Posts Tagged ‘Saving Private Ryan’

Girl Most Likely

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

Audiobook Sample (MP3)
Paperback:
E-Book: Amazon
MP3 CD: Amazon
Audio CD: Amazon

I am, no fooling, writing this on April 1, which is the pub date of Girl Most Likely. The Galena, Illinois, based mystery/thriller, introducing police chief Krista Larson and her retired homicide cop father, Keith, marks a slight change of pace for me – although nothing so radical that anyone interested in my work will find themselves untethered.

First, if you live in or near Dubuque, Iowa, here’s what might like to spend the evening of Thursday, April 4 – I will be making the only major scheduled appeared for the new book at Carnegie-Stout Public Library, 360 W 11th Street, in Dubuque, starting at 7 p.m. The event will be hosted by River Lights Bookstore, who will sell books, including Girl Most Likely of course, and my appearance will be in the library’s auditorium space. I’ll give a short reading/talk, followed by an audience Q&A and the book signing. Barb will also be at the event and our “Barbara Allan” Antiques mysteries will be available there, too.

Second, those of you who have won advanced reading copies of the novel can now post your Amazon reviews. I have had one reader encounter difficulty getting Amazon to print a review – for reasons neither he nor I can figure out – but he was able to post the review easily at Barnes & Noble. So there’s your Plan B if you need one.

As I’ve said in interviews, Girl Most Likely grew out of my desire to do something reflective of the approach I’ve seen in the Nordic Noir of The Bridge, The Killing, Wallander, Varg Veum and other mystery/thrillers that combine wildly melodramatic bad guys with, generally, detectives who are a little more real than the P.I.s, hitmen and small-town theatrical divas I’ve been writing about in recent years.

Girl Most Likely is also reflective of my wanting to develop something more thriller-oriented for Thomas & Mercer, where such novels have been successful for them – including mine. The Reeder and Rogers political thrillers for T & M by Matt Clemens and me are among my best-selling novels ever. Supreme Justice has in particular racked up strong sales.

I view Girl Most Likely as an opportunity to expand my audience – to bring in more women, and younger readers who aren’t Baby Boomers like a lot of the Heller, Quarry and even Antiques readers are. The novel alternates points of view chapters between 28-year-old Krista (youngest police chief in the nation) and her 58-year-old father Keith, which allows me to court such new readers, as well as have the nice contrast between generations.

I shared here recently some of the odd reviews I got from the UK a while back – Girl was an Amazon Prime “First Read” title over there, last month – though most of the advance notices here have been pretty good to great. GoodReads (where I hope readers of these updates will consider posting reviews) has been somewhat spotty. This week we are likely to see more reviews and get a better general feel of the reaction.

The two complaints – from younger readers and often female ones – seem to be about the clothing description, which I’ve discussed here previously, and that the ending seems abrupt. The latter is because I ended the story without a post-game wrap-up chapter – you know, like on Perry Mason when Paul Drake says, “Perry, why did you have me drop dry ice into the Grand Canyon from a helicopter?” Instead I revert to my Spillane training and end the story when it’s over, in what is (I think) a punchy way.

One recurring compliment from readers posting reviews has been how much fun the book is – that it’s a great “beach read.” That’s at once nice to hear and a little bewildering. The novel has a number of second-person POV chapters, in which you are in the skin of a butcher-knife-wielding maniac. The violence, when it comes, is as rough as anything I have done elsewhere.

For me, as these early notices (like the wonderful review and article in The Big Thrill), have come at a distracting time, as I have been writing the sequel, Girl Can’t Help It. In fact, I finished that yesterday, or at least shipped it to my editor – one never knows if one is really “finished” until the editorial notes come in.

But working on a book in a series while reviews for the previous entry are coming in can be disconcerting – you feel like people are reading over your shoulder. Nonetheless, complaints about too much description, for example, are not going to convince me to send my characters running around naked in empty rooms – I will stubbornly continue to clothe them and put them in specific locations.

