Posts Tagged ‘Quarry’

This Just In…

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

Not much to say at the moment other than I am thrilled and flabbergasted.

Mystery Writers of America Announces 2017 Grand Masters
Max Allan Collins and Ellen Hart
Plus 2017 Raven and Ellery Queen Award Winners

November 29, 2016 – New York, NY – Max Allan Collins and Ellen Hart have been chosen as the 2017 Grand Masters by Mystery Writers of America (MWA). MWA's Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in mystery writing and was established to acknowledge important contributions to this genre, as well as for a body of work that is both significant and of consistent high quality. Mr. Collins and Ms. Hart will receive their awards at the 71st Annual Edgar Awards Banquet, which will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City on Thursday, April 27, 2017.

When told of being named a Grand Master, Collins said, “To be in the company of Agatha Christie, Rex Stout and Mickey Spillane is both thrilling and humbling.  This is an honor second to none in the art of mystery and suspense fiction.”

Max Allan Collins sold his first two novels in 1972 while a student at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop.  More than one hundred novels have followed, including his award-winning and groundbreaking Nathan Heller historical series, starting with True Detective (1983). His graphic novel Road to Perdition (1998) is the basis of the Academy Award-winning 2002 film starring Tom Hanks.  His other comics credits include the syndicated strip "Dick Tracy"; his own "Ms. Tree"; and "Batman.”  For the hit TV series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, he wrote ten novels selling millions of copies worldwide, and his movie novels include Saving Private Ryan, Air Force One, and American Gangster.

Upon learning that she was named a Grand Master, Hart said. “A writer's stock-in-trade is imagination.  I’ve always felt mine was pretty good, but never in a million years did I ever think winning the MWA Grand Master award was a possibility.  I’m stunned, grateful, and profoundly honored.”

Ellen Hart is the author of thirty-two crime novels.  She is the six-time winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Mystery, the four-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award for Best Popular Fiction, and the three-time winner of the Golden Crown Literary Award for mystery.  Ellen has taught crime writing for seventeen years through the Loft Literary Center, the largest independent writing community in the nation.

Previous Grand Masters include Walter Mosley, Lois Duncan, James Ellroy, Robert Crais, Carolyn Hart, Ken Follett, Margaret Maron, Martha Grimes, Sara Paretsky, James Lee Burke, Sue Grafton, Bill Pronzini, Stephen King, Marcia Muller, Dick Francis, Mary Higgins Clark, Lawrence Block, P.D. James, Ellery Queen, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock, Graham Greene, and Agatha Christie.

The Raven Award recognizes outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. Dru Ann Love will receive the 2017 Raven Award.

Dru Ann Love is owner/editor of dru’s book musings (https://drusbookmusing.com/), a blog where characters give a glimpse into a day in their life, as well as her musings. Her musings also appear in Crimespree Magazine. She is also a guest blogger at the Stiletto Gang. Dru Ann is an avid reader, writes poetry, quilts, and loves attending reader/fan conventions. Dru Ann’s blog was nominated for a 2015 Anthony Award for Best Critical or Non-Fiction Work. She also serves on the Bouchercon standing committee.

When told that she would receive the Raven Award, Love said, “I’m so thrilled and honored to be awarded the Raven. The mystery community is like a big family and I’m so proud that they have embraced me with open arms. Thanks to the nominating committee for selecting me and a big thanks to the authors—without them, this would not be possible.”

Previous Raven winners include Sisters in Crime, Margaret Kinsman, Kathryn Kennison, Jon and Ruth Jordan, Aunt Agatha’s Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Oline Cogdill, Molly Weston, The Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego, Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore in Chicago, Once Upon a Crime Bookstore in Minneapolis, Mystery Lovers Bookstore in Oakmont, PA, Kate’s Mystery Books in Cambridge, MA, and The Poe House in Baltimore, MD.

The Ellery Queen Award was established in 1983 to honor “outstanding writing teams and outstanding people in the mystery-publishing industry”. This year the Board chose to honor Neil Nyren.

