Friday, May 21, 2010

Max Allan Collins

Max Allan Collins was hailed in 2004 by Publishers Weekly as "a new breed of writer." A frequent Mystery Writers of America "Edgar" nominee, he has earned an unprecedented fifteen Private Eye Writers of America "Shamus" nominations for his historical thrillers, winning for his Nathan Heller novels, True Detective (1983) and Stolen Away (1991).

He collaborated with Mickey Spillane on a number of works, a subject he discussed with crime fiction maven J. Kingston Pierce of The Rap Sheet:

JKP: How much of The Big Bang is actually Spillane’s, and what contributions did you bring to that existing story?

MAC: Each of these books is different, but the outcome is usually about 50-50 Mickey and me. In the case of The Big Bang, Mickey had written four very long chapters. I turned these into around seven or eight somewhat shorter chapters, expanding and shaping and inserting my own stuff. In addition to those chapters, Mickey had significant plot and character notes. Plus, he had given me the ending.

What I do not do is simply plop down Mickey’s portion, and then pick up where he leaves off. The seamlessness many readers and reviewers have noted derives in part from my method of weaving material in and around Mickey’s. I frankly can’t always remember who wrote what, when I’m looking at the galley proofs. But that’s the way it should be in a good collaboration.

JKP: The Big Bang is all about the trafficking of recreational drugs into the United States and the negative effects that trade had on users. Spillane was a pretty conservative guy, as I understand it--at least politically conservative. Can I assume he was concerned in real life about the perniciousness of the international drugs business?

MAC: He felt strongly about this subject. The Big Bang’s conclusion (which we will allude to but not reveal) posits a solution to New York’s drug problem that is shockingly harsh. Mickey told me that if his own son were a drug addict, he would stand behind what Mike Hammer does at the end of the novel. He did not see the ending as just metaphorical, but as practical. To me, it’s a...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue