Posts Tagged ‘Quarry’

Mike Hammer Returns…and Another Book Giveaway!

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

Hardcover:
E-Book: Amazon Google Play Nook Kobo
Audiobook (digital): Kobo Audible
Audiobook (MP3 CD): Amazon Nook
Audiobook (Audio CD): Amazon Nook

The day this post appears is the pub date for the new Mike Hammer novel from Titan, Murder, My Love.

I am offering ten copies to readers who are willing to post a review at Amazon and other sites, such as Barnes & Noble and Goodreads. We also have eight Advance Reading copies of the new Barbara Allan, which is not out till April 30, Antiques Ravin’. And five more Advance Reading copies of Girl Most Likely. When you enter, list your order of preference for which book to receive (and let me know if you already have a Girl Most Likely or if there’s one of these three titles you simply aren’t interested in).

With Antiques Ravin’ and Girl Most Likely, you will need to wait till pub day to review at Amazon. Elsewhere you should be good to go.

You need to be in the USA – foreign mailings are expensive – and you must send me your snail mail address (even if you won in the past).

Send requests to macphilms@hotmail.com.

As you may have noticed, if you follow the comments section, there has been misunderstanding about the reader reviews that are the point of these books being sent out. They are not being sent out of the goodness of my heart. They mean to generate positive reviews and nice star ratings at Amazon.

For that reason, I’ve made it clear that anyone who wins a book in one of my giveaway from me, and winds up not liking the book, need not feel obligated to review it. I don’t mean such readers should lie and say that liked the book, just that they not slag it at my expense. These book giveaways are an expensive and time-consuming undertaking. The one Barb and I are launching here will run me around $150.

This is why I suggested that if you win a book, and can’t at least give it a mixed but predominantly favorable review, you just don’t bother. That you chuck it in the circular file or take it to Half-Price books and earn yourself a dime or so.

I don’t think this is unreasonable.

On the other hand, review copies sent to readers for honest reviews by Amazon or the publisher’s PR reps can say whatever they please – obviously. Ditto for book giveaways at Goodreads. An honest bad review is a perfectly acceptable response in that kind of giveaway.

Just don’t ask the author for a free book and then trash it in public.

Now, I admit to being annoyed with the First Read reviewers who get free books from Amazon and then savage them. But I can’t do anything about it except bitch.

A few words about Murder, My Love.

This is the first Mike Hammer novel that contains no Spillane prose – strictly Collins. Every single novel of the dual-byline Spillanes that preceded had at least a chapter or two by Mickey, although I always expanded and manipulated that material to extend the Spillane influence and his sound. This time I did, however, work from a fairly detailed synopsis of a novel he intended to write, although it may have been a synopsis of Mickey’s for a Mike Hammer TV movie for Stacy Keach and producer Jay Bernstein (my introduction explains my reasoning and sets the novel’s place in the chronology of the series).

The next Hammer novel, which I haven’t started yet, does have some Spillane prose in it, though it too is mostly a synopsis.

For those who have wondered, I will likely be converting some non-Mike Hammer material – two screenplays and several starts on novels – into Hammers, if Titan moves forward with another contract (or two).

I think Murder, My Love came out rather well, and it certainly feels like authentic Hammer to me. I’ll be interested in your opinion.

* * *

One of my favorite crime writers is the late Ted Lewis, whose novel Jack’s Return Home (1985) became the great Brit crime film, Get Carter (1971). I wrote about Lewis in an introduction to the Jack Carter prequel novel in 2014, Jack Carter’s Law, originally published in 1978.

Recently I read a solid bio of Lewis by Nick Triplow, Getting Carter: Ted Lewis and the Birth of Brit Noir, published in the UK in 2017 by No Exit Press (it’s also available here). Lewis is an interesting but sad, even tragic figure, another artist taken down by self-doubt and alcoholism. I was fascinated (but not surprised) to learn that Lewis had been heavily influenced by Spillane and by Richard Stark’s Parker novels, to which Lewis had been led by the film Point Blank…because that was exactly the case with me. So Nolan and Quarry grew out of the same influences as Jack Carter.

But something strange and oddly wonderful, at least in my view (Small World, Dept.), popped up late in the book, in a discussion of Jack Carter’s Law, the very book I would one day introduce and praise. Triplow had difficulty finding any contemporary press reviews for that novel, with the only one turning up coming from the Carroll Daily Times Herald, the “Iowa Book Shelf” by reviewer R. Choate, who praises the book as offering a “realistic background of the London criminal element,” but says it’s “not recommended for those with squeamish stomachs.”

