New Editions of Regeneration and Kiss Her Goodbye

April 6th, 2021 by Max Allan Collins
Regeneration by Barbara Allan, 2021 Wolfpack Edition cover
Paperback: Bookshop Purchase Link
E-Book:

The Zoom presentation Barb and I made Saturday morning (for the DSM Book Festival) was attended by around seventy people, and went very well. This is the first online dual appearance we’ve made. We concentrated on five writing tips each, which not only gave participants some decent advice, but highlighted the differences in our approach as well as how we go about collaborating.

We spoke for about forty minutes, followed by answering questions from attendees.

As it happens, our first collaborative novel – Regeneration – is out this week in a new edition from Wolfpack, with another of that company’s stunning covers. The novel – which I’d classify as Dark Suspense, but could be a Psychological Thriller or even Horror – began as a short story by Barb, which we expanded into our debut collaborative novel. Bombshell would follow, and of course we began the Antiques/”Trash ‘n’ Treasures” cozy mystery series after that. (Wolfpack is planning an edition of Bombshell as well.)

Regeneration was originally published by Leisure Books, and a while back by Thomas & Mercer under our joint “Barbara Allan” byline. In many respects, this book was Barb’s baby as the idea was hers, as was the original plot of the short story, and nicely reflects the way she explores some social concern of hers in her fiction (a topic we discussed in that Zoom “Master Class”).

She really deserves top billing, but for marketing reasons I’ve reluctantly taken it.

* * *

The recent book giveaway (and more will follow, possibly including Regeneration) was nicely successful, and all thirty books were gone in 23 hours and signed copies have gone out in the mail to the winners.

Kiss Her Goodbye – one of the three books in that giveaway – is out tomorrow (April 6). My mentioning that it has the previously censored ending has attracted some attention, including questions like, “What previously censored ending?”

The editor of the original hardcover edition (and there was a trade paperback as well) of the third of the first three of my “Mike Hammer” Spillane/Collins collaborative novels objected to what he saw as an ending too similar to a certain famous Mike Hammer novel. I am dodging exactly which novel, and what ending, by way of avoiding a spoiler.

But I should say this editor was and is a friend to my efforts to get the unpublished, unfinished Mike Hammer novels in Mickey Spillane’s files finished and published. He aggressively went after those first three novels, and would have continued on with them, but his relationship with the publisher came to an end.

Publisher Nick Landau of Titan then stepped up immediately to take over publishing the Hammer novels as part of a greater Mike Hammer Legacy Project. Also, Nick went after mass market publication rights of the first three of those collaborative Spillane/Collins Mike Hammer novels (The Goliath Bone, The Big Bang, Kiss Her Goodbye), to bring the entire run under one imprint.

When this occurred, I asked my editor, the great Andrew Sumner – a true Hammer fan and expert – if I might restore the ending of Kiss Her Goodbye. Andrew thought it was a great idea, both in terms of honoring my artistic vision and to give the mass market edition something special to set it apart. (Ironically, I rather like the rewritten ending – if less than the previously unpublished one – and hope diehard fans will put both the original and the restored version on their shelves.)

Call it double-dipping if you like, but – as I’ve said elsewhere – double-dipping never hurt a hot fudge sundae.

* * *

I was very excited about HBO Max, specifically after the announcement that all Warner Bros movie releases for the next year would be streaming in tandem with actual theatrical presentations.

Then came the Wonder Woman 1984, as pathetic a major super-hero release as has come down the pike since Green Lantern.

Now Barb and I have endured Godzilla Vs. Kong, a movie we had been looking forward to for months. One of the definitions of insanity is to keeping doing the same thing over and over, always expecting a new result. That’s me and American Godzilla movies – I am always excited, thrilled by the preview, and the movie always disappointments.

Some people like this film – it’s 73% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes – but that’s just Covid Derangement Syndrome. So starved are theatergoers (and streamers) for entertainment, they embrace this vapid, stupid exercise in SFX artistry and screenwriting incompetence. Only Stranger Things star Millie Bobbie Brown emerges with her dignity. Well, also the great Kyle Chandler, wasted in a walk-on.

* * *

The print edition of the International Association of Media and Tie-in Writers anthology, Turning the Tied, is available now (the e-book too, of course) (Paperback: | E-Book: ). It features many terrific writers doing famous characters in new short stories, including a Sherlock Holmes by a couple of guys named Collins and Clemens.

Check out this lovely gallery of Hard Case Crime Quarry covers.

M.A.C.

