Posts Tagged ‘Quarry’s Ex’

Target Lancer Book Tour Stops Announced

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

See elsewhere on this page for the full list of dates with start times for the TARGET LANCER tour.

New York remains the center of publishing and we have many friends there, as well as a few relatives. So the hurricane bearing down upon the East Coast is much on our minds, and we request that your thoughts and prayers be with the residents of the states getting the brunt of this latest blast of extreme weather.

I continue to work on ASK NOT, the follow-up to TARGET LANCER. This has been a brutal, even punishing experience, due to the mass of research material and the difficulties that material presents. What I have been wrestling with throughout is how much time compression to use, in order to make the narrative more compelling. That kind of thing is common in writing Heller: balancing the “true detective” mandate of giving an accurate look at history against the need to do an exciting suspense story. Time compression is definitely the biggest liberty I take, on just about every Heller, and this one is no exception. With luck, I have about two weeks to go.

We will very soon have a You Tube promo for TARGET LANCER that my longtime collaborator Phil Dingeldein shot for me. Phil and I continue to explore doing a new low-budget horror film, probably starring Danielle from AMERICAN PICKERS, on which Phil is a key shooter and occasional director.

Advance TARGET LANCER reviews continue to flow in, like this great one from a first-rate writer, Ron Fortier.

I enjoyed this LADY, GO DIE! review by a reader who is grappling with his dislike of Mike Hammer as a character, or at least certain aspects of Hammer’s character, but is starting to like the books. I would point out to a lot of Hammer’s critics, who don’t like the way he seems to be sadistically enjoying the punishment he dishes out, that Hammer reacts that way when dishing out violence upon bad guys. He’s a selective sadist.

Here’s another LADY, GO DIE! review, short but fun.

A review of DEADLY BELOVED has popped up, after all this time. Generally a decent review, but the reviewer doesn’t quite grasp the larger-than-life, tongue-in-cheek nature of the material.

Similarly, this good review of QUARRY’S EX doesn’t entirely “get” Quarry himself, but it’s fun to see a new, presumably younger reader grappling with the character.

Here’s a cool review of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS MURDER, which will soon be available in a new edition from Thomas & Mercer (both trade paperback and e-book).

A week from the day this appears, Barb and I will be working in the local Obama office. Yes, I am revealing what everyone already knows: that I support the current President. How can the guy who is continuing Mike Hammer vote for a Democrat? (This is a question my friend and partner Jane Spillane must ask herself everyday!) Well, it speaks to some of the character issues that critics are perplexed with above. I think Mike Hammer is a fantastic character, but I wouldn’t vote for him for president. Not that Obama’s opponent is Mike Hammer, by any means. After all, it was a Hammer-like team sent by my guy that took down Bin Laden.

M.A.C.

PWA Hammers it Home

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Barb and I are freshly back from the Bouchercon in Cleveland. As you may know, neither BYE BYE, BABY nor QUARRY’S EX received a Shamus award (there are no sadder words than those seen all around the net today about those two novels: “Also nominated were”). But to my astonishment, the Private Eye Writers of America presented me with The Hammer, the award honoring a private eye character who has had a long, influential run. Here’s the official language:

“The Hammer – a commendation celebrating a memorable private-eye character or series, and named after Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer – was presented to Nate Heller, the character created by Max Allan Collins.”

It was presented by my pal John Lutz, whose introductory speech was generous and gracious. Coming from a writer of John’s talent and standing made this surprise an even bigger treat. I frankly thought when John was called to the podium for the Hammer presentation that he was winning the award for his great Nudger character, until he began talking about the detective being honored in terms of Chicago, Capone and having bedded both Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield.


L to R: MAC, John Lutz

Incidentally, I believe John was on the committee that gave TRUE DETECTIVE the Shamus for Best Novel in 1984.

This was part of a delightful evening on the Nautica Queen (in the rain on rolling waters), where Barb and I (and cohort Matthew Clemens) hobnobbed with tons of writers and editors and assorted publishing folk, including (but not at all limited to) agent Dominick Abel, writer John Gilstrap, writer/editor Joe Pittman (who with Michaela Hamilton, also present, edited the Penguin run of Nate Heller), EQMM editor Janet Hutchings, Sara Paretsky, Parnell Hall, and so, so many more. The grand bash was thrown by PWA founder Bob Randisi, and beautifully organized by his significant other, Christine Matthews.