On learning he would receive the Ellery Queen Award, Nyren said, “I’ve spent most of my life with crime and suspense fiction, both as a fan and a professional, but I never imagined this. It’s an enormous honor even being mentioned in the same breath as such legendary previous Ellery Queen Award winners as Joan Kahn, Ed Gorman, Jacques Barzun, Otto Penzler, and Eleanor Sullivan (just to name a few!).”

Neil Nyren is the Executive VP, associate publisher and editor in chief of G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Random House. He has been at Putnam for over 32 years, and before that, at E.P. Dutton, Little Brown, Random House, Arbor House, and Atheneum.

Among his current authors of crime and suspense are Clive Cussler, Ken Follett, C.J. Box, John Sandford, Robert Crais, Jack Higgins, W.E.B. Griffin, Frederick Forsyth, Randy Wayne White, Alex Berenson, Ace Atkins, Alex Grecian, Carol O’Connell, Owen Laukkanen, Michael Sears, and Todd Moss. He has also worked with such writers as Tom Clancy, Patricia Cornwell, Daniel Silva, Martha Grimes, Ed McBain, Thomas H. Cook, and Thomas Perry, and he was the first to publish books by Carl Hiaasen, Jonathan Kellerman, Gerald Seymour, Garrison Keillor, and Ian McEwan.

Among his nonfiction authors: A. Scott Berg, Maureen Dowd, James A. Baker III, Dave Barry, Joe McGinniss, Charles Kuralt, Andy Rooney, Jeff Greenfield, Senator Harry Reid, General Tony Zinni, Abba Eban, John McEnroe, Pat Riley, Bobby Orr, and Wayne Gretzky.

Previous Ellery Queen Award winners include Janet Rudolph, Charles Ardai, Joe Meyers, Barbara Peters and Robert Rosenwald, Brian Skupin and Kate Stine, Carolyn Marino, Ed Gorman, Janet Hutchings, Cathleen Jordan, Douglas G. Greene, Susanne Kirk, Sara Ann Freed, Hiroshi Hayakawa, Jacques Barzun, Martin Greenburg, Otto Penzler, Richard Levinson, William Link, Ruth Cavin, and Emma Lathen.

The Edgar Awards, or "Edgars," as they are commonly known, are named after MWA's patron saint Edgar Allan Poe and are presented to authors of distinguished work in various categories. MWA is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime-writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. The organization encompasses some 3,000 members including authors of fiction and non-fiction books, screen and television writers, as well as publishers, editors, and literary agents. For more information on Mystery Writers of America, please visit the website: www.mysterywriters.org

* * *

When I was discussing the up’s and down’s of 2016 last time, I neglected two major “up’s.”

Among the blessings for me in the vale of tears that was 2016 was having a Quarry TV series…and a good one, at that. Considering I created Quarry in 1971 at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, this blessing took a while to pay off…but pay off it did. Many of you have had nice things to say about show. A few wish it were more like the books, and I’ve discussed that here. But for me it was a major blessing.

Soon I will be starting a new novel, Quarry’s Climax, and beginning work on a graphic novel, Quarry’s War, which will be serialized as comic books by Titan’s new Hard Case Crime comics.

The other major blessing, overlooked last time, was being able to play some band jobs this year. In 2015, I had to cancel all but one gig for Crusin’ because of my heart condition – I don’t remember ever cancelling a gig before in the five decades I’ve been playing, and I hated doing so. I’m strictly a show-must-go-on kind of guy. This year we were able to do half a dozen gigs, and I hope more will follow in 2017. My guitar player, the incredible Jim Van Winkle, and I have been together for over a decade. Drummer Steve Kundel has been with the band, off and on, since the ‘90s, and is truly world-class. “New kid” Brian Van Winkle, Jim’s brother, took over bass when Chuck Bunn passed away a few years ago – Brian is one of the coolest guys you could ever hope to meet, and an excellent bass player.


Crusin’ at Muscatine High School 50th class reunion, left to right, M.A.C., Jim Van Winkle, Steve Kundel, guest Joe McClean, and Brian Van Winkle.

