Posts Tagged ‘Covers’

Cover Story

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014
Supreme Justice

Over the last two weeks, Matt Clemens and I have been going over potential covers for the upcoming SUPREME JUSTICE, coming out June 1.

Thomas & Mercer, Amazon Publishing’s mystery/suspense line, has been very good about making me – and Matt, because he contributed so mightily to both novels – part of the book cover process for both WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER and SUPREME JUSTICE. This is hardly common in publishing – in fact, it’s the opposite of common.

What often happens is that I’m asked for my opinion – in the context of how important that opinion might be, given my background in visual arts like comics and film – but rarely has my input been given much if any consideration.

That’s been improving in recent years. Our editor at Kensington always asks Barb and me for ideas for the covers of the ANTIQUES books, and those ideas have been used for the most part.

Titan is careful to run covers past me, and I had considerable input on the Mike Hammer mass market editions, where initially the depiction of Hammer was wrong. The publisher of Titan himself, Nick Landau, enthusiastically presented the hardcover Hammer dust-jacket art over drinks at San Diego Con a few years ago.

At Hard Case Crime, Charles Ardai often discusses what artists might be available for my next book – obviously the first thing out of my mouth is, “How about McGinnis?” But I essentially chose the cover artists for THE WRONG QUARRY (Tyler Jacobsen) out of three or four Charles showed me examples by. And THE WRONG QUARRY seems to be universally regarded as one of (if not the) strongest of my Hard Case covers.

As I may have mentioned here before, those covers are usually done before I’ve written the novel, with just a paragraph precise of the unwritten book for the artist to go by. That means I often have to work to get the cover image into the book.

On the other hand, I provided Forge with lots of input into BYE BYE, BABY’s hardcover jacket that was eventually ignored, due to worries that the Monroe estate would sue. I hate that cover (though the mass market paperback is much better). Where both TARGET LANCER and ASK NOT were concerned, however, I was given the opportunity to give my two cents, and was listened to. Often I write the cover copy, even the front “reading lines” (blurbs), when what is submitted to me seems weak.

So it has improved a lot. I’ve come a long way from when I received BAIT MONEY and BLOOD MONEY in the mail in December 1972 and found fairly terrible photo covers and my name changed from Allan Collins to Max Collins, and my character Nolan given an unwanted first name (“Frank”) which to this day dogs both Nolan and me. Then there’s the day I opened a package and saw that my novel QUARRY and its sequel HIT LIST were now THE BROKER and THE BROKER’S WIFE, the latter title a spoiler for a major plot turn…again, with photo covers, though slightly better ones.

But now Thomas & Mercer has given me a chance not only to suggest cover images, but provides me with half a dozen to choose from, and does tweaks on the art that I’ve suggested. I wish I could include the SUPREME JUSTICE rejects here, because they were strong, too. But I don’t know the legality of that.

Maybe next time I do a book for them, I can put the proposed covers up here and seek your input.

For now, I am delighted with the cover for SUPREME JUSTICE.

* * *

Brief movie report.

We liked MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN, me more than Barb. It captured the Jay Ward cartoons well and was very smart in its storytelling – a little long, though. See it in 3-D.

NON-STOP was a good thriller, somewhat stupid in the motivation of the villains, but a ride worth taking.

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE is better than the original, and is a rousing battle picture with an eye-popping sex scene (see that in 3-D, too). But it’s fairly numbing in its more-and-more-of-the-same gory action, and at heart is a very brain-dead right-wing screed. Still, I dug it. I am, as should be evident by now, a sucker for anything in 3-D that doesn’t outright suck.

Speaking of sucking, we walked out of DIVERGENT about half an hour in. I’d read some promising reviews, but this is a really poorly thought-out imitation of HUNGER GAMES (which is a poorly thought-out imitation of BATTLE ROYALE). Really, really dumb, and also dreary and dull. We bailed when some recruits in the Dauntless faction (don’t ask) said, “Let’s do something fun! Let’s get tattoos!”