I do suspect – and it’s just a suspicion, and there’s no “boo hoo” in this – that some female readers may not be crazy about a man writing a woman’s point of view. I have of course done this many times before – Ms. Tree, anyone? – but I am occasionally getting that who-do-you-think-you-are vibe, imagined or not. This includes the objection that I sometimes call a female character “attractive,” as if I am imposing a cultural stereotype in so doing. But “attractive” is a subjective word – it’s one of those words that allows readers to plug whatever their idea of attractiveness is.

At any rate, I hope you will judge for yourself. I am very proud of this novel – and its sequel, which finds me dipping into my decades of rock ‘n’ roll in a way no novel of mine has before – and hope you will give them both a try.

Dan John Miller’s reading of the new novel is available now, too (haven’t listened to it yet – but Barb and I will, as Dan always performs in a stellar fashion). And I think Thomas & Mercer did an incredible job on the cover.

* * *

I see that Jordan Peele’s new horror film, Us, has topped $200 million at the box-office. Nonetheless, Barb and I walked out on it yesterday.

Hey, we gave it a good shot. Stayed for an hour. But we found it dreadfully slow in its opening act, rife with over-blown scary music to make up for the lack of scares, pitifully hammy, the dialogue an embarrassment, and the doppelganger menace (and its explanation) downright dopey. During the flashback that begins the picture, I immediately figured out the “big surprise” (confirmed by Wikipedia’s write-up, which I checked when we got home).

This is a 94% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, so your mileage may really vary.

On a happier note, Captain Marvel is an entertaining super-hero flick with a great lead in Brie Larson and (no kidding) a relatively restrained performance from Sam Jackson. Now, any director who achieves the latter is one fine director (although there were two on this one, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck).

I am also looking forward to the fun, goofy-looking real Captain Marvel movie, Shazam. I am still pissed that DC forced Captain Marvel off the comic book racks when I was five years old.

In other cinematic news, all seven Road movies with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour are now out on Blu-ray (that talented trio was not available for Road to Perdition, by the way). I have loved these movies since childhood, and saw Road to Bali and the somewhat unfortunate The Road to Hong Kong in the theater. Barb loves them, too, and over the years we’ve watched them on VHS and then on DVD and now on glorious Blu-ray. Lots of fun going through them in order.

The casual, somewhat adlibbed repartee between these two performers remains modern and amazing. Crosby, who cheerfully plays a rat throughout all but the first film, and Hope, who plays a cowardly schlemiel, are magical together. Some say the men were not friends off-screen, but this is doubtful – they were in several businesses together, went golfing, guested on each other’s radio shows frequently, etc. But who cares?

I mention this chiefly because when I was searching Google for articles about the Road series, I came across one that informed me that Hope and Crosby were not funny, because Hope was a womanizer and Crosby beat his kids. Apparently, this means the rest of us shouldn’t watch those movies and laugh.

This is a most unfortunate era we’re living in. As the divide between us increases, like Hope and Crosby straddling a widening icy chasm in Road to Utopia, we are all in danger of falling.

* * *

This is an article I wrote for Crime Reads about the rewards and benefits of a writer like me doing a change-of-pace novel.

Here’s a very nice Girl Most Likely review at Where the Reader Grows.

Girl Most Likely gets the number one slot in twelve good books to read in April, as selected by Cosmopolitan magazine.

The New York Post has chosen Girl Most Likely as one of its five best books of the week.

Finally, Matt Damon considers my novel version of Saving Private Ryan to be one of his five most life-affirming books!

M.A.C.

Black Hats & A Book Giveaway!

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018

[Note from Nate: The giveaway is over! Thank you for participating!] The book giveaway this week is for the upcoming Scarface and the Untouchable: Al Capone, Eliot Ness, and the Battle for Chicago, which will be published August 14. I have five finished copies and five bound galley proofs (ARC’s). The first five to respond get the finished book, the next five the bound galley. Winners are requested to post a review at Amazon, a blog, Barnes & Noble or any combination thereof.

This week’s update, however, is mostly about Black Hats, a new edition of which has just been published by Brash Books. For the first time, the book has my real byline, and not “Patrick Culhane.”

