Sunday, November 15, 2009


(Author’s note: Rogue Males: Conversations & Confrontations About the Writing Life, is a collection of author interviews. It includes Elmore Leonard, Lee Child, Pete Dexter, James Ellroy, Daniel Woodrell, Kinky Friedman and James Crumley. Rogue Males also features an account of a trip to the desert to interview crime fiction greats Ken Bruen and James Sallis about the craft of writing. During the next few weeks, I’m sharing a little bit about each of the 16 writers featured in Rogue Males.)

The first novel of Max Allan Collins’ I read was True Crime, picked up on a whim at an Ann Arbor bookstore. Chances are, I already knew his work from the Dick Tracy comic strip, or maybe a stray Batman comic.

The man’s work was (and remains) so pervasive, it was damned near impossible to miss.

I followed him from his series of historical private eye novels featuring Nate Heller, to his other series centered on Mallory and Quarry, then drifted in other reading directions before stumbling across the just-released original version of Road to Perdition.

Because he started so young (publishing his first novels at age 21), in terms of years in the business — and number of published works — Collins might have been a reasonable fit for the section of Rogue Males dubbed “The Legends” along with James Crumley and Elmore Leonard.

The Rogue Males interview finds Collins holding forth on the strategy of weaving crime fiction around historical events and people, expanding the Perdition saga across multiple formats and the strategy of writing novelizations.

Max Allan Collins interview quote: “I tend to work on one project at a time. The only exception to that is if I’m involved in something ongoing, as when I was doing the Dick Tracy strip or a monthly comic book. If I’m doing a monthly comic book, even if it is a miniseries — five or six issues — that gets woven into the sort of main project I’m doing. I’ll say take ex-number of days off from the main project to get that monthly work done. But I don’t ever work on two novels at the same time. That way lies madness, I think.”


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