BANG, KISS HER GOODBYE, LADY, GO DIE!, COMPLEX 90 and KING OF THE WEEDS. I believe the posthumous short stories are also included. The screenplay may draw upon one of the novels specifically, or it may be a new story using elements from a number of them. I will almost certainly not be given the opportunity to write a screenplay (the first one for sure), but I will be consulting and am officially an exec producer, as is Jane Spillane. Whether the film will be contemporary or period, I don’t know. I prefer period, but unlike some, I feel contemporary can work.

Here’s an interesting TARGET LANCER review from an Australian writer not familiar with the JFK assassination, except superficially.

Here’s another overseas view of Heller, this time a BYE BYE, BABY review from the excellent critic, Mike Carlson.

Here’s a particularly nice TRUE DETECTIVE review that came in.

And out of the blue, here’s a review of the graphic novel ROAD TO PERDITION 2: ON THE ROAD (a nice one!).

I continue to be burrowed in on ASK NOT. It’s a tough book, and my head swims with research. I am breaking lots of rules with this one, but since I invented this particular game, I have no guilt. I had hoped to be done by election day, because Barb and I are planning to spend that day working out of my presidential candidate’s local office, making phone calls and driving people to the polls. But it’s probably going to take me till mid-November. Longer if the wrong guy wins and I get really, really depressed.


Sex And Violence

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

When I set out to write hardboiled mystery novels, very much influenced by Mickey Spillane and the Gold Medal writers, I made sure my work was strong on sex and violence. I still do. Not only are these ingredients key to the noir sensibility, they represent (as I’ve said numerous times) the big topics: life and death.

And while my historical novels have an element of education/information in them, the primary purpose is to entertain, and usually in the fashion that I established early on – meaning there will be sex and violence.

Over the years this has been commented on occasionally by reviewers, but not really that often – the subject tends to come up in a more general way, i.e., why is there so much sex and violence in noir fiction?

But in the past several years, I have been getting criticized much more often about the sexual component of the books. I don’t mean to defend myself here or to complain about those reviews – I am just observing that there seems to be something afoot in the culture, something more staid, even more prudish. I graduated high school in 1966, so the sexual revolution was all around me, reflected in popular culture from underground comix to nudity-flung films.

So what’s up lately with this anti-sex scene sentiment? And almost always coming from men. Men who don’t want to read about sex. Which strikes me as bewildering. These comments often come from readers who otherwise like the books. Here’s an excerpt from an Amazon Review of CARNAL HOURS that is otherwise a rave:

“The author seems determined to inject some short, steamy sex episodes in each book. These are gratuitous and serve no purpose other than to establish the ‘ladies man’ reputation of Heller, which could be accomplished without the silly detail. I’m not prudish but each time these short episodes struck me as stupid and juvenile.”

I might wonder why any reader of book with the word “carnal” in the title would be surprised to find sex scenes in that book. But this Amazon reviewer is joined by a handful of professional reviewers who have lately made similar comments. George Easter, for example, in the fine magazine Deadly Pleasures, made that his sole carp in a very positive review of BYE BYE, BABY.

Again, I mention this because I find it odd, not to complain about it or defend myself. I will say this: anyone who considers the sex scenes in Nathan Heller novels to be mere gratuitous porn isn’t really paying attention. I don’t believe there is a single Heller sex scene involving my guy with some casual pick-up in a bar or whatever – there are references to such happenings, but they remain off-stage. The sexual encounters are there for characterization reasons, usually to build emotion and establish a closeness, even a love, between Heller and a woman who is crucial to the tale being told, often tragic romances as in TRUE DETECTIVE, TRUE CRIME, THE MILLION-DOLLAR WOUND, FLYING BLIND and BYE BYE, BABY. Some of these are real women, like Amelia Earhart, Sally Rand and Evelyn MacClean Walsh, and this gets me nasty letters at times (“How dare you?”). I had death threats over my depiction of Earhart as bisexual. Here’s the thing: Nate Heller didn’t have sex with any of these women, because Nate Heller is a fictional character.

My sex scenes do make people uncomfortable at times, and I’m rather proud of that. A mystery writer pal of mine, when TRUE DETECTIVE came out, was offended (perhaps the term is “grossed out”) that Heller used condoms and he and the lady in question cleaned up after the act. The sex was too real, apparently. An editor talked me into toning down oral sex passages in ANGEL IN BLACK…between Heller and his wife (oral sex was both characterization and a major clue in that novel).

Anyway, if you guys out there want to skip the sex scenes, fine by me. My generation of guys would more likely have underlined them. If this is progress, count me out.

And isn’t it interesting that none of these reviewers have ever complained about the graphic blood-splattering violence in my work?

* * *

We had a very nice review for the upcoming Barbara Allan, ANTIQUES DISPOSAL, in Publisher’s Weekly.

Our good friend and that good writer Ron Fortier wrote a lovely review of ANTIQUES DISPOSAL on his fun Pulp Fiction web site.

Brandywine Books posted yet another fine Heller review, this time looking at TRUE DETECTIVE.

The low price ($2) this month of FLYING BLIND on Kindle e-book caught some nice attention here.

Perfect Crime Books has announced their Nolan reprint series, with all the covers posted.

The quirky and entertaining Temple of Schlock reviewed THE CONSUMMATA, and back on my birthday took an eccentric look at QUARRY’S EX.

Nate is heading to Japan for a month on a business vacation. He will still be handling the weekly Updates, but they will likely be a little shorter in the near future. Also, I’m working on ANTIQUES CHOP, which means you may be spared these longer entries until I am finished and Nate returns.


Honor To Be Nominated

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011
Road to Perdition
Road to Perdition 2: On The Road
The Romantic Times Awards nominees have been announced, and I’m pleased to report that BYE BYE, BABY is among the nominees for Best Historical Mystery, as seen here.

My radio play version of REINCARNAL is available for a limited time FREE at Fangoria’s website. Producer Carl Amari did a great job on this! So much so that I’ve written a screenplay based on the original story and the radio play.

RETURN TO PERDITION continues to get some very nice attention, in particular a USA TODAY article that got picked up all over the Net.

Among the mostly favorable reviews, my pal Bill Crider – a terrific mystery writer (and blogger) – gave one of the most insightful.

The LA Times even picked RETURN and the two new reprints of the early ROAD graphic novels for their comics-oriented gift book section.

Barb and I continue to listen to the new Nate Heller audios as read by Dan John Miller. Audio File Magazine agrees with me that he makes a great Heller. Check out this review.

A guy named Ed who is not Gorman has nice things to say about THE CONSUMMATA.

And I did a lengthy phone interview with Bryan Young that he split up in a couple of places, first at Big Shiny Robot and more at his own site. This is a warts-and-all transcription, and not the smoothest of reads, but we get into some interesting topics.

Finally, happy Thanksgiving to all of you. There have been some tough losses this year (Chuck and Mike in particular) but I remain thankful for my great wife and son, and those of you kind enough to read my books. You provide the feast.