* * *

Let’s wind up this update with a link to a very nice WRONG QUARRY review from Blog Critics.

The Guy Who Was Quarry

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013
The Wrong Quarry

Writing this on Memorial Day, I am reflecting on how the novel QUARRY (aka THE BROKER) came to be, especially in light of the recent casting of Logan Marshall-Green in the lead of the HBO/Cinemax pilot. Whether this pilot goes to series or not, it’s almost mind-boggling to me that something I created at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop back in 1972 would have such continuing resonance.

Again, because it’s Memorial Day, I am thinking about my late friend Jon McRae, one of the funniest and most troubled guys I ever knew – and often the troubled side of him was very funny. He was very much the inspiration for Quarry, although Quarry himself is much more me than Jon. But like Quarry, Jon did come home from Vietnam to find his wife cheating on him (he did not murder the guy, though I’m sure it occurred to him), and he was the textbook example of a decent Midwestern kid who went into the military to become a hero, and indeed became one…but a fucked-up one.

Jon used to come home and stay with us on his leaves. I noticed he had begun to drink heavily – lots of vodka. He was a machine-gunner in the tail of a chopper, a job with the highest mortality rate in that war; in that circumstance, I would have been into vodka myself. Jon loved my books and would show up on his leave with a bag filled with whatever weapons I had written about lately. He said I needed to handle the guns that my characters used. We would go out to a garbage dump and shoot the place up. It was great fun.

He was a sweet guy, I swear to God. He was a romantic. He was a huge movie buff, particularly ‘30s and ‘40s ones. He was the first among us to bring a James Bond-like briefcase to school (many of us followed suit).

But after he was in the service, everywhere he went, he packed a gun. I was always a little edgy around him. On leave, he would wear a buckskin coat like Sheriff Brennan’s son John in NO CURE FOR DEATH (that character was directly based on him), and also a longhair wig. He would go with the Daybreakers on band jobs, and when we ate at truck stops afterward, he would bait truckers into calling him a hippie and then hurl them against a wall.

He also went to my classes with me at the University of Iowa, no longhair wig there, rather a full-dress uniform, silently daring any anti-war protester to call him a baby killer.

Jon is gone now, under somewhat mysterious circumstances. He stayed in the Marines for a long time, but I believe he was a civilian, somewhere in the Philippines, when he passed, maybe twenty years ago – again, I have no idea what the details are, or even the vague outlines for that matter.

The Quarry novels are all dark comedies, which is to say tragedies played out so absurdly you have to laugh. The idea of Quarry was always that he was me, and us – that he was a decent, intelligent but fairly ordinary young man who was sent off to fight a meaningless war. We have never been the same since that war. Those of us who did not go would watch body bags getting loaded onto choppers (like the one Jon flew) as we ate our evening dinner on TV trays. It made us numb. But that whole war made us numb. It wasn’t a fight against Hitler or even the imperialistic Japanese. To this day, no one really knows what that war was about. And it damaged us all.

But it damaged guys like Jon most. God bless him, and all the other Quarries who fought for us, despite the vagueness of the mission, heroes we did not treat nearly well enough upon their return.

* * *

The COMPLEX 90 reviews keep coming in, and most are very good, even raves. Check out this terrific one from Noir Journal, where it’s the featured book.

Full disclosure: Ed Gorman is one of my best friends. But he’s always one of our greatest living crime-fiction writers, and somebody who (like me) defended Mickey Spillane back when others threw bricks. I’m delighted that he wrote favorably about COMPLEX 90 at this terrific blog.

Now and then we get reviewed at Not the Baseball Pitcher, and I am always impressed with the blogger’s work. He likes COMPLEX 90.

I get a real charge out of seeing positive reactions to the Hammer books from young people who have never read a Spillane or Collins book before. This is a very cool one.

This is an interesting, mostly negative review that I think says more about the UK reviewer than it does about the book, and reminds me of the kind of hysterical attacks (“wish fulfilment wank fantasy for hardened Republicans”) that used to be leveled against Mickey, though oddly the reviewer does credit Spillane for his importance and power. If you haven’t read the book yet, there are spoilers.