Brash has done a spiffy job on it, and I hope to get some copies from them for another book giveaway like the one above. Brash is also going to be bringing out Red Sky in Morning under my preferred title, and that will have the Max Allan Collins byline for the first time, too.

Black Hats is a good companion piece to Scarface and the Untouchable, because it’s about young Al Capone encountering old Wyatt Earp. Though their meeting is fanciful, the research for the book was on the order of the Heller saga and it is one of my favorite novels, and one that continues to attract very serious Hollywood attention.

Harrison Ford has been interested in playing Earp pretty much ever since the novel first came out, and he is still part of the mix – nothing signed-sealed-delivered, mind you. But that he has maintained this continued interest in the novel is exciting.

That’s all I can say at the moment, but if you’ve never read this one, send for the Brash Books edition, please. You will not find it in many book stores – the e-book will drive this one, though the “real” book that Brash has produced is handsome indeed.


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

How did the byline “Patrick Culhane” come to appear on both Black Hats and Red Sky? Forgive me if you’ve heard this one, but I believe it’s one of the truly remarkable fuck-ups of my career, and one of the rare ones that I didn’t cause myself.

Shortly after Road to Perdition was a huge movie and the novelization made the USA Today bestseller list and the graphic novel made the New York Times bestseller list, some guy at Border’s (remember them?) told my then-publisher that he was a huge M.A.C. fan, but could sell more M.A.C. books if only the name M.A.C. wasn’t on the cover. I was too well-known, it seems, as a guy who wrote series novels. He promised huge sales if we did some standalone thrillers under a new byline.

Oddly, my real identity was never hidden. It’s prominently revealed on the jackets of both books.

I did not want to do this. My editor stopped short of insisting that I go along with it, and my agent suggested alienating my editor was a really bad idea. And Border’s was really, really powerful, right? So I came up with “Patrick Culhane,” the “Patrick” after my mother Patricia and “Culhane” as a Collins variant.

Understand that I hate pseudonyms. I fought to have my name go on my movie and TV tie-ins, figuring (correctly) that having my byline on things like Saving Private Ryan, Air Force One, American Gangster, CSI and so on would only building my audience. All of those titles either made the New York Times list or USA Today’s or both.

The only time I used a pseudonym was on the novelization I Love Trouble, because it was going to be out at the same time as another novelization, plus the movie stunk. I used Patrick again, but also my mother’s maiden name, Rushing, which seemed apt for a book written on a crazy deadline.

I use my name on all but the above exceptions because I am proud of my work, and I want to keep myself honest. I don’t want to hide. I want to acquire readers, not run away from them.

Anyway, I am very pleased that Brash Books – the people who brought you the complete Road to Perdition prose novel, something I thought I would never see – are restoring my name to two of my favorite books. They will also soon be publishing Red Sky under my preferred title, USS Powderkeg.

Now the only thing still unpublished is my original, very loose adaptation of the Dick Tracy movie, in which I fixed all its problems and sins. Getting that in print, however, is a real long shot….

* * *

The advance buzz on Scarface and the Untouchable keeps building.

The Strand’s blog has published a list by my co-author and me looking at ten surprising facts about Al Capone and Eliot Ness.

We are one of the Saturday Evening Post’s top ten late summer reads, for example.

And the History News Network has published an article that Brad and I wrote about the Trump/Manafort/Mueller parallels.

Mystery People showcases us, too.

Out of the blue, here’s an interesting look at Quarry’s List, the second Quarry novel, with lots of comments from readers.

The graphic novel, Quarry’s War, gets a boost here, in a somewhat surprising context. [Note from Nate: This is so bizarre.]

On the Mike Hammer/Spillane front, here’s an interview I did at San Diego Comic Con a few weeks ago.

And another.

Finally, here is a terrific, smart review from the smart, terrific J. Kingston Pierce about Killing Town.

M.A.C.

Report from Killer Nashville

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Barb and I were guests at Killer Nashville, which was actually held in Franklin, Tennessee, at an Embassy Suites, which was an excellent venue for a conference.

And Killer Nashville – our first time there – is a conference, not a convention, although elements of that are present. Specifically, it’s a writer’s conference. When you do a panel, attendees are frequently taking notes, and the questions from the audience are not from fans but from aspiring writers hoping to learn.

