Posts Tagged ‘Lady Go Die’

Trimming the Weeds & a Reprehensible Ranger

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

I have completed KING OF THE WEEDS, the final novel created from the six substantial Mike Hammer manuscripts in Mickey Spillane’s files.

This does not mean my collaborations with Mickey are at an end – I hope to fashion three more novels from shorter but still significant manuscripts. There are also short Hammer fragments (five or six pages) that I will continue to flesh out into short stories with an eventual collection the goal. In addition, considerably more non-Hammer material awaits in Mickey’s files, including three unproduced screenplays that I hope to turn into novels. Plus, there are short but significant non-Hammer fragments ranging from a chapter to two or three chapters, sometimes with notes, that could possibly be converted into Hammers. In addition, several outlines for Hammer novels remain (like the one I used as the basis for the audio play ENCORE FOR MURDER).

Mickey wrote and published thirteen Mike Hammer novels. I think it would be very cool if I could add another six novels (to the six I’ve completed) plus a short story collection and double that list. On the other hand, I have reached my first and most important goal – to complete the manuscripts on which Mickey had done considerable work. In several cases – like COMPLEX 90 and the Morgan the Raider novel THE CONSUMMATA – the books had even been announced in the publishing trades. I think Mickey truly intended to go back and finish most of these.

As I’ve mentioned, I will be talking with the folks at Titan at San Diego Con about continuing Hammer. I will report when I get back.

Now, while I say I have “completed” KING OF THE WEEDS, I still have work left to do. I have finished the book in the sense that I have reached the end of it. I revise as I go, a minimum of three passes per chapter and often more, with Barb editing along the way – she seeks out inconsistencies, word repetition, missing words, and makes suggestions. I always enter her corrections and deal with any revisions growing out of her edit before I move on.

Today I start the process of reading and revising. I work with red pen on a hard copy, and Barb enters the corrections and revisions as we go. How long this process takes varies book to book – a Quarry novel may take a day or two, whereas a Heller could take a whole week. This Hammer novel, which has a very complicated plot, will take two days minimum. If I hit something that strikes me as problematic, all bets are off – I will go back to the machine and start re-writing any troubled section. This happens seldom, though.

This was a tough one. I think it turned out well, and my fears have lessened that the older Mike Hammer might not please new readers who know only the wild and woolly private eye of THE BIG BANG, KISS HER GOODBYE, LADY, GO DIE! and COMPLEX 90. But the final chapters are as wild a ride as you’ll find in any of those. And I think the older Mike Hammer, with his career winding down — KING OF THE WEEDS was conceived by Mickey as the last Mike Hammer novel, after all – is very interesting.

Next week, we will be going to the San Diego Comic Con. By “we” I mean Nate, Abby, Barb and me. We will post our schedule (including two panels Nate is on) here next week. Then we will probably post brief daily updates from the con.

* * *

The Fourth of July weekend was a lot of fun with very beautiful weather. The Crusin’ gig at the Brew in Muscatine went extremely well, and lots of locals who hadn’t seen us in a while got to see the current strong line-up – earning us many great comments.

We also spent a good deal of time with my old high school buddy Ron Parker and his very cool wife Vickie, visiting from Florida where they retired after careers in the military. Ron is very smart and funny, but don’t tell him I said so. He is one of the last surviving members of our group of poker-playing pals who went through school together. How far back does this go? Well, we began playing poker together when MAVERICK was airing first-run episodes. Ron and I reminisced about Jon McRae, the basis for the John character in NO CURE FOR DEATH, and our late friend Jan McRoberts, whose mysterious death I fictionally explored in A SHROUD FOR AQUARIUS. Jim Hoffmann, who produced the MOMMY movies, was also part of that group, is also gone. Alive and well of the poker players are Mike Bloom, Nee Leau, John Leuck and David Gilfoyle – the latter the funniest of a very witty bunch of guys. Dave was nicknamed “Wheaty,” and you will meet him in my previously unpublished 1974 novel SHOOT THE MOON, if you buy the Perfect Crime collection EARLY CRIMES coming out late this summer.

