Bundle Born, Bornes Born, Legends Made, Unlikely Edgar Nom

January 24th, 2023 by Max Allan Collins
The Big Bundle cover
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The Big Bundle goes on sale TODAY!

Here is one of my better interviews, probably good because it was conducted by my great editor and pal at Titan Books, Andrew Sumner.

The Big Bundle books went quick, but – interestingly – we had only 11 requests for those 10 copies; in other words, almost everybody who entered won. I suspect people are assuming if they don’t immediately enter, they are screwed; but I hope these giveaways haven’t run their course.

The promised giveaway of Spillane – King of Pulp Fiction is held up because copies I was supposed to receive for this purpose have yet to show up. When they do, I’ll mount another book giveaway.

* * *

Here is a front page (stop the presses!) article from (as I write this) today’s Muscatine Journal, a nice job by Andrea Grubaugh. It details accurately some nice recent news I received.

Muscatine Mystery-series Author
Receives Nomination
for a 2023 Edgar Award

Muscatine’s Max Allan Collins was among the nominees when the Mystery Writers of America announced finalists for the 2023 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, a series of awards meant to honor mystery-focused stories both fiction and nonfiction. Nominees were announced Thursday, Jan. 19, for the 77th annual Edgar Awards ceremony set for April 27 at the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square.

One of the nominees in the Best Paperback Original category was the novel Quarry’s Blood, written by Collins.

Collins called the nomination “an utter surprise.”

“The Quarry series has always been a cult favorite, and well-reviewed, but this kind of mainstream recognition is unusual, unexpected and appreciated,” he said.

Collins has been nominated for an Edgar Award before, but the honor still is special and exciting.

On Thursday, January 19, the Mystery Writers of America announced its nominees for the 2023 Edgar Allan Poe Awards. Among the nominees for Best Paperback Original, one of the books selected was the novel Quarry’s Blood, written by Muscatine’s very own Max Allan Collins.

“I’ve been nominated several times in both nonfiction and fiction categories,” Collins said, “and in 2017 received a Life Achievement ‘Edgar’ award, the Grand Master. But in a 50-plus-year career, I’ve been nominated perhaps half a dozen times, so it’s not something that happens every day.”

Collins’ Quarry Series was created at the Writers Workshop in Iowa City in 1971, while the first Quarry novel was published in 1976. According to Collins, three more Quarry books were produced, with the series then ending after the publisher didn’t ask for more.

“Over the years, (that series’) cult following grew, and I’d get fan mail about the books — pre-email! So I did one more in the mid-’80s,” he explained. “Then about 20 years ago, editor Charles Ardai at Hard Case Crime asked me to do another, and I took the opportunity to write what I thought would be the final book in the series, The Last Quarry.”

This so-called finale, however, once again proved to be popular, to the point where it became a short film (“A Matter of Principal”) and eventually a movie (The Last Lullaby), both of which Collins wrote. A prequel entitled The First Quarry was also written by Collins in the hopes of filling in the blanks of his now-famous hitman’s career. A one-season show based off the series was also made for Cinemax in 2016.

“The character just keeps going,” Collins said.

As for this latest entry, it takes place in the present time period with Quarry himself being Collins’ age at about 70, which he considers to be old for a protagonist in this kind of story. He felt it was this element plus some surprising emotional content that might have made the story all the more appealing to readers.

“It brings him full circle, back to a book originally published as The Broker and later as Quarry, which was set in ‘Port City, Iowa’ — obviously Muscatine,” he said. “It’s unusual for a series novel to be nominated at all for an Edgar because long-running series usually get overlooked, so this nomination was nothing I was anticipating.”

Although he wasn’t sure if his book would be the one bringing home the award this year, Collins said he still felt touched by the acknowledgment.

“This really is one of those times when just being nominated is a special honor,” he said.

Okay, that’s the article, and a particularly good and accurate one for a local newspaper. I’ve had some doozies written about me around here (in the worst sense of the word “doozy”).

Still, a correction or two, or anyway clarification. First of all, I wish I were 70, but I am 74 and will be 75 soon (I believe there are 37 shopping days left till my birthday on March 3, not yet a national holiday).

Second, not only am I not convinced I’ll be bringing home the award this year, I am convinced – in a way, I’m certain – I won’t be. This nomination is such a fluke I am having trouble processing it – novels in series are rarely nominated by the Mystery Writers of America, and novels in long-running series are really, really, really rarely if ever nominated. Add to that the violence and sex that makes the Quarry novels about as un-Woke as they get. The other nominated titles seem to be much more in step with current tastes.

Third, I will almost certainly not attend, so by definition will not be bringing anything home with me. I would like to attend, but a couple of things discourage me. There’s a book in another category that, should it win, would distress me terribly (particularly since I am likely fated to lose in my category). I will allow regular readers here to determine what that book and who that author that is, but don’t look for me to confirm and/or deny. Also, Barb and I are already preparing to attend Bouchercon and one trip per year for us is plenty. We have not traveled to this kind of event since my open heart surgery and Covid lockdown. While I am more or less back to normal, I do tire much more easily than before – I was a force of nature then, whereas now I’m what remains after a force of nature hits.

