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

Barb’s Mom and Writing From Experience

Tuesday, May 11th, 2021

Barb’s mother passed away last week. I mention this not to initiate a flood of condolence wishes, which since Barb does not use Facebook might fall on deaf ears anyway. Dorothy Carolyn Jensen Mull was 97 and had endured a long bedridden convalescence, although saying Dot’s passing was a “blessing” in a way does not make it any easier for Barb and her six siblings.

I mention it here because Dorothy deserves thanks and recognition for inspiring, to a degree, the character Vivian Borne in the Antiques cozy mystery series that Barb and I write. This is not to say that Dot was a zany eccentric or a local theater diva – neither was the case. But she was highly spirited and for a number of years went antiquing with Barb from this flea market to that garage sale. This led to Barb and her mom running a booth at an antiques mall together for a good number of years, which was a major inspiration for the book series.

And I am happy to say that Dot enjoyed the Trash ‘n’ Treasures mysteries, which in her later years (with her eyesight failing) were read to her by Barb’s sister Anne.

I go into this in part because it speaks to Barb’s methods and mine where it comes to writing fiction. Though we work in a genre with its own conventions and (to use the tiresome current favorite term) tropes, we both instill elements from our own experience in our storytelling. The psychologist character in the Antiques books draws from Barb’s sister Cindi, yes, a psychologist. Barb has an older sister just as Brandy Borne does, although past a few superficial similarities the resemblance ends there. She also has a sister, Kathe, whose work in Broadway theater impacted our novel, Antiques Con. My brother-in-law Gary inspired a friend of Quarry’s who has somehow managed not to get killed, either in real life or fiction.

This kind of thing goes back to the earliest days of my career, when I was first able to inject elements of my real life into my crime-fiction fantasy. Mourn the Living had an Iowa City setting and reflected the hippie era there when I was in college. Bait Money finds Nolan and Jon robbing the bank where Barb was working at the time; she provided me with their security protocols!

Even in writing historical fiction I draw upon my own experiences. I wouldn’t have written The Titanic Murders if I hadn’t read in grade school a Tab book club edition of Jacque Futrelle’s The Thinking Machine. Getting betrayed by my best friend from high school (who embezzled from me) played a part in any number of my novels in the last twenty years, including Quarry’s Ex, which also drew upon my experiences making indie movies.

Anyway, it’s a lesson aspiring writers in any genre should take to heart. Don’t just write out of the books you’ve read and movies and TV you’ve seen. Draw on your experiences even in the context of mystery fiction or s-f or westerns or…really, any genre.

And one last thing – thank you, Dorothy. You inspired me, through your daughter and your own unique spirit.

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Scarface and the Untouchable Cover

Scarface and the Untouchable – the Capone/Ness non-fiction work by Brad Schwartz and me – hit the entertainment news last week. CBS is exercising their option to pick up the property for a series and it’s going to Showtime. We’ll see if it happens.

Read about it here, where you’ll discover my middle name is “Allen” and that apparently no one but me (and you) remembers that this all began with The Untouchables TV series starring Robert Stack.

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Barb and I went to a movie at the local theater for the first time since the pandemic hit – something like fourteen months. We are, as you may be aware, frequent moviegoers and it was definitely strange to be back doing something so familiar after over a year and a half away from it. The theater did a good job with every other row blocked off and masks in the outer areas. We went at an off-time (3:30 pm on a Sunday) and were among perhaps seven other moviegoers.

The film was terrific – Wrath of Man, starring Jason Stratham and directed by Guy Ritchie. I like Ritchie’s films very much – he is essentially the UK’s Tarantino. It’s a very hardboiled crime story and not for the faint of heart (or the five year-old whose parents took her to this screening), minus the humor and quick cutting of most Ritchie films. This has more of a Richard Stark feel than the Parker film Stratham starred in a few years ago.

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Here’s a wonderful review of Shoot-out at Sugar Creek, the new Caleb York.

And another.

Jeez, maybe you guys ought to read this one.


And Now the Creator of Corliss Archer…Just As You Expected….

