Posts Tagged ‘Interviews’

Another Book Giveaway!

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020

Hardcover:
E-Book: Amazon Google Play Nook Kobo iTunes
Digital Audiobook: Amazon Kobo

The day this update appears, Antiques Fire Sale– the latest Trash ‘n’ Treasures mystery by Barbara Allan (Barb and me) – will go on sale.

To help (Amazon) prime the pump, we are offering free copies to the first ten of you who respond. As usual, we can accept no entrants outside the United States, and you must include your snail mail address (even if you’ve won before). Send your request to macphilms@hotmail.com. We will sign all of the books (Barb signs “Barbara” and I sign “Allan”). You are expected to write a review for Amazon and/or similar web sites, like Barnes & Noble and personal blogs. If you hate the book you can bail, but even a tepid review is better than no review at all.

Barb and I wrote a fun interview in the voices of Brandy and Vivian Borne (our Antiques sleuths) that will appear here starting on Thursday the 30th.

Again, I can’t emphasize enough how important these reviews are. Even if you didn’t get any of the recent books free (Do No Harm, Antiques Fire Sale, Girl Can’t Help It, Masquerade for Murder), please take the time to write a brief review at Amazon – just a couple of lines will do, but if you are inspired…go for it!

All of the titles listed above have sort of stalled out, where reviews are concerned, so all of you bored sheltering-in-place M.A.C. readers, get to reviewing, please. Yes, I am groveling. Yes, I have no shame. No, I am not embarrassed about my behavior.

Right now I am working on a sixth Caleb York novel. The fifth Caleb – Hot Lead, Cold Justice – comes out in about a month. We had a very nice advance review for the Hot Lead, which I’ll share with you now:

Hot Lead, Cold Justice

Spillane befriended Collins and, shortly before dying of cancer, gave him his blessing to complete any unfinished manuscripts. Since 2007, Collins has completed 26 Spillane novels.

This is the fifth in the Caleb York series (e,g, Last Stage to Hell Junction, 2019). In New Mexico during the “Great Die Up” blizzard of 1887, Caleb York is settling into his role as sheriff, but he’s thrown off his game when his deputy is shot in an act of mistaken identity. York quickly learns that Luke “Burn ‘Em” Burnham is out of prison, 10 years after York put him in for bank robbery. Burnham is looking for a quick heist and revenge. Under ordinary circumstances, York would have been two steps ahead, but the blizzard puts York and Burnham on an even playing field.

It’s an exciting game of cat-and-mouse with an entertaining love triangle thrown in for good measure. Accurate details of the historical blizzard are a meticulous touch, and readers looking for more information will appreciate the informal bibliography.

— Sarah Steers

One of the things I really like about that review is that the reviewer is a woman. Mickey always claimed that a good portion of his readership was female, and my editor at Kensington has insisted that a sizeable number of readers of westerns are women. I have always taken that advice seriously, coming from reliable sources as it did, in the writing of the books.

So I have made sure to include strong female characters in the novels – something Mickey always did, too – and a portion of romance. The original Caleb York screenplay I worked from on the first novel, The Legend of Caleb York, had two strong women in Willa Cullen and Lola Filley. Since Lola (SPOILER ALERT!)does not make it out of the narrative alive (END SPOILER ALERT!), I introduced her younger sister in The Big Showdown to essentially take over Lola’s role.

Okay, they’re essentially the same character. You caught me.

There’s a thing in the Broken Lizard film Beer Fest where a loveable character is killed and later his twin brother (obviously played by the same actor, Kevin Heffernan) turns up to take his place in the ensemble, and the convenience of that is brazenly made into a wonderful joke.

Back in the days when we left our house for more than groceries and pharmaceuticals, Barb and I saw Broken Lizard at the Englert Theater in Iowa City. We spent some quality time with the boys afterward, and they were the nicest, most regular guys you could imagine.

So I suppose their shameless Beer Fest resurrection of a character inspired me to replace Lola with Rita.

As I write Shoot-out at Sugar Creek, Barb is working on her draft of Antiques Carry On. Plotting required really putting our heads together, so this time – first time ever – I did my draft on the first third of the book before she pressed on. Speaking of Fire Sale, we had a lovely if odd review of that, as well, from Bookgasm. Take a look:

Antiques Fire Sale

They’re all the same.

You think that would be a terrible critique. But actually, the familiarity, the comfort, works very well. I’m talking about the antiques-themed mystery series of Barbara Allan, a pseudonym for the husband and wife team of Barbara and Max Allan Collins.

