Posts Tagged ‘Mickey Spillane on Screen’

A Tale of Two Birthdays

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

Before I dig in this week, be sure to check out the incredible Wall Street Journal article on Mickey’s centenary and my role in it.

I was born March 3, 1948. Mickey Spillane was born March 9, 1918. I just turned 70. Mickey is about to turn 100. My friend, mentor and collaborator was almost exactly thirty years older than me.

When I told my agent, the great but always skeptical Dominick Abel, that I was going to do everything I could to get notice for Mickey’s centenary, he had his doubts. I reminded him that Mickey was the best-selling American mystery writer of the 20th Century (possibly best-selling writer of that era period), and he reminded me that the 20th Century was a long time ago.

As we say in comics, sigh.

But I had a plan, involving the first, previously unpublished (unfinished-till-now) Mike Hammer novel (Killing Town) and the very last novel Mickey completed on his own (The Last Stand). I felt those bookends could attract attention, and a PR person at Titan (which includes Hard Case Crime) agreed with me. Her name is Katharine Carroll and she has done a stellar job, and continues doing so. That Wall Street Journal piece is her doing, as is coverage in Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal (see below), Booklist and much more. She also landed a Playboy spot for the opening chapter of Killing Town – that issue of Playboy is on the stands now. If you buy it, you will see how big I like to see my byline (a combination of healthy ego and poor eyesight). I have spent so much time staring at my huge byline that I keep forgetting to look at the nude women.

The Titan news release about the Mike Hammer serialized graphic novel (four issues to be followed by a collection) is all over the Net, as well as the Hollywood Reporter (link provided last week). What Titan’s publisher, Nick Landau, and Hard Case Crime’s editor, Charles Ardai, have done for Mickey and me is fairly amazing.

I just completed a massively long interview with J. Kingston Pierce, who is scary in the knowledge and precision of his questioning. That will, I presume, appear on his essential mystery-fiction site, The Rap Sheet, before long.

So Mickey is 100. And I am 70 (a fact noted fairly widely on the Net also). I admit I find this a sobering birthday. When you are in your sixties, life still seems to stretch ahead some. When you are in your seventies, not so much. I look around and my film collaborator, actor Mike Cornelison, is gone…for some time now. Ed Gorman has passed. Bill Crider is gone. That the universe can reclaim that kind of talent and energy is unspeakably sad.

I now look at the books I still want to write and don’t know if I’ll be able to get to them all. I wonder if an indie film project rears its head if I can still direct. Stress is a motherhumper after you’ve had open-heart surgery. I find myself working harder than ever, and as fast as I can manage without a negative impact on the quality of the work and the state of my health. Barb wants me to slow down, but I quite honestly feel my best when I’m working.

We spent the birthday weekend with son Nathan, daughter-in-law Abby and the preternaturally smart and funny Sam, our two-and-a-half-year old grandson. It is with sadness and humility that I must report to you that Sam is smarter than all of your grandchildren (put together), should you have any. Don’t bother trying to correct me. You might as well tell a Trump voter the truth about their guy.

At my birthday I reflect on how lucky I am and continue to be. Let’s start with the smartest, most beautiful and talented wife on the planet, Barbara Collins. Let’s continue with a great son and his growing little family. Let’s continue with my ability to avoid a real job while making impossible career dreams come true…continuing Dick Tracy after Chester Gould, completing Mike Hammer from Mickey’s unfinished manuscripts (for a dozen years!), Ms. Tree, the unstoppable Nate Heller, the resurrection of Quarry, making an unofficial sort of sequel to The Bad Seed with Patty McCormack herself, finally (with brilliant Brad Schwartz) setting the record straight on Eliot Ness and Al Capone (the upcoming Scarface and the Untouchable), playing in a band with some of the most gifted musicians in the Midwest, and, oh hell…lots of other stuff. Little things, like a Grandmaster “Edgar” from the MWA (did I ever mention that to you?).