Previews of Coming Attractions

March 30th, 2021 by Max Allan Collins
Kiss Her Goodbye Paperback

Last week’s book giveaway went well and all thirty signed copies (ten each of Two for the Money, Kiss Her Goodbye (with the uncensored ending), and Shoot-out at Sugar Creek) have been distributed.

I am grateful for those of you who participate in these book giveaways and follow up with reviews. It’s one of the few things an author can do to promote titles in the Covid era, though even before that bookstore signings had already declined in effectiveness.

A giveaway for the recently published third John Sand novel, Live Fast, Spy Hard, will be offered here as soon as I get copies of the trade paperback. At this writing, I’m not sure the “real book” edition is available yet, though I’m checking. The e-book is available now, of course, and we’re already generating some nice Amazon reviews.

The new publisher of the Antiques Trash ‘n’ Treasures series has asked for another book, and Barb and I had already been working on the proposal for what will be Antiques Liquidation. We will be plotting it in more detail this week, doing a chapter by chapter breakdown. As some of you know, Barb writes a complete first draft and then I do the final one, with her input of course.

Meanwhile, my co-author Matt Clemens has been working on his draft of To Live and Spy in Berlin, the third John Sand novel, which we plotted and broke down into chapters a few months ago. I will be starting my draft very soon.

What I have been working on are two projects for Neo-Text, a new publisher (chiefly of e-books) with a great web site you should be checking out regularly.

The first project, which I completed several months ago, is Meet Fancy Anders, the overall title of a series of three novellas about a female private eye during World War Two in Los Angeles; the novellas are interrelated and will become a novel of that title. Fancy goes undercover as a defense plant worker, a Hollywood Canteen hostess, and a movie extra. I’m extremely excited about this series, which was fun to do, and the e-books will be illustrated by a top female artist, those illustrations porting over to various book versions – likely a trade paperback but also a larger-size, possibly hardcover book with full display of the mostly color art. The idea is for each chapter to begin with a full-page illustration.

Dave Thomas

The second project, which I’ve hinted at here, is co-written by Dave Thomas of SCTV fame (who was also a writer/producer on the TV series Bones and Blacklist). It’s called The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton and is a genre-straddling (s-f and crime) saga that will appear in three parts and, like Fancy, be collected as a book, again possibly in several formats. We are lining up a top comic book artist to do the covers and illustrations. I finished my draft of the third and final part today, and will be doing revisions this week, then shipping it out to Dave for our final mutual edit/tweak. He’s a great storyteller and this is very much a fifty/fifty collaboration. And I think this novel will be one of my best.

This is sizing up as a very busy year for me. The Heller novel I’ll be doing (well, it straddles the latter part of this year and next) will sideline Quarry for a while, and Caleb York will have to cool his spurs likely till 2022 or even ‘23. I have a Mike Hammer novel to complete, the Spillane bio with James Traylor, and another Spillane project that will be announced later.

I think I’ve spilled enough beans already.

* * *

I have encountered two films that are not likely to be on your radar – indie productions that are not big-budget affairs but that you may find worth your while.

My son Nate and I liked the sound of The Kid Detective, a 2020 film starring Adam Brody, and decided to give it a try. It’s one of my favorite films in some time (and I think Nate has the same opinion). The premise is whimsical – in a small town, a 32-year-old private detective is existing on the fumes remaining from his high octane reputation as a kid detective when he was, yes, a kid. It’s as if Encyclopedia Brown grew up and tried to continue his detective adventures into adulthood, with the expected absurd results. The idyllic town hasn’t weathered the years any better than the now-grown kid detective, and his fellow citizens rather resent and even deride him. But he hangs in there. The humor here is gentle with a surprising edge, and laugh-out-loud funny frequently, though two real crimes – one old, one new – hang over the comical proceedings like dark, gathering clouds.

Despite the smalltown setting, and the quirky caprice of the premise, this is a genuine private eye movie with film noir themes and under- and overtones despite a surface that might be an after-school special. Prepare to be sucker-punched, because when the two mysteries converge and pay handsomely off, things get as dark as any noir. And the final moments are serious and moving and also surprising.

The other film worth checking out, if what I am about to describe intrigues you, is VHYES, a 2019 feature described thusly on IMDB: “This bizarre retro comedy, shot entirely on VHS and Beta, follows 12-year-old Ralph as he accidentally records home videos and his favorite late night shows over his parents’ wedding tape.” If you read the Amazon reviews, you will find some viewers outraged and highly annoyed by the film, and others loving it (I am in the latter camp). Like Kid Detective, it has a whimsical premise that becomes more serious as the film progresses. The home-movie events that get intermittently recorded over are, as unlikely as it first seems, a narrative that has some emotional impact (again, like Kid Detective).