The gigs we played in 2016 were a mixed bag. Actually, every gig went well, but three of them were impacted by my pertussis. Whooping cough does not do a lead singer any favors. The third gig I was getting somewhat back to normal, but it was something of a disappointment because we had originally intended to have a reunion of my original band, the Daybreakers. Illness (not mine for a change!) threw a wrench in the works, although we did add guest artist Joe McClean of the XL’s into the standard Crusin’ mix. The dance went well but I’m afraid a 50th class reunion could not live up to the wild, rockin’ affair of my imagination.

Anyway, 2016 had its highlights, and QUARRY on TV and Crusin’ on stage were chief among them.

Today I am putting finishing touches on the third Caleb York western, The Bloody Spur. That’s the last one on the contract – we’ll see if more follow.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. Barb cooked up a storm, and baby Sam Collins was the life of the party. We had our Department 56 Halloween houses up, with lots of movement and scary sounds, and he was fascinated…not frightened in the least.

* * *

J. Kingston Pierce has included Better Dead on his Best 10 list, and has wonderful things to say about it.

Here’s a great review of The Legend of Caleb York.

Mystery Scene magazine has a wonderful Quarry in the Black review by Hank Wagner. Here’s a taste: “…Collins delivers some of the crispest, funniest and most gripping prose of his long career to date. Hardboiled crime fiction at its finest, the Quarry series continues to provide top-notch action, wit and suspense.”

M.A.C.

Thanksgiving 2016

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

In a year like the one I’ve experienced, it might seem tough to be thankful.

Those of you follow these updates know that I’ve had some health issues. The year began with carotid surgery preceding open-heart surgery, during which I had a stroke. While not major, the stroke left me with a fairly useless right hand – couldn’t type, didn’t even have a signature. And a writer losing his or her signature has lost a key piece of identity.

What followed was a lot of work getting my hand functional again and recovering from the surgery with physical and occupational therapy. Also, in the run-up to the heart surgery, something growing in my lower right lung lobe made itself known, requiring keeping an eye on. Eventually I was scheduled to go in for surgery that would probably be just a closer look, but might result in more serious surgery.

While all of this was going on, my son Nate’s bride Abby gave birth to Sam Collins, a preemie who fought a brave battle for life. Nate and Abby practically lived in the hospital for a month while this little tadpole of a kid fought to be a baby. We visited as often as we could, though this was going on concurrent with my heart condition stuff, and that limited us some.

Then both Barb and I managed to get pertussis, which is to say whooping cough. I got mine in August and she got hers a few weeks later, and we are still coughing (the hundred-day cough, they call it). My adventures, recounted in detail in previous updates, included rushing back from New Orleans the moment I landed because Barb’s pertussis had sent her to the emergency room; and having my lung surgery postponed for a month to allow me to get over my bout with the stuff.

The surgery wound up being more serious. A baseball-size thingie was taken out of my lower right lobe. It’s now been diagnosed as MALT-lymphoma, which has nothing to do with old Pop Jenkins down at the soda shop.

Then, while I was recovering from the lung surgery, glued to the TV, I witnessed Donald Trump being elected president of the United States.

So what the hell do I have to be thankful for?

Almost everything (except for the Trump part).

We can start with this career that has allowed me to concoct stories and get paid for it for four decades. We can move from there to my wife Barb, whose love and support got me through all of the bullshit above – she always knows when I need a tender shoulder and also when I need a kick in the pants. She is not a self-pity fan.

From there we can move to my great son and his equally great wife, who gave me this wonderful grandson who has overcome all of the obstacles and is now smart and healthy and very funny. You may have a baby or a baby grandkid who seems pretty cool, but can yours do an evil maniacal laugh at sixteen months?

As for my travails, I was typing almost immediately when I got home from the hospital. Initially all I could move was the mouse, and for some weeks the sensitivity of the computer keyboard was how my weak right hand was able to register anything. But two weeks home after my three-week hospital stay (two of it in O.T. and P.T.), I was working on my draft of Antiques Frame. Before long I was writing The Will to Kill, the new Mike Hammer, and Executive Order with my pal Matt Clemens. Throughout every stage of various recoveries, I have found that my writing has been unimpeded, that it is a place I can go and think of nothing but the story at hand.

