Author Work-spaces: Robert Crais
One pic wouldn’t cover it, so strap up and dig it: My office is shaped like an L, so we have three angles. Herewith, a brief tour:
Foreground: My MacBook Air and my feet. If you needed to be told this, please go to the end of the line.
My desk is directly across from me. I know it looks like a bunker wall, but it’s my desk, shot from the opposite corner where I am currently parked in a large brown chair. Note the clutter and mess. This happens as I get closer to finishing a book. In this case, THE PROMISE. Mail, magazines, research articles, and junk pile up on the desk and floor. I know, I know, I should be ashamed of myself. I’m not. Figuring out where to file these things or what to do with them is too distracting when I’m lost in a book, so I let the stuff pile up. This may be a character flaw. Note the black boards tacked with white slips leaning against the desk. This is THE PROMISE. Each slip describes a scene or chapter. Most are detailed and some contain dialog. I add, subtract, and rearrange their order as I develop the book. The complete novel filled four boards, but I’m nearing the finish so this is what’s left.
On the right side of the pic directly above the two stools, note the framed comic book cover, MS. DISTRICT ATTORNEY. No such comic existed. A radio drama called MR. DISTRICT ATTORNEY ran from ’39 to ’52, accompanied by a comic book of the same name. When my daughter became a Deputy District Attorney, I commissioned Eisner-nominated Batman illustrator, Jerry Bingham, to create a feminist version to celebrate her accomplishment and express my pride in her and all the women who fight the good fight on behalf of The People. Hence, MS. DISTRICT ATTORNEY.
Directly above MS. DISTRICT ATTORNEY is the Merry Marvel Marching Society No-prize I won for having a letter-of-comment published in the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN comic book. I was thirteen. Years later, Stan Lee inscribed and signed it for me.
Directly left of the No-prize is a photograph of me with my students at the Clarion Writers Workshop at UCSD in 2009. I teach there every two or three years, and this is the only workshop where I will teach. The Clarion workshop specializes in science fiction and fantasy. People seem confused when they learn this. They know me as a crime writer, but I began my career writing sf and am a graduate of the Clarion program. Besides, writing is writing.
Immediately left of the Clarion pic is an x-ray of my reconstructed ankle and foot, showing bone screws, pins, metal straps and other gross stuff. The ankle is fine. I hike three to five miles every morning before sunrise.
Directly above the x-ray is a big color pic of my friend Diane Friedman’s German shepherd, Dog. Yes, that’s her name. Dog, I mean, not Diane. Dog rides in the front seat exactly like Maggie (“a black-and-tan wall”). Dog looks exactly like Maggie. This is because Dog inspired Maggie. Maggie began here, folks.
All the way across to the left upper corner of the rear cork board (and slightly hidden behind the lamp) is the pic a certain Milwaukee publisher used as the cover of their special anniversary issue.
On the white wall to the left of the lamp is a page of original comic art by the great Steve Ditko, my all-time favorite comic book illustrator, who co-created Spider-Man. This page is from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #29.
Looking to my left, note the door: Elvis Cole Detective Agency. I love it. You wouldn’t believe how difficult it was to find a qualified sign painter. The lettering was painted freehand.
Also, as if you missed it, note more clutter and stacks of books. The stacks at the far end of the room are foreign editions. Behind the stacks is a large glass view port. The view is blocked by two framed movie posters waiting to be hung. They will wait until I finish the book.
Bookshelves fill the wall on the left side of the pic.
The wall referred to above and the big brown chair in which I do much of my writing. Again, note the embarrassing clutter on desk. Picture my humiliation.
The bookcases contain books by me, research books, awards, personal mementos, collectibles, and a television. Note the vertical white column separating the bookcases. The lower black plaque is the Barry Award received for THE WATCHMAN. Above it is the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America. Books by my friends and my personal library fill a lower level of the house.
This is part of a new on going feature with authors sharing photos of where they work. Some will have some explanation, others will just be photos. If you enjoy them, let us know,leave a comment or drop a line.
Authors, if you’d like to be a part of this email Jon (at) crimespreemag.com