Author Interviews


By 1980 seven of Mickey Spillane’s crime novels were among the top 15 all-time bestselling fiction titles in the United States. More than 225 million copies of his books have sold internationally.

In this clip from a 1964 interview, Spillane talks about about his signature detective character, Mike Hammer and the movie business.

(Steve Holland) To fans, hard-boiled meant the two-fisted tales of gumshoes and G-Men that had appeared in pulps like Dime Detective since the 1920s; to the critics it was still a slowly emerging literature led by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, both ex-Black Mask writers who had surfaced in hardcover. The Private Eye was Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe, portrayed on the screen by Humphrey Bogart; film noir had yet to be recognised in America as a style and had only just been thus named in France. The critics ripped into Spillane’s novel [I The Jury], and only a little over half the 7,000 print run sold.

Mike Hammer was not the wisecracking Bogart. He did not wisecrack. He got angry and threatened. Chandler’s novels were relatively bloodless; although he started slowly, Hammer was to average ten killings per novel. Spillane wasn’t a new Chandler. I, the Jury had echoes of The Maltese Falcon, especially the down-beat ending of the latter where Spade hands Brigid O’Shaughnessy over to the cops, but Spillane wasn’t even a new Hammett. He was a new Carroll John Daly, and Mike Hammer was Race Williams for the post-war audience.

Williams, like Hammer, laid his cards on the table: “People – especially the police – don’t understand me. And what we don’t understand we don’t appreciate. The police look upon me as being so close to the criminal that you can’t tell the difference… Every cop in the great city has my reputation hammered into him as a gun and a killer. No use to go into detail on that point. I carry a gun – two of them, for that matter. As to being a killer, well – I’m not a target, if you get what I mean. I’ve killed in my time, and I daresay I’ll kill again. There – let the critics of my methods paste that in their hats.”

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Vladimir Nabokov discusses his novel Lolita on “Close Up,” a circa 1950’s CBC program.

Part 1:

Part 2:

(Thanks to JiffySpook)