What the IMDB write-up neglects to mention is that the VHS cartridge is being taped over in 1987 and the entire film is set in that period. In some respects VHYES is in the tradition of the ‘70s TV parody films like The Groove Tube, Tunnelvision and Kentucky Fried Movie, pre-SCTV efforts often featuring Second City performers. VHYES features Kerri Kenney and Thomas Lennon of RENO 911, which may be enough to sell some of you – it did me.

You get snippets of public access, PBS and kid’s shows, commercials, spoofs of Home Shopping Network and Antiques Roadshow, and a real story, if you’re paying attention.

* * *

A reminder that Barb and I are doing a Master Class via Zoom that is available to anyone interested. Here’s the info again:

DSM Book Festival: Sat. April 3
Workshop: Max Allan Collins at 9 a.m. (duration 1 hour)
Log-in: 8:40 a.m.

Workshop description:
Learn from the masters, Max Allan Collins and his wife Barbara Collins, as they each present their Top 5 Fiction Writing Tips and then field questions from the class. Together, Max and Barb have published the Trash & Treasures mystery series. Max is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of Road to Perdition, True Detective, the Quarry series, Girl Can’t Help It and many more.

The registration deadline is today! (March 30)

https://www.dsmpartnership.com/dsmbookfestival/attend/writers-workshops

M.A.C.

Biggest Book Giveaway Yet, Boys and Girls!

March 23rd, 2021 by Max Allan Collins

This book giveaway may be my biggest yet.

Two for the Money 2021 Paperback Edition cover
Paperback:

I am offering ten copies each of Kiss Her Goodbye, Shoot-out at Sugar Creek, Two for the Money – these are all books that will be published in April.
Kiss Her Goodbye is a trade paperback from Titan of the third Spillane/Collins Mike Hammer novel, with my original, previously censored ending.

Shoot-out at Sugar Creek is the final Caleb York western being published by Kensington, although I hope to revive the series next year (probably with Wolfpack). This edition is a trade paperback the size of the hardcover and is an advance reading copy.

Two for the Money is a reprint of Hard Case Crime’s omnibus of the first two Nolan novels, Bait Money and Blood Money, with a new cover (the previous one being the rare HCC cover that disappointed).

[All copies have been claimed. Thank you for your support!–Nate]

You agree to write a review for Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble (and other review sites, blogs, etc.). This is the honor system, but Big Brother is watching. Or anyway I am.

Kiss Her Goodbye will be of interest to Mike Hammer fans because this is indeed the correct ending for the novel. My previous editor objected to what he considered too big a similarity to the ending of a classic Spillane title; he is a Spillane fan and expert, and I mean no disrespect to him – he was instrumental in getting Mike Hammer back out there – but I should not have given in to him and rewritten it.

So if you already have the hardcover, you still need to get the trade paperback. Yes, it’s double dipping, but there’s a new cherry on the sundae.

* * *

Barb and I are doing a Master Class via Zoom that is available to anyone interested.

DSM Book Festival: Sat. April 3
Workshop: Max Allan Collins at 9 a.m. (duration 1 hour)
Log-in: 8:40 a.m.

Workshop description:
Learn from the masters, Max Allan Collins and his wife Barbara Collins, as they each present their Top 5 Fiction Writing Tips and then field questions from the class. Together, Max and Barb have published the “Trash & Treasures” mystery series. Max is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of “Road to Perdition”, “True Detective,” the Quarry series, “Girl Can’t Help It” and many more.

Here’s the link: https://www.dsmpartnership.com/dsmbookfestival/attend/writers-workshops

They are taking registrations for until March 30.

* * *
Anatomy of a Murder DVD Cover

Several classic films got watched around the Collins household this weekend.

First, one of my top ten turned up in high-def on TCM – Anatomy of a Murder. I watch this once a year, and am astonished by how caught up in it I get every time. It’s a perfect movie. Otto Preminger may have been a cruel taskmaster, but he made some great films (Anatomy the greatest, but Laura and Advice and Consent ain’t chopped liver, nor are a bunch of other films noir, and he pushed the censor’s envelope with Moon Is Blue and Man With a Golden Arm) (on the other hand…Skidoo).