It’s always seemed special and (ridiculous, I know) that Mickey Spillane and I have birthdays just a few days apart – his 9 is even divisible by my 3 (and you thought I couldn’t do math). And yet here we both still are, writing books together.

Even if the 20th Century was a long time ago.

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Here’s some nice coverage of The Last Stand and the centenary at Library Journal, by way of an interview with me.

Check out this great review of The Bloody Spur at Gravetapping.

To help celebrate Mickey’s centenary, that gifted writer Raymond Benson has reviewed Mickey Spillane on Screen (by Jim Traylor and me) at the Cinema Retro web site.

Here’s a quirky (I think) positive review of Quarry’s Climax.

You have to scroll down a ways for it, but there’s a nice look at the Quarry TV series at Hardboiled Wonderland.

Finally, I was wished a nice happy birthday by Comics Reporter…and an old friend of Terry Beatty’s and mine.


Catching up with Me

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Crusin’ at Muscatine’s Brew July 4

My pal Ed Gorman – one of the best writers around, and at least as good a friend – did an interview with me that I’d like to share with you. Here goes.

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1. Tell us about your current novel.

There are a couple of things that will become available soon. One is the complete version of the ROAD TO PERDITION novel. It was written in 2002 to accompany the release of the film, but DreamWorks licensing made me do a drastic cutting/rewrite, eliminating 30,000 words and any dialogue or action that wasn’t included in the book. I am very grateful to Brash Books for negotiating with DreamWorks for the real, complete novel to finally be published.

About the same time, Hard Case Crime will be bringing out QUARRY IN THE BLACK, obviously a new Quarry novel with what I think or hope is an interesting setting — George McGovern’s presidential campaign and a black leader in St. Louis who is supporting that ticket with public appearances. If you ever wanted to see how Quarry would behave at a Ku Klux Klan meeting, now is your chance.

And Otto Penzler is bringing out A LONG TIME DEAD, collecting eight Mike Hammer short stories that I developed from Spillane fragments. That’s exciting in part because there’s never been a Hammer short story collection before.

2. Can you give a sense of what you’re working on now?

I just finished a Mike Hammer novel, THE WILL TO KILL, working from a few chapters in Mickey Spillane’s files. It’s very unusual for a Hammer, because the mystery is right out of Agatha Christie, with greedy children fighting over the proceeds of a murdered patriarch’s estate.

Not too long before that, I did my pass on the new Barbara Allan mystery, ANTIQUES FRAME, co-written with my wife Barb. That was my first project after open-heart surgery and a minor stroke, and it was very gratifying to be able to get back up on the horse and ride so quickly. just weeks after the surgery.

Next up is EXECUTIVE ORDER, the third Reeder and Rogers political thriller, in collaboration with Matt Clemens.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

The greatest pleasure of a writing career is having one. The notion that I could ever hold down a normal job is highly suspect.

4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?

I don’t know if there’s a dis-pleasure for me. I really love this life. The things that frustrate me are minor in the bigger picture. For example, I despise having copy editors rewrite me, and have spent way too much time in my life putting various Humpty Dumptys back together. It’s always disappointing when a novel is critically ignored or particularly when the public ignores it. When a publisher drops a series, it can be crushing—I had to wait ten years before I felt I could re-launch Nathan Heller, and a lot of time was lost there.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

For the publishing world itself? Don’t judge an author by how well his or her last book sold. Judge each book on its own merits, and that includes proposed novels from authors whose professionalism isn’t in question.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you’d like to see in print again?

So many of my favorites are back in print again in the POD and e-book fashion. But it would be nice to see Horace McCoy, Mike Roscoe and Roy Huggins out there in a more major way. I was pleased to see Ennis Willie finally get some attention, but unfortunately it’s faded somewhat.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

Mine is easy to remember. I got the letter (my agent at the time never called me) on Dec. 24, 1971—BAIT MONEY, the first Nolan novel, had sold on Christmas Eve! When I told Donald E. Westlake about it—he’d been a mentor to me—he said, “Sometimes God behaves like O. Henry, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

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Here are a few things on the Net you may enjoy.

