Daily Archives: March 17, 2013

Max Allan Collins drops by to discuss his writing and ‘Seduction of the Innocent’.

Having recently enjoyed the latest novel, Seduction of the Innocent, from the ever-prolific Max Allan Collins, I was honoured that he dropped by to answer a few questions here about his work and his life of crime (writing):


1. At the end of 2011, Crimespree magazine did a cover feature on you and your work celebrating 40 years in print – a heck of an achievement ! Do you have a favourite book, or series, from your vast canon of work to date?

My favorite series, and the work of mine that I think has the best shot at surviving, is Nathan Heller.  For those unfamiliar with the series, Heller is a private detective in Chicago who is very much in the Phillip Marlowe mode, but gets involved with many of the great crimes and mysteries of the twentieth century.  I’m often asked what my favorite Heller novel is, but I really consider it one body of work…one ongoing, massive novel.  But I would single a few out as favorites – TRUE CRIME (John Dillinger), STOLEN AWAY (Lindbergh kidnapping), FLYING BLIND (Amelia Earhart).  And I’m very happy with my most recent additions to the saga, the three novels that comprise my JFK trilogy – BYE BYE, BABY, TARGET LANCER and the forthcoming ASK NOT.

Second place would be Quarry.  It’s very cool that something I created back in college in 1971 is still going strong.  Just completed the tenth Quarry novel, THE WRONG QUARRY, for Hard Case Crime.

I also love working with my wife Barb on our “cozy” mystery series about antiquing – we write together as “Barabara Allan,” and the next book, ANTIQUES CHOP, will be out in May.


2. That same cover feature showed you standing proudly before a huge collection of crime fiction books and memorabilia – what is your most treasured possession amongst those? And is there a book or a piece of crime fiction history you are still trying to track down?

I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one item – I have signed books by Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and James M. Cain, and that’s probably as good as it gets.  And I have first edition hardcovers of every Mickey Spillane novel, signed by Mickey.  Oh, and a signed BAD SEED by William March, dated just days before his death.

The missing link for me is an obscure paperback that some people say doesn’t exist, although I swear I saw it many, many years ago…and couldn’t afford the thirty-five cent price.  DRAGNET 1967 by R. Trailins.  There is a DRAGNET 1968 by David Vowell that is fairly common.  These are Popular Library paperbacks.  I’m a huge fan of Jack Webb and DRAGNET – the 1950s version, not the ‘60s one.

3. Seduction of the Innocent marks the 3rd book for comic world mystery books featuring Jack and Maggie Starr – are there any plans to relaunch A Killing in Comics and Strip for Murder in the UK?

I have the rights back, finally, and they will probably be reprinted, and made available on e-book, before too long.  Titan hasn’t shown any interest in reprinting them, so they will probably join the many backlist titles of mine published by Thomas & Mercer at Amazon.

I’m very grateful to Titan and Hard Case Crime for this opportunity to continue with Jack and Maggie, as I had originally intended this to be a trilogy, and felt like the series had been cut off prematurely.  Now I’m considering doing a fourth one.

4. Any plans ahead that will team you with Terry Beatty to illustrate again? And do you work closely on the books?

I can’t imagine doing Jack and Maggie Starr without Terry.  The idea from the start was to do something that was sort of in-between a novel and a graphic novel.  I just loved books with illustrations as a kid.  I am hoping that one day there will be editions of my prose ROAD TO PERDITION sequel novels, ROAD TO PURGATORY and ROAD TO PARADISE, with Richard Piers Rayner illos.

Terry doesn’t have huge input, frankly, though carte blance to draw what he pleases, with my suggested image as a starting point – I send him a script, just like we’re doing comics.  He does not see the novel, though, till it comes out.  I love the way Terry does artwork appropriate to the story at hand – he’s very EC Comics in this one!

5. What’s next from Max Allan Collins and will we see you in the UK anytime soon?

I love the UK.  I am not sucking up – I am a genuine Anglophile, born of James Bond and the Beatles in the ‘60s.  My wife Barb and I very much want to visit London (again) and other UK cities in the near future.  That’s a real benefit of having a British publisher.  By the way, all of my favorite crime shows of recent years are British – HUSTLE, FOYLE’S WAR, LEWIS, POIROT, MIDSOMER, and on and on.  I buy the British discs – I don’t wait for them to air or go on sale in the USA. My wife is hooked as well.

6. What’s the best/worst writing advice you’ve ever heard or been given?

Best advice is to write what you know, and this is tricky if you’re attracted to genre writing.  The breakthrough for me was when I “robbed” the bank where my wife worked, for my first published novel, BAIT MONEY – it’s one of two novels collected in Hard Case Crime’S TWO FOR THE MONEY.  Also in that novel I made the secondary protagonist a young comic book collector, which is exactly who and what I was at the time I wrote it.  So it’s a matter of looking at your life and experiences and figure out how that might relate to whatever sort of novel you like to read.  Another thing I did was use my home area as the setting, at a time when everybody in the crime genre in America was doing New York and Los Angeles.