Here’s a really nice piece from a comics fan about the film version of ROAD TO PERDITION.

And finally, here’s a fun review of the reprint of the Nolan novel, FLY PAPER.

M.A.C.

Kiss Her Bye Bye

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Though not due till August, BYE BYE, BABY is starting to generate some very nice coverage. Here’s the Tor/Forge Blog info on it.

Even better are several really great reviews, like this one from the Not the Baseball Pitcher site.

Ed Gorman – that terrific writer, and author of his own first-rate Marilyn thriller – has a lovely and I think quite insightful review about the first new Heller in a decade.

But KISS HER GOODBYE continues to get strong notices, too, like this on at a major Kindle site.

I’ve stirred some interest and even commentary on my admitted displeasure with the cover to the new Heller. I am pleased by the quality of the photograph, and thrilled that my publisher ponied up for a major photographic shoot from the excellent Thalicer Image Studio. But because of fears that the MM estate might object to too overt a Marilyn image, the publisher chose what I consider to be the weakest (and certainly most historically inaccurate) of the photos from the shoot. One of the rejects is attached – and it makes my point, because it’s the image Thalicer’s agent chose to post on the website intended to drum up business – not the actual photo used.

Bye Bye Baby

The angle of the photo also demonstrates that the Mickey Spillane lookalike is thrusting forward a police badge, meaning he is not intended to be Nate Heller, as some (unfortunately) are assuming.

Throughout my career, my lack of input in the covers of my books (despite my background in graphic arts and filmmaking) as well as the frequent battles over my titles (RED SKY IN MORNING should have been called USS POWDERKEG, for example) have been a big source of irritation. On the other hand, sometimes the publishers have been right – my original title for TRUE DETECTIVE was TOWER TOWN, for example…though I was the one who came up with TRUE DETECTIVE as an alternative. But CARNAL HOURS and FLYING BLIND are among titles I fought for, and thankfully prevailed.

M.A.C.

Hello, Bye Bye

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
Bye Bye, Baby

Here is the cover of the new Heller – first in ten years – BYE BYE, BABY. It’s out mid-August from Forge, a hardcover. A lot of people seem to like this cover very much, and it’s certainly handsome, but I protested the lack of historical accuracy…particularly since the Heller books are noted for historical accuracy. I was also concerned about the detective centerstage who resembles Mickey Spillane (which sends a mixed, weird signal for a non-Spillane/Collins title) and who might be taken for Nate Heller…who this image resembles not a bit. Heller is more a Peter Gunn type at this age and stage.

There were a number of photos taken at the cover photo shoot that I liked a lot better, but there was concern that the model looked too overtly like Marilyn, whose image is copyrighted or trademarked or something. I may be able to share some of this photos with you later.

Don’t mean to be complaining, because a great deal of effort went into this and, as I say, a lot of people think it’s strong.

I hope everybody’s out there reading the new Mike Hammer, KISS HER GOODBYE. We’ve already had a lot of great reviews, but here are some nice ones at Goodreads.

And I was really pleased by this insightful KISS HER GOODBYE review at “Ed’s Blog” (not Ed Gorman, surprisingly!).

Also, Matt Clemens and I received a terrific review of the second Harrow, NO ONE WILL HEAR YOU, at Kindle Taproom.

Here’s an interesting blog post about Sally Rand, dealing in part with my use of her as a character in a number of the Nate Heller books (and complimentary about how I did so). This comes at a funny moment, since I’m working on the new Heller right now (the JFK book) and Sally Rand (aka Helen Beck) is back. She is, in fact, the love interest – a man and a woman in their late fifties having sex…romantic or sickening? Your call.

Here’s an odd list that ROAD TO PERDITION made – not a comic book list, but a film noir list. A lot of negative comments about the list follow, because it really should have been labelled neo-noir or in some fashion separated itself from the real noir films of the forties and fifties. Still, I’m glad we were included.

Back to work! Nate Heller has just left a murder crime scene….

M.A.C.