Bouchercon itself was fine, if not one of the best of these events. The dealer’s room was small, there were some unfortunate screw-ups (double-booking the ballroom where Kensington’s party was to be held), and I personally wasn’t crazy about some of the panel topics. My personal gripe was that I was in Cleveland but was not put on a panel to discuss local hero Eliot Ness (who appears in the graphic novel ROAD TO PERDITION, about half of the Heller novels, who I write about in his own Cleveland-centric series, and have done an Edgar-nominated play and award-winning film about). All writers have such bitches, but I think mine just might have some validity.

The panel I did appear on was fun but odd, because none of us participating cared much for the topic – MANFICTION. Even the Jon Lovitz-like moderator Andrew Gulli (STRAND editor) disavowed it, about two-thirds through. The discussion primarily focused on thrillers, and the need not to write just for men, but for human beings, which includes women. I thought Barb’s panel, on MYSTERY MATURES (older sleuths – like Mother in the ANTIQUES novels) was much better. Barb was the moderator and the panelists were a varied but articulate and humorous group – Barb did a fantastic job, very funny and deft, and you came away wanting to buy every panelist’s book. That’s the perfect panel.

The biggest disappointment for me was not at all the con’s fault. So many of my friends were not there. Some of the familiar faces that were M.I.A. (another list that could be much longer) were Charles Ardai, Bill and Judy Crider, Gary Phillips, Jeff Pierce and Jon and Ruth Jordan. Without those folks, it just wasn’t exactly Bouchercon for me. But I did get to touch bases with writer Mike Dennis, the legendary Otto Penzler (key in getting Mike Hammer back into print), and writer Dave Zeltzerman, founder of the Top Suspense Group. Again, that’s a short list – I could add Ted Hertel, George Easter, Ted Fitzgerald, Ali Karim and on and on.

Also, the opening night (hosted by Thomas & Mercer) was at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, where I saw such dizzying artifacts as the electric piano Zombie keyboardist Rod Argent used on “She’s Not There,” a guitar on which Bobby Darin composed songs, the Vox Continental used by Ray Manzarek on “Light My Fire,” and the silver-gray mod suits worn by the Beatles. Barb took pics of Stevie Nicks’ various dresses and almost got us kicked out.

On a further positive note, Barb and I (and also Matt and I) had business breakfasts and assorted meetings with editors from Thomas & Mercer and Kensington and more, and for all the doom and gloom preached about current publishing, things look bright for MAC, Barbara Allan, and the Collins/Clemens team.

M.A.C.

2012 Shamus Nominees—M.A.C. up for Two!

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

NEWS FLASH:

The Private Eye Writers of America (PWA) just announced this year’s Shamus Awards nominees, and M.A.C. made the cut not once but twice—for BYE BYE, BABY and QUARRY’S EX. Here’s the full list, and Max’s Update continues below.

2012 Shamus Awards Nominees

BEST HARDCOVER PI NOVEL

Bye Bye, Baby by Max Allan Collins / Tom Doherty
1222 by Anne Holt / Scribner
When the Thrill is Gone by Walter Mosley / Riverhead Books
A Bad Night’s Sleep by Michael Wiley / Minotaur
The Highly Effective Detective Crosses the Line by Richard Yancey / Minotaur

BEST FIRST PI NOVEL

The Plot Against Hip Hop by Nelson George / Akashic
Claire Dewitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran / Houghton Mifflin
The Ocean Forest by Troy D. Nooe / Ingalls
The Shortcut Man by P.G. Sturges / Scribner
The Stranger You Seek by Amanda Kyle Williams / Bantam

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL PI NOVEL

Quarry’s Ex by Max Allan Collins / Hard Case Crime
Threat Warning by John Gilstrap / Kensington
Serial by John Lutz / Kensington
Long Pig by James L. Ross / Perfect Crime Books
Fun & Games by Duane Swiercyzinski / Mulholland

BEST PI SHORT STORY

“A Bullet From Yesterday” by Terence Faherty in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (Jan.)
“Mr. Monk & The Sunday Paper” by Lee Goldberg in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (July)
“Who I Am” by Michael Z. Lewin in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (Dec.)
“Vampire Slayer Murdered in Key West” by Michael West in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (Sept. / Oct.)
“Dancer in a Storm” by L. A. Wilson in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine (Jan. / Feb.)

Antiques Chop Talk

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Right now I am in the home stretch of my draft of ANTIQUES CHOP, the seventh “Trash ‘n’ Treasures” mystery that Barb and I have collaborated upon. I should finish this week (and I better, because April 1st is the deadline) (no fooling). Nate suggested that, while I’m in the midst of it, I provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the process.