While there are many pros presents – J.A. Jance was the big name – many are indie authors, including a good number of self-published ones. And the major award (of many) is given to the best unpublished novel manuscript submitted. The other awards, this time anyway, went almost exclusively to small press and self-published titles. This conference is designed to nurture new authors and there’s a palpable sense of community, aided and abetted by that legendary Southern hospitality.

Host and conference creator, Clay Stafford, is a gentle and welcoming presence, seemingly everywhere. As one of three guests of honor, I was interviewed for the entire conference crowd after a luncheon on Saturday. Clay won me over by bringing two brimming boxes of my books, including an edition of Saving Private Ryan that I didn’t know existed. He was well-prepared for the interview and I was very loose and, frankly, pretty damn funny.


Clay Stafford, right, interviews M.A.C., left.

The panels Barb and I did – including a collaboration one, which was a dry run of sorts for a panel we’ll be doing at the Toronto Bouchercon – were well-handled by the moderators, and mostly well-attended. The better attended panels were oriented toward writing – i.e., how to create a scene – and reflected the interests of the newcomers and aspiring writers attending.

Barb and I don’t do very many conventions – we try to do Bouchercon, as a sort of one-stop-shopping affair where readers from all over the country can get to us, and until lately we’ve regularly done San Diego Comic Con, when health issues got in the way. But this con/conference was fun and welcoming, and we’d certainly recommend it as an event that is designed less for fans and more for writers who are still learning their craft.

I was presented with a very nice award, the Killer Nashville “John Seigenthaler Legends Award.” The Killer Nashville website describes the award this way:

“The annual Killer Nashville John Seigenthaler Legends Award™ is bestowed upon an individual within the publishing industry who, like its namesake, has devoted his or her life to championing First Amendment Rights, advocating for social change, equality, and fairness, or otherwise defending issues of freedom. Recipients of this award have displayed a steadfast commitment to these ideals, and to mentoring the next generation of authors. This is not a lifetime achievement award, as we expect much more of these individuals in years to come.”

Seigenthaler was a distinguished journalist and activist with ties to Robert Kennedy. That resonates with me because my Writers Workshop mentor, Richard Yates, was a RFK speechwriter.

Thank you, Killer Nashville.

* * *

Crusin’ will appear in a charming outdoor setting at Ardon Creek Winery this coming Friday, September 1, from 6 till 9. For info go to http://www.ardoncreek.com/, and check under events (for directions look under “contact us”).

* * *

The forthcoming graphic novel from Hard Case Crime Comics, Quarry’s War – which will be serialized as four comic books before being collected – has received a lot of play on the Net…dozens of hits! Here’s a good example, which includes looks at some of the covers of the comics.

Very nice Carnal Hours review here (a reprint but worth looking at).

Jeff Pierce’s wonderful site, Killer Covers, showcases The First Quarry’s great cover.

There is a fairly nice mention of Quarry’s Climax toward the end of this column from the UK’s Crime Time. But I think the suggestion that I’m doing homage as opposed to real hardboiled or noir is b.s. I am continuing a series I began in 1971, when Rex Stout, Agatha Christie, Mickey Spillane and Ross Macdonald were still writing, and Erle Stanley Gardner was still publishing when he died the year before. If you characterize me as a modern-day imitator of a distant past, I would respectfully remind you that I am the distant effing past…although no one in the distant past would have been able to be as sexually frank and graphically violent as Quarry’s Climax, because I am also the current effing present. I’ll leave the future to the rest of you.

M.A.C.

X-Files Is Out There

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
The X-Files: Trust No One
Paperback:
Audio MP3 CD:

The surprising news of a new, six-episode season of THE X-FILES featuring the original cast caused me to reflect on just how much Barb, Nate and I enjoyed the series, back in (as they say) the day. How we never missed an episode, even when we were so frustrated we wanted to throw a brick through the screen (“All will be revealed!”), and binge watching our laser discs that allowed some of the fan favorite episodes to be viewed again and again at home (amazing).

