Posts Tagged ‘The Little Death’

More on Collaboration and Reviews

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

You Can't Stop MeThis is a big week for us, with ANTIQUES BIZARRE and YOU CAN’T STOP ME going on sale everywhere. Hard to imagine two more different books, but I’m starting to hear from fans who are into both the cozy-ish if wacky mysteries about Brandy and her eccentric mother, and my more noir-ish stuff, like YOU CAN’T STOP ME, Nate Heller and Quarry.

Speaking of Quarry, over the weekend I delivered the new Quarry novel, QUARRY’S EX. It will be out this fall from Hard Case Crime. And yes, we do actually meet Quarry’s ex-wife, the woman whose faithlessness sent our anti-hero into the tailspin of professional killing. It has an indie movie set setting, and takes place in 1980. I have now done four Quarry novels for editor Charles Ardai – tying the four written back in the mid-‘70s for editor Patrick O’Connor at Berkley Books. There is serious talk of the first four novels coming out in uniform trade editions from a small publisher.

And I am sorry to inform Heller fans that the new Nate Heller novel, BYE BYE, BABY, will not appear until June 2011. I have done everything I can to ask the editor to move it up the list, but publishing moves in mysterious ways.

Last week, Barb wrote a very well-received column here about our collaboration as “Barbara Allan.” This week, Matt Clemens discusses collaborating with me at my pal Ed Gorman’s great blog.

Here’s a really fun QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE review that explores the RED HARVEST connection.

Publisher’s Weekly has reviewed the audio novel THE LITTLE DEATH and gives it a rave.

But PW also gave THE BIG BANG a less good review (presumably a different reviewer – and I’m not providing a link for this) which indicates how much of a crap shoot even the bigtime reviews are. This reviewer complained that the book would appeal only to Mike Hammer and Mickey Spillane fans (who else was it supposed to appeal to?) and complained that it didn’t read like one of my Nate Heller books (should my Nate Heller books read like Mike Hammer?). Dumb. In the same PW issue, though, a presumably different reviewer seems to like Hammer and his appearance in a forthcoming MWA anthology, CRIMES BY MOONLIGHT: MYSTERIES FROM THE DARK SIDE, saying:

“Mike Hammer gets into X-Files mode in Max Allan Collins’s and Mickey Spillane’s ‘Grave Matter,’ which successfully introduces a supernatural element into the case of a series of mysterious deaths in the ironically named town of Hopeful, N.Y.”

Meanwhile, the first Spillane/Collins Mike Hammer outing, THE GOLIATH BONE, is still getting positive reviews, including this fun one from a blogger.

Here’s an insightful review of the collection MEAN STREETS, which includes the Nate Heller story, “House Call.”

And, yup, THE LAST LULLABY keeps getting great notices, as on this blog.

Finally, courtesy of Nate Collins who saw it, ROAD TO PERDITION has been listed as one of the 75 must read’s in DC Comics’ 75 years of publishing. That will be 76, when RETURN TO PERDITION comes out!

M.A.C.

Collins Hits The Third Rail

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Ron Fortier has posted a wonderful write-up on YOU CAN’T STOP ME.

Craig Clarke has posted a terrific review of THE LITTLE DEATH at his Somebody Dies review site.

And a great, dare I say insightful review of THE LAST LULLABY just popped up.

Plus, there’s a very nice review of QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE.

My pal Ed Gorman limits himself on talking politics on his blog because, well, politics causes problems. It can alienate people, and that includes readers/fans, so it’s dangerous ground. Ed sends out political stuff to an e-mailing list, material that is always interesting and illuminating.

I am going to dip a toe into this subject, lightly. Some of you know that I’m a Democrat or a liberal or a progressive or something. I think of myself as slightly left of center, but my father thought of himself as slightly right of center, when he was slightly right of Genghis Khan. So who knows? I do know that I veer left when the right is getting out of hand, which they frequently do. I despise Fox News, because it isn’t news, it’s opinion labeled news, and you can always tell when you’re “talking” (i.e, arguing) politics with somebody whose news and info comes from Fox, because it’s always the same bite-size talking points.

But I come to praise Republicans, not to bury them. Republicans stand by their man. They wouldn’t have cared if George Bush bombed Cleveland – he’d have had a damned good reason. Democrats, however, eat their young. They could hardly wait for Obama to get sworn in before ragging on him. The far left is pitiful in the way they assume the President can wave a wand and make all their dreams come true. Full disclosure: I worked for Obama, Nate was a staffer on the Iowa campaign, and Barb, Nate and I all worked hard for him. None of us is thrilled with the past year, but I think it’s clear Obama has accomplished quite a bit, considering the Washington cess pool he has to swim in. I back the guy. I don’t always agree with him, but I keep it to myself, mostly. Possibly I’m keeping my head in the sand. Maybe, after two years of MSNBC and Keith Olbermann “Special Comments,” I just can’t take the stress anymore (I stopped watching that stuff regularly in January).