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

It’s very encouraging to see the positive reader and reviewer response to the two newest books of mine, Shoot-Out at Sugar Creek and Skim Deep. Right out of the gate, however, Skim Deep received an absolutely terrible Publisher’s Weekly review, and I wondered if I’d delivered a bomb; but every review since has been stellar, like this one from Steve Steinbock in the new Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine:

**** Max Allan Collins, Skim Deep, Hard Case Crime, $12.95. Nolan is on his way to Las Vegas to marry the love of his life. The former thief has come to an amicable arrangement with the Chicago mob and now owns a restaurant in Davenport, Iowa. But the family of an old enemy has a score to settle with him, and a former colleague wants to involve him in a Vegas skim operation. Nolan will need his wits and his comic-collecting sidekick Jon to get out of this alive. Loaded with blood, sex, and humor, the Nolan series was created by Collins in the early 1970s as an homage to Donald Westlake’s Parker novels. Skim Deep, set in the late 1980s, is Collins’s first Nolan book in more than thirty years.

And thus far the reader response has been glowing, too. Shoot-out at Sugar Creek is also getting raves from readers. This is from Dave at GoodReads:

In a dry parched land filled with gunfire and cattle, the tag team of the late Mickey Spillane and his friend Max Allan Collins have delivered a double trifecta, six exciting westerns that are so good you’ll read them cover to cover even if you don’t normally read westerns. Shoot-Out at Sugar Creek offers us readers a Hatfield-McCoy type feud when knockout Victoria Hammond and her sons move into the Trinidad area with her eyes on Willa Cullen’s Bar-O Ranch and aims to take it by any means necessary. Don’t think the women out there in the Wild West were all shrinking violets. Never have two such forceful determined women faced off before and the West may never be the same. Like all the books in the Caleb York series, the writing is tight, the action furious, the stakes high. What a great read!

A bunch of other five-star reviews follow, some of the best I’ve ever received at GoodReads.

So why am I splashing around in all this praise raining down on me? Because it shows the ironies of the working writer’s life. Kensington cancels Caleb York and I immediately get more praise for it than any other book in the series. I write one last book (Skim Deep) about Nolan, who I created around 1968 and who was first in print in 1972, and suddenly people love him just when I’ve determined not to write about him anymore.

Two for the Money cover

Well, you never know with me. I have a habit of coming back to characters – Quarry a prime example – after they have supposedly run their course. I’ve started thinking about a possible Quarry/Nolan crossover novel already. And thanks to Charles Ardai and Hard Case Crime, the existing Nolans are all coming back out in two-to-novels-to-one-book format. A new edition of Two for the Money (collecting the first two Nolans, Bait Money and Blood Money) is available now. Such a deal.

And Wolfpack has expressed interest in continuing Caleb York, but – as I mentioned last week – I am booked up into early next year, so that’s a decision that’s on hold.

Here’s Bill Ott’s Booklist review of today about my yesterday books.

Two for the Money
By Max Allan Collins
May 2021. Hard Case Crime, paper, $14.95

The reappearance of Collins’ first series hero, superthief Nolan, in Skim Deep (2020) was an unexpected treat for the author’s fans, but it was only the first course. Now Hard Case Crime is reissuing all of the long-out-of-print Nolan novels. This volume brings together the original Nolan adventure, Bait Money, along with its sequel Blood Money. Originally conceived as a one-off homage to Donald E. Westlake’s Parker, Nolan immediately stood on his own legs, and, with Westlake’s blessing, Collins went on to give the aging thief, tough as they come but longing to get out of the game, extended life through seven novels published in the ’70s and ’80s. These first two hold up just fine, thanks to Collins’ ability to create indelible characters in a few brushstrokes and to construct plots that are just twisty enough to work. Bait Money finds Nolan, nearing 50 with gray hairs sprouting, forced to take on a bank job with a trio of headstrong youngsters. Naturally, it goes bad, leading to the revenge plot in Blood Money. An old-school pulpy pleasure, but with plenty of meat on its bones.

Despite (or perhaps because of) all this praise, I find myself reflecting on the ephemeral nature of writing popular fiction (not that all the fiction I write is particularly popular). I have been mulling of late the fate of F. Hugh Herbert, who has become a favorite writer of mine. And now, for those of you who have waded through all this shameless self-promotion and yay-me applause, I am about to subject you to something that will strike many of you as ridiculously obscure even for me.

Last year, when I began working on the first of the three Fancy Anders novellas for Neo-Text (more news about them soon), I gathered research about the WW 2 home-front in general and Los Angeles in particular. My main focus was on female defense plant workers and the Rosie the Riveter phenomenon. I encountered a wonderful book called Slacks and Calluses (1944) by two teachers, writer Constance Reid and illustrator Clara Marie Allen, a memoir of a summer vacation working at an aircraft plant. It’s a terrific, funny, insightful book and still in print.

