I’m Dreaming of a Celluloid Christmas


Christmas movies are as much a part of my holiday traditions as parties and presents, candy and carols.

I love films in every genre, but certain Christmas movies are among my favorite films of all time. I’m talkin’ stranded-on-a-deserted-island favorite.

If I did find myself on an island this yuletide season, these are the movies I’d want with me.


“It’s A Wonderful Life” ranks among my favorite movies of all-time, perhaps even tied for first place with “Casablanca,” and the only film that moves me as much as “Keys of the Kingdom.”

George Bailey has so many problems he’s thinking about ending it all on Christmas. A film so dark it’d be noir if not for the ending, there’s far more to “It’s A Wonderful Life” than most viewers imagine. 

I am George Bailey. So are you. He reminds us that at our best our little lives can make a big difference in the lives of others. George Bailey teaches us what the wonderful writer Frederick Buechner says so eloquently: “Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, feel your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis, all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”


Richard Curtis is not unlike George Bailey—making the world around him a better place with what he builds. And what he builds are great romantic comedies. I’ve loved his work since I first saw “Four Weddings and a Funeral” by myself in a small theater in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when it first came out. A few years later, when I saw “Notting Hill,” I knew it was a love that would last a lifetime. I adore all his films, and as powerful as “The Girl in the Café” is, I believe “Love Actually” is his best film so far.

“Love Actually” is entertaining, poignant, and heartbreaking. It, better than any other movie, captures the magic of Christmas, using the dizzying effects of romantic love as a metaphor for the season’s gentle madness.


Two of the things most associated with Christmas—family and home—are brilliantly captured in “The Family Stone.” A dramaedy about the only thing crazier than Christmas—family, the perfectly cast film makes me wish I were a member of the Stone family. As much about life and death, loss and love, as anything else, Christmas provides a prison-like cauldron to heat up the explosive elements and dynamics of all families, but none more than those of the Stone family.


“The Holiday” starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet is a well written and wildly romantic holiday movie. The story revolves around two disillusioned women, one from England, the other from the US, who switch lives and find what they’ve been missing. Like the season in which it’s set, the movie is magic.


But perhaps all the romance and comedy is too much for you and you’d rather explore the darker side of Christmas.

Crime movies don’t get much darker or more comedic than the noel noir “The Ice Harvest.”

In icebound Wichita Falls, Kansas, Christmas Eve is as dark, depressing, and desperate a night as any of the year, and Charlie Arglist (John Cusack) is trying to escape it, leave town with two million dollars of mob boss Bill Guerrard’s money. Can he escape Wichita Falls? Can any of us?

Though all performances are strong, it’s Cusack’s embodiment of Arglist that sets the film apart. His ability to make the small-time, small-town, lawyer a likable everyman trying to break out of his life of quiet desperation gives the film its charming and redeeming qualities.

“The Ice Harvest” is dark, quirky, and blackly comedic, but it also has some poignant moments of existential meditation, erudite contemplations of the elusiveness of the spirit of the season, and stinging satire on the hypocrisy of Christmas.

“As Wichita Falls, so falls Wichita Falls” is written and spoken repeatedly throughout the film like a lost line of poetry or a riff of jazz, and it says it all. It’s about existentialism, karma—something made far more obvious in the alternate ending.


This holiday season, give yourself the gift of great movies. Travel with George Bailey on his long, hard journey that out of hell leads up to light, Charlie Arglist on his even darker one, spend some time with the Stone family, careful to give and receive the gift of love, not knowing which Christmas will be your last, and fall in love all over again as you realize with Kate and Cameron, Liam and Hugh, that at Christmas love is actually all around.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good Movie Night! 

Posted on December 13, 2016 .

5th Day of Christmas - Signed Jimmy Riley Library + Signed Manuscript and CD

My "Five Days of Christmas" sale features some unique gifts and items for book lovers. You will only ever find them on my website and they're all in LIMITED SUPPLY so buy them while you can.


(all paperbacks)



Special Christmas Sale




All Books
& Manuscript
Signed by


“Tight, taut, terrific PI noir with a classic and fully-realized 1940s setting. Michael Lister is one of those rare, gifted writers who can immerse you with his first sentence. The “Soldier” series is a treasure—don’t miss it!” Kelli Stanley

“Lister’s hard-edged prose ranks with the best of contemporary noir fiction.” Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review of The Big Goodbye.