James Stewart is at the top of his powers in Anatomy, and I am reminded that he was the greatest film actor of the 20th Century. That sounds like I’m stating a fact. I am. No one starred in, and propelled, more great films than Stewart. If you can top this list with your choice, feel free to try – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Shop Around the Corner, The Philadelphia Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, Winchester ‘73, Harvey, Rear Window, Vertigo, Anatomy of a Murder, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance).

And that’s just the great films. It doesn’t count the really good ones, like the other Anthony Mann films he made, or Bell, Book and Candle, or Rope, or Destry Rides Again, or The Man Who Knew Too Much, or Flight of the Phoenix, or The Shootist.

He made Vertigo, Bell, Book and Candle and Anatomy of a Murder right in a row – astounding. On my birthday Barb and I watched Vertigo in 4K in case I’d forgotten that it was my favorite movie. I would hate to have to choose between Vertigo and Anatomy of a Murder for Stewart’s best performance, and they are quite different, at that.

I love courtroom dramas and Anatomy is the best I’ve ever seen. It’s based on a novel by a lawyer (Robert Traver) and was itself based on a real murder case that lawyer won as a defense attorney. Boldly shot entirely on location, the film has a stunning, innovative jazz score by Duke Ellington and amazing opening credits by Saul Bass. For its day it was daring in its subject matter and frank expression thereof.

But perhaps what dazzles me most, every time I see it, is the intersection of two eras – Stewart as a Golden Age movie star going head to head with the Method crowd of Ben Gazzara, George C. Scott and Lee Remick. Gazzara and Remick are terrific in it, and Scott too…but Stewart owns the picture anyway. He is aided and abetted by two classic Hollywood supporting players – Eve Arden and Arthur O’Connell.

Two supporting performances stand out for me – Orson Bean, a personal favorite of mine (for The Star Wagon if nothing else), and Joseph Welch, Joe McCarthy’s real-life nemesis who, though an amateur actor, more than holds his own in this heady company.

Interestingly, another supporting player – Russ Brown – turned up in the second half of our amazing double feature this weekend – Damn Yankees (1958), on Blu-ray at last. Brown played the trainer of the Washington Senators in the great Broadway hit brought very faithfully to the screen by George Abbott and Stanley Donen. In the original show, Brown won a Tony as did Gwen Verdon and Ray Walston, and choreographer Bob Fosse.

Damn Yankees is one of the handful of Broadway musicals done justice by Hollywood – others include Li’l Abner, Pajama Game and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Pajama Game was based on the novel 7 ½ Cents by Iowa novelist Richard Bissell (another personal favorite). Both Pajama Game and Damn Yankees (also from a novel, Douglas Wallop’s The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant) had scores by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, but tragically Ross died at age 29, leaving only these two great shows and a few pop songs as a nonetheless amazing legacy for the team.

The films of Damn Yankees and Pajama Game brought almost the entire Broadway casts along for the ride. Pajama Game replaced Janis Paige with Doris Day and Damn Yankees replaced Robert Shafer with Tab Hunter. Hunter gets a bad rap, sometimes, for his performance, but he’s quite good.

While I’m ruminating about (not quite reviewing) films I’ve seen recently, I should mention Zack Snyder’s Justice League, which lasts four hours plus and is streaming on HBO Max. This is an odd duck of a movie for many reasons. Director/writer Snyder left the original filming due to a family tragedy and Joss Whedon took over. Fans largely recoiled at Whedon’s version, which took a somewhat light approach to what had been conceived as a dark film. He re-shot most of it. I’ve often liked Whedon’s work, but his Justice League only looks good if you compare it to Wonder Woman 1984.

Snyder restored the material Whedon either cut or ignored of a film Snyder had shot 80% of, albeit minus most special effects. Fan pressure, amazingly, got Snyder the opportunity (i.e., the funding) to complete the film his way, and it’s better. Obviously over-long, but on its own quirky terms, it’s a super-hero epic worth seeing.

But quirky is right – for one thing, he presents the film in 4:3 ratio, which is to say, old-fashioned square TV format, apparently because that’s the I-Max format, even though not much of the film had been shot that way. Oh-kay….

And he got most of the cast back to film an apocalyptic dream sequence that ruins an otherwise acceptable epilogue. The dream sequence features ridiculously misjudged dialogue between Ben Affleck’s Batman and Jared Leto’s Joker (otherwise not in the film). How ridiculous? Batman talks about “fucking killing” Harley Quinn, and the Joker rhapsodizes about giving Batman a “reach-around.” Plus, it lasts a long time, right after we’ve sat through about four hours of capes and quips. Not okay.