I loved it so much I sprang for an original edition in dustjacket signed by the authors, including a Clara Marie Allen drawing. The co-authors went onto distinguished careers in writing and art respectively.

I also picked up, to get some flavor of wartime America and particularly a feel for a young woman of the times, the book Meet Corliss Archer (1944). A handful of you will be pop culture junkies enough to remember Corliss Archer, once a household-name character who began in a series of Good Housekeeping short stories that were gathered loosely into a sort of novel called, yup, Meet Corliss Archer.

Kiss and Tell poster

The character was part of an era that produced Andy Hardy, Henry Aldrich, and Archie and his gang, but of course the focus was on a teenage girl. I found the book charming and funny and a snapshot of the era, featuring wonderfully forgotten slang and very interesting attitudes of the day. The Corliss Archer stories became a huge hit Broadway show, Kiss and Tell (1945), and later a film starring a “grown-up” Shirley Temple, followed by a sequel, A Kiss for Corliss (1949). A radio show ran from January 7, 1943, to September 30, 1956, and there were briefly comic strips and comic books (drawn by EC’s Jack Kamen and Al Feldstein) about Corliss, her boyfriend Dexter, her parents and others. The radio show’s most famous Corliss was Janet Waldo, who was the voice of Judy Jetson on, well, The Jetsons. TV versions of Kiss and Tell played live in the early ‘50s, followed by a not very good Meet Corliss Archer TV series.

Creator F. Hugh Herbert had little if anything to do with the TV series, but he was apparently somewhat hands on with the radio show. He wrote the screenplay for the film of Kiss and Tell but not the not-so-good sequel.

Herbert isn’t the “woo woo” comedian, by the way, despite what some Internet sources may tell you. But he was an enormously successful playwright and screenwriter. His play The Moon Is Blue (1951) is infamous for the Otto Preminger film version (1953) going out without the Production Code seal. It was mildly racy by today’s standards, but the word “virgin” was a big no-no in movies then, and in Blue it was uttered several shocking times on screen.

Herbert was very good at racy dialogue, and actually dialogue in general. His screenplays include Dark Command, Margie, Sitting Pretty, Home Sweet Homicide and Let’s Make It Legal. He wrote and directed a few films, including Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (in which Marilyn Monroe spoke her first screen line).

Herbert began in silent films when a novel of his, There You Are! (1925), attracted Hollywood attention. While his plays generated a number of Broadway hits, his novels attracted little notice (except for Meet Corliss Archer). He only wrote a handful – five that I know of. I’ve located all of ‘em (no small trick) with only the first 1920s-era novel left to go. I’ve read most of his plays, as well.

Look, I get on a “kick” every now and then. Somebody’s work interests me and I start tugging on loose strings in search of a sweater. I can only say I like F. Hugh Herbert’s work. He would probably get into trouble today because he liked to explore (long before Lolita) the attraction between young women and older men. Margie, a very popular film considered a harmless 1946 piece of fluff about the 1920s, is about a teenage girl going to the prom with her male French teacher (who in a postscript we discover she married).

Herbert was, in his way, pushing the sexual envelope in the 1940s and ‘50s. Kiss and Tell revolves around Corliss Archer’s parents thinking Corliss is pregnant by a soldier on leave – not something you’d find in Andy Hardy or Henry Aldrich, and I’m pretty sure Archie never got Betty or Veronica in the family way.

The Moon Is Blue was notorious for its sexual content, however innocuous it now seems. The dialogue remains witty.

His novel A Lover Would Be Nice (1935) is about a shallow young woman who marries a nice if somewhat boring young man and ponders whether an affair would improve things; the conclusion is surprisingly adult. The Revolt of Henry (1937), a wonderfully written novel, is about a henpecked personnel man at a department store whose wife is casually cruel and takes Henry to the brink of murder. Henry has an affair with a younger woman, of course, and the ramifications are also surprisingly adult and modern in what essentially is a James M. Cain novel that somehow doesn’t result in homicide and/or prison. Herbert’s final novel, I’d Rather Be Kissed (1954), rather shamelessly reboots Corliss Archer but changes her name and everyone else’s, though the cast is otherwise identical right down to the dumb family dog. He states on the dustjacket that he’s been inspired by J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye to take things up a level. And he does, brilliantly.

He died shortly thereafter at age 61.

I am not recommending these books. You might find them too dated or the young woman/older man aspect creepy. And you might be right. But I liked Herbert’s artistry and craft, and his sort-of-novel Meet Corliss Archer was very helpful to me in creating Fancy Anders.

