Archive for the ‘Message from M.A.C.’ Category

Bam! Pow! Zap!

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

To Live and Spy in Berlin received a nice boost from BookBub. The new release price is $3.99 for the e-book; it’s $14.99 for the “real” book.

And on Wednesday the San Diego virtual Comic Con link with my panel with the great Andrew Sumner of Titan will be available. The discussion includes the upcoming Titan Ms. Tree third volume, the Nolan reprints from Hard Case Crime, and the Mike Hammer 75th anniversary publications from various publishers…and more.

The trade paperback edition of Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher, the non-fiction work by A. Brad Schwartz and myself, is available now. It has a slightly different, tighter subtitle, at my urging: Hunting a Serial Killer at the Dawn of Modern Criminology. The info is here.

It looks like both Mommy and Mommy 2: Mommy’s Day are available for streaming on Roku.

Getting back to Live and Spy in Berlin, the indefatigable J. Kingston Pierce at the definitive mystery fiction web site The Rap Sheet said the following about John Sand:

I read and enjoyed both Come Spy With Me and Live Fast, Spy Hard, Max Allan Collins and Matthew V. Clemens’ initial two John Sand espionage novels, though I haven’t yet had a chance to write about them. And now the pressure to do so is even greater: Collins writes in his blog that the series’ third installment, To Live and Spy in Berlin, is due out on July 14, from Wolfpack. That makes three fast-paced, James Bond-ish adventures published in just nine months! No wonder I can’t keep up. “Will there be more John Sand books?” Collins asks. “That’s up to you. We have left something of an incredible effing cliffhanger [in book three] that needs resolving, so it’s on your conscience not ours if sales don’t justify that resolution.”
* * *

Barb and I took in Black Widow this weekend and I’m happy to report it’s a good film. It concentrates on espionage and action/adventure, and character interaction, particularly between Black Widow and her sister, well-portrayed by Scarlett Johansson and a scene-stealing Florence Pugh. There’s a surprising amount of humor and the Marvel-style, sometimes wearying action sequences don’t really get out of hand till the last half hour.

I could not help, in watching Black Widow, but flash onto a complaint a reviewer had recently about To Live and Spy in Berlin, specifically that John Sand was not a realistic character but rather a “cartoon.” While I would prefer the more exact “comic strip character,” I don’t argue with that designation.

Ever since I began also being a writer of comics, my novel writing has frequently been the target of reviewers who (rather lazily I think) remind potential book readers that I am a lowly comics writer. This has happened less post-Road to Perdition, which was a key component of the new attitude toward comics, i.e., graphic novels.

But I used to have reviewers who would look at, say, Nate Heller and write, “Bam! Pow! Zap!” in regard to my prose writing – sometimes in a kidding way, others in a more dismissive manner. The idea that anyone would look at Nate Heller and think “comics character” is absurd, but these reviewers knew I was writing the Dick Tracy strip and took a predictable cheap shot.

I think generally – and again, Road to Perdition played a role in changing attitudes in and about the field – readers mostly now understand that the comics form accommodates everything from over-the-top superhero to grimly realistic real life and everything that falls between. It’s a storytelling form with as many, actually more, capabilities than most others.

When the comics label on a writer is used, however, it’s almost always disparaging – meaning the writer is producing kid’s stuff or ridiculously over-melodramatic junk.

So is John Sand a comic strip character in the sense that his adventures are unrealistic and run to outrageous melodrama? I would say yes to that. And it’s intentional. But that does not mean (as a few detractors of the series say) the John Sand novels are spoofs. I’m getting a bit tired of having to say this, but Austin Powers, Derek Flynt and Dean Martin’s Matt Helm are spoofs. John Sand is an homage to Fleming’s Bond (and the early Bond films) and something of a pastiche with a dollop of my historical fiction approach. Bond, by the way, was in addition to novels a long-running comic strip signed by Fleming and pre-dating the films (Connery cast, in part, because he resembled the James Bond of the UK comic strip).

James Bond UK Comic Strip

The problem I run into – and those of you who drop by here frequently are aware of this – is the reader who likes one or two of the series (or one-shot novels) I write, and is confused, irritated or even angered by others. Of course, sometimes it’s easy to tell which Max Allan Collins is performing today – no one is likely to confuse Antiques Fire Sale with Killing Quarry or G.I. Joe with Nate Heller in Better Dead.

