Max Allan Collins, Jr., was born on March 3, 1948, in Muscatine, Iowa, to Max Allan Collins and Patricia Ann Rushing Collins. His parents encouraged artistic expression. Collins’s father worked as a music director for Muscatine High School and Muscatine Community College. When Collins was a toddler, his mother read Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy comics to him. Later, Collins used his allowance to buy Dick Tracy issues. After Collins’s mother sent his drawings to Gould, the cartoonist mailed Collins a letter for his eighth birthday, praising his artistry.
Collins read books by Mickey Spillane, Dashiell Hammett, and other detective authors. He began writing fiction while he was in junior high, submitting his work to publishers. At Muscatine High School, Collins acted in plays, ran track, and lettered in football. His senior profile in his high school’s Auroran yearbook stated that his ambition was to become a professional writer. After graduating in 1966, Collins studied at Muscatine Community College, completing an associate of arts degree in 1968. On June 1, 1968, he married Barbara Jane Mull. Their son Nathan was born in 1982.
Collins was a Muscatine Journal reporter from 1968 through 1970. He enrolled in creative writing workshops at the University of Iowa, receiving a bachelor of arts degree in 1970. He was accepted to that university’s graduate writers’ workshop and earned a master of fine arts...
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