It’s probably ironic that just last week, I think it was, I was complaining here that Quarry’s Blood was a forgotten child, published too early in the year to make the various Favorite Books lists for 2022…and further whined that The Big Bundle, a December 2022 publication, hadn’t come out in time to be considered.

Truth is, Quarry’s Blood and The Big Bundle did make a handful of those lists, for which I am grateful. And I will be submitting both for the Shamus awards – Quarry is kind of a shirt-tail PI, but he’s been nominated by the PWA before.

Also, on January 19, I received word that I’m receiving another life achievement award of sorts – I’m being named a Muscatine Community College Legend, which around these here parts is a pretty big deal. I was informed thusly: “Our MCC Legends committee would like to honor you as our 2023 Legend for all of the contributions you have – and continue to make – to advance the fine arts.” More generally, the Legends award honors individuals who have been significant supporters of the college, its students, faculty and staff. I attended from 1966 – 1968, and taught there from 1971 – 1976 (the only real job I ever had, except for bussing tables). Barb and I fell in love there, and married shortly after graduation; so MCC has a special resonance for me/us. There will be a dinner on March 30.

* * *

Last week something else cool happened, albeit kind of odd.

Tom Hanks gave an interview proclaiming Road to Perdition his favorite of his films (yay!) but then wondered why nobody ever asked him about it (huh?).

Here’s the thing – I know that film is talked about often, because I do an Internet search on myself every week – not because I’m an egomaniac but due to the need to provide these updates with links to relevant articles. Okay, and I’m an egomaniac.

Anyway, people are out there all the time talking about Road to Perdition. Usually it’s in a familiar context: a discussion of the best Tom Hanks or Paul Newman or Sam Mendes films; a look back at the best gangster films of the past 25 years; or, often, the answer to the musical question, You Didn’t Know This Movie Came from a Comic Book, Did You?

If you drop by here regularly, you’ve seen me link to those articles frequently. I would imagine Tom Hanks doesn’t spend his time pathetically doing internet searches of himself. And I would guess most interviewers have little to ask of him about a performance that was perfect. So his confusion about RTP’s enduring nature is understandable.

What blew me away was how much coverage this got. I counted something like twenty websites that picked the story up, and any number of newspapers. It was mostly the same story. Like this version.

[This is the interview, queued to the question prompting the Road response. Worth a watch!–Nate]

* * *

Barb and I have completed our drafts of Antiques Foe, and I will be assembling the finished product today from a stack of chapters into one manuscript file for me to proof-read tomorrow and Barb to enter (and approve) my corrections and changes. It should be shipped by Wednesday end of day, at the latest.

In the old days “shipped” meant getting a physical manuscript to a FexEx “mailbox” before the last collection, which I think was five or six p.m. This meant printing out several manuscripts, again physical copies (the one area where I am not so adamant about preferring physical media).

This is a good one. Barb did a magnificent job with Brandy and Vivian Borne’s latest, rather harrowing adventure, and, really, it could have been successfully published before I landed a glove on it. Barb claims to like and approve of the tweaks and additions I’ve made, and continues to be the easiest person to collaborate with on the planet. If I had somebody fooling around with my perfectly good words, I’d have a good old-fashioned coniption fit.

She claims the next book in the series will be the last one, and I can understand why – she works incredibly hard on her manuscripts. Coming off a Nate Heller (Too Many Bullets), I can understand how you can do something you love and dread doing it again.

* * *

CrimeReads highlights The Big Bundle as a book coming out this week.

Quarry’s Blood was one of Glen Davis’s favorites of 2022. (Scroll down.)

Here’s an interesting but odd article on what fans of Road to Perdition don’t know about that film. It claims that the rainy climax took place in a boxing ring in the graphic novel. No, it was a boxing ring in an early draft of the script. In the graphic novel, the rainy death was (as in history) Connor Looney’s, not his father. No boxing ring at all. God save us from experts!

Finally, CBR considers Road to Perdition one of the ten great crime graphic novels! (So do I, but I can’t think of another 9.)

M.A.C.

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6 Responses to “Bundle Born, Bornes Born, Legends Made, Unlikely Edgar Nom”

  1. stephenborer says:

    Here’s a multipart congrats on the new novel, the Sumner interview, the Muscatine Journal article, and the Quarry nomination !! Kudos!

  2. Brent Frankenhoff says:

    Congratulations on the nomination! Well deserved.

    I didn’t participate in The Big Bundle giveaway because my pre-ordered copy should hit my doorstep sometime today. Looking forward to the Spillane biography giveaway.

  3. Glen Davis says:

    I got the ARC of Big Bundle in the last giveaway, and didn’t think it’d be fair to take two from you.

  4. Russell W Fish says:

    I, too, got an ARC of The Big Bundle (from HCC) and thought it best to give someone else a chance to get a book from you. Also looking forward to the Spillane bio giveaway!

  5. Tom Barnett says:

    Congratulations on the nomination. Here’s hoping you’re surprised again and you win.

  6. Chris Gumprich says:

    My pre-ordered copy of The Big Bundle arrived yesterday, the day after I finished my 100th reread of True Detective. Looking forward to it!

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