Barb and I begin with a succession of business lunches where we first come up with the basic concept, and usually tie it to a title. The pattern of the titles are to have the word ANTIQUES followed by a punning word, and we have a list of these (continually growing). This time the title ANTIQUES CHOP sparked the premise (sometimes it’s the other way around), leading to the mystery revolving around an ax murder, an unusually gruesome crime for a supposed “cozy.”

We often look at “antique” crimes, which is to say crimes that occurred decades ago but are having latter-day ramifications. So I suggested we make an unsolved Lizzie Border-esque ax murder the centerpiece of the story, and wrote a faux entry about the crime for a non-existent true-crime encyclopedia. From there Barb and I began the back-and-forth process of coming up with a fairly detailed plot. We have to turn in a sample chapter and brief synopsis to our editor at Kensington (and get approval), so we have to have a firm idea of where we’re going before Barb gets started on her draft.

Barb works on that draft for probably six months, although that six months may stretch out to an entire year, because she isn’t always working on it – summers tend to be busy and that keeps her away from the work. Last year, for example, we went on a west coast book tour, plus there’s comic con and other distractions.

As Barb writes, I stay out of her way unless she has a problem or a concern about what she’s up to. Sometimes we discuss a plot point, and oftentimes we discuss it if she feels she has a need to deviate from the plot as originally conceived. Generally, though, I give her all the space she needs.

When Barb delivers her draft, it’s usually about 200 to 225 pages of doubled-spaced copy. My job is to expand and flesh out her draft, providing more dialogue and even more humor and generally apply what I laughingly think of as a more professional gloss. The end result will be 300 to 330 pages. I do my pass in a month or less, working hard and intensely, with Barb editing and suggesting revisions as I go (she reads it, and provides her notes, a chapter at a time). We do a lot of this over business lunches – just yesterday, on what was otherwise a day off, we discussed two plot points that needed shoring up in the chapter I just finished and the one that I will be doing today.

The final step is for me to spend a day or two re-reading the manuscript and marking up a hard copy with revisions, with Barb entering them in the chapter files. Then, common to all writers, we ship it (by e-mail these days) and hold our collective breath, hoping for a delighted response from the editor. On this series, we’ve been lucky to get that response pretty much every time. Occasionally there are rewrites, as on ANTIQUES MAUL where the editor felt the murder occurred too late in the mystery, and we reshaped the book so that it happened virtually on page one and then flashed back.

I said “final step” above, but of course there is much more to do – there will be a copy-edited manuscript to check, and at least one round of galley proofs. We tend to trade off on these assignments, with Barb doing the copy-edited manuscript and me reading the galley proofs. We divide the work that way because (a) I hate the copy-editing stage, since the Moriarty of my career is the Intrusive Copy Editor Who Stalks Me Under Various Names and Guises, and (b) Barb is thoroughly sick of the book by the galley proof stage and is content to leave that step to me.

Do we squabble? Not much. Hardly at all. I may get testy if, as I’m moving forward in my draft, Barb indicates (and she’s always right) that I need to go back and make a few fixes in a chapter that I had considered finished. This occurs, on the rare occasion that it does occur, early in the morning before I have had a chance to become fully human. Let’s just say, first thing in the morning, I’m more Quarry than Mallory.

So there you go. That’s how this particular flavor of sausage is made.

* * *

It’s gratifying to note that I received such a warm reaction to my defense of the film JOHN CARTER – which, let’s face it, was fairly shrill, since the premise of my piece was that anyone who didn’t like the movie was an idiot. Not only did my piece receive more comments than usual, a number of blogs provided links and made favorable comments on my take on this beleaguered film.

I am pleased to say that the early reviews on LADY GO, DIE! are coming in and, so far, are all favorable. The book received a very nice write-up in the often tough Publisher’s Weekly.

And there was a very gratifying (and I think perceptive) review from one of my favorite contemporary crime writers, Bill Crider, at his blog (perhaps the best mystery fiction blog out there).

Similarly, Ron Fortier – another strong contemporary scribe – has written a LADY, GO DIE! review that appears at several blogs, including his own Pulp Fiction Reviews.

The Brandywine site continues to work through the Nate Heller backlist, and this time FLYING BLIND is discussed.

QUARRY’S EX has picked up several, slightly belated (favorable) reviews, like this one at Books Are For Squares and this one at Pulp 300.

Here’s a thoughtful new look at the film version of ROAD TO PERDITION.

And here’s a guy who says he’s addicted to my books. I have to wonder if he discovered Nate Heller through the Amazon reprint series, who essentially gave TRUE DETECTIVE away (for under two bucks) for a while there. You know, the drug dealers really had something with their “first one’s free” approach.

M.A.C.