What made you decide to revisit Bernie Rhodenbarr with The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons?
I’d wanted to write more about Bernie ever since THE BURGLAR ON THE PROWL nine years ago. I’ve always enjoyed writing in his voice and seeing the world through his eyes. But the several attempts I made over the years were discouraging, and just didn’t come together, and I wasn’t willing to force it, because the one thing I’m unwilling to do is write a bad book about him.
Then I reached a point where I was ready, and I got on a cruise ship on a Saturday in July, and Sunday morning I got up early and went to work. I wrote every day for the next five weeks, and when the ship docked I got off with a finished book.
How has your writing process changed since the first Burglar book, Burglars Can't Be Choosers?
I’m not sure it has, beyond my having made the transition twenty years ago from typewriter to computer.
You've struck me as one of the authors to really see the potential in reissuing out off print works as eBooks. Do you have any ebooks coming down the pipe you think people should be aware of?
I’ve got two non-fiction titles in preparation, collections of pieces I’ve written over the years. One will center on the world of crime fiction, while the other will have essays and travel writing and, well, other stuff. But these will be originals, and you asked about out-of-print reissues.
Actually, I think I’ve reissued just about everything out there. Unless I manage to talk myself into discovering the merits of one or another pseudonymous work of midcentury erotica, and that’s always a possibility.
How did you get entangled with Hard Case Crime in the beginning? It seems like a match made in heaven to me.
Charles Ardai, the guiding genius of Hard Case Crime, has been a fan and a friend for a long time. THE GIRL WITH THE LONG GREEN HEART was Hard Case’s first title, and he went on to publish several more of my paperback crime novels before hitting on a few originally pseudonymous works—like A DIET OF TREACLE and KILLING CASTRO—and, coming up in May, BORDERLINE.
Did you get to choose the stories for Catch & Release?
Yes, and it wasn’t difficult to choose; the book contains all my short fiction written too late to be included in ENOUGH ROPE.
What's the story behind Borderline?
I believe it was written in 1961, and originally published under the publisher’s rather lame title of BORDER LUST. The pen name was not one of mine, but “Don Holiday,” a pen name used by my friend Hal Dresner. If I remember correctly, I had an extra book that month, and it thus got published under his name. (Or it may simple have got jumbled at the publisher’s offices. Many things did.)
Do you have any more books with Hard Case in the works?
No, but Charles is looking at a couple of other early works. One’s unquestionably a crime story—it centers on a holdup—but on first reading he saw problems with it. He’s looking again to see if it’s something he can salvage.
How involved have you been in the production of A Walk Among the Tombstones?
Not at all, beyond having the great pleasure of visiting the set four or five times during filming. And I did have a cameo—I was Man in Bar #3, a role I spent much of my early years rehearsing—but that whole scene got cut, so my film debut will have to wait.
Might we see a new Matthew Scudder short story to coincide with the release of the movie?
There’s an interesting thought. I can’t rule it out, but neither can I make it happen by force of will. We’ll have to see.
What's next for Lawrence Block?