“Michael Lister has the world of Florida Panhandle noir all to himself. Tough, violent, and hard-boiled, This novel of obsession and suspense will remind you of Raymond Chandler, Graham Greene, and why you started reading crime novels in the first place.” John Dufresne

Posted on December 11, 2016 .

4th Day of Christmas - John Jordan Power Pack + PCI Prison Shirt

My "Five Days of Christmas" sale features some unique gifts and items for book lovers. You will only ever find them on my website and they're all in LIMITED SUPPLY so buy them while you can.


Includes signed 1st Edition Hardcover copies of




Potter Correctional Institution Shirt

Limited edition PCI prison shirt with John Jordan logo and graphics
– made by inmates for inmates.
(Available in S, M, L, XL)

Special Christmas Sale



Both Books


Posted on December 10, 2016 .

3rd Day of Christmas - Complete Signed John Jordan Library + Manuscript page

My "Five Days of Christmas" sale features some unique gifts and items for book lovers. You will only ever find them on my website and they're all in LIMITED SUPPLY so buy them while you can.


(includes a mix of hardcover and paperback including some out of print books)



The John Jordan series is one of the most acclaimed running in mystery fiction. 

Special Christmas Sale




"Ex-cop turned Prison Chaplain John Jordan is one of crime fiction's most original heroes, and his creator, Michael Lister is one of the genre's freshest voices" PJ Parish.


Posted on December 9, 2016 .


My "Five Days of Christmas" sale features some unique gifts and items for book lovers. You will only ever find them on my website and they're all in LIMITED SUPPLY so buy them while you can.

Signed Hardback
Limited Edition of


Limited to 150 copies.
Only 10 remain. 

Signed by Michael Connelly & Michael Lister

Contains Connelly's introduction, pictures of North Florida, the book's initial launch, and the play that was
based on it.

Double Exposure 3d.jpg

Signed by





Special Christmas Sale



“Like a two-hundred page poem, with words that skip on the waters of the imagination like well-polished stones, DOUBLE EXPOSURE is absolutely riveting! Elegiac prose, insightful characterization and a wonderfully ingenious plot.” Michael Connelly

Posted on December 8, 2016 .

A Blue, Blues Christmas

I love doing book signings!

I cherish the opportunity to directly connect with readers in such a personal way. And I’m always so very grateful to every single reader who makes the effort to attend my events.

Over the past 25 years of books signings, I've had hundreds of memorable and momentous experiences.

I’ve signed books as far south as the Florida Keys and as far north as Toronto—in libraries, bookstores, conference centers, houses, parks, comic cons, prisons, strip clubs, biker rallies, churches, concerts, festivals, but the coolest venue by far was Morgan Freeman's Ground Zero blues club in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

I drove west across the Florida Panhandle, through a bit of Alabama, and into Mississippi. Spent the night in Pass Christian. Then drove north up through hundreds of miles of the fertile farm land of the Mississippi Delta, singing and living the Blues on my way to the place where the Blues began.

Long known as the birth place of the Blues by blues aficionados from around the world, Clarksdale, Mississippi is home to Ground Zero—the blues bar located at 0 Blues Alley next door to the Delta Blues Museum in the heart of Clarksdale.

The book was DELTA BLUES, an anthology of crime stories involving the blues and the Mississippi Delta. I had a story titled “Death at the Crossroads” alongside such notable writers as James Lee Burke, John Grisham, Charlaine Harris (of “True Blood” fame), Ace Atkins and with an introduction by the legendary, Academy Award-winning actor Morgan Freeman.

For the release of DELTA BLUES, one of the coolest launch parties in history was held at Moran Freeman’s very own bar.

A band comprised of authors was playing the blues. There was dancing. And drinking. And conversation. And book signing.

It was truly an incredible experience. One I will never forget. One that for now is the coolest book launch party I’ve ever been a part of.

And to celebrate and commemorate that experience—and to kick off the 5 Days of Christmas—I have the few remaining leather-bound, limited edition, signed copies of DELTA BLUES available. There are only 8 copies of this beautiful leather, gilded book left and only 100 in existence in the world.   