On the other hand, most – actually, much – of what I write is melodrama. Kitchen-sink realism interests me not a whit. My technique, which may or may not always be successful, is to layer a believable, even realistic surface on a story that is larger than life (“over the top,” in the view of detractors). That’s common to Antiques Fire Sale and Killing Quarry. No apologies.

I realize it can be confusing. Mike Hammer is more in the vein of John Sand (not surprisingly, since Bond was a British take on Hammer, largely) but would seem to be more along the lines of Quarry or Nate Heller. But my responsibility is to do the best job I can whichever road I go down on a given project.

And I am a professional writer. This is how I make my living, how I keep the lights on around this joint. This means I write for various markets and even multiple audiences. I admit it’s a frustration when a reader gets mad because, say, Girl Can’t Help It features people-next-door protagonists in a small-town setting. That’s actually a pretty good example – I do run into Antiques readers who love the Girl books, but would likely be appalled by Quarry.

Another aspect of course is the need for me to stay engaged. When I come to Quarry or Nate Heller after doing books that aren’t about them, I do so with renewed energy and interest. Robert B. Parker and I started out about the same time. You may have noticed he did just a bit better than I did in the world of publishing. But had one of my early series taken off – Nolan or Quarry specifically – I might have spent the bulk of my career writing chiefly about one of them…and going quietly nuts. Rich, but nuts.

I like that I have created a bunch of things, written over 100 books about a bunch of different protagonists in different settings and even eras.

Here’s an example of my approach, and it will demonstrate why some readers embrace my work and others don’t like it at all. The Caleb York books grow out of an unproduced screenplay Mickey Spillane wrote for John Wayne in the 1950s. When I was asked to write a series about York, I decided to approach it (and the first book, The Legend of Caleb York, a novelization of Mickey’s screenplay) as if I were doing a 1950s western movie that might have starred Randolph Scott or Audie Murphy.

In other words, the Hollywood Myth of the West, which had little to do with the actual Old West. I did this unashamedly and with a certain amount of delight. But at the same time, the world Caleb and his cast are plopped down in is a rather realistic one, with a lot of research brought to bear. York will shoot it out in the kind of Main Street gunfight that almost never really happened, but if he goes into a hardware store in the 1880s, by God it will be an 1880s hardware store. A bad guy right out of High Noon will have his roots in Quantrill’s Raiders. It’s a mix.

It’s trying to provide a recognizable realistic surface and undercarriage to a tale that is mythic, larger-than-life.

One of the things I try to do here is let you know what I’m up to with whatever my latest book is. I think I’ve made it clear than To Live and Spy in Berlin is neither Austin Powers nor John le Carré. Matt Clemens and I knew damn well we were over the top. But we did it with a twinkle in our eye but, while we were in the middle of the writing, a conviction in the reality of our fairy tale world.

* * *

The Wild Dog controversy raged on for a week but has cooled somewhat. I have nothing more to say about it, right now anyway.

However, one earnest soul reminded everyone that I had killed Moon Maid almost right out of the gate when I took over the writing of the Dick Tracy comic strip in 1977. This point was made, apparently, to show I had little respect for what had gone before. The Earnest Soul asked, “What did Chester Gould think?”

Well, here’s the thing. Chester Gould was still signing the strip with me and his assistant Rick Fletcher. Chet was consulting on a regular basis and knew, and understood, that the Tribune Syndicate wanted us to remove all remnants of the moon era from Dick Tracy. He had already dumped most of it himself.

So what did Chester Gould think? He may have been reluctant, but he went along. And, as I say, put his name on the strip…above mine.

* * *

Here’s a nice write-up about To Live and Spy in Berlin from our pal Sean Leary at quadcities.com.

M.A.C.

Sand Number Three and Wild Dog Goes Number Two

Tuesday, July 13th, 2021
To Live and Spy in Berlin cover
Paperback: Indiebound Bookshop.org Amazon Books-A-Million (BAM) Barnes & Noble (B&N) Powell's
E-Book: Amazon

The third in the John Sand Trilogy – To Live and Spy In Berlin – comes out tomorrow, Wednesday July 14.

Both my co-author Matthew Clemens and I consider this the best of the three, although we are proud of each one individually and more so collectively.

As Matt and I have often expressed, the John Sand novels reflect our love of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels and the movies they spawned, particularly the first six (five of which starred Sean Connery). There’s been some confusion from people thinking we’re doing spoofs when homage is more like it. Possibly pastiche, although I think we go beyond that.