The series ran nine seasons and a major, big-budget motion picture was part of the mix, as well. Toward the end of the run, I was well-established as a writer of tie-in novels, and was approached by Harper Collins (the publisher, not some obscure cousin of mine) to develop a proposal for an original X-FILES novel.

In the business of writing tie-ins, Fox TV was notorious for being hard to work with, especially on the X-FILES franchise. But I was such a fan, I wanted to do it anyway. So for a period of about a year, off and on, I worked under the guiding hand of a Harper Collins editor to produce a fifty-page story treatment for a novel. This was entirely on spec, something I rarely do – but remember, I was a fan.

I came up with something I thought was very, very good, and so did the editor – a kind of X-FILES MEETS AMITYVILLE. We sent it in. We never heard a word. No rejection, much less an acceptance. That’s the writing biz – you drop something down a well and don’t even hear a splash.

By this time the series was in its final season, and not only did my tie-in never happen, no other X-FILES novels by anybody happened, either.

Then in 2008, a second film was produced: THE X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE. Out of the blue, I was approached to write the novelization. I was thrilled, although I was apprehensive, because the movie was being produced in great secrecy, and the reputation of the X-FILES people being impossible to work with was a less than distant memory.

As it happened, I WANT TO BELIEVE was the single best experience I ever had, writing movie novelizations. I was one of a small handful of people (something like five) who had a copy of the script. The actors, I understand, had only their own script pages. The cinematographer had to read the script in a bank vault. But it was on my desk in Muscatine, Iowa.

Both Chris Carter and especially co-writer/producer Frank Spotnitz were terrific; I was frequently on the phone with the latter. If I had questions about wardrobe, I was sent daily costume sheets. I had photos from the set when the Internet had next to nothing. In one case, the editor of the film (Richard A. Harris, Academy Award winning editor of TITANIC and TERMINATOR 2) sat at his computer in Canada and described an action scene to me, frame by frame, that was not in my script. We were on the phone for two wonderful hours. Incredible.

I think I WANT TO BELIEVE is one of my best movie novels, but the film itself disappointed a lot of people. I liked it. It was an intelligent monster-of-the-week episode with some daring themes. The mood was right and the two leads were typically stellar. I remain thrilled that, sort of at the last minute, I became a part of THE X-FILES.

Now with the six-episode special-event series coming, a real push on X-FILES material is under way, particularly from IDW, with whom I have a long history. I was approached by the fine writer (also fine guy) Jonathan Maberry to contribute a story to an X-FILES anthology, TRUST NO ONE. I asked if I could do a novella and was given permission.

Now all will be revealed: I used my long-ago story treatment for the novel that never happened to write “The House on Hickory Hill.” Finally I got some money for writing it! Finally that story gets to be seen. And I think it’s a good one.

Also, a series of X-FILES audio books has been produced including the various vintage original tie-in novels and the two movie novelizations (also TRUST NO ONE). That means that suddenly a 2008 movie novel of mine has an audio book. I haven’t heard it yet, but admit I am pleased it exists and will delight at revisiting that underrated tale again, on some road trip to come.

The X Files: I Want To Believe

It’s hard to know if THE X-FILES will be a “thing” again or just be a nostalgic blip on the pop-culture radar. The early ‘90s is suddenly a very long time ago. But THE X-FILES is a series that had an incredible impact on everything that came after. CSI, for example, played off a similar flashlights-in-the-dark vibe. As frustrating as the serialized nature of X-FILES could be, it set the stage for so many novelistic series to follow. Of current series, ORPHAN BLACK is steeped in the X-FILES approach.

I, for one, can’t wait to once again be thrilled and frustrated by this seminal series.

* * *

I am pleased to find this review of BATMAN: SECOND CHANCES that likes and understands my run on the comic book. This is definitely worth checking out (scroll down some).

This somewhat ancient but lovely review of my novel SAVING PRIVATE RYAN has popped up on the Net.

Here’s an interesting article on the QUARRY TV series moving to Memphis for its last weeks of production on season one. Lots of mentions of the novels.

Finally, here’s a write-up on the Eclipse comic book company that includes a brief but very nice mention of MS. TREE.

M.A.C.