The Lone Ranger

With Ron and Vickie, Barb and I went to THE LONE RANGER. I don’t like to write negative reviews, but I found the film reprehensible – misguided, misjudged, misbegotten. If we hadn’t have been with friends, we would have walked out. Disney is a company built on family entertainment, and THE LONE RANGER of radio and TV was the most wholesome of western heroes – he used silver bullets so that would not shoot his gun carelessly, and (like Superman) never killed. This LONE RANGER is an unpleasant western filled with stupid violence put together by a gifted director who wanted to pay tribute to ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and not the actual source material. The new film’s Lone Ranger is a clumsy goofus and Tonto a nasty lunatic. The tone is uneven to say the least – forced unfunny humor is interspersed with bloody violence. And it’s as slow and long as you’ve heard. Oddly, much of the 2013 LONE RANGER seems culled from the previous disastrous take on this material, the notorious 1981 flop THE LEGEND OF THE LONE RANGER, which did not make a star out of Klinton Spilsbury. Remember that one? The producer alienated every baby boomer on the planet by suing the ‘50s TV Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore, to keep him from doing personal appearances in his mask. LEGEND is a hard film to see – my widescreen copy is from overseas – but it’s actually better than this new RANGER film (faint praise), which lifts from LEGEND such elements as making John Reid (think Clark Kent) a virtuous attorney, turning Butch Cavendish a madman, setting an action set piece on a moving train, mounting a Gatling gun massacre, and showing the Ranger and Tonto dynamiting a bunch of stuff (a bridge in the new picture, a dam in the other).

The 2013 movie actually ends with the Lone Ranger finally uttering his signature line, “Hiyo Silver, away,” and Tonto telling him never to say that again. The Ranger apologizes, of course. The final line of the movie is a reminder that “tonto” means “stupid” in Spanish. These filmmakers are embarrassed by the material they were hired to re-boot, and should be ashamed of themselves. When would Barb and I have walked out had we not been with Ron and Vickie? How about when Tonto, for a cruel gag, drags a barely conscious, wounded Lone Ranger through horse dung? Or maybe when the grand steed Silver drinks beer and belches. RULE NUMBER ONE IN ADAPTING FAMOUS MATERIAL: Do not have contempt for it.

M.A.C.

Navigating the Weeds

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Let me wish everyone a safe and fun Fourth of July. I will be playing an outdoor gig with Crusin’ in Muscatine (the Brew, five p.m. till 9 p.m.) and I am hopeful the current decent weather will hold up. Last year, playing a similar gig on the Fourth in a heat wave damn near killed me.

This will be a short update, because I am very deep in the writing of KING OF THE WEEDS, which is a difficult but rewarding project. I hope to finish the novel before San Diego Comic Con, which comes up soon (July 17 – 21), where I’ll be meeting with the Titan folks to discuss the possibility of three more Hammer novels from shorter Spillane fragments.

What makes this one especially tricky is that Mickey started the book twice, with one version containing only one of the two major plot strands. Then he combined the manuscripts, but when he set the book aside to do THE GOLIATH BONE instead, he had not yet done the carpentry to merge the two versions. This makes for a dizzying task as in most cases even the names of characters are different between versions, and some scenes appear twice, accomplished in two different ways. This means I have to make choices as well as weave and blend material together, in addition to adding my own connective tissue and input.

But it’s a most interesting book, conceived by Mickey as the final Mike Hammer novel (much more overtly than he did in his GOLIATH BONE manuscript). It’s not as rip-roaring as LADY, GO DIE! or COMPLEX 90, but it should be very strong.

More on it later.

Quick movie recommendation: THE HEAT is a very funny buddy cop movie with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, populated by any number of funny people in character parts.

* * *

Here’s our first WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER review. Just a reminder that this thriller, which Matt Clemens worked on with me, comes out in September.

Here is a lovely valentine to Mickey Spillane with some nice nods to my work on the unfinished novels.

And this terrific COMPLEX 90 review is well worth a look.

M.A.C.

Complex 90 Out Today

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
COMPLEX 90 Audiobook

Hardcover:

E-Book:

Audio CD:

Audio MP3 CD:

Actually, COMPLEX 90 – the new Mike Hammer novel – will be published tomorrow, since I write these blog posts a day in advance. The cover we’re showing off here is the Blackstone audio version, read by Stacy Keach. I haven’t heard it yet, but it’s one of the greatest joys of my career to listen to Stacy reading these Spillane/Collins novels on audio.

This is, I think, one of the strongest of the collaborative Hammers, as it answers a lot of questions about Mike and Velda’s relationship, and it’s a sequel to perhaps the Mickey’s best book of the ‘60s – THE GIRL HUNTERS. Yes, the Dragon (the surviving half) is back. What great fun, writing about Mike Hammer in his espionage agent mode in a book begun by Mickey at the height of the James Bond spy craze. Fun, too, imagining Mickey as Mike in a movie playing in your demented brain. Well, my demented brain, anyway.