In the very next paragraph of the bio, Triplow talks about what I had to say of the same novel in my 2014 introduction. He of course doesn’t mention I am also from Iowa, and perhaps doesn’t know.

Here’s what had my jaw dropping: “R. Choate” is almost certainly Richard Choate, at the time a Des Moines area actor who was one of Michael Cornelison’s best friends. Do I have to tell readers of these updates that Cornelison was also one of my best friends, and that he had major roles in every one of my indie films and narrated both of my documentaries? That his one-man show of my Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life is streaming on Amazon Prime right now?

I met Richard through Mike, and it’s entirely possible that Mike – knowing of my interest in crime fiction and film – made Choate aware of the book called in America, Jack Carter and the Law.

Richard Choate – who I haven’t seen since the public tribute to Mike, where I spoke – was originally going to have a major role in my indie film, Real Time: Siege at Lucas Street Market (2000). In fact, I wrote the part for him (he’s a wonderful actor), but a last-minute unexpected conflict with his day job made it necessary for me to re-cast the day before we went into production.

So what? (you might reasonably wonder).

But I ask you to put yourself in my place, innocently reading a book about one of your favorite authors and then having the coincidence of those two adjoining paragraphs gobsmack you.

To put it in some kind of less than ridiculous context, it was likely the one review Lewis got came from my talking up Get Carter to Mike, which likely led to him mentioning it to Richard, who then gave the prequel novel its only known review, until I wrote that 2014 introduction….

Cue Rod Serling and the music.

Two postscripts.

I believe Richard is in Oregon now and still involved in theater, and also in addiction treatment and counseling.

Also, Carter himself, Michael Caine, has a book out (Blowing the Bloody Doors Off) that is wonderful reading, not an autobio exactly (he’s done several of those), but reflections on his acting career and how what he’s experienced and learned can be translated to other professions. Much of what he says can easily be transferred to the writing game.

But, interestingly, he says little about Get Carter and doesn’t seem to particularly value it as anything special. This is odd because in Great Britain it is widely considered the best UK crime film of all. I would rate it Caine’s best, even above The Ipcress File and The Man Who Would Be King. I do agree with him, though, that the third Harry Palmer film, The Billion-Dollar Brain, is woefully underrated.

* * *

If you read this the day it’s posted (Tuesday, March 19, 2019), I will be appearing in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at an event for writers dedicated to the memory of my late friend and great writer, Ed Gorman – a free 7 p.m. presentation in Sinclair Auditorium at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.

Here is an article – which is among the better in depth articles written about me ever, by the way – with the details.

And here is a terrific article about Ms. Tree (and the upcoming series of collections from Titan) at the generally terrific Stiletto Gumshoe site.

Finally, here’s where you can get a signed copy of Girl Most Likely. (Not a giveaway!)

71 Candles, the Anthony Awards & a Big Thrill

Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

If you are attending Bouchercon this year, you probably have already received your ballot for the Anthony Awards nominations. This is your reminder that Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness and the Battle for Chicago by Max Allan Collins and A. Brad Schwartz is eligible in the non-fiction category. Your votes would be much appreciated, as it’s an opportunity for us to strike back at the Edgar snub.

Other things of mine you might wish to consider are Killing Town by Spillane & Collins and Antiques Wanted by Barbara Allan in Best Novel. Also eligible are the two graphic novels, Mike Hammer: The Night I Died and Quarry’s War in Best Paperback Original; and “The Big Run” by Spillane and Collins in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine; and “The Punk” by Spillane and Collins in Mystery Tribune are eligible in Best Short Story.

Only Bouchercon attendees can vote, and the ballot that will emerge from these early nominations will be distributed at the convention itself in Dallas, Oct. 31 – Nov. 3.

Deadline for returning the ballot (which you can do via e-mail) is Tuesday, April 30.

* * *

Yes, as I write this on March 3, 2019, I have turned seventy-one years old. Considering where I was three years ago – just getting out of the hospital after open-heart surgery and a stroke – I am pleased to be that. I am pleased to be anything.

But I think about the difficulties Harlan Ellison had staying an angry young man after fifty, and realize my boy wonder days are over.