But mainly I’m not recommending his novels because you won’t be able to find them, except perhaps Meet Corliss Archer in a reprint edition or a first edition sans dust jacket (you don’t want to know what my copy of the latter cost me in dust jacket) (or anyway Barb doesn’t). And that’s my point.

F. Hugh Herbert was once a famous author and playwright responsible for two major pop culture creations (Corliss Archer and The Moon Is Blue). You likely never heard of him. You can see a good number of the movies he wrote, and probably already have, but his novels are gone. As if they never existed.

The ephemeral nature of what his accomplishments add up to troubles me. I mean, I already knew the sun was going to burn up someday, but I was kind of hoping my body of work would last till then, in some form.

Many of the authors I really admire are either forgotten or on their way to obscurity – Calder Willingham, William March, Mark Harris.

What that leaves, in all this, is you – those of you still out there reading, and the ones reading my work please know…I am grateful.

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Let’s wind up with this delightful review of Quarry’s List by someone who has read a lot of my stuff and really seems to get it.


Caleb York Rides…One Last Time?

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

Hardcover: Indiebound Amazon Books-A-Million (BAM) Barnes & Noble (B&N) Powell's
E-Book: Amazon Google Play Kobo iTunes
Digital Audiobook: Amazon Google Play Kobo Chirp

Today the sixth – and, for now at least, final – Caleb York western, Shoot-Out at Sugar Creek, goes on sale. Those of you who won advanced copies are now free to review it. It’s a hardcover. The previous Caleb York, Hot Lead, Cold Justice, is out simultaneously in mass market paperback.

I usually just provide a link, but this review from that first-rate writer Ron Fortier at his Pulp Fiction Review blog is too good not to share.

Here it is, and thank you, Ron:

A Caleb York Western
By Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins
Kensington Books

The sixth chapter in the Caleb York series picks where the fifth ended, with the people of Trinidad New Mexico dealing with the aftermath of the worst winter recorded in the west. Many of the local ranchers, having lost most of their stock, have packed up and left the territory, while Willa Cullen, owner of the big Bar-O, is struggling with a decimated herd and a lack of clean running water to support them. The only unfouled source is Sugar Creek which sits on neighboring Circle G land.

As the story opens, the once abandoned ranch is bought by a beautiful widow named Victoria Hammond, who entertains grandiose plans to become the richest, most powerful figure in the county. Events get off on less than desirable footing when Sheriff Caleb York is forced to shoot and kill Victoria’s youngest of three sons for raping and savagely beating a local working girl. Upon meeting the woman to respectfully report the circumstances of the shooting, York discovers that she has no intentions of allowing any other ranchers access to Sugar Creek. She is also planning on buying out Willa for pennies on the dollar. No stranger to past range wars, York finds himself in the precarious role of peace-keeper, between the woman he loves and the ambitious widow Hammond.

Along about this time, we found ourselves musing over Collins’ ingenuous plot with its echoes of a several classic television settings. Thus far the adventures of Caleb York and Trinidad have seemed much like Matt Dillon in the popular Gunsmoke series. Whereas with this book, he offers up a dark-mirror image of another well known oater, The Big Valley; what with Victoria Barclay (note the same first name) and her three boys. That the two, York and Victoria Hammond are on a collision course is obvious from their first scene together. Then, in his usual masterful touch, Collins ups the ante and violence erupts quickly towards the tale’s second half leaving blisters on our fingers. We simply could not put it down. The end was so Mickey Spillane, it was eerie.

We’ve enjoyed all the Caleb York books but this one clearly stands out as a high mark. Nobody spins a yarn like Max Collins. Nobody.

As for why this is the last Caleb York, at least for a while, it’s simple: Kensington didn’t ask for any more. I have strong interest, however, from Wolfpack, who have (obviously) been incredibly supportive of my work of late, and they are a top publisher of westerns. So Caleb may saddle up there in the (as Mystery Science Theater puts it) not too distant future.

Well, somewhat distant, because I am booked up for the rest of the year and into the next. Ironically, a lot of this has to do with getting ready for the 75th anniversary of Mike Hammer next year. This includes a new Hammer novel, developed from an unpublished Spillane manuscript, and I haven’t started that yet. Very much under way is a biography of Mickey for Mysterious Press, which Jim Traylor and I are doing. I’m also considering an expanded version of my documentary, Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane, if I can work it in. Also on the docket is a possible non-Hammer novel based on an unproduced Spillane screenplay, which I may do for Wolfpack – still in the talking stages, but….