The books imagine John Sand as the “real-life” spy the world’s most famous fictional spy was based upon. Sand has a new wife, Stacey, and is working for a new international espionage organization. We put him – them – in an historical context, so a few famous faces turn up in each novel. And in the first three, John F. Kennedy has chosen Sand as his go-to spy.

We pulled this off in a short period of time, and while we hope to do more Sand novels, we admit to being bushed. We plot them together, share the research, stay in constant communication while Matt writes a rough draft, after which I write my draft, still staying in touch with my co-author. It is as genuine a collaboration as you are likely to find, rivaled only by Barb and me on the Antiques series.

I refer to this as the John Sand Trilogy because whether it goes beyond that number of entries is wholly in your hands – yours and whatever readers otherwise stumble onto what we think is a very entertaining series.

No book giveaway yet, but stayed tuned.

* * *

My panel on Ms. Tree, Mike Hammer and Nolan for the virtual San Diego Comic Con is at 12 PM to 1 PM on Friday, July 23. Info here.

* * *

Some of you may be aware of the fuss regarding Wild Dog that was splashed all over the Internet last week (and still going). This is how CBR.com related it, relying on Bleeding Cool:

Wild Dog co-creator Terry Beatty slammed DC Comics for its upcoming Suicide Squad: Get Joker series, which depicts Wild Dog as being one of the insurrectionist who took part in the January 6th Capitol Insurrection.

Bleeding Cool posted a number of panels from the upcoming Brian Azzarello and Alex Maleev project, which shows the Suicide Squad paired with Red Hood to hunt down the Joker to finally make him pay for his crimes, and Wild Dog is available to be part of the Suicide Squad because he was in prison after being arrested during the Capitol Insurrection.

In the leaked panels, Wild Dog even brags about defecating on the desk of the Speaker of the House. He also says stuff like, “Garbage that’s been happenin’ in this country…it’s all fucking lawless…all the while we’re being regulated to think.”

Beatty, who co-created Wild Dog with writer Max Allan Collins, shared his displeasure with this new take on his creation on his Facebook page, “This is not the Wild Dog Max Allan Collins and I created. We are both angered and appalled at this offensive and out of character reworking of our hero. Yes, he was a vigilante. Yes, he was a gun nut.* But he wasn’t a conspiracy theory idiot or leader of a mob. This blatant disregard and disrespect for the creators’ intent is a slap in the face to both of us.”

Beatty referenced the CW version of Wild Dog, portrayed by Hispanic actor, Rick Gonzalez, as being a reason the artist thinks that this is a particularly bad idea, “It seems additionally insulting, considering the positive portrayal of Wild Dog as a POC on the CW ARROW TV series. To now make him the leader of a mob of racist, violent, moronic goons pretty much destroys any possibility of future use of him as an actual hero — vigilante or not.”

Wild Dog was introduced by Beatty and Collins in a miniseries for DC in 1987, as an urban vigilante who takes on the mob after his girlfriend is murdered. He later appeared in a series of stories by Collins and Beatty in Action Comics Weekly.

Beatty ended his missive by noting, “As the co-creator of Wild Dog, I need to say loud and clear, that what DC and Azzarello are currently presenting is not my Wild Dog, and neither Max nor I approve.”

Since then Terry has had more to say on his Facebook page (some of which has been quoted elsewhere). I was asked for my take on the matter by Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston.

Here’s what I wrote (with a title that was not used):

DOG POOP
Max Allan Collins

My first reaction at discovering Wild Dog had been recruited into the Suicide Squad as the leader of the Jan. 6 Insurrection as a defecating Proud Boy-style seditionist was bewildered shock. Basically, “Huh?”

That quickly grew to rage, expressed mostly as, “Fuck DC,” and “Fuck the writer.” I shared these sentiments with Wild Dog’s artist/co-creator, Terry Beatty, and he basically tried to calm me down. But, obviously, it gradually worked him into a rabid lather, too.

For me, it’s settled into disappointment and disgust. Wild Dog was conceived as a home-grown costumed hero. No cape, no cowl, just what could be put together out of such items as a hockey mask (with its Jason resonance) and body armor and real-world stuff from a hardware store and a home workshop. The usual “what if” all fiction writers operate from – “what if” somebody decided to actually be a costumed hero?