Every day I filled at least a full notebook page with my signature, and within a month I had it back. If you ever need an M.A.C signature, my wife can tear one of out the notebook I filled with them. (Ask for one from a later page.)

The pertussis Barb and I shared brought us even closer together, because we were dealing with it at the same time. I won’t pretend it didn’t suck, but something odd happens when you are sick and have a reasonable expectation to get well – you start to really, really appreciate normal, everyday life. To look forward to the most trivial damn things – a meal out, a movie, a walk on an autumn day.

As for the lung thing, I am in a wait-and-see mode, and have a few more tests to take, but I am assured this is a treatable, very survivable condition…and I may have no recurrence. At this point there’s been no talk of chemo or radiation.

If that comes, rest assured I will do everything I can to keep writing, and taking advantage of the support and friendship my readers, editors and my great agent Dominick Abel have always provided. Do not worry about me. I am fine, and I am blessed.

Thanks.

* * *

Here’s the Brash Books blog with stuff about Road to Perdition the novel and Quarry as well.

Here’s a nice latterday review of Kill Your Darlings, though oddly the Bouchercon aspect of the story (usually the favorite aspect of readers) is not so favored here.

Finally, here’s a cool review of Dan John Miller reading Better Dead.

M.A.C.

Quarry’s Daddy on the TV Series

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

So what’s my opinion of the QUARRY TV series?

It’s a first-rate show. The finale (like the opening episode) is a feature-length crime story worthy of release as an indie film. The Vietnamese war sequence – one long take – is as remarkable a piece of filmmaking as I’ve seen in some time, capturing the feel and pressure and insanity of battle. The cast has been stellar, as well, and the cinematography, art direction, location work, music selection, those elements and more, have been damn near flawless. Greg Yaitanes directed all eight episodes, meaning he pulled off a sustained nine-hour movie, an amazing feat.

Yet I get e-mails and comments from some readers bemoaning that the show isn’t like the books, and in some cases I have been criticized for essentially selling out, letting a bunch of Hollywood punks run roughshod over my creation. Well, first of all, if somebody wants to give me money to make a movie or TV show out of my stuff, and the price is right, they can star a sock monkey and set the show on Venus for all I care. As James M. Cain said (slightly paraphrasing here), “Hollywood hasn’t done anything to my books – they’re right here on the shelf.”

The books are the books. They have existed and will exist, strictly on my terms. Certain aspects of the novels just do not translate to film (this includes the Quarry-derived film THE LAST LULLABY, which I co-wrote). The QUARRY novels are almost entirely dependent on the first-person voice of Quarry himself – his sense of humor, his personal philosophy, the very sound of the things he says, the irony, the black humor. That’s lost in any QUARRY adaptation, unless you use voiceover, which is just not the same (and usually clumsy).

Additionally, the books are short, compact narratives depicting the jobs that Quarry goes on – none of them individually would sustain a season of television. Once the decision was made to do long-form narrative like MAD MEN or BREAKING BAD, the near novella form of the novels had to be dropped. The approach of the novels is what TV folks call “procedural.” Cinemax wanted a cast of recurring characters with their own evolving storylines – the novels are lone-wolf affairs, with few if any recurring characters.

Nonetheless, I have been impressed from the beginning that writers Michael Fuller and Graham Gordy have been able to draw upon the novels in resourceful, respectful ways that guarantee that my DNA stays in the mix. The eight-episode season that just concluded draws heavily upon the first novel, QUARRY (1976), which presents Quarry five years into doing hits for the Broker. The backstory of that novel – Quarry coming home to find his wife having an affair, followed by Quarry killing the guy – is depicted in the first episode right down to how the cheater dies. As director Yaitanes has made clear, the TV series is an origin story, a prequel to the novel series. And Mike and Graham understood, from the start, that Quarry was a PTSD vet (though the term wasn’t around when I wrote the early novels) and that the Vietnam War was very much an underlying theme. I was very pleased when they agreed with me that the show be set in early ‘70s period.