Worst is to imitate another writer.  I’ve done my share of that, but I was such a mix of influences, it allowed me to generate my own voice.  Even when I wrote the novels collected in TWO FOR THE MONEY, which were heavily influenced by Donald E. Westlake’s Parker series, I was as much in the sway of Spillane, Hammett, Chandler and a dozen other mystery writers.  Elmore Leonard’s famous “how to write” list is terrible.  Great as Leonard is, all he did was outline how to write like him.  Well, there already is an Elmore Leonard, thank you very much.

7. Who has/have been your favourite new crime author discoveries in the last twelve months?

I am notorious for not reading other crime fiction writers.  I’m a natural mimic and don’t care to be influenced.  So I read chiefly writers from the Golden Age of mystery fiction.  I came to Christie and Rex Stout very late, for example, and loved Stout so much, the Nero Wolfe pastiche aspect of the Jack and Maggie Starr books is unmistakable.  Still, I don’t think I’m outright imitating him.  I occasionally discover a mystery writer because of a TV series – I became a fan of Colin Dexter through MORSE, for example.

My taste has always been quirky – among my favorite mainstream writers are William March, Calder Willingham, and Mark Harris, and if you’re unfamiliar with them, you’re not alone.  In recent years I discovered Fannie Flagg, who writes Southern humor, famously FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, but there is always a mystery in her novels, though she’s seldom discussed in those terms.

Thanks again to Max for his time and to Titan Books for kindly setting up the Q&A.





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Exciting new signing for Harvill Secker Crime Fiction.




In a major acquisition, Alison Hennessey, Senior Crime Editor at Harvill Secker, has acquired UK & Commonwealth rights to two books by Elizabeth Little – an exciting new American voice in crime fiction.  Pre-empted by foreign publishers across the world, Alison Hennessey secured a two-book deal for Harvill Secker with Hal Fessenden at Penguin US. The first book, Dear Daughter, will be one of Harvill Secker’s major titles in early 2015 and will be published simultaneously with Viking in the US.


Los Angeles-based Elizabeth Little’s work has appeared in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and she is the author of two non-fiction titles: Biting the Wax Tadpole: Confessions of a Language Fanatic, published in 2007 by Melville House, and Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America’s Languages, published by Bloomsbury in March 2012.


Alison Hennessey said: ‘Dear Daughter is everything I’ve been looking for since I started at Harvill Secker – sharp, spiky, clever and enormously fun, with the kind of acerbic narrator that editors (and readers) dream of discovering.  Dear Daughter is like a glorious combination of Gone Girl meets Mean Girls with a twist of Alice la Plante’s award-winning Turn of Mind, but it has a freshness and vitality that’s all its own. Elizabeth Little is a fiction star in the making, and I couldn’t be more pleased that we’ll be publishing her at Harvill Secker.’


About Dear Daughter:

After a trial that transfixed America, teenager Janie Jenkins – rich, pretty and far too clever for her own good – was convicted of the murder of her mother, a reclusive philanthropist. Ten years later, Janie has been released on appeal but most of the country remains convinced she’s guilty – and even Janie’s not entirely sure what she did that fateful night. All she has to go on are the last words her mother spoke before she was killed, which send Janie on a mission to an odd little town in the very back of beyond but, with the whole of America’s media on her tail, she has to do everything she can to find out the truth about her mother’s death without revealing her true identity.


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As if you needed any more reasons to go to Harrogate….



When you come to compiling your Top British Festivals/ Top Literary Festivals/ Best Boutique Festivals etc. kindly consider the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate – celebrating a DECADE OF CRIME this year. It’s the BIGGEST event of its kind in Europe and considered by the crime writing fraternity as their AGM! (albeit over the bar).

Harrogate is a top festival destination (and will be the star backdrop of the Tour De France). Kindly see some killer facts (no pun intended with the crime writing festival) about the town and festivals below.

WHEN: 18 – 21 July 2013


WHERE: The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate.


Harrogate: restorative spas, tranquil gardens, quaint tea shops. Believe us, you’ll need them. Brace yourselves. Cordon off the flower beds, lock your valuables in the hotel safe, and steady the old nerves with a pint of Theakstons finest ale…

Europe’s largest celebration of crime writing reveals a strong female line-up of Special Guest Authors as over 80 authors gather for a long summer weekend.

Val McDermid, who chaired the first ever festival in 2003, returns as Programming Chair of the 2013 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, Harrogate, to mark a ‘Decade of Crime’.