First, this is a rare (and detailed) review of MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN by Jim Traylor and me. The author gives me all the credit, which is wrong, but otherwise it’s an interesting read on what is apparently a very right-wing web site.

Take a gander at this early review of the Mike Hammer collection, A LONG TIME DEAD.

Finally, one of America’s greatest mystery book stores, Mysterious Bookshop, has signed copies (available by mail) of BETTER DEAD.


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Holiday Edition

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Santa delivered an early present to the M.A.C. household by way of an award for MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN (by Jim Traylor and me), courtesy of the great movie-fan publication CLASSSIC IMAGES, for “Best Film Noir Book of 2013.” Specifically, it was given by reviewer Laura Wagner in her year’s end Book Points column. Ms. Wagner also singled out MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN for one of the Best Covers of 2013 as well as honoring the book’s Photo Layout. These last two honors were shared with several other books, but the Best Film Noir Book is mine and Jim’s alone.

To help celebrate, why not pick up a copy? Yes, yes, it’s expensive, but it so happens McFarland is running a 20% off sale on not just MICKEY SPILLANE but all of their titles till December 31st. Here’s a link for those of you who didn’t blow everything on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.

Big Book of Christmas Mysteries

And speaking of the holidays, my personal favorite of my short stories – “A Wreath for Marley,” my CHIRSTMAS CAROL MEETS THE MALTESE FALCON yarn – is included in the terrific new fat-as-Santa anthology, THE BIG BOOK OF CHRISTMAS MYSTERIES, edited by my jolly old friend (well, maybe not jolly) Otto Penzler. What an honor to be included with such personal heroes of mine as Rex Stout, Agatha Christie and Donald E. Westlake. I have arrived, even if I had to sneak down the chimney to do it.

A Bird for Becky

“A Wreath for Marley” features Richard Stone, a Heller-like detective in Chicago in the forties; it’s the basis for my as yet unproduced screenplay, BLUE CHRISTMAS. There is one other Stone story, “A Bird for Becky,” also with a holiday theme – Thanksgiving. It’s just come out as an e-book, available on Amazon, for a mere 99 cents. Yes, I should have promoted this in time for Thanksgiving, but since you’re full of holiday spirit (and maybe undigested turkey), maybe you’ll give it a try, anyway.

A couple of movie recommendations. FROZEN, which should be seen in 3-D, is a Disney CGI musical about princesses…hey, wait! Hold up! Come on! Listen for a second….It’s very good and often witty, incredibly well-animated, with music by the co-writer of THE BOOK OF MORMON score, and the lead – complete with excellent singing – is VERONICA MARS herself, Kristen Bell, who hasn’t been given a shot a vocalizing like this since the wonderful REEFER MADNESS TV movie. And for a completely inappropriate second feature, try HOMEFRONT, with Jason Stratham in redneck Louisiana up against that peckerwood James Franco, in a ‘70s Bronson-style melodrama from a screenplay by Sylvester Stallone (also a producer). If you trade your brains in for a bucket of popcorn before entering, you will have a fine violent time (I did).

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ASK NOT reviews continue, like this very strong one (if a bit patronizing) from Woody Haut. Seems Woody thinks it’s unlikely that Nate Heller could be involved in so many famous crimes – really, Woody? Never occurred to me….

Here’s an ASK NOT interview with a bit of a forensics slant.

LADY, GO DIE! has received a nice write-up here.

And here’s a strong review about Stacy Keach’s reading of GOLIATH BONE on audio.

Finally, you’ll enjoy this reassessment of Mickey Spillane from a reviewer who followed my suggestion to read more than just I, THE JURY before giving his final verdict. (Get it? Jury? Verdict?)


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.

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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.