The results were not always beneficial. When Wild Dog found himself confronted by a would-be Bucky to his Captain America, despite our hero’s best efforts to discourage the Pup’s participation, the child is nearly killed. Terry and I pursued this with Ms. Tree – she was a vigilante, too, but wound up both in jail and in a mental institution. I might add in the Ms. Tree feature, Terry and I explored such then-current (and still current, unfortunately) topics as date rape, abortion clinic bombings, and gay bashing.

Some defenders of what we see as a perverted use of our creation dismiss it on the grounds that Wild Dog is a minor, forgotten character. Well, tell that to DC, who have used the character in at least three other comics, most recently as a cast member of the Cave Carson comic book, and to the CW network, where Wild Dog was a recurring character on Arrow.

Wild Dog debuted in a four-issue mini-series, had a regular slot in Action Weekly, and a “Special” double-length one-shot. In addition Terry is an Eisner-winning Batman artist, and we were Eisner nominees for our Ms. Tree work at DC. I wrote a year of Batman as well as two Batman graphic novels and was the initial writer of the Tim Burton-era Batman newspaper strip. My graphic novel (with Richard Piers Rayner), Road to Perdition, generated an Academy Award-winning film that is often cited as one of the best comic book movies ever made, and the graphic novel itself appears on many “Best of” lists. As recently as 2011 Terry and I did Return to Perdition for DC.

So what?

So Terry and I both have long relationships with DC and might have expected better where one of our creations is concerned. Yes, DC owns the rights to the character, but simple courtesy and common decency might suggest going down this path with Wild Dog was ill-advised – and that at least the creators should be warned. After all, invoking the Jan. 6 riot was bound to attract attention and controversy – shock value was the point, after all.

Of course we weren’t informed, just as we were not told about Wild Dog being used on the Arrow TV show. We weren’t paid for that (one of the few things our contract gave us) until that fact went public. I have worked with many terrific people at DC, but DC itself remains what it’s always been – a corporation built on the bones of two Cleveland teenagers.

As for Brian Azzarello, who I have never met, I have to wonder what kind of writer uses the creation of another writer in such a reckless, disrespectful manner. Azzarello is one of a generation of comics writers who owe a certain debt to our Ms. Tree, the first successful crime comic book in decades when it appeared in 1981. Still the longest running private eye comic book of all time (50 issues plus specials), it paved the way for everything that followed. We might have expected better thanks than this.

DC owning Wild Dog doesn’t stop it being characterized as my work – the fame of Road to Perdition guarantees I will be mentioned in the context of a character who is tied to a political movement I abhor.

But a modicum of consideration from the publisher, and some respect from the writer, is too much to expect from the company and talent who ignore Bill Finger’s Batman in favor of Batman fingering Catwoman.

Wild Dog
* * *

The Bleeding Cool story on Wild Dog, with more Terry Beatty responses and a lot of comments (where I weigh in here and there) can be seen here. Most of the comments are supportive; some are asinine.

Here is a wonderful Mike Hammer write-up with a focus on Complex 90.

Here’s a favorable if slightly patronizing Bookgasm review of the new Antiques Carry On.

Finally, Atomic Junkshop serves up a swell look at the Caleb York series with a great art and wonderful words.

M.A.C.

Don’t Bug Me, Baby

Tuesday, July 6th, 2021
Crusin' at Proof Social 2021
Crusin’ at Proof Social, l to r, M.A.C., Steve Kundel, Bill Anson, Scott Anson

The gig Saturday, July 3, at Proof Social in Muscatine went very well, especially considering it had been two years since Crusin’s last outing.

This was the first public performance with bass player Scott Anson (our guitar player Bill’s son). Scott filled in for Brian Van Winkle at the last performance – a private function in 2019 – before Covid sidelined us and everybody. He is a terrific bass player and a real asset to the band. Of course, it was bittersweet without Brian, whose premature, unexpected passing remains hard to accept.

We had a number of my fellow classmates of ‘66 Muscatine High School grads who came out for a kind of unofficial 55th reunion. But the performance on the patio outside the club (the same patio where we performed a number of times in past years for the Second Sunday concert series) enjoyed both nice weather and a standing room only crowd reflecting a broad demographic. My old pal from early Crusin’ days, Charlie Koenigsaecker, brought a group down from Iowa City. Charlie ran sound for us for back in the day and is a popular dj with great taste in addition to working at the Iowa City Library.