My beautiful wife Barb (my only wife – that kind of sounds like I also have a plain wife and a homely wife stashed away somewhere) showed me a wonderful time today, despite the freezing cold weather. We spent the day in the Quad Cities, having breakfast at the Machine Shed (the best breakfast around), shopped at Barnes & Noble and BAM!, saw a very good black comedy/horror movie (Greta), and had my annual lobster dinner (at Red Lobster). The evening was spent watching episodes of the classic UK crime show The Sweeney, taking time out to watch myself and A. Brad Schwartz on Backstory with Larry Potash on WGN-TV.

It was pretty good. Brad and I come off well, although I am not thrilled that we were left out of a segment about the Eliot Ness scrapbooks at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland. I mean, I discovered those scrapbooks and their value and pointed them out to Case Western, decades ago, and to Larry Potash, a few months ago.

On the other hand, there was footage of Brad shooting a machine gun. He is clearly having too much fun doing so, which is a joy to see.

Oddly, I’ve been on national TV several times lately. Muscatine and I are featured on Fireball Run, a gumball rally type show whose premise I do not understand – I was interviewed at the Musser Museum and displayed (brought from home) original Chester Gould art and Mickey Spillane manuscript pages, among other precious artifacts. [The series is available on Amazon Prime Video at this link; Season 11, Episode 12: “Max and Me” –Nate]

I was also interviewed for a full half hour show on Fox Nation streaming service. Below is the preview of the episode, but be forewarned that the suggestion – at times the statement – that the episode is based on the Collins/Schwartz book is not the case. And Fox has been so informed, and corrections have been made, but not everywhere. It’s an interview about the book, interspersed with vintage footage and, oddly, a photo identified as Ness and used throughout the episode that isn’t Ness at all.

Such are the vicissitudes of media coverage when you’re out promoting a book or film.

Among the best birthday gifts I received this year was an unintentional one – The Big Thrill e-magazine from the International Thriller Writers put me on their cover and have given me (thanks to writer Alex Segura) a fantastic review of The Girl Most Likely and an article about me drawing upon an interview I gave Alex. The pic shows me in front of the actual St. Valentine’s Day Massacre wall, as preserved at the Mob Museum in Las Vegas. And this review/article is required reading.

M.A.C.

I Celebrate My Birthday By Giving You Such a Deal

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

Perhaps to celebrate my birthday day next week (March 3rd), Amazon is putting on sale almost all of my novels under their Thomas & Mercer imprint…for 99 cents each! It’s part of their Mystery, Thriller and Suspense Fiction book deals and runs throughout March, starting this Friday.

This includes all but the most recent Nathan Heller novels (the historical P.I. series that I consider my best work); here’s the list:

Also included in the Magical Max Allan Collins Birthday Sale is the entire run of Mallory novels:

Also the “disaster” series:

Plus these:

So if you were wondering what you should get me for my 71st birthday, I am far too selfless to want anything at all. Instead, why don’t you treat yourself to some under-a-buck books by me? It’s possible I will give any royalties to charity.

I mean, it’s possible.

* * *

Here’s a gallery of photos from the Mob Museum in Las Vegas on Feb. 16 when my Scarface and the Untouchable co-author, A. Brad Schwartz, interviewed me before a nice audience about Road to Perdition and Nate Heller, specifically the Vegas-centric Neon Mirage.






* * *

The announcement of Titan bringing out volumes collecting the complete Ms. Tree got a lot of play on the Internet and even in the print world, via The Hollywood Reporter (their story here).

It’s gratifying that – especially in the comics world – Ms. Tree artist/co-creator Terry Beatty and I received so much cyber-ink on this announcement. I stopped counting at a dozen write-ups! As John Huston as Noah Cross says in Chinatown, “Politicians, ugly buildings and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.”

There does seem to be some confusion about what exactly this first volume is – is it a re-launch with new material? Is it a “best of”?

No, it’s the complete run, although (at my request) we are starting at the end, with the ten graphic novellas we did for DC Comics in the early ‘90s. Five of them are collected in this first book to make up a graphic novel called One Mean Mother. (My preferred title – Drop Dead, Handsome – was overruled.)

* * *

Scroll down to see a brief but nice review of Killing Town from Steve Steinbock in The Jury Box in EQMM.

Here’s another brief bit from a reader who indicates we’ll be hearing more from her about Quarry and me.

