Posts Tagged ‘Meet Fancy Anders’

Caleb York Rides…One Last Time?

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021

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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

* * *

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.

* * *

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


Previews of Coming Attractions

Tuesday, March 30th, 2021
Kiss Her Goodbye Paperback

Last week’s book giveaway went well and all thirty signed copies (ten each of Two for the Money, Kiss Her Goodbye (with the uncensored ending), and Shoot-out at Sugar Creek) have been distributed.

I am grateful for those of you who participate in these book giveaways and follow up with reviews. It’s one of the few things an author can do to promote titles in the Covid era, though even before that bookstore signings had already declined in effectiveness.

A giveaway for the recently published third John Sand novel, Live Fast, Spy Hard, will be offered here as soon as I get copies of the trade paperback. At this writing, I’m not sure the “real book” edition is available yet, though I’m checking. The e-book is available now, of course, and we’re already generating some nice Amazon reviews.

The new publisher of the Antiques Trash ‘n’ Treasures series has asked for another book, and Barb and I had already been working on the proposal for what will be Antiques Liquidation. We will be plotting it in more detail this week, doing a chapter by chapter breakdown. As some of you know, Barb writes a complete first draft and then I do the final one, with her input of course.

Meanwhile, my co-author Matt Clemens has been working on his draft of To Live and Spy in Berlin, the third John Sand novel, which we plotted and broke down into chapters a few months ago. I will be starting my draft very soon.

What I have been working on are two projects for Neo-Text, a new publisher (chiefly of e-books) with a great web site you should be checking out regularly.

The first project, which I completed several months ago, is Meet Fancy Anders, the overall title of a series of three novellas about a female private eye during World War Two in Los Angeles; the novellas are interrelated and will become a novel of that title. Fancy goes undercover as a defense plant worker, a Hollywood Canteen hostess, and a movie extra. I’m extremely excited about this series, which was fun to do, and the e-books will be illustrated by a top female artist, those illustrations porting over to various book versions – likely a trade paperback but also a larger-size, possibly hardcover book with full display of the mostly color art. The idea is for each chapter to begin with a full-page illustration.

Dave Thomas

The second project, which I’ve hinted at here, is co-written by Dave Thomas of SCTV fame (who was also a writer/producer on the TV series Bones and Blacklist). It’s called The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton and is a genre-straddling (s-f and crime) saga that will appear in three parts and, like Fancy, be collected as a book, again possibly in several formats. We are lining up a top comic book artist to do the covers and illustrations. I finished my draft of the third and final part today, and will be doing revisions this week, then shipping it out to Dave for our final mutual edit/tweak. He’s a great storyteller and this is very much a fifty/fifty collaboration. And I think this novel will be one of my best.

This is sizing up as a very busy year for me. The Heller novel I’ll be doing (well, it straddles the latter part of this year and next) will sideline Quarry for a while, and Caleb York will have to cool his spurs likely till 2022 or even ‘23. I have a Mike Hammer novel to complete, the Spillane bio with James Traylor, and another Spillane project that will be announced later.

I think I’ve spilled enough beans already.

* * *

I have encountered two films that are not likely to be on your radar – indie productions that are not big-budget affairs but that you may find worth your while.

My son Nate and I liked the sound of The Kid Detective, a 2020 film starring Adam Brody, and decided to give it a try. It’s one of my favorite films in some time (and I think Nate has the same opinion). The premise is whimsical – in a small town, a 32-year-old private detective is existing on the fumes remaining from his high octane reputation as a kid detective when he was, yes, a kid. It’s as if Encyclopedia Brown grew up and tried to continue his detective adventures into adulthood, with the expected absurd results. The idyllic town hasn’t weathered the years any better than the now-grown kid detective, and his fellow citizens rather resent and even deride him. But he hangs in there. The humor here is gentle with a surprising edge, and laugh-out-loud funny frequently, though two real crimes – one old, one new – hang over the comical proceedings like dark, gathering clouds.

Despite the smalltown setting, and the quirky caprice of the premise, this is a genuine private eye movie with film noir themes and under- and overtones despite a surface that might be an after-school special. Prepare to be sucker-punched, because when the two mysteries converge and pay handsomely off, things get as dark as any noir. And the final moments are serious and moving and also surprising.

The other film worth checking out, if what I am about to describe intrigues you, is VHYES, a 2019 feature described thusly on IMDB: “This bizarre retro comedy, shot entirely on VHS and Beta, follows 12-year-old Ralph as he accidentally records home videos and his favorite late night shows over his parents’ wedding tape.” If you read the Amazon reviews, you will find some viewers outraged and highly annoyed by the film, and others loving it (I am in the latter camp). Like Kid Detective, it has a whimsical premise that becomes more serious as the film progresses. The home-movie events that get intermittently recorded over are, as unlikely as it first seems, a narrative that has some emotional impact (again, like Kid Detective).

What the IMDB write-up neglects to mention is that the VHS cartridge is being taped over in 1987 and the entire film is set in that period. In some respects VHYES is in the tradition of the ‘70s TV parody films like The Groove Tube, Tunnelvision and Kentucky Fried Movie, pre-SCTV efforts often featuring Second City performers. VHYES features Kerri Kenney and Thomas Lennon of RENO 911, which may be enough to sell some of you – it did me.

You get snippets of public access, PBS and kid’s shows, commercials, spoofs of Home Shopping Network and Antiques Roadshow, and a real story, if you’re paying attention.

* * *

A reminder that Barb and I are doing a Master Class via Zoom that is available to anyone interested. Here’s the info again:

DSM Book Festival: Sat. April 3
Workshop: Max Allan Collins at 9 a.m. (duration 1 hour)
Log-in: 8:40 a.m.

Workshop description:
Learn from the masters, Max Allan Collins and his wife Barbara Collins, as they each present their Top 5 Fiction Writing Tips and then field questions from the class. Together, Max and Barb have published the Trash & Treasures mystery series. Max is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of Road to Perdition, True Detective, the Quarry series, Girl Can’t Help It and many more.

The registration deadline is today! (March 30)