With Antiques Fire Sale, we’re now on the 18th book (including three e-books), of an antiques-themed mystery series that features Vivian Borne (now the Sheriff of Serenity, Iowa), her long-suffering daughter Brandy, and their sweet and smart Shih-Tzu, Sushi.

They are all the same, even though there is some dynamism in the characters and their interactions. For instance, Mom Vivian is a strong-willed force of nature, an excellent detective, someone who doesn’t care for rules or protocol, and she generally gets her way. In early books, she’s just a director at the local theater, but all of a sudden, she ends up as the elected Sheriff of Serenity, Iowa. This doesn’t please her daughter Brandy, who tries to rein in her mother, but generally fails. Brandy has moved from one relationship to a much stronger one with a local law enforcement colleague, but she still feels on the edge. Only the dog Sushi seems to be the most well-adjusted.

The series has grown, but the formula of the books remains the same. It’s an American humorous cozy, with recipes, interpolations between the writers and their editor, and even chapters written from different characters’ points of view. The books shift between chapters written by Brandy and some by Vivian. This particular tale includes one chapter written by 14-year-old Jake, Brandy’s son (who lives with his father elsewhere), who has been seduced into the investigation by Vivian. His chapter seems remarkably true to a teenager’s style and shows the character off to his best advantage.

Plots in these stories are actually pretty interesting. In this one, a caretaker for a mansion that is filled with valuable antiques is found dead when the mansion burns down. But Vivian (Sheriff Borne, excuse me) realizes that at least one of the valuable antiques was stolen before the fire. And it turns out the man burned in the fire is not the caretaker. Later on, they find the real caretaker’s corpse in the woods. That’s at least two deaths (with one more to go).

The whole thing is handled admirably by the author(s). Here’s the thing. The stories are pretty good. The character interactions are fun (especially between mother and daughter). But there are things that may grate: the editorial comments between the writers of whatever chapter and the off-screen editor, the constant craziness of Vivian Borne, even the shifting chapter POVs may grate on some.

It’s the kind of series that if you like one of the books, you’ll like them all and read them with pleasure. If you read one and are irritated, then these won’t work for you. Still, I find them charming and worth the day or two it will take you to try one out. Highly entertaining.

—Mark Rose

Okay, and while Mark doesn’t seem to be quite sure whether Barb and I are great or grate, I should point out that he is a male. Which I find to be very cool. Just as it may surprise some that the Caleb York novels appeal to females, so may some be surprised that the Antiques novels appeal to males.

Now, I’m not really surprised at all about Antiques and male readers – at least those of you men secure enough in your masculinity to read a cozy about two “girls” – because a very smart guy named Bill Crider used to love these books.

How I wish you were still around reading them, my friend.

* * *

Here’s a particularly well done interview with me on Mike Hammer and Masquerade for Murder.

Here’s Part One of a very good article about me, with quotes from an interview I did with the writer. Again, the focus is on Mike Hammer, but there’s a lot more.

Check out this fun review of Masquerade for Murder (by “Mike” Spillane and me!).

Here’s an interesting if condescending review of the movie version of Road to Perdition. I was amused to see a reference to Dave Thomas, who is now a friend and collaborator (I am thrilled and proud to say).

And now here is a podcast review of the Road to Perdition film, which is described as a “nice, awesome movie.”

Finally, this really good podcast actually compares the book to the movie, and discusses the plot holes in the great film that to this day drive me crazy.

M.A.C.

Binge on Books – It’s Good for You!

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020

I know many of you are bingeing on books while on lockdown, presumably my books – and remember, in addition to the recent publication of Do No Harm, Girl Can’t Help It and Masquerade for Murder, some fourteen Nathan Heller titles are available all month at 99-cents per. There’s also an Antiques title – Antiques Frame – available for $1.99 on Nook at Barnes & Noble. [Links: Hellers on Kindle, Antiques Frame on Nook]

E-books have been great to me in recent years, though I’ve never returned the compliment by reading anything on a Kindle or a Nook myself. I am an unrepentant, unapologetic reader of physical books. I collect them. I even hoard them. My suspicion is that many of you fall into the same cheerfully psychotic category.

But I understand that physical books are moving somewhat erratically through the mails right now. I’ve experienced this myself, although the emphasis is on “erratically.” Sometimes a book will arrive the day after you order it, and sometimes…well, it hasn’t arrived yet.

