Before his death in 2006, America's one-time bestselling crime writer entrusted the draft of his final Mike Hammer novel to friend and fan Max Allan Collins. The writer explains what it was like to complete his mentor's manuscript
Chris Wiegand writing in guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 3 February 2009
A tough act to follow ... Mickey Spillane (left) back in the day in his studio in 1952. Photograph: AP
by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins
So what is it like to finish the novel of a friend who also happens to be the bestselling American crime writer of the last century? When I call the lively, good-humoured Collins at home in Iowa, it sounds like he still can't believe he met his hero, let alone was charged with safeguarding his legacy. It's an honour, a responsibility and a "kid-in-the-candy-store sensation," he says. "Mickey had been creating these half-manuscripts and setting them aside throughout our friendship, and I had a reasonable expectation that I'd be chosen to complete them. Just days before his death, he told his wife Jane, 'When I go, there's going to be a treasure hunt around here. Give everything to Max – he'll know what to do with it.'"