People often ask how I decide what order to do these books in – I had half a dozen substantial (100 pages or more) Spillane “Hammer” manuscripts to choose from. GOLIATH BONE was a no-brainer choice – it was the final book Mickey was working on, and was the longest manuscript (of the Hammers, that is – DEAD STREET was shy only of the last three chapters). Also, it had a 9/11 aspect that threatened to date it. So it was first up.

THE BIG BANG was a great ‘60s novel, with Hammer taking on drug racketeers, and just a great manuscript from Mickey, with one of his most outrageous endings. It won second position as a way to really show off Mike at his best. KISS HER GOODBYE, with its ‘70s setting and themes, was a natural progression. I held back the greatest find – LADY, GO DIE!, the unfinished sequel to I, THE JURY – for the fourth position, because my initial contract was for three books, and I wanted something very strong to launch the second trio, particularly if I had to change publishers…which I did.

COMPLEX 90 needed to be held back a while, because the anti-Commie aspect of it would only court trouble with the Hammer haters. I needed Mike to be back for a while before going there. Also, though Mickey wrote about Russian espionage in ONE LONELY NIGHT and THE GIRL HUNTERS, the Cold War theme is not what Hammer is best known for.

Shortly (yet this month) I will begin work on KING OF THE WEEDS, a novel designed by Mickey as a sequel to BLACK ALLEY and as the final Hammer novel. Mickey set it aside after 9/11 seemed to require Mike Hammer to wade into the war on terror. So these six novels begin with the final Hammer novel (THE GOLIATH BONE), and wind up with what Mickey had intended to be the final novel (KING OF THE WEEDS), making that the penultimate one, I guess.

Is this the end of the Spillane/Collins Hammer stories? Probably not. I am expanding short Hammer fragments into short stories (most recently in The Strand, “So Long, Chief”), and in two or three more stories will have enough for a collection. There’s also the possibility of doing a book that offers prose versions of the two audio plays. And there are three more significant Hammer fragments that I hope to turn into novels. When I say “substantial” unfinished manuscript, I mean that Mickey left behind at least one hundred pages and often plot and character notes.

When I say “significant” unfinished manuscript, I mean at least forty pages and sometimes plot and character notes.

I am hopeful readers and my current publisher will agree that the Mike Hammer canon should be completed. I see no reason for me to do original Hammer stories, not with the wealth of Spillane material at my fingertips. There are even non-Hammer fragments that could be Hammer-ized if need be. If the movie happens, anything is possible.

* * *

Last week was taken up with preparing materials for my producing partner, Ken Levin, to take with him to LA for meetings. Barb and I wrote up a TV proposal for the ANTIQUES series, and I put together an Eliot Ness in Cleveland TV proposal. In addition, I did a full-scale rewrite of “House of Blood,” turning it from an 85-page feature film script into a 58-page TV pilot script.

This week I’ll be meeting with Matt Clemens to work on the plotting of SUPREME JUSTICE, my second Thomas & Mercer novel. My friend Brad Schwartz and I have been working on a Teddy Roosevelt project, and the screen treatment of that will be finished probably today. Then I will be doing articles for Huffington Post and other web sites to promote COMPLEX 90.

Did I mention it’s coming out today?

A lot of Net activity to report and share.

A Minneapolis radio station has Part One of the Gary Sandy-starring version of MIKE HAMMER: ENCORE FOR MURDER produced at the International Mystery Writers Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky, last year. They will post Part Two next week. This is a lot of fun, but the host gives perhaps the most shambling introduction I have ever heard, starting with a discussion of the character “Mickey Spillane” who debuted on radio before the publication of I, THE JURY. You learn something every day….

The great web site Bookgasm had a lively, complimentary review of ANTIQUES CHOP, now a bouncing baby one week old.

Here’s a nice write-up on COMPLEX 90 at the Geek Girl Project.

I haven’t listened to this interview, but I was on the phone a long time, so be forewarned that you may need Red Bull to make it through. The guys interviewing me were great, but I’m afraid I blathered even more than usual.

Here’s a cool Nerds of a Feather write-up of COMPLEX 90 (out today!) (over doing?).

The news about HOUSE OF BLOOD winning that IMPA award was covered neatly at the Fangoria web site.

The SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT reviews are still comin’ in! Check out this cool one at Nerd Bloggers.

I was very pleased by this NO CURE FOR DEATH review – having a smart reviewer approve of a book written forty years ago is kind of amazing. Not as amazing as me writing it when I was six, but amazing.

This is a very intelligent review of THE BABY BLUE RIP-OFF from a guy who forgives me for being a liberal. (I’m taking something for it.)

And at this late date, we’re still being told that ROAD TO PERDITION was based on a graphic novel. Who’da thunk it?