That’s because people are ordering items – such trivialities as food and clothing – from Amazon, who in their wisdom have deemed books non-essential. So us Prime Members will probably get a hefty refund check from Mr. Bezos, right? Well, maybe not. But this strikes me as a good time for people with Kindles and/or Nooks to buy e-books. And for those of you who have been thinking about bringing a bouncing baby e-book reader into the family, this seems like a fine time to do so.

We had hoped to launch a book giveaway this week, but Barb and I are under a more severe quarantine at the moment, because I was exposed to somebody who tested positive for Covid-19, and Barb has some symptoms and got tested today. Nothing like a Sunday afternoon at an Urgent Care Center! So we decided not to send any of you Corona Virus as a bonus giveaway. When we have a clean bill of health, we will.

We are not special. Expressions of concern should be reserved for yourself and your neighbors and this entire country. You can also send one up to the Big Guy in the Sky to encourage our federal government to get its ass in gear. That is, unless you think medical supplies should be sold at e-bay type auction. I don’t.

Some of you who have laid your hot little hands on Masquerade for Murder may have noticed it’s dedicated to Gary Sandy. Gary – who co-stars with Patty McCormack in Mommy’s Day (available on Blu-ray as a double-feature with Mommy, in case you haven’t been paying attention) appeared as Mike Hammer in the two productions of my radio-style play, Encore for Murder. The most recent one was in 2017 in Clearwater, Florida.

It was a terrific show, with noir-ish background music and a shifting video backdrop…and Gary was fantastic, carrying the whole thing on his back. It was produced by Zev Buffman, a legendary Broadway producer who revitalized Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall, a major venue (the other act appearing while Encore for Murder was playing was some nobody called Jackson Browne).

Zev mounted it beautifully, and early last year we were going to do a second Hammer radio-style play, The Little Death at the Clearwater venue when politics at the theater wound up with Zev retiring and our already announced production being dropped by the new people.

Zev passed away last week. He was 89, and one of the most vital show biz people I ever met. A lovely man. Take a bow, Zev.

Thank you, Gary, for bringing him into my life.


Left to right, Producer Zev Buffman, writer M.A.C., star Gary Sandy, director Richard Rice.
* * *

Here’s some nice attention for Ms. Tree and the upcoming collection, Skeleton in the Closet.

Even more Ms. Tree love right here!

And a really nice overview of Ms. Tree is right here.

Here’s a great look at Terry Beatty and Rex Morgan, with a link to a podcast with Terry that gets into Ms. Tree and a lot more.

Thomas McNulty’s review of Masquerade for Murder is wonderful, in part because of how much fun it is to read.

Here is another splendid Masquerade for Murder review.

Screenrant thinks Paul Newman’s last great performance was in Road to Perdition. So do I!

More nice Road to Perdition stuff here – by the way, it’s streaming on Netflix right now.

Book Page has rerun an interview with me from a couple years ago. Might be worth a look, if you missed or if your memory is like mine.

Finally, the Stilleto Gumshoe has this great review (and more!) of Do No Harm.

Stay safe!

M.A.C.

9 Out of 10 Doctors Recommend…

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

…staying home and reading my two new novels, Do No Harm and Girl Can’t Help It. Available in traditional hardcover and trade paperback respectively, and in easy-to-swallow e-book form.

And if you don’t feel you can go safely out to the movies anymore, why not stay in and watch Mommy and Mommy’s Day? I was thrilled to get this review from the top Blu-Ray review site of ‘em all, DVD Beaver (get your mind out of the gutter – it’s a Canadian web site!).

We’re getting some nice reviews on Girl Can’t Help It, with Do No Harm surprisingly not getting much play yet, though the trade reviewers love it. Those of you who received review copies will, I hope, begin posting reviews – some already have, though we’re at only 4 at Amazon at the moment on Do No Harm (three glowing, one anonymously trashing it) and Girl Can’t Help It is at 14, all very good (the worst is three stars and most are five). I’m grateful for this support and interest.

At the bottom of this update are links to some very strong Girl Can’t Help It reviews.

Barb and I (and Nate and Abby and the two grandkids) are taking the corona virus pandemic very seriously, as most of you likely are, too. Our habit (Barb and mine) is to take most meals out, since we work at home; but at present we are essentially in a semi-self-quarantine, going out only on supply runs – food, medicine, some work errands. Right now that’s a once-a-week thing.

We are both High Risk, probably me a little more than Barb, as I have underlying health issues, although all of those seem to be in check. This is a house full of books, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays and even laserdiscs, so we have plenty to amuse ourselves. And in the meantime work goes on and we may even wind up getting more done than usual.

I have cancelled a number of band gigs – leaving some outdoor ones on the books, for down the road. Even just last week when I inquired about whether an early June gig was still a go, the person who hired us seemed bewildered that I even brought it up – the committee hadn’t even discussed the matter…it wasn’t even on the radar.

Maybe now it is.

Just a week ago I declined a doctor’s check-up type visit and the nurse on the phone seemed bewildered at why I might not want to sit in a waiting room with a bunch of sick people. The facility where I get chiropractic and massages seemed mildly offended when I called to cancel my next visit and queried about what steps they were taking – they would call back, I was told. They haven’t.

That was days ago, admittedly. The reaction today might be different, since every day seems a (literal?) lifetime.

My bass player lives in nearby Iowa City, where the bulk of Iowa’s corona virus cases are located presently, so band rehearsal is off for a while. Barb and I have the luxury of already working at home and aren’t depending on regular paychecks to stay afloat on the short term.

She is working on Antiques Carry On (a visit to the UK is part of the plot) and I have just done the finishing touches on the Nolan, Skim Deep, going over the galleys, and have done the copy-edited manuscript of Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher. On the docket this week is a chapter of the Antiques book (I am revising the first four chapters before we break the rest of the novel down for Barb to do her drafts, while I go off and write the next Caleb York book). I also have an introduction to the second Ms. Tree collection to write for Titan, and Matt Clemens and I are working up a proposal for a new Reeder and Rogers novel (we met several weeks ago but are now operating long-distance, in the telephone sense among others). Last week Dave Thomas and I (also operating long-distance) did a revision on our novel proposal and sample chapters, responding to suggestions from our agent.

That’s one thing about being a professional writer, particularly if you’ve been around a while and have projects in the pipeline – there’s always work to do.

I urge you to stay in (and of course read my books to stay sane) and take whatever steps are necessary to weather this storm. I know some people think some of us are overreacting. I hope we are. The opposite approach is just too dangerous.

* * *

Skim Deep is a rather short novel, about the same length as several of the vintage Nolan books – probably around 55,000 words. So to plump up the physical book a little, and to advertise the forthcoming republication of the rest of the Nolans (in two books per volume format), editor/publisher Charles Ardai included the prologue and first two chapters of Bait Money, written fifty years ago.

I seldom go back and read my stuff – mostly, the last I see of them is when I read the galley proofs. I do like to listen to them as audio books, though I cringe now and then.


UK edition of Bait Money
Courtesy Existential Ennui

As it happens, I did revise Bait Money slightly when it came back out in the early ‘80s, and of any book I ever wrote, I spent more time working on (and re-working) that novel, in part because I was in college at the time and studying with Richard Yates at the Writers Workshop. Also, it was written (and re-written and re-written) on a manual typewriter. So I am familiar with it in a special way.

On the other hand, I had not revisited Bait Money since the early ‘80s. So reading those three chapters was an interesting experience. My takeaway was that in Bait Money I was pretty good at making it seem like I knew what I was doing, as opposed to Skim Deep, in which I really do know.

Stylistically, I am in that first Nolan novel one-third Richard Stark (mostly structure and subject matter), one-third James M. Cain (the ping-pong dialogue), and one-third Mickey Spillane (everything else). I always thought of myself as more of a combination of Stark, Cain, Spillane, Chandler, Hammett, McBain, and Thompson, with my own quirks mixed in to the degree that the influences didn’t stick out awkwardly. I think that’s probably more true of me today, though I would add Rex Stout, Erle Stanley Gardner and Agatha Christie.

But seeing a Nolan story I have just written juxtaposed with three chapters of the first one (Mourn the Living sort of doesn’t count) was (if not a shock) a revelation. For better of worse, for all my influences, I am writing like Max Allan Collins now.

Bait Money will be available as part of a new edition of Two For the Money (which includes the immediate sequel, Blood Money).

* * *

If you would like a signed copy of Do No Harm, there are some available, still at the pre-order price at VJ Books.

Jolene Grace has a lovely review of Girl Can’t Help It here.

Book Reporter likes Girl Can’t Help It, too. The write-up is mostly a lively plot summary, but the last paragraph is a wonderful mini-review in and of itself.

Always With a Book also likes Girl Can’t Help It.

So does that first-rate writer Ron Fortier at Pulp Fiction Reviews.

Finally, here’s a nice little interview done with me at the Muscatine Journal on the occasion of the publication of Do No Harm and Girl Can’t Help It.

