Sue Grafton is the New York Times-bestselling author of the beloved Kinsey Millhone mystery series, which continues to delight millions of readers across the globe. Read on to see Sue Grafton's questions for Robert B. Parker, or turn the tables to see what Parker asked Grafton.Grafton: During your career, you've generally worked as a solo writer. Aside from your collaboration with Raymond Chandler (quite dead), how did you enjoy the experience of writing with your wife, Joan? I notice a long break between Three Weeks in Spring, which was published in 1978, and A Year at the Races, which was published in 1990.
Parker: Joan is an idea person more than a writer. She has done a lot of uncredited thinking for me. But Three Weeks in Spring, about her first bout with breast cancer, was a special case. And A Year at the Races, also nonfiction, was about our initiation into the world of thoroughbred racing. I have found it wise for me to write and Joan to think (egad, what if it were the other way?), but I have also found it wise not to speak for her. I liked working with her. In fact, I like pretty much everything with her.
Grafton: I notice in your bibliography that you wrote a nonfiction book called Parker on Writing. I'd be interested in reading it, but I decided I couldn't afford the $499.99 the book is selling for online. How do you feel about a reprint? (P.S. This is not a sly hint that you should send me a copy….)
Parker: Parker on Writing is a collection of random items loosely about writing that Herb Yellin at Lord John Press collected into a finely manufactured limited edition. Herb is a friend, and given what he paid, I can convincingly say it was affection not money that captured me. I feel fine about a reprint…. If I have an extra I will send you one, but I'll have to look—it’s quite possible that I don't.
Grafton: I'm curious about your experience in writing Chasing the Bear: A Young Spenser Novel. What prompted you to write about Spenser's early life? Did you learn things about him you hadn't known before?
Parker: My publisher, agent, and wife all wanted me to try a YA novel. I did three, culminating, at my publisher's request, with Chasing the Bear. Since I knew a great deal about Spenser's adulthood, it was mostly a matter of jacking up the adulthood and sliding a consistent childhood under it. YA novels are hard because you know a great deal that you can't use.
Grafton: I saw the movie Appaloosa last night on DVD, and while I haven't had a chance to read the novel and study the two side by side, I got the impression that the movie was close to what you had in mind. Will you write about Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch again? You did seem to leave the door open to that possibility.
Parker: I’ve written two sequels to Appaloosa (Resolution and Brimstone) and am finishing up a third (Blue-Eyed Devil). Ed Harris did a wonderful job, I thought, with the movie. It is as close as it could possibly be to the book, and those parts that had to be added are hard for me to tell from my own stuff. Harris is genius, as is Viggo [Mortensen]—they nailed the characters and the relationship. You can also take Ed Harris's word—in your own adventures in Southern California you may have noticed how infrequent that is. Incidentally, Bragg's lawyer in the courtroom scene was played by the great Daniel T. Parker.
Grafton: How do you spend your time when you're not writing? Hobbies? Leisure activities? I'm not very good at having fun, but I'm hoping you are. Please advise.
Parker: My friend John Marsh once remarked, "I hate fun." I concur. Mostly, I just live my life, which turns out to be fun. I work out, box with a trainer, watch ball games, go out to dinner with Joan. You've met Joan. We’ve been married fifty-three years. Now that's fun.
From Publishers Weekly
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