Do you know of someone on your Christmas list who would love to receive a leather-bound book signed by Morgan Freeman, John Grisham, me, and many, many other authors? Of course, you should probably grab a copy for yourself. Either way Click Here to see if there are any left.

*Beginning today and continuing for the next 5 days, there will be a special Christmas Store on my website. Please check back each day for special Christmas deals on limited merch you can’t get anywhere else. 

Posted on December 6, 2016 .


My "Five Days of Christmas" sale features some unique gifts and items for book lovers. You will only ever find them on my website and they're all in LIMITED SUPPLY so buy them while you can.

Signed Limited Edition of



Signed by






and many others.


Was $250.00

Special Christmas Sale





- Limited Edition (Only 100 copies in the world)


- Leather Bound with gilded pages

- Signed by Morgan Freeman, John Grisham, Michael Lister, Ace Atkins & all contributors

- Save $150 during the Christmas Sale

- Get it by Christmas

From the introduction by Morgan Freeman:

“This collection of short fiction captures both the art of the tale and the power of the blues, and is a nod at the human condition that often inspires musicians to write and sing the blues. These stories tell about bad men and bad women who sometimes do good—or sometimes follow their true nature. Some of these characters know all about the dangers of making a bargain with the devil. And some know the power of redemption. These are characters who would not be out of place in a Honeyboy Edwards tune, and would be right at home alongside the desolate wail of Clarksdale, Mississippi, native Son House.”


Featuring: James Lee Burke, Charlaine Harris, John Grisham, Ace Atkins, Bill Fitzhugh, Alice Jackson, Suzanne Hudson, David Sheffield, Bill Fitzhugh, Tom Franklin & Beth Ann Fennelly, Dean James, Nathan Singer, Suzann Ellingsworth, Michael Lister, Lynne Barrett, Toni L.P. Kelner, Daniel Martine, Mary Saums, Carolyn Haines, and Les Standiford!

The blues are a home anywhere, but the epicenter is Clarksdale, Miss., the setting for at least a third of the 19 original stories in this virtuoso crime anthology
— Publishers Weekly
The Delta seems to evoke stories of wild men and bitter women, hungry blues singers, and a sneaky Devil. It’s all quite fun
— Library Journal
Theme anthologies are common in the mystery genre, but here’s one that distinguishes itself from the crowd
— Booklist
Delta Blues is a perfect book to pick up for a short break because you can read on story, put it down satisfied and come back for more. Be sure to put it on your summer reading list
— Sunherald.com
Posted on December 6, 2016 .

Win 35+ Harboiled Mystery & Crime Fiction PLUS a KINDLE FIRE

Today, I have a fun surprise that I’d like to share with you.

To celebrate the end of fall, I’ve teamed up with more than 30 fantastic hardboiled mystery & crime fiction authors to give away a huge collection of novels,


A Kindle Fire to one lucky winner!

You can win my novel POWER IN THE BLOOD, plus books from authors like LISA GARDNER and LEE STRAUS. Enter the giveaway by clicking here: bit.ly/mys-crime-fic

Good luck, and enjoy!

Ted Bundy Haunts Michael Lister's Latest John Jordan Mystery BLOOD WORK

PANAMA CITY — The latest mystery from Panama City author and New York Times best-selling crime novelist Michael Lister, “Blood Work,” involves the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy.

Before he became a novelist, Lister was a full-time prison chaplain, and he visited the death chamber and electric chair where Ted Bundy was executed at Florida State Prison.

“Standing there where he died, actually touching the instrument of his death, was a surreal experience for me,” Lister said. “I knew one day Ted Bundy would make an appearance in my novels. I’ve alluded to him in at least four previous books, but ‘Blood Work’ is the first in which he plays a prominent role.”

Just this past year, one of Bundy’s former defense attorneys wrote that Bundy had confessed to him of killing more than 100 people, a far cry from the 35 or so often attributed to him, Lister said, adding, “I have no idea what the actual number is, of course, but I do believe it’s many more than is known.”

“Blood Work,” the latest in Lister’s John Jordan mystery thriller series, will be released on Nov. 24 — the day Bundy would have marked his 70th birthday.

“It’s hard to imagine him as an old man. If he were still alive, he’d be roughly the same age as my father,” Lister said.