In addition, I have an Antiques novel to co-write and a Nate Heller(although that will slop over somewhat into next year). And currently I’m doing the third John Sand novel with Matt Clemens – working from his draft, I’m half-way through mine. It’s called To Live and Spy in Berlin.

Besides all this, I’m involved with getting my ‘40s female PI Fancy Anders out to the reading public. She will appear in three novellas: Fancy Anders Goes to War; Fancy Anders For the Boys; and Fancy Anders Goes Hollywood. These are written. When they are collected into book form, I intend to title it Meet Fancy Anders. These are for Neo-Text, who will be bringing them out initially as e-books.

Neo-Text will also be doing e-books of the three-part serialized The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton by Dave Thomas and me. That will be the title of the eventual collected edition. I’m pleased to announce that the incredible Howard Chaykin will be illustrating Jimmy Leighton.

As I’ve mentioned here before, artist Fay Dalton, a fantastic talent, is doing the illos for Fancy Anders. She’ll be doing cover illos as well as one illustration per chapter (numbering 10 per novella, not counting covers). Some will be in color, a few in black-and-white or partial color for a noir effect. We have not seen Howard’s work on Jimmy yet, but I know it will be outstanding. This is not comics, or graphic novels, rather prose novels that include a good amount of strong artwork, perhaps invoking the classic magazine illustration of the ‘30s through the ‘50s.

To give you the first look at Fancy, I’ve included one of her roughs, which I predict will knock your eyes out and your socks off. I am incredibly excited about both of these Neo-Text projects. They are at once typical of my work even as each charts a new course.

Cover sketch for Fancy Anders Goes to War

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There was a bit of fuss last week over my stating that if a winner in a book giveaway here didn’t like that book, the responsibility to review the book could be considered optional.

A bait and switch went on to some degree, because the complaining parties seemed not to be winners in the book giveaways, but actual paying customers…and of course an actual paying customer can dislike a book and say so in an Amazon review with my (grudging) blessing.

But this seemed to be really about those who don’t like my complaining (which I did) about self-professed “big fans” advising other big fans not to read the book – scaring off other paying customers. No law against that, but I don’t think they understand the concept of Amazon reviews. When you write a review for Amazon, or Barnes & Noble or Goodreads, you are not a professional reviewer with the status and credibility of a critic in, say, Entertainment Weekly or for that matter The New York Times. You’re just a reader expressing an opinion. Which is fine. But the public forum you’re in does carry weight, and particularly at Amazon with its averaging of reviews, its reliance on the number of reviews, and policy of showing a “top” negative review.

I went into some detail about this in the comments last week, and so did people on both sides of this fence, and you may wish to check that out.

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This is a long, freewheeling interview (audio only) with my buddy Andrew Sumner, one of my favorite people on the planet.


Not Another Book Giveaway! Live Fast….

Tuesday, April 20th, 2021
Live Fast Spy Hard cover

Yes, another book giveaway!

I have ten copies of the second John Sand novel, Live Fast, Spy Hard by Matt Clemens and me, and ten copies of the new Wolfpack edition of Regeneration by Barb and me. It’s first-come first serve. You must include your address (include your name as part of your address, so I can copy paste) and agree to write a review for Amazon (Barnes & Noble and review blogs are also welcome). USA only, please – foreign postage is prohibitive.

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

Give me an order of preference, or if you are only interested in one title of these two.

If you read and then don’t like the book, you are released from your pledge to review it, and in fact I’d rather you didn’t. The purpose of these exercises is not to show you what a fine, generous man I am (though of course that’s true), but to attract favorable attention to these books.

You know – get others to buy them.

Live Fast, Spy Hard represents the second of what will be at least three John Sand novels. I’ve mentioned the premise here – that Sand is the spy who (reading between the lines) Ian Fleming based James Bond upon. The secondary conceit is that what happened at the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (SPOILER ALERT: Bond marries and his wife is killed) was not reflected in John Sand’s “real life.” He does marry, but the wife – and, so far, the marriage – survives.

I have heard through the grapevine that some readers have avoided Come Spy With Me and now Live Fast, Spy Hard because they are assuming that these are spoofs of spy novels. This may be a result of the lead espionage agent being married and teaming up with his wife for duties with a new spy agency called GUILE, which is vaguely like UNCLE in, you know, THE MAN FROM.