Special Guest authors are Jackson Brodie creator Kate Atkinson, Chief Inspector Wexford author Ruth Rendell interviewed by Jeanette Winterson, Charlaine Harris – whose Southern Vampire Mysteries inspired TV’s True Blood and The Woman in Black’s Susan Hill. Men hold their corner with Inspector Rebus creator, Ian Rankin, award-winning crime novelist and poet, William McIlvanney and Lee Child, whose Jack Reacher novels got the big screen treatment starring Tom Cruise.

The 18th July also sees the return of ‘Creative Thursday’ delivering creative writing and publishing courses and tips direct from acclaimed authors, editors and agents.


Box Office: 01423 562 303

Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (there’s no apostrophe and it’s peculier with an ‘e’) is part of the Harrogate International Festivals. Harrogate features a range of festivals including the Summer Festival, Raworths Literature and Lecture Series, Children’s Festival and Fringe (details to be announced for all the above mid-April)


  • Heard of the book Going South: Why Britain will have a Third World Economy by 2014? It’s time to GO NORTH! with the North of England’s leading arts festival. The only way is up with our northern soul – last year the Festivals DOUBLED the economic impact on the town to £8.2m despite less than 2% of its income is from the public sector.
  • The Festivals are an UMBRELLA for the arts with a diverse programme delivering over 300 unique events. Come rain or shine, whatever the weather – there’s a Festival for Everyone’s temperament and taste.
  • The Festivals attract 90,000 visitors annually!
  • With Dame Fanny Waterman as its Honorary President and Prince Charles as its patron in a spa town that was home to the Fox acting dynasty’s patriarch – with the once Mayor of Harrogate, Samson Fox – it’s a Festival rolling in heritage.
  • The first Festival was in 1966 in answer to a call by Harold Hyde Walker, Chief Reporter on the Harrogate paper who, since the 1940s, had been urging Harrogate to establish a series of regular concerts and a festival.
  • It’s a platform for launching new talent – as well as giving the likes of Lesley Garrett and Julian Lloyd Webber a platform before they were famous, it also featured Amy Winehouse and cult legends Wynton Marsalis, Van Morrison, Youssou N’Dour, and BB King.
  • 2013’s Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival will have a beer brewed in its honour called ‘A Shot in The Dark’.
  • In 2012 the Harrogate International Festivals outreach and education programmes worked with over 6000 disadvantaged young people in communities across the region.


One of the things that make Harrogate such a boutique, beautiful festival destination is the town itself….

  • Charles Dickens described Harrogate after a visit in 1858 as, “The queerest place with the strangest people in it leading the oddest lives of dancing, newspaper reading and dining”.
  • Agatha Christie famously disappeared in 1926 (her abandoned car triggered the biggest manhunt known to the UK at the time).  She was found in Harrogate. Under a lot of stress she was no doubt swayed by its healing spas, luscious parks, and of course, dancing (she was found in the ballroom of the Old Swan Hotel which is now home to the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival). It’s been charmingly dubbed by a national travel journalist as ‘Doing an Agatha’ (escaping to Harrogate to de-stress!)
  • Mark Cavendish will have the chance to take the 2014 Tour de France leader’s yellow jersey in the town where his mother lives (yep, Harrogate!) after it was announced the first stage of the race will finish in Harrogate.
  • Don’t be fooled by the stereotyped retired ‘Blue Rinse’ little old lady! Harrogate was one of the major towns in the suffragette campaign. Their literature secretary, Agnes Wilson, of 4 Studley Road, Harrogate, travelled to London in March 1912, and took part in the window-smashing campaign, and as a result was sentenced to two months’ hard labour, and went on hunger strike.
  • Harrogate became known for its waters in 1571. By 1700 the town’s expansion was linked to the 88 springs discovered and the fashion of ‘taking the waters’. It’s said to have the highest concentration of different mineral springs than any other town in the world.
  • Visitors included Oscar Wilde and Winston Churchill – a visit covered in the Harrogate Advertiser on 1 December 1900 noting the race down Parliament Street in bath chairs, which Churchill described as ‘the charge of the Bath Chair Artillery’.
  • Members of every European royal family have visited Harrogate to take the waters in times gone. Princess Alix Hesse and her sister, Princess Victoria of Battenburg, were regular visitors and amused themselves by racing their bath chairs through the streets of Harrogate.
  • The notorious and great Victorian sex writer, Henry Havelock Ellis researched his taboo book on homosexuality in 1889 in Harrogate; today it a favourite destination of the Beaumont Society Transgender Events – the largest and longest established transgender support group in the UK.
  • Harrogate is known as ‘The Jewel of the North’ and is the ‘Gateway to the Dales’ featuring some of Yorkshire’s top tourist destinations in its region including Fountain’s Abbey, Lightwater Valley, RHS Harlow Carr Gardens and Harewood House.

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