This is a review of Girl Most Likely from a blogger, and it’s essentially good review, but I hate it. The reviewer quotes from an advance copy, which clearly advises against quoting since it’s not the final text, and blames me for the insertion (by an editor) of a “#” (hashtag) in a “MeToo” mention in dialogue. I had already asked the hashtag to be removed. (And I wrote the reviewer complaining about this breach and he did not post my comment.) His general tone is patronizing, and he has no understanding of the use of clothing description for characterization purposes. He complains that a plot avenue isn’t resolved when it is. He says the killer’s identity comes out of left field when another reviewer accused me of making it too overly obvious (as we say in the comics, “Sigh”).

A much better review is scheduled to appear in the next issue of Booklist, which I’ll share next week.

Finally, guess what film based on a graphic novel is on a “best gangster movies of all time” list?

M.A.C.

Inspiration, Perspiration and Exasperation

Tuesday, January 29th, 2019

Paperback:
E-Book: Amazon Google Play Nook Kobo iTunes

USS Powderkeg will be available on February 1. You are unlikely to find it in a bookstore, so go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble or BAM! iTunes has it, too – read about that here.

Info about the book itself is available at Brash Books.

We have used the cover before, but this book – finally under my preferred title with my revised text – is important to me and will require some effort on your part to lay hands on it. This is the novel based on my late father’s experiences in World War II as one of a handful of white officers on an ammunition ship whose crew was otherwise African-American.

After shrugging off our disappointment at Scarface and the Untouchable not getting nominated for an Edgar – my “shrugging off” included expressing how pissed off I was, on Facebook – my co-author, A. Brad Schwartz and I are digging in to make some corrections and additions to the upcoming trade paperback edition (June 4).

This will include a new preface as well as bonus material (in the style of DVD extras) that will focus on the newly discovered case file of one of the Untouchables, which serves to underscore and further verify our conclusions about Ness and how he and his team have been underestimated and short-changed by history.

We are also prepping for a visit to the Mob Museum in Las Vegas over Valentine’s Day, about which more will appear here next week. Brad has also been out on the stump by himself somewhat, as I have been burrowed in, here in very cold Iowa, working on novels. Yesterday day I completed the new Quarry novel, Killing Quarry – although I will be re-reading it and tweaking it and such for a few days this week.

Anyway, among Brad’s adventures in promoting our book (did I mention the criminal overlooking of this major tome by the MWA true crime committee?) included this fine interview.

Speaking of the MWA committee’s neglect, someone I trust has suggested the intimidating length of the book probably put some or all of the committee members off. I suspect some truth might be found in that opinion. Having served on MWA committees, I know it’s a fact of life that the committee members are swamped with books to read in full. On the other hand, the advance notices (particularly the fine mini-review from Grand Master Sara Paretsky) should have encouraged them to do so, anyway.

What can you do to help make the pain go away? Well, if you attend Bouchercon this year, you can vote for Scarface and the Untouchable in the non-fiction Anthony Awards category.

I know I plan to.

Hey, I realize this is undignified and sour grapes and boo-hoo-hoo. I have a love/hate relationship with awards, anyway (love to be nominated, hate not to be, and also losing). But awards as respected as the Edgars bring new readers to the nominated works and especially those that win. They have importance only in that regard, because otherwise it’s just a bunch of subjective nonsense.

I feel much the same way about reviews. I want good reviews not because I need validation, but because more readers will come to the books. I would be lying if I said bad reviews don’t matter to me, because they do, and not just in the sense that they discourage readers (sometimes, oddly enough, such reviews don’t always work that way). But it hurts to have something you’ve put hard work into savaged and/or dismissed, particularly when a smart reviewer nails you for something you’re guilty of.

What hurts about Scarface and the Untouchable is the work, and the years of research, that went into it. I am less angry about this for myself and more for my co-author, whose research (building on my original research in Heller and Ness novels) has upended conventional wisdom about Capone and his tax woes, and Ness and the lack of respect and credit he gets, from those who resent how Hollywood portrayed him. Brad did a stellar, mind-boggling job.

He deserved better.