THE TITANIC MURDERS gets a very nice write-up here.

And, finally, here’s the review you were all waiting for – of SKIN GAME, the second DARK ANGEL book (not published today…but still in print!). Matt Clemens co-wrote the DARK ANGEL novels with me, and they are among our best collaborations, in both our opinions.

M.A.C.

Lady, Go Die! Nominated

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

LADY, GO DIE!, last year’s Mike Hammer, has been nominated for the Scribe Award presented by the International Association of Media and Tie-in Writers. As you may recall, KISS HER GOODBYE won this award last year.

It’s a tough category this year, with science-fiction/fantasy and mystery bundled together, and more submissions in a single category than ever before in the organization’s history. Mystery and other “general” fiction will be broken back out into their own category next year. It may be a cliche to say it’s an honor just to be nominated, but with competition like this, it’s the truth.

Here is the organization’s press release, which anyone out there is welcome to cut and paste into their own blog or web site.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers is pleased to announce the Scribe Award nominees for 2013.

Acknowledging excellence in this very specific skill, IAMTW’s Scribe Awards deal exclusively with licensed works that tie in with other media such as television, movies, gaming, or comic books. They include original works set in established universes, and adaptations of stories
that have appeared in other formats and cross all genres. Tie-in works run the gamut from westerns to mysteries to procedurals, from science fiction to fantasy to horror, from action and adventure to superheroes. Gunsmoke, Murder She Wrote, CSI, Star Trek, Star Wars, Shadowrun, Resident Evil, James Bond, Iron Man – these represent just a few.

The Scribe Awards are presented at ComicCon San Diego.

IAMTW congratulates the following nominees:

ORIGINAL NOVEL
Darksiders: The Abomination Vault Ari Marmell
Pathfinder: City of the Fallen Sky Tim Pratt
Mike Hammer: Lady, Go Die! Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

Star Trek: The Persistence of Memory David Mack
Star Trek: Rings of Time Greg Cox
Tannhäuser: Rising Sun, Falling Shadows Robert Jeschonek
Dungeons and Dragons Online: Skein of Shadows Marsheila Rockwell

ADAPTED NOVEL
Poptropica Astroknights Island Tracey West
Clockwork Angels Kevin Anderson

Batman: The Dark Knight Legend Stacia Deutsch

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises Greg Cox
AUDIO
Dark Shadows: Dress Me in Dark Dreams Marty Ross
Dark Shadows: The Eternal Actress Nev Fountain
Doctor Who Companion Chronicles: Project Nirvana Cavan Scott/Mark Wright

* * *

My draft of ANTIQUES A GO GO will be completed this week. I have been “in the bunker” (as we say around here), working for two weeks with only one day off. I had intended to take a day off this weekend, but we ran into a plot hole that needed patching, which had a domino effect that Barb and I had to chase through the entire manuscript. The good news is that it improved the book, specifically its mystery aspect.

Barb’s work on the novel has been stellar, from providing a very good 200-page-plus rough draft to packets of information on every New York/New Jersey aspect of the story (it takes place at a comic con in Manhattan with a detour to New Jersey and a strangely familiar strip joint called the Badda-Boom). Taking Brandy and Mother out of Serenity has been tricky and frankly hard, but I think it’s going to be rewarding.

With any luck, the book will go go to our editor in New York around Thursday – assuming our final read-through doesn’t reveal another nasty plot hole that will send the Barbara Allan road crew out with shovels and hot asphalt.

Barb and I did take time off to see 42, the Jackie Robinson bio-pic (we can’t stay away from our new local theater). We almost didn’t go because the previews made us feel like we already knew the story, and that every beat of it was going to be predictable. Well, the latter was sort of true, but the execution of the film, the sharp dialogue, the strong characterization, and the effective acting (Harrison Ford does well in his first character role as pioneering baseball owner Branch Rickey) make this one you should see. There is a majestic score that works too hard at telling us what to feel, but that may be designed to take the edge of the harshness of what Robinson and his wife were put through. The period detail is excellent (although there is the occasional dialogue slip – “We’re on the same page” is not a late ‘40s expression). Small carps. Big rewards. Don’t skip this one.

The Quarry Cinemax pilot continues to get widespread Net coverage, but I won’t bother you with links to any of it, because it’s all been covered before.

But here’s a really nice, actually wonderful review of SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT.

And a cool SEDUCTION review at the wonderfully named Trash Mutant.

Yet another SEDUCTION review here.

Here’s a belated A KILLING IN COMICS review, a tad on the patronizing side but okay.

And here’s a brief but very nice tribute to Mickey Spillane.

M.A.C.