Lister’s new novel takes the true crime of Bundy’s case and merges it with the fictional world of Jordan, the prison chaplain/detective. It seems Jordan’s father, Jack, believes Bundy killed Janet Leigh Lester, the Queen at the Sweethearts dance; she disappeared the night she was crowned Miss Valentine, her car left in an empty field, its interior splashed with blood.

Jordan has a window to solve the so-called Broken Heart Murder, decades cold now. It isn’t the first Jordan’s world has involved true crime events, as previous novels “Innocent Blood” and “Blood Cries” explored Wayne Williams and the Atlanta Child Murders.

“I really enjoy reading and studying true crime and find it fascinating and inspiring to incorporate it into my fiction,” Lister said. “I find an intersection between reality and fantasy, fact and fiction. I keep everything true and accurate about the real-life cases — all the details about Bundy or Williams — but then find what I believe to be the perfect place for the two to merge in a way that I hope is both credible and thrilling.”

“Blood Work” is available through all online book retailers. A special reception for its release will take place at the Bay County Public Library, 898 W. 11th St. in Panama City, from 5-8 p.m. Dec. 14. The event includes Lister’s annual Holiday Book Giveaway event with Santa Claus.

Posted on November 22, 2016 .

Lister unleashes a personal apocalypse

Lister unleashes a personal apocalypse

by Tony Simmons

Inspired by the work of Cormac McCarthy, as well as a love of apocalyptic art in all its forms, local author Michael Lister has taken a break from his usual genre of murder mysteries to explore a personal response to the end of the world.


“Cataclysmos” is a serial thriller about a man — basically, Lister himself — trying to find his family members after a terrible disaster has destroyed civilization, disrupted the weather and turned his familiar world into a hellish nightmare.

“In a way, it’s the most autobiographical thing I’ve done,” Lister said. “I’m using myself, family and friends as characters to draw from who we really are.”

Lister will read from the book and discuss its origins during an event 7 p.m. Saturday at Gulf Coast State College’s Language and Literature department’s Sarzin Hall. The “Night of Murder and Music” will include readings and discussion by authors Steve King, Jayson Kretzer, Johnnie Putnam and Lynn Wallace, and musicians Aaron Beardon and Dave Lloyd.

Currently, the first “Cataclysmos” book is complete; five parts are available as ebooks, with Part 1 free on all digital platforms. Part 1 of Book 2 will be released next week.

“It’s the first time I’ve written anything serially, and I love that,” Lister said. “It’s very fulfilling. The popularity of ebooks has given serial storytelling a new life. To be able to release it almost as fast as it’sbeing written seems more dynamic, and readers feel a part of it — communicating about it between episodes.”

The story begins two months after “The End,” as the narrator reaches North Florida on a trek home from Atlanta — which is where he was when the disaster took place. Each book is like a season of television, and each part of the serial is like a TV episode, Lister explained.

“The most rewarding part of it is the creating — the making-it-up,” Lister said, adding that having himself as the main character allows him to write in a new way. “All of the main character’s thoughts, recollections and so on are pretty much as I experienced them. But it’s enabling me to reflect on life in ways I’ve not been able to do before this.”

Lister is probably best known for this two ongoing mystery series: the “Blood” series featuring modern prison chaplain John Jordan, and the 1940s noir Jimmy “Soldier” Riley series. He plans to return to them in the near future, perhaps between books 2 and 3 of “Cataclysmos.”

“Each world is so different. So are the characters who people them,” he said. “I have no trouble keeping them separate. But I also never work on more than one at a time. Each series and their characters exercise different writing muscles for me and each fulfills me as a writer in different ways.”

Stylistically, he said, “Cataclysmos” is closer to his award-winning novel “Double Exposure.”

“After ‘Double Exposure,’ I searched for a similar story to tell — a character isolated without the aid of technology or civilization,” he said. “And I always wanted to do a story like this, but I wanted it to be something different in the genre.”

Lister said the new series is allowing him to address global questions, such as why someone would remain in a war-torn region or how would regular people — not the cardboard superheroes of most apocalyptic fiction — realistically respond to a cataclysm.

“Can we hang onto our humanity in the most inhumane situations and circumstances?” he asked. “I’m also asking what we’re willing to do to survive and what we’re willing to do to save our loved ones.”

Cataclysmos is currently available only in ebook formats, but will be published in paperback and hardback editions later this summer.




Posted on May 7, 2016 .