* * *

As I mention, I finished Killing Quarry yesterday, and will dig into minor revisions throughout the rest of the week. I have a particularly full plate this year, which is why I have written three novels in four months – Murder, My Love with Mike Hammer; the Caleb York novel, now entitled Hot Lead, Cold Justice (my original title, The Big Die-Off, deemed too obscure); and now Killing Quarry. Very shortly I will begin serious work on Girl Can’t Help It, the prequel to the forthcoming Girl Most Likely, a task for which I’ve allowed several months. This will be followed by my draft of Antiques Fire Sale (Barb’s working on her draft now), which I have allowed another month for.

This is, of course, insane. Why do I work so hard? Why is somebody who has five doctor’s appointments with specialists this month behaving like this? Should I slow down? Barb thinks I should.

But I like doing this. I really do. And – while I feel fine and all my reports so far (the dentist today) have been positive – when you are 70 and in a month or so will be 71, you sense that maybe you don’t have all the time left in the world to tell your stories.

And I came here to tell stories.

All of which is prelude to what I want to discuss today. Would you agree that everybody has bad days? Various kinds of bad days, of course – from the simple out-of-sorts day to the depressed-about-bad-news day (not getting an Edgar nomination for a ground-breaking book, to just pull an example out of the air) to the nothing-is-going-right day to…you get the idea.

Now I’m not talking about a sick day (in my business, cold and flu generally don’t count – open-heart surgery does) or a day when tragedy has struck a loved one or friend. Nothing like that. Your favorite aunt dies? Take the day off with my blessing!

No, just that typical terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

When you are writing on a six-day-a-week schedule, with a deadline bearing down, you write anyway. Writer’s block is not allowed, and I never have it, anyway. Recently I thought I had finally encountered this mysterious, possibly mythical beast – I could not get a single workable thing on paper. I always start with a rough draft, knowing that I’m creating the clay for me to shape into sculpture. But this time, I couldn’t get anything on paper worth building on.

Why?

Well, turned out I was effing exhausted! Just flat-out fried. So I took a two-hour nap, as elderly folk are wont (and permitted) to do. When I got up from my snooze, the words flowed. Maybe not like wine, but definitely Coca Cola.

During the writing of Killing Quarry, I had perhaps three bad days – one of them Edgar-related, which of course I won’t go into. Ironically, one of that sorry trio was the last day of the process – the day on which the crucial last chapter was written.

Knowing I was facing a key part of my story, I considered taking the day off – it was Sunday, after all – and just letting my batteries recharge. But I hadn’t run this race to goof off just shy of the finish line. Plus, all of the plot stuff was filling my brain and assembled into good order – I knew exactly what needed doing.

So I did it.

It was something of a slog. I usually do three drafts of every chapter, then give it to Barb, who gives me notes, and I make minor corrections and revisions (sometimes they’re major – Barb has great story sense), and I’m done till the final read-through. Yesterday I did three drafts, took an hour nap, then came back and did another draft. Barb did her read-through and I made a few revisions and corrections from her notes. If you’re keeping score, that’s an additional draft or pass on the chapter.

Now, here is the lede I’m burying (why is it spelled “lede” not “lead”?) (and why don’t I just Google that and not bother you about it?): how does inspiration figure into a working fiction writer’s process?

I would imagine all of us have bursts of inspiration, sometimes entire work session-long ones. Maybe some writers feel inspired for days or even weeks – trust me, they don’t feel like that all the way through a project. Everybody has bad days, remember?

There are two kinds of writers – the ones who can only write on their inspired days, and who navel-gaze on their (many) off days; and the writers who are thankful for the inspired days that God or luck or somebody or some thing grants them, and who on their bad days soldier on. March through the mud to victory, or at least the end of the work day.

Now here is the real dirty little secret about inspiration – the inspired work and the struggle-to-get-through-it work are always of the same quality. When you go back and read through your story or novel, and recall the passages that came easily as if by automatic writing, those passages won’t be any better or worse than the stuff that came hard.

Or anyway those passages shouldn’t be.

Inspiration is just the days the work is going well. If you are any good at all as a writer, you will develop standards that you will not allow yourself to fall below, before you press on. You stay at it till the work you had to work hard at reads just as well as the work that came easy.

* * *

This story about Black Panther’s Oscar nominations mentions a certain other comics-derived film that once-upon-a-time received five nominations (hint: Road to Perdition).

A cry goes out to reprint the Marshall Rogers Batman comic strip. Who was it wrote that again? (Hint: me.)

Finally, Scarface and the Untouchable made Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Bookshop best of the year list, as chosen by the staff – see “Mike’s Picks” on page three.

M.A.C.