The Broker remains very much my character, and the way he insinuates himself into Quarry’s life on the show is clever and satisfying. In the 1976 novel, Quarry discovers the Broker is involved in heroin trafficking and this initiates the deterioration of their relationship – that aspect is present in the series in a major way. Also, Quarry in that first novel is working with a gay partner who is losing his focus – also a major aspect of the series. Quarry’s self-hating annoyance at the Broker’s various proteges comes from the 1976 novel as well.

Don’t be confused by my Executive Producer credit – that’s doesn’t mean I have control of anything. The TV series is the vision of Fuller and Gordy (as executed by Yaitanes), and when I write an episode, I am following their lead. It’s their baby. And of course when I’m writing a QUARRY novel, it’s all mine. Nobody gets near that crib but me.

What is important is that the original novels get some nice attention drawn to them, because of the quality TV series the books have spawned. It means more sales. More readers. More money. Much as I love my work, this is not a hobby – I’m trying to make a living here. When something like the QUARRY TV series happens that I can be proud of, so much the better.

Haven’t watched Wild Dog on ARROW yet, by the way. Is he played by a sock monkey? Just wondering.

* * *

The extended battle sequence I mention above is discussed by director Yaitanes here.

Here’s a short, sweet review of the new expanded version of the ROAD TO PERDITION prose novel. It was picked up by AP and has had wide coverage on the Net.

Finally, here are “15 Things You Didn’t Know About Wild Dog.”

M.A.C.

Every Breath I Take

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

Anybody who has been following my weekly updates this year, even casually, knows I’ve had “health issues.” For a guy who’s been healthy as a horse his entire life, that’s taken some getting used to.

I started to write a recap of my heart surgery and all the procedures leading up to it, but my eyes started to glaze. Let’s cut to (unfortunate phrase) something that turned up in the run-up to the previous surgery – an “infiltrate” in my lower right lung lobe. What follows is a sequel to my three-part “Heart & Soul” write-up about my heart-surgery hospitalization. There will only be one part, this time, and remember what Patty McCormack said in MOMMY’S DAY: “Don’t you know the sequel is never better than the original?”

Last Monday (Oct. 24, as I write this), Barb and I arrived at Trinity Medical Center in Rock Island at ten a.m. for my noon surgery. Barb was deposited in a waiting room where there were plenty of chairs but nonetheless she discovered that people coughing thought sitting close to her was a good idea. I was shuffled off to a space that was larger than a cubicle but smaller than a hospital room where I was required to climb into one of those your-ass-is-hanging-out robes, questioned, given an EKG and drained of some blood (Halloween coming) and subjected to the procedure I was dreading more than surgery: an IV.

The nurse supervising all this, doing much of it herself, was great. All of the nurses I would encounter on this trip were really good, several absolutely top-notch. Barb was allowed to join me at this point. My surgeon, Dr. K, came in with his easy-going bedside manner and made us feel fine, or as fine as possible. The surgery would last an hour, unless he found something he wanted to deal with on the spot, and that could take a couple of hours.

I was feeling pretty cocky. I was convinced this was nothing much, since heart-surgery patients have been through too much to be easily intimidated, and rejected the ride down the hall on my back or in a wheelchair and instead jauntily strolled down the corridor with a nurse, nodding and smiling to all we encountered, my ass hanging out, of course. It’s not my worst feature.

In the operating room, I cracked wise, putting everybody at ease, and soon I was under. When I awoke, seemingly moments later, I was in intense pain. My back felt like I was having the most intense muscular cramp I’d ever experienced. Though it’s a blur, I learned fairly soon that Dr. K had removed half of my lower right lung lobe, and that a chest tube was in, which was causing a lot of my discomfort.

That discomfort was shocking – worse than the heart surgery aftermath had been. I had not been expecting this – it was like waking to find out a truck had hit the operating room.