Another old friend, Doug Kreiger, came up to me and – once we’d kidded each other for a while – thanked me quite sincerely for all the music and stories I’d shared with my hometown (and beyond) over the years. It was a nice moment and an unexpected expression of sentiment.

I do find myself reflecting on all the years of music, knowing that the road ahead is limited in that regard whereas storytelling is less so. The loading in and out – as I mentioned last time – is so onerous that it calls into question whether or not it’s worth the effort. The day after, as I write this, I feel like I was hit by a truck. That was always the case after a band job, for the last three decades anyway, but now it feels like a bigger truck.

Gigs are unpredictable, always, and after a nice evening with weather cooperating, darkness fell and bugs attracted to the lights illuminating the band swarmed us, like Pappy Yokum getting assaulted by hordes of locusts as he tried to protect the turnip crop. These were tiny bugs, unidentifiable but similar to gnats, though they weren’t biting, just turning my keyboards into a gummy, sticky runway and clinging to my exposed flesh the same way. This didn’t happen till the last set, toward the end, and we limped through fifteen minutes of absolute insect invasion…and toward the end the notorious “fish bugs” joined the assault. They tell me fish bugs have only a 34-hour life span, and that’s way too long.

I’ve played in bands since 1965, frequently out of doors, and never had this happen before. And today I spent an hour cleaning the two keyboards of crushed bug carcasses, also a new experience.

Did God send the little devils to tell me I’d been doing this long enough?

* * *

On our recent trip to Minnesota for a family reunion, which centered around the graveside service of Barb’s mom, Barb and I went to a movie in Minneapolis. And I think I may be seriously out of step. I felt the same way this evening when I watched a movie on HBO Max.

In Minneapolis, we went to F9, as it’s being called, and it’s an appropriate title if “F” stands for what it should. I am easy to please with dumb action movies, and have seen every Fast and Furious movie in a theater and had fun. This one is sloppy and stupid, lacking both the Rock and Jason Stratham, but it did mark Barb and me officially getting back in the moviegoing swing – by walking out.

I didn’t walk out on director Steven Soderbergh’s No Sudden Move, with a cast so star-studded Matt Damon didn’t bother with getting a billing. But the only reason I didn’t walk out was because I was home. It’s a mess, incomprehensible and pretentious and frequently shot with distorting lenses that call attention to themselves. The great Don Cheadle spends the running time looking like he wished somebody had shown him the script. But the critics love it, so I am probably wrong.

F9 puts me out of step with the public and No Sudden Move puts me out of step with the critics. I’ve got all the bases covered!

* * *

Here’s a great review of Two for the Money (mostly about Bait Money but also the Nolan series in general).

And here’s a spiffy review of both novels collected in Double Down (Fly Paper and Hush Money).

Finally, here’s another Two for the Money review, generally not bad, but apparently the 22 year-old me in the early ‘70s was supposed to have better attitudes than “cringingly archaic” ones about women’s looks and tough guy prowess. You’d think I’d been writing a paperback crime novel with an early ‘70s mostly male readership in mind.

M.A.C.

Crusin’ Celebrates the 4th on the 3rd!

Tuesday, June 29th, 2021

On Saturday, July 3, from 7 PM till 10 PM, Crusin’ – my classic rock band (‘60s and ‘70s and a few originals) – will be appearing at Proof Social, a really terrific wine bar at 208 W 2nd St in Muscatine, Iowa. We will be performing on the patio – the same area where we gave concerts for Muscatine’s Second Sunday series for a number of years. We will move inside in case of rain.


Crusin’ 2019 – M.A.C., Steve Kundel, Bill Anson, Brian Van Winkle

How this came to pass is a story in itself. For a number of years, Crusin’ has performed for the Missipi Brew in Muscatine on the Fourth, and we were booked for this year, as usual – an outdoor concert leading up to the fireworks. But at something of the last minute, the Brew decided not to open on the Fourth, for various reasons including staffing issues.

Crusin’ only plays a few gigs in our “season,” which is summer through early fall. I only booked three appearances this year, and the Brew was one of them. So this was a big disappointment. But when I mentioned to Proof Social owner/manager Chance Kleist that our July 4th date had fallen through, he immediately booked us for Saturday the 3rd.