But if Democrats don’t show a little support for their guy – if they insist on forming a circular firing squad around their leader – we can look forward to President Palin or Brown or God knows what. The only faint hope for the Democrats right now is the Tea Bag bunch (can’t hear that designation without thinking of John Waters), who are forcing the Republicans so far right that even Fox should be getting nervous. Kind of sad when our best hope is a bunch of buffoons who want to prove Obama wasn’t born in America. But keep plugging, kids.

This update appears on Feb. 2 – Groundhog Day. May I suggest to one and all spending the evening with Harold Ramis’ great film, GROUNDHOG DAY – probably my favorite film of the ‘90s, Bill Murray’s finest achievement, and a genuine masterpiece.

M.A.C.

SCTV For Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

SCTV ReunionJoe Flaherty as Guy Caballero, moments before rising from his wheelchair to acknowledge his standing ovation.

Let’s start off by wishing you and your family happy holidays. We are expecting Nate home for Christmas, with our cheerfully insane “granddog” Toaster, a Blue Australian Heeler named for the robots on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. And Crusin’ has a gig on New Year’s Eve at the West Liberty, Iowa, country club, where a lot of my old high school friends are members. Really looking forward to that. We have snow here and things are looking suitably scenic. Last night, Barb and I watched two Perry Mason shows from the latest DVD boxed set (one an Erle Stanley Gardner based show, “The Case of the Duplicate Daughter,” and those are the really good ones) and had cups of cocoa courtesy of Jane Spillane. Watching Perry Mason with cocoa and marshmallows provided by Mike Hammer’s creator’s widow reveals that even my dullest evenings are surrealistic.

I was pleased to see a really nice, insightful ROAD TO PARADISE review pop up from Brian Drake — a little after the fact, but with RETURN TO PERDITION under way, good to see.

Ed Gorman asked me to do a new interview for his site; I did one not long ago, but took him up on it anyway. I had to respond to some of the comments on the piece. My son gets uncomfortable when I do that, but I feel comments are different from reviews (writers really shouldn’t respond to reviews, and I’ve only broken that rule a handful of times).

I also commented on comments at a Cinema Styles, where a wonderful, smart review of THE LAST LULLABY appeared. But a couple of the comments were beyond the pale, and I just couldn’t let them ride.

I am working on the third Mike Hammer Spillane/Collins collaborative novel, KISS HER GOODBYE. Really just getting started, but it’s an interesting challenge. Mickey had taken two runs at this story, with very different plot elements; so I have around 100 pages of one version, 50 or so of another version, plus notes on both. Weaving these together will be a fun challenge. Elements of this story became BLACK ALLEY, the last Hammer published during Mickey’s lifetime; but about all that is left are a few names, the notion of Mike Hammer coming back to the city after recovering from gun shot wounds (a common start to Mickey’s later Hammer stories, both published and unfinished), and the notion of the mob moving into the era of computers.

Barb and I spent much of the week shellshocked from the incredible double-feature experience of the SCTV reunion at Second City in Chicago (see the photos courtesy of a wonderful audience member from Vancouver, who will remain anonymous, as these were largely sneaked during the performance). It’s hard for me to express how much this experience meant to us, but we’ll probably share our own photos next week, some of which reveal me in a state of crazed bliss. We are talking about an evening that began with Guy Caballero (Joe Flaherty) recognizing his standing ovation by bolting up out of his wheelchair and grinning goofily.

The other half of the double-feature was the day we spent (Monday December 14) with Chicago sportscaster Mike North, his lovely wife Bebe, and producer Carl Amari. It was a long, incredible day. Whether it will lead to the movie project we are all hoping for remains to be seen, but I found North — a working class guy made very good — an unaffected, affable, hilarious, gifted man. He invited me onto his Comcast sports show, “Monsters in the Morning,” and we talked PERDITION and movies with his co-host Dan Jiggets (also a great guy). I think Mike and Dan (and Carl, on the sidelines) were surprised by how at ease I am on camera, plus what a wise-ass I am willing to be in public. We followed Mike on a tour of his Rogers Park roots (which included lots of bars being pointed out) and spent some time at Norte Dame high school, where he coaches basketball for no pay and big personal rewards. I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Carl gave me a box of the finished CDs of THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER VOL. 2: THE LITTLE DEATH. We listened to one on the way home to Muscatine — we had only heard a rough mix before. If you haven’t ordered this yet, you are at the wrong website. I am very, very proud of this, and will be sending some review copies out soon, so I hope that before long some web attention will be shared with you here.