Curiously, the film goes out of its way to set up the next film in the saga that Snyder would have made had Warner’s and DC not cancelled it. So rather than take the opportunity to bring his saga to a satisfying conclusion, Snyder tosses loose ends right and left, as if daring somebody to give him more money to keep going.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed it. I took the ride. I just wish I had turned it off when the dream sequence (initially not obviously a dream sequence, more a flash-forward) (including the Flash) gave a bad taste to a good time.

* * *

Here’s an interview I did with Brian Vakulskas on KSCJ radio in Sioux City, largely about the current Nolan novel, Skim Deep. The interviewer knew his stuff.

And here’s an advance look at the third Ms. Tree collection from Titan.

M.A.C.

Live Fast, Try Hard to Find It…Shoot-Out Where?

March 16th, 2021 by Max Allan Collins

You apparently can pre-order the print version of Live Fast, Spy Hard at Amazon now, although for some reason the book doesn’t turn up when you search anywhere except at the listing for Come Spy With Me, which provides a link to the next book (this one) in the John Sand series. Since the book in both Kindle and trade Paperback is being published this week, that’s a little disconcerting. But there’s no reason not to go ahead and pre-order here.

Matt Clemens and I are already working on the third novel, To Live and Spy in Berlin.

Matt and I are both longtime Bond/Ian Fleming/’60s-era spy fiction fans. I have told here, a number of times, how I gravitated to Ian Fleming when I ran out of Mickey Spillane books to read, and that I was a Bond fan well before the first movie came out. And that I talked my parents into driving me, on a school night, to Davenport – thirty miles away – to see Dr. No. I was in junior high.

If you drop by here regularly, or even now and then, you may be aware that I wrote novels every summer during my high school years and spent the following school year trying (unsuccessfully) to market them. There were four such novels, the first three starring private eye Matt Savage, but the fourth of the novels – the last of the high school novels – was a Bond imitation about spy Eric Flayr (I don’t remember the novel’s title). I was very much caught up in the spy mania, as were many of my male schoolmates. We carried briefcases to school (after From Russia With Love) and were caught up in an imaginary plot to overthrow the school.

It seemed innocent then.

So writing about John Sand, the spy James Bond was based on (the implied conceit of the series), has brought me full circle. I think Matt feels the same way. It’s gratifying that readers, so far, have responded well to the series and understand where we are coming from. We studiously avoid camp, but it’s fair to say we’re slightly tongue-in-cheek.

And we are grateful to Wolfpack, editor Paul Bishop, and publisher Mike Bray for allowing us to indulge ourselves in a fashion that appears to be entertaining readers.

The fact that you have to go hunting on Amazon to find the Live Fast, Spy Hard listing is an ongoing frustration to me. Any number of forthcoming titles of mine are not showing up when my name is searched, and yet my listings are littered with the works of other authors who Amazon is pushing to readers who enjoy my stuff. Here is a startling concept that seems to elude Amazon and its trusty algorithms – readers who like my stuff may wish to encounter the titles of things of mine they haven’t read. (NOTE: After further checking, searching “Max Allan Collins” on Amazon, the books don’t come up; but apparently without quotes those books do.)

Some interesting things have turned up on the web that I’d like to share with you.

Ron Fortier at Pulp Fiction Reviews is looking at each novel in the Caleb York western series, but he’s doing so out of order, as he’s able to get his hands on the various titles. Here he takes a splendid look at The Bloody Spur, book three in the Spillane/Collins series.


Hardcover:
E-Book: Google Play Kobo

There’s a new one coming soon, Shoot-out at Sugar Creek. Here’s a first look at the cover.

The Mystery File site has put a review from pulp fiction expert Art Scott of my long-ago Mallory title, Kill Your Darlings, from 1001 Midnights.

They have also posted a review by the late, very great John Lutz about the first Nathan Heller novel, True Detective. This is well worth looking at, particularly in light of the warmly received news that I will be doing two Heller novels for Hard Case Crime.

For reasons mysterious to me, my novelizations of the three Brendan Fraser Mummy movies appear to remain very popular (though out of print for decades now) and have generated a number of quotations at various web sites – like this one.

Finally, this is an hysterical (in several senses of the word) You Tube rant by a big guy who likes my novel Quarry till he finds out Quarry (whose name he hilariously mispronounces) weighs 155 pounds. Everything else about the book he seems to like, even love, but he refuses to read the rest of the series (despite salivating over the McGinnis covers) because Quarry isn’t a big guy. Dude – ever hear of Audie Murphy?

M.A.C.

aug 19, 2003 visitors since August 19, 2003.