Before very long Barb was right there with me. She knew, when the operation went deep into a second hour, this was not what we’d expected.

Let’s get this out of the way – she is one amazing woman. She was with me all the way, right there, with support, love and sweet humor. The nurses all commented on what a great wife I have (I do not recall her being told she has a great husband…an oversight, I’m sure). She looked beautiful throughout, and several nurses who discovered we’d been married 48 years were stunned that she might be, well, as old as me.

As afternoon eased (ha!) into evening, Barb and I came to grips with the reality: what was advertised as a probable overnight stay would be at least three or four days, maybe longer (this Dr. K soon confirmed). I didn’t eat anything that first day, but the pain medication (one of those press-it-for-more buttons) did well enough. We watched MSNBC (my conservative friends will now lose all sympathy for me) because I’m a political junkie, especially election years. I had books along, but didn’t have the focus to read. I had my portable blu-ray player along, too, but just wasn’t in the mood.

Barb stayed till about nine p.m. I was coming in and out of it – I’d sleep an hour, watch TV an hour, sleep an hour. And of course medical stuff was doing on, lots of checking my vitals and tending to monitors. Here I encountered the first great nurse, Trish, who chatted with me like an old friend whenever she found me awake. She was a reader, it seemed. She wound up with a signed TARGET LANCER (she’s a Chicago girl).

The stay in the ICU was pleasant, considering, and I expressed a desire not to be moved to another floor, as is the custom on the second day. I was told there wasn’t much chance of moving me, since there were “a lot of beds ahead of me,” so I would probably be able to stay with Trish and the other nurses I’d gotten to know. Like Antonio and Maria, student nurses from Blackhawk College, whose smiles made terrific medicine.

And of course that evening I was moved to the sixth floor. Barb was unhappy. The room was small (though, incredibly, had once been a double). The TV was high, at an angle helpful to no one. One of two dim wall lights was burnt out (not on my side of the room). There was an area for a sink, but no sink. Barb described it as “Strictly Motel 8.”

Wayne, an older nurse with a Willie Nelson beard and the soothing Southern accent to with it, came along to make our stay more pleasant. He moved the bed near the working light, bitching about the lack of sink (putting us on the same team), and creating a generally welcoming atmosphere.

Along the way I came to terms with hospital food. On my previous trip, Barb had smuggled in a restaurant meal every day to off-set the horror, but I was determined not to put her through that again. I studied that menu like a professor working on a fragment of Sanskrit parchment, and learned what could be abided here – an omelette (made to order) for breakfast, with orange juice and either English muffin or bagel and cream cheese; lunch: meatloaf with gravy, mashed potatoes with gravy, green beans, slice of bread (for God’s sake not “dinner roll!”), vanilla pudding; supper: penne pasta and meat sauce, corn, bread again, pudding again. More than that I cannot help you.

By the third day I was getting worried, but the pain (though controlled by the magic button) was not letting up. I couldn’t reach for anything outside of my immediate grasp without excruciating pain kicking in. I was envisioning weeks of brutal, blubbering recovery. Nonetheless, I resumed my cocky manner and when the physical therapist, a nice young woman, came around, I disdainfully accepted the walker she offered and went up and down the hall, as well as half a flight of steps, without any other help (though the P.T. gal hovered).

Deposited back in my bed, I gave the therapist a jaunty wave and, once she left, lay in a whimpering pile.

That afternoon, however, Dr. K came around and gave Barb a detailed version of stuff he’d told me the day before, when she wasn’t around. (I’d tried to report it back to her, but it was a jumble.) His opinion was that the thing he’d removed from me wasn’t malignant, and it certainly wasn’t lung cancer. But it was possible it could be some lesser cancer, and was being shipped around the country like lost luggage. Experts would let us know in a week or two.

Then he asked Barb to leave the room and he put me on my left side and removed the chest tube. Now I’d had two chest tubes removed in the heart-surgery adventure, not fun, so I was pretty scared, and my body was no help, going into immediate spasms. But the tube came out easily, and instantly – instantly! – the pain was reduced by at least half.