A couple of things.

First, these novels derive from my love for the Ian Fleming novels and the Sean Connery-starring Bond films. I only tolerate Roger Moore, and defend Timothy Dalton because his Bond is like the book Bond, and enjoy the two later Bonds (Brosnan and Craig) because they are loyal to Fleming and Connery each in his own way. As for George Lazenby, he was a faithful to Fleming Bond, too.

I’ve told the story here many times that when – at around age 14 – I ran out of Mickey Spillane books to read, I turned to the author advertised as “the British Mickey Spillane” – Fleming, Ian Fleming. And you may recall that, in junior high, I talked my parents into taking me to see the opening of Dr. No on a school night.

Second, while I was very much caught up in the spy craze that accompanied Beatlemania while I was in high school – watching every dreadful spy spoof from Dean Martin as Matt Helm to James Coburn as Flint (actually walked out of In Like Flint) – I have no love for any spoofy spy thing of the period with the exception of Get Smart. (I do love the latterday OSS 117 films from France. Also, for the record, I love both Dino and Coburn, just not in those films – though I own all of them on Blu-ray, so go figure).

Third, the UNCLE reference, which puts some people off, has a basis in Ian Fleming, thank you very much. First of all, the acronym thing was a big deal in real life, and in the reality of the spies Fleming wrote about (SMERSH being real, with of course SPECTRE a Fleming invention). Fleming named both Napoleon Solo and UNCLE, but was forced off the TV project by the producers of the Bond film series. Hardcore Bond fans may recall that “Solo” was the name of a gangster in Goldfinger.

So the presence of GUILE does not indicate that Matt and I are going down a spoofy path.

Readers who think John Sand marrying a beautiful woman means there is no sex in these books need to either (a) if single, start dating, or (b), if married, buy their wives some flowers and see what happens.

And readers who like the harder-edged side of my work – who value Quarry, Mike Hammer and Nate Heller – should not misconstrue the nature of the John Sand books, which are extremely tough with brutal action and lots of plot twists and turns. Heller fans may in particular enjoy the historical aspect. In pursuing the conceit of John Sand being the “real” James Bond, Matt Clemens and I have devised stories within the early ‘60s time frame that bring in the likes of Castro, JFK and the Rat Pack. These are at once historical novels and espionage thrillers, as well as bloody valentines to Ian Fleming.

But in some ways John Sand is a change of pace, simply because I haven’t written much espionage, although such movie tie-ins as I Spy, Air Force One and In the Line of Fire seem to qualify, as well does the Reeder & Rogers trilogy (Supreme Justice, Fate of the Union and Executive Order) that Matt and I did for Thomas & Mercer.

Here is an interview Matt and I did with Wolfpack editor Paul Bishop.

As I mentioned above, the point of these book giveaways is generating good reviews to in turn generate sales. That’s how I keep food on the table, the lights on, and you entertained. When I – or any writer whose work you enjoy – change things up with a different type of book, and you don’t like it, might I make a suggestion? If you usually like the writer, don’t write an Amazon review advising other fans to steer clear of it. Have some respect for the author, and give your fellow fans the opportunity to judge for themselves.

Now and then I see an Amazon review that begins, “I’m a big Max Allan Collins fan,” followed by a blisteringly bad review. Either I’m not writing as well, or these readers may just not really be “big” fans.

Regeneration book cover, Wolfpack edition

The other book in this week’s giveaway, Regeneration, has generated many terrific Amazon reviews, but I am always up against resistance when I try to break out of my specific noir/historical niche. I write different kinds of things to stay fresh, to stay interested. Particularly when I collaborate, as with Barb or Matt or recently Dave Thomas, I am looking to do something different. That’s on purpose.

Regeneration is a novel I’m particularly proud of. It began as a short story of Barb’s in which I saw possibilities for a novel. As the Mommy movies indicate (and the Mommy novels for that matter) (available from Wolfpack), I am interested in horror and dark suspense. My anthology Reincarnal is packed with specifically that kind of tale. And Regeneration, thanks to Barb’s terrific idea as well as her draft on the novel, is definitely in that cubicle of my wheelhouse.

Regeneration explores ageism on the one hand, and the failure of Baby Boomers to save for retirement on the other, putting them together in a darkly comic and intentionally disturbing mix that reflects Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone as influences on both Barb’s and my work.

Check out the knockout cover Wolfpack has come up with for this new edition.

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Here’s a podcast interview with me, nicely handled by Joe Meyers.