Posts Tagged ‘The Big Bang’

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.

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.

Bouchercon – Can You Picture It?

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Barb with our longtime friend and agent Dominick Abel.


The great suspense writer John Lutz, who presented MAC with the PWA Hammer for Nathan Heller.


Barb moderating her panel (with Allan misspelled on her i.d. placard).


MAC and Barb outside the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame (Matthew Clemens hiding his head but little else)


MAC meeting a fan at BOOKS TO DIE FOR signing (also shown: last year’s guest Crusin’ vocalist, Mark Billingham; Reed Coleman; and Michael Connelly).


At BOOKS TO DIE FOR signing, this group called “Murderer’s Row” by our editor’s significant other: Lee Child, Mark Billingham, Reed Coleman, MAC, Michael Connelly, John Connelly.


Staredown contest between MAC and Michaeal Connelly.


Barb presenting PWA “Shamus” for Best Paperback to somebody other than her husband.


MAC accepting the PWA “Hammer” Award for Nate Heller, who couldn’t attend (he’s in a Boca Raton retirement home).


Sara Paretsky, ANTIQUES series editor Michaela Hamilton (cute from any angle) and PWA found/prez, Captain Robert Randisi.

Here’s a lovely review of TARGET LANCER from my pal (and incredible writer) Ed Gorman. The cover, by the way, is the previous version with yellow that I asked to be changed to red (and it was).

MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN by Jim Traylor and me gets some nice attention in both December’s issues of EQMM and ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE. On stands now. (Are there still stands?)

Here’s a great write-up describing BOOKS TO DIE FOR, the new volume in which top mystery writers discuss great mystery novels – I take a swing at I, THE JURY (what a shock).

That justly renowned comic book writer, Peter David, posted a column about my other band, Seduction of the Innocent, that you may enjoy. It was written in ‘98 but it remains fresh.

Here’s a fun if belated review of the Mike Hammer novel, THE BIG BANG. [Nate here: HUGE spoiler warning!]

Writer/blogger Mike Dennis has posted his own Bouchercon recap, including a pic with yours truly.

M.A.C.

Say Hello To Goodbye

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Kiss Her Goodbye

I have spotted KISS HER GOODBYE on the shelves of the Davenport Barnes & Noble, so you should be able to find the new Mike Hammer hardcover at your favorite brick-and-mortar. (The trade paperback of THE BIG BANG should be right next to KISS HER.) I don’t know if Borders is carrying the new Hammer (they aren’t getting as many titles in right now, for obvious reasons), but I encourage you to snag this one at Amazon or elsewhere on line, if you don’t have a “real” bookstore handy.

Don’t wait for the trade paperback, because I don’t know if there will be one. This is the last of the Harcourt Spillane/Collins Hammer novels, and the future of the remaining three is in your hands.

Also, the Stacy Keach-read audio book should be out soon. Stacy thinks KISS HER is the best of the three. Our old friend Craig Clarke seems to agree at his Somebody Dies blog.

Great news on about THE LAST LULLABY. I’ll let director Jeffrey Goodman tell you:

“I am very excited to announce that we have signed with Level 33 Entertainment to distribute THE LAST LULLABY in the United States. We are currently aiming for a Fall release of a newly-packaged DVD. At this point, I am not sure what extras it will include, but we are looking into some different things. We also expect this release to place LULLABY in many other places and make it much more readily available.”

Whether there will be a blu-ray seems up in the air. I also don’t know if Jeffrey will include me in the extras on the disc, but I’m hoping there will be some short history-of-Quarry feature, and possibly the original, award-winning short (“A Matter of Principal”) that spawned the film.

Speaking of Quarry, Hard Case Crime has brought out all of their Quarry novels again as part of their re-birth at Titan, the great UK publisher distributed in the USA by Random House.

You might check out this interesting if odd and not entirely accurate mini-article about my DICK TRACY movie tie-in, as part of a list of 100 famous rejections. For the record, it wasn’t Warrren Beatty who went to bat for my novel, rather producer Barry Osborne. And the rewritten version was deemed fine by Disney, they just made me remove the identity of the Blank, making the book the bestselling mystery novel ever published that didn’t reveal who did it. (The 6th printing includes my real ending – all other printings are incomplete.)

ROAD TO PERDITION has made another top ten comic book movies list.

It has also made this top 25 comic-book movies list.

And speaking of movies, you can get my long out-of-print boxed set THE BLACK BOX on sale for under $25 right here. It includes an anniversary edition of MOMMY and MOMMY’S DAY (with lots of special features not previously available), plus REAL TIME: SIEGE AT LUCAS STREET MARKET and the anthology film SHADES OF NOIR (available nowhere else, and including the original, longer cut of my Mickey Spillane documentary, recently shortened/re-edited for the Criterion KISS ME DEADLY release).

M.A.C.