Again, happy holidays. Hug your family. Give gifts. And most important, watch the original MIRACLE ON 34th STREET and Alistair Sim’s CHRISTMAS CAROL…otherwise it isn’t an official Christmas.

M.A.C.

SCTV Reunion
Barb Collins, right, and audience member Jen Ritchies, left, before the SCTV reunion show.

SCTV Reunion
Harold Ramis as Moe Green, Eugene Levy as Bobby Bittman and Flaherty as Sammy Maudlin.

SCTV Reunion
Ramis, Levy, Catherine O’Hara as Lola Heatherton, Flaherty on “The Sammy Maudlin Show”

SCTV Reunion
Andrea Martin and Dave Thomas as Edna and (the late) Tex Boyle (“Those little piggies are greasy”).

SCTV Reunion
Thomas and Martin Short in a classic Second City sketch.

SCTV Reunion
O’Hara and Martin (Pirini Scleroso). A rare Second City sketch that became an SCTV classic.

SCTV Reunion
Barb, Al and audience member Lisa Lecuyer.

SCTV Reunion
Cast (and their producer, unidentified) take a bow.

Mike Hammer Under Cover

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

I’ve mentioned in previous updates how pleased I am with THE LITTLE DEATH, the MIKE HAMMER audio novel I wrote for producer Carl Amari, which Blackstone will be issuing momentarily (Amazon lists it as already in print, but I haven’t seen a copy yet).

As you may recall, I got to go to Chicago and watch Stacy Keach and a gifted cast (including Second City veteran Tim Kazurinsky) bring my script to audio life. This is the second volume of THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER, but I didn’t write the first (which was two short stories as opposed to one novel). I based it on material Mickey had prepared in the fifties for both a radio version and a television one; I had adapted this during Mickey’s lifetime into the short story “The Night I Died.” And about ten years ago, I had developed it as a screenplay for Mickey and his longtime partner, Jay Bernstein, for a TV or possible theatrical movie. But a film never happened.

Now it’s a reality, as an audio “movie,” and Carl and Stacy really hit the ball out of the park. Anybody with even the slightest interest in either Mickey’s work or mine will love this. Interestingly, it marks the first time Stacy has ever played Hammer in a piece directly derived from a Spillane story.

There was a nice response from my behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the cover of the forthcoming Spillane/Collins HAMMER novel, THE BIG BANG. So I thought you might enjoy seeing the several versions of the audio cover.

Here was the first try from Blackstone’s terrific art department:

The Little Death First Revision
Image copyright 2009, Blackstone Audio

I liked this pretty well, but Stacy Keach objected to using his image so directly. He felt it made this brand-new project look like some kind of re-release of his HAMMER material from several decades ago. Carl and I agreed, and so the artist at Blackstone listened to various suggestions from all of us. I sent along attachments of the early HAMMER paperbacks, which never really showed Hammer dead-on, creating a man of mystery.

The Little Death Second Revision
Image copyright 2009, Blackstone Audio

Everybody liked this better, but Stacy (and all of us) felt Hammer could use with a better-looking “babe.” Not that this model was unattractive, but Stacy wittily pointed out that she belonged on a Jane Austen cover, not Mickey Spillane. Also, a bearded, cigar-smoking Hammer was a no go—we asked that the mustache be kept (this is the Keach HAMMER, after all) and the cigar go away, Mike being strictly a Luckies kind of guy. The final version that the artist came up is terrific.

The Little Death Third Revision
Image copyright 2009, Blackstone Audio

We had a nice turn-out at Mystery Cat Books in Cedar Rapids, despite being up against an Iowa Hawkeyes game (tough competition in this part of the world). We dined with Ed and Carol Gorman and had a great time, as Ed and I tried to top each other’s publishing horror stories.

Work continues on the graphic novel RETURN TO PERDITION, and Terry Beatty has turned in his first, finished pages—and they are knockouts. I predict this will be our best work together, at least until next time.

Quarry continues to attract fine reviews. Rod Lott at Bookgasm used his knowledge of the Quarry novels to write a particularly insightful review of THE LAST LULLABY.

And another knowledgeable Quarry fan, crime novelist Tom Piccirilli, has a Quarry-centric interview up at his blog that you may get a kick out of.

Happy Thanksgiving! For those of you in Eastern Iowa, we’ll see you at Plamor Lanes on Saturday night for our first Crusin’ gig at this venue.

M.A.C.