M.A.C.

Annual F.O.M.A.C. Movie Awards

Tuesday, January 7th, 2020

Here are this year’s awards for movies. All of these reflect the opinions of both Barb and me, averaged together. Keep in mind that while we see a lot of movies, there are plenty we don’t see (although some of those made this list anyway). With a few of the films we watched awards screeners from the WGA, and a handful of those we “walked out on” (i.e. bailed…we didn’t actually leave the house). This is not every film we saw – only those that made a real impression, for good or ill.

BEST LITTLE-SEEN HORROR SEQUEL
Happy Death Day 2 U

BEST MOVIE NOT ABOUT THE REAL “CAPTAIN MARVEL”
Captain Marvel

BEST MOVIE ABOUT THE REAL “CAPTAIN MARVEL”
Shazam!

MOST ACCLAIMED HORROR FILM WE WALKED OUT ON
Us

REALLY UNPLEASANT COMIC BOOK MOVIE
Hellboy

EVEN MORE UNPLEASANT COMIC BOOK MOVIE
Brightburn

REALLY UNPLEASANT COMIC BOOK MOVIE WE WILL NEVER SEE
Joker

BEST AVENGERS MOVIE EVER
Avengers: Endgame

WORST X-MEN MOVIE EVER
Dark Phoenix

BEST SEQUEL THAT SEEMS LIKE A WARNING TO STOP
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum

MEN IN BLACK SEQUEL SO TERRIBLE I’VE ALREADY FORGOTTEN IT
Men in Black International

SHOCKINGLY GOOD SEQUEL (BONUS POINTS FOR RICHARD ROUNDTREE)
Shaft

FIRST BILL MURRAY MOVIE WE EVER WALKED OUT OF
The Dead Don’t Die

BEST COMPUTER-ANIMATED FEATURE
Toy Story 4
Runner-up: The Addams Family

BEST BEATLES MOVIE EVER W/O THE BEATLES OR EDDIE DEEZEN
Yesterday

BEST SURPRISINGLY GOOD WW2 EPIC
Midway

BEST MOVIE THAT ISN’T WHAT YOU THINK IT IS
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

SURPRISINGLY GOOD SEQUEL
Jumanji: The Next Level

BEST DARK COMEDY/MYSTERY
Knives Out
Runner-up: Ready or Not

BEST SOUTH KOREAN FILM WE SAW
Parasite

ONLY SOUTH KOREAN FILM WE SAW
Parasite

WORST MOVIE WE DIDN’T SEE
Cats

GOOD BIO-PIC STARRING A HEAVY-SET GUY FROM SUPER TROOPERS 2
Richard Jewell

GREAT BIO-PIC ABOUT CAR CHASES W/O GUNS
Ford v Ferrari

MOVIE THAT WAS BETTER THAN IT HAD ANY RIGHT TO BE
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

AWFUL MOVIE WE WALKED OUT ON LOVED ONLY BY CRITICS
Uncut Gems

BIG DEAL FRANCHISE ENTRY THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

BIZARRELY OVERRATED STRIPPER MOVIE THAT WE WALKED OUT ON
Hustlers

BEST BIG SCREEN MOVIE BASED ON BELOVED TV SHOW
Downton Abbey

BEST SMALL SCREEN MOVIE BASED ON BELOVED TV SHOW
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie

BEST POORLY REVIEWED FRANCHISE ENTRY
Rambo: Last Blood

BEST EDDIE MURPHY MOVIE IN MUCH TOO LONG
Dolemite Is My Name

HITLER COMEDY THAT WE WALKED OUT ON (LOVED BY CRITICS)
Jojo Rabbit

REALLY GOOD STEPHEN KING MOVIE
Doctor Sleep

ANOTHER REALLY GOOD STEPHEN KING MOVIE
It: Chapter Two

MOVIE WE EXPECTED TO HATE BUT DIDN’T
Little Women

MOVIE BY “PERDITION” DIRECTOR WE EXPECTED TO LIKE BUT DIDN’T
1917

YEAR’S BEST MOVIE PERIOD
Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood

All results are final. Varying opinions will be barely tolerated.


* * *

Inexplicably, I got profiled by the Des Moines Register – front page, above the fold. The writer did a good job, and the photographer (in addition to shooting a pic of the old guy filling in for me) shot a brief video. You may have to deal with ad-block issues, but the piece is here.

And Tor/Forge announces some upcoming mysteries with a nice Do No Harm write-up included.

M.A.C.