Proof Social is a superior venue and I hope folks in Muscatine and in Eastern Iowa generally will come down (or up, as the case may be) (sideways, too) and see us.

For those who don’t know much about us, click on MUSIC here at maxallancollins.com. We need to update the article a little, but other than that it will give you the right idea. We are (fairly) recent inductees into the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and are about as pure an example of the garage band approach and ethic as you’ll find. Both guitarist Bill Anson and I have been playing in area rock bands since the mid-1960s, although until about four years ago we’d never been in the same group.


Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction concert: M.A.C., Kundle, Anson, Van Winkle

If you follow these update/blogs you’ll remember that our beloved bass player Brian Van Winkle passed away not long ago. Now we have Bill Anson’s son Scott on bass. Scott and his dad have been appearing together as a duo and trio (with Anson brother Dave, a fine guitarist in his own right) for years. Scott also traveled with Crusin’ for the past several years and ran sound.

The July 3rd date is sort of Scott’s first gig with us. I say “sort of” because he filled in at our previous appearance – the last one before the Covid break – at a private function when Brian couldn’t make it. Scott is a terrific bass player, even though at the last rehearsal I had to explain to him that the Zombies recorded “She’s Not There” before Santana. And here I thought Bill had raised him right….

This may be as good a time as any to reflect on why a 73-year-old man is still playing rock ‘n’ roll, especially when – unlike Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney – he still has to haul his own shit.

I had thought this year would likely be my last performing, but Covid put Crusin’ on an unexpected fourteen-month hiatus. The plan had been to record a farewell CD over the winter and promote it and play originals off it this year. But though we’d started rehearsing the originals, and even playing some of them out in 2019, those plans hit the shoals, and not the Muscle ones.

So we won’t be recording until our current performing season is over, which means next year could be the year we go out with our CD.

All of this depends on how things go – am I still having fun, and am I physically up to it. If I had someone to haul my stuff and set up my keyboards (a somewhat complicated process), where all I had to do was walk out on stage and sing and play…sure. Glad to do that till I drop.

But the reality is hauling, setting up, tearing down, is the price we pay for our thrills. When I’m asked what we charge, I reply that we play for free, but it will cost you to have us, yes, haul, set up, and tear down.

Not complaining. It’s just a real physical toll, and kind of always has been…but at my age, it’s a bigger consideration.

However…and I’ve said this here before…what a lucky sod I’ve been and am. Arguably, there’s been little growth. After all, when I was thirteen I loved “tough guy” mystery fiction and rock ‘n’ roll. By seventeen I was actively pursuing both as potential professions. By twenty-two I was making a living (of sorts) doing both.

And still am.

I may be repeating myself telling the following story, but that’s a privilege (and unavoidable aspect) of age. At my 50th high school reunion, a very good friend of mine – who I hadn’t seen in years – took me aside for a kind of intervention. He was and is a bright, funny, fun human being who I as a young man wished I could be like. In some ways, I still do. But he spent his career as an attorney working for a bank – he made good, maybe great money, and had a rewarding interest in swimming (he’d been a star athlete) as a sideline that gave a richness to his life.

He was worried that I was still working, and working so hard. He had retired to the golf course and vacations and cruises. And here I was, still Crusin’. I had difficulty explaining that I am blessed at having been able to pursue my passions while earning a living at them. That I got paid, essentially, for doing my two hobbies – telling stories and playing music. He just couldn’t quite grasp it.

Now only for a brief span – in college and again in the mid-‘70s – did I earn money as a musician in any meaningful way. Mostly it’s been a hobby that alternately pays for itself and provides pocket money. But writing has been a real profession. I’ve done well and worked hard doing it, but I know…trust me, I know…that I have been very, very lucky.

I even think I’ve been lucky not to hit it big with, say, Nolan or Quarry right out of the gate in my career. To stay in business, I had to do different things, create a lot of different series, write work-for-hire like movie novels and TV tie-in novels. I had to write comics and non-fiction and short stories and film scripts and trading cards and collaborate with other talented writers (like Barbara Collins, for instance) and…well, that all made me a better writer and widened my sphere of experience. I can envy a Robert B. Parker for hitting a home run at the beginning of his career, but I wouldn’t trade my cultish success for his name-brand success because I like having had the opportunity to do so many things.

And I owe it to luck.

And to readers.

So thank you. If you’re in the Muscatine, Iowa, area on July 3rd, stop by.

M.A.C.