Posts Tagged ‘Nolan’

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.

M.A.C.

Crying “Wolf”

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

“Wolf,” the second of my horror-tinged radio plays for Fangoria’s Dreadtime Stories, is available for a free listen right here, all through January. Producer Carl Amari, as usual, did a great job.

Amazon is making a number of the Nate Heller novels available on Kindle at bargain prices, for a limited time. Steal of the deal is STOLEN AWAY at $1.99. A number of others are available for well under their usual eight bucks or so, for example…

Also, the first four Quarry novels from Perfect Crime are finally available on e-book. All five are available at Amazon at $4.99.

Perfect Crime’s Nolan reprints are imminent, and received a nice advance notice from the Violent World of Parker.

I’ve done a number of interviews lately, but this one from Comic Book Resources – which is slight comics-centric – strikes me as one of the best. It was an actual phone interview (not an e-mail one) and the interviewer asked solid questions and my answers don’t stink up the joint. Give it a look.

I am also proud to announce that in a forum choosing the best Batman writer of all time, I am coming in with a perfect score: zero. That really hurts, or it would if my BATMAN issues hadn’t sold so well.

Ron Fortier, himself a keen pulpmeister, had nice things to say about CHICAGO LIGHTNING.

Finally, I’d like to share a few photos from our recent trip to St. Louis, where we visited the Star Trek exhibit at the St. Louis Science Center. Consider carefully the shot of me channeling my inner Shatner – new author photo, you think?

Star Trek Experience
Star Trek Experience

M.A.C.

Heller Sells Out

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
Spree

The Amazon trade paperbacks and (especially) e-books of the Heller novels continue to do very well, helped in part by Amazon’s marketing efforts. This month they are offering CARNAL HOURS (one of my favorites in the series) for under two bucks – one of 100 Kindle titles chosen for a special promotion this month. Check it out.

My old buddy from Big Entertainment days, Christopher Mills, has done covers for the six Nolan trade paperbacks that Perfect Crime will be doing early next year. Check out all of these terrific images here.

QUARRY’S EX continues to rack up nice notices, like this one.

And here’s Bookgasm on RETURN TO PERDITION.

BLACK HATS continues to threaten to become a Harrison Ford film. Here’s a Variety piece on the screenwriter, Kurt Johnstad.

For those of you keeping track, I am researching the third Jack and Maggie Starr, SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT (for Hard Case Crime), this week. Terry Beatty is beginning the interior illos, and Glenn Orbik has already done a startling front cover, which I’ll share with you soon.

M.A.C.

Hammer Grand Slammer

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

This news came in shortly after the last update was posted, so you may be aware of this – it got lots of play on the net – but my radio-style audio novel, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER: THE LITTLE DEATH (starring Stacy Keach), won the Audie for Best Original Work. The Audies are the Academy Awards of the audiobook world, so this is a big deal. Blackstone Audio posted their congratulations here.

And if you haven’t listened to THE LITTLE DEATH – or its (I feel) even better follow-up, ENCORE FOR MURDER – you are missing out. Whether a Spillane buff or M.A.C. fan (or both), you will have a great time.

Kiss Her Goodbye

Also, Stacy Keach’s reading of KISS HER GOODBYE has just been released, with a different cover than the hardcover novel. We are listening to it now, and Stacy is just great. Any writer benefits when Mr. Keach is making them look good.

Another great piece of news comes with a rave review from Dick Lochte for KISS HER GOODBYE on the front page of the LA Times Calendar section. This stunning review has been picked up all over the net, and should give the book a very nice boost.

Also exciting is having January magazine single out KISS HER GOODBYE as one of Pierce’s picks of the week. But especially cool is the cyber zine singling out Pierce’s choice and the book for a front-page rave. Check it out.

J. Kingston Pierce’s new weekly pick has already been posted, but here is last week’s pick (KISS HER GOODBYE) for your reading pleasure.

The KISS HER GOODBYE raves just keep coming. Here the terrific site Singular Points makes some singular points about the book.

The same site has a very nice write-up about meeting Mickey Spillane some years ago.

Yet another great KISS HER GOODBYE review.

And courtesy of Jeff Pierce, this time at his Kirkus mystery-reviewing blog, comes the very first advance review of BYE BYE, BABYand it’s glowing (something that hasn’t exactly always happened to me with Kirkus reviews).

Some advance love for BYE BYE, BABY is viewable at another site, as well.

And this unexpected valentine to my first series character – in fact, first novel – comes from Paul Bishop (cop, writer, TV personality, handsome devil, talented, too…why don’t I hate him?) who made BAIT MONEY his “Forgotten Book” of the week, which is a compliment…trust me.

Another first-rate writer, Mel Odom, read Paul’s write-up and waxed nostalgic about Nolan and Jon himself.

What was it John Huston said in CHINATOWN? Something about whores and ugly buildings, if they last long enough, finally gaining respect?

M.A.C.