That afternoon I realized I was out of the woods. I could reach for things! I felt more or less human. And Barb and I became determined that I would be home tomorrow, on the fourth day of this episode.

Through this, Barb continued to spend the days and early evenings with me, and I watched more political stuff with and without her. My sleep in the hospital always is uneven, in part because there are interruptions for taking your vitals and making you do breathing exercises; but also because it just is. Worst of all was a 4 a.m. blood draw – while there’s lots of blood in my books, I prefer it absent from my life. Anyway, I would sleep for an hour or two, read or watch something for an hour or two, rinse, repeat.

I watched two movies, neither very good, but not terrible. One was a noir called PLUNDER ROAD (1957) where a bunch of unsympathetic characters pull off a robbery and flee and, 71 minutes later, wind up dead. Okay by me. The other was YOUNG SAVAGES (1961), a juvie courtroom melodrama with Burt Lancaster as a D.A. who comes to the conclusion that maybe he shouldn’t fry three kids for a murder. It’s based on the novel A MATTER OF CONVICTION by Evan Hunter, apparently an attempt to make BLACKBOARD JUNGLE lightning strike twice (it didn’t) and not a patch on any of his Ed McBain 87th Precinct novels.

Now back when we were anticipating this hospital visit, Barb had scolded me about my choice of movies. Why didn’t I watch something good? Something great? Why subject myself to such schlock? Her opinion was that watching good movies would make me suffer less. Regular readers here may recall that I reviewed the fourteen such flicks I saw on my heart-surgery romp, and that they were only moderately less painful than the surgery.

And now I know why I do this to myself – it suddenly came to me! Why watch something really good when you’re miserable and can’t truly enjoy it? Instead, watch some mediocrity that has an element of interest to you (actor, screenwriter, director, cheesy genre) and just kill the time. Do you really want to make VERTIGO or KISS ME DEADLY a hospital memory?

Anyway, the next day I felt even better, and was cocky again, showing off for the physical therapist, rejecting the walker, walking twice as far, going up and down the stairs, a real Olympic work-out. We encountered, on our journey, a P.T. gal from the fifth floor and we had a warm reunion at the nurses’ station. Everybody was proud of me. Aware my ass was hanging out, I reminded these women where my eyes were.

Back in my room, Tessa – my main physical therapist from the fifth floor back in February – came looking for me. That meant a lot. She’s beautifully pregnant now, and I made both Barb and Tessa laugh when I denied paternity. These are the kind of inappropriate remarks you can make at my age in the hospital.

All that was left was to convince Dr. K that I was ready to be discharged. When he entered the room, I stood up so fast from the poorly designed hospital-room recliner that I almost blew it by falling down. But he only smiled, asked a few questions, and sent us on our way. In hospital terms, “being sent on your way” means you sit for three hours waiting for the paperwork to come through.

So I’m back home with the beautiful Barbara. Oddly I don’t feel as well as I did that last day in the hospital. It’s context. You feel great for the hospital. At home, you wondering, Maybe I should still be in the hospital…

I’m writing this on Sunday October 30. On Friday I did some work with Matt Clemens regarding the cover for EXECUTIVE ORDER. Yesterday I did some editorial work on the third Caleb York novel. Baby steps. Tomorrow I will see how much I can get done on a Caleb chapter.

Yes, we are waiting for a shoe to drop where the thing they cut out of me is concerned. Positivity and prayers are welcome, but we feel good. Not cocky, but good.


One week after surgery. (M.A.C., not the pumpkin.)

* * *

The final episode of the first season of QUARRY has aired. I’ll share thoughts about it next time.

Here’s an interesting review of that episode.

Here’s a remarkable overview of my work, with an emphasis on QUARRY and lots of fun pics.

Check out this terrific interview with Mike Fuller and Graham Gordy, QUARRY’s TV stepfathers.

And this one with director Greg Yaitanes.

Here’s a look at the show itself.

QUARRY is number seven on this list of the best 11 TV series of the season.

And finally check out this great take on the QUARRY series from the Washington Post.

M.A.C.