I Did Something Right

June 2nd, 2015 by Max Allan Collins

Barbara Jane Mull and I were married on June 1, 1968. That means that the day before this update appears we will be celebrating our 47th anniversary.

I don’t want this to be a sickening exercise, because Barb would be the first to make a face (albeit a pretty one). But I did something right. I first fell for her in the fifth grade, decided that was a little early, and tried again in high school, failing miserably. Finally in 1966, at Muscatine Community College, I took advantage of the paucity of competition and landed a date. She says she fell in love with me when, in the midst of pontificating about something or other, I stuck my hand in my water glass (we were at a restaurant at the time).

It’s been my pleasure to go through life with this smart, funny, beautiful woman, and I hope to go through a bunch more of it. Another 47 years would do fine. What has been amazing to witness…well, the whole list of things she’s said and done that amaze me would take too long, but…has been her growth a writer.

To those of you who have longed to be a professional writer, who have dreamed and schemed and attempted deals with the devil to get that done, I will drive you insane by saying (truthfully) that Barb never wanted to be a writer, and often doesn’t particularly want to be one now. She’s a writer because she’s been married to me and she just…I swear…picked it up. If I’d been a brain surgeon, she’d be wielding a scalpel. If I was Van Cliburn, she’d be on stage at Carnegie Hall.

I’ve been a lucky man, in general, but marrying this pretty girl who became a beautiful woman was the jackpot. You may feel free to envy me about this part of my life. I wouldn’t blame you one little bit.

Did I mention she gave me a great son?

She did that, too.

The photo here, by the way, is circa 1971 (taken by the late Bill Mull, Barb’s father), right around when I was creating Quarry. That took longer to pay off than my marriage has.

Barbara and Max Allan Collins

* * *

Here’s a review from a Heller fan who doesn’t care for FLYING BLIND. Happens to be one of my favorite novels in the saga, but I get that when I wander too far afield from crime and politics, some readers get uneasy. They, for some reason, suspect that one guy might just not be able to have been involved in so many historical events….

Here’s a nice review of another of the Hellers, CHICAGO CONFIDENTIAL, coincidentally one of the books in the series that was received less than glowingly by some fans (this one likes it). Not long ago, I listened to Dan John Miller’s audio of the book and thought it was pretty good. But what do I know? Still, it was the last Heller for ten years.

Here’s a fun review of THE LAST QUARRY by a reader revisiting the novel.

Here’s a review by the same reader of Mickey’s THE GIRL HUNTERS. I find this particularly fun because he was inspired to read the book having enjoyed COMPLEX 90, the posthumous Spillane/Collins sequel.

Finally, check out this shortish but very sweet KILL ME, DARLING review in the San Francisco Book Review.


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13 Responses to “I Did Something Right”

  1. Jeff Pierce says:

    Congratulations to both of you! Forty-seven years worth of love is something to be envied, indeed.


  2. Triss (Walter) Holland says:

    Congratulations to you both and may you and Barb have many many more great years together.

  3. she is a very beautiful woman and I have seen her smiling with you, she too got something right with a man of great mind and heart, Congratulations to you both

  4. Susan and Doug says:

    Congratulations you two!!! We’ve watched you grow both personally and professionally!!! Continue enjoying this adventure called LIFE together!!! Proud to count you as friends!!! Happy Anniversary, cheers for many more!!! Susan and Doug Krieger

  5. Edmond D. Smith says:

    Congrats to you and the Mrs., Max. You are lucky to have found each other and you both seem bright enough and have enough character to recognize your good fortune. Cheers to you both.

  6. Bill Crider says:

    Happy anniversary, you two!

  7. Paul K says:

    While living in Maine and preparing to move to Chicago for retirement, I read all of the Nate Heller novels and found them a great orientation to the city. Now that I’ve been here for almost two years, I’m beginning to re-read them with hometown eyes. They are still wonderful.
    If you are ever in town and needing a drink, I’ll be happy to buy you one, in gratitude for your writing.

  8. Bob Sproule says:

    Mr. Collins, I am a bit stunned that you happened across my modest little blog to find my review of “Flying Blind”. I hope that you have also seen The Grandstander’s comments on the many other books of yours that I have written about. I can also tell you that I have turned several friends on to Nate Heller and his various adventures. As I stated in my blog, it will be a sad day for me when I finish the last two unread Heller novels.

    Thank you for all of the reading pleasure that you have provided to me, and Happy Anniversary!

  9. Max Allan Collins says:

    Bob, as you may know if you follow this blog, I try to keep an eye out each week for reviews of my stuff to share with my readers. I admit to not posting outright pans, but mixed reviews are of interest.

    You raise (anyway that’s my take) an interesting issue, which is the “willing suspension of disbelief” aspect of Heller. Not all readers can handle what has become the premise of the saga, which is putting Heller into the great crimes and mysteries of the 20th Century. Some readers are fine as long as it’s crime — others find, when I do Earhart or Roswell, say — that I’ve somehow broken the covenant.

    FLYING BLIND was undoubtedly a stretch, but it’s one of my favorites for that very reason — that it takes him places and into situations where he hasn’t been before. I also think Amy comes across well and that there’s a genuine love affair between her and Heller. And I like, a lot, the way Jesus (not Christ) dies off-stage.

    Still, I get the complaint, the problem. But what I say to those who — in general — can’t accept one guy getting involved in so many famous crimes….how many murder cases did Perry Mason or Nero Wolfe or Spenser or you-name-the-fictional detective get into? Since I substitute Heller for real people who were involved in these cases (admittedly, less so in FLYING BLIND), I actually think Heller is more believeable. And I say that with my tongue only somewhat in cheek….

    Thanks for the attention. And the new customers.

  10. Max Allan Collins says:

    My thanks to those of you who have conveyed anniversary wishes. I apologize for posting something so personal…but trust me, if you were married to this woman, you’d brag about it, too.

  11. Terry Beatty says:

    Congrats, you crazy kids!

  12. Tom Zappe/St Louis says:

    If you were Van Cliburn she probably would not be married to you.

  13. Joe Menta says:

    Congrats, Max! And, yes, thanks for often sending your web readers in the direction of us bloggers who bang out a few sentences about your stuff now and again.