Robert Crais Interview – THE PROMISE
Robert Crais’ THE PROMISE comes out November 10th, and it’s another fantastic book from one of the genres true masters. We were able to ask a few questions while Mr. Crais is waiting for the book to drop and the tour to start.
Jon: Reading THE PROMISE was so much fun. Was this a fun book to write?
Robert Crais: A novel is a marathon event. I take it mile by mile, and each mile is different. Some scenes were fun to write, others were brutal. End of the day, I love being with these characters and telling their stories.
Jon: I’m finding myself more and more enjoying the “Crais Universe” you’ve created and the fact that the characters have their own adventures. And then we have a book like this where we see them interacting. Was it planned to have then all in a world where they could interact?
RC: Scene ideas for Elvis and Joe with Scott and Maggie were bubbling even before I finished SUSPECT. I had fallen in love with Maggie and Scott and their K-9/LAPD world. Having them cross paths with Elvis and Joe was a no-brainer. I jumped into THE PROMISE head first, and never looked back.
Jon: The November release seems to me to be a cool idea because I think this would make a great holiday gift. But the downside might be touring when you are coming up on the holidays. Better than January in the upper Midwest, but is there a perfect time of year to tour for you?
RC: January has been good for me, but I was all in for a November slot. As you say, the holiday gift-buying season will be in full swing. The weather can be a problem with cancelled and delayed flights, but what’s that to a tough guy like me? Ice, blizzards, turbulence? No problemo. I’ll brave anything for my fans.
Jon: Over the years the characters have grown as people do. Is the growth and changes we see kind of organic as happens as you yourself have more worldly wisdom or is it plotted out in a calculated way?
RC: No, not calculated. THE PROMISE is my twentieth novel. TWENTY! When I published THE MONKEY’S RAINCOAT I never dreamed there would be twenty novels, so how could I plan? I think two or three books ahead, and feel my way through the characters, doing what’s right for the story at hand. I do have background histories, so to speak, for Elvis and Joe, and those histories inform the choices I make when it comes to stories, but there’s no long-term calculation. Choosing the right story to tell is important. The right story is everything.
Jon: I know it’s weird, but there are actually some people out there who have not read you yet. Would you say this is a good jumping on pint or is there a book you think they may want to read first?
Jon: I know I’ve heard you speak quite a few times about your career and that in the early days you got a few rejections before you were first published. Looking back is there any advice you would give the Robert Crais who was in front of a keyboard brainstorming THE MONKEY’S RAINCOAT?
RC: No, not really. That Robert Crais–the Crais who wrote MONKEY and STALKING THE ANGEL and LULLABY TOWN and the earlier books–he had to develop at his own pace and in his own way. He wouldn’t have listened to me, anyway. He was stubborn as hell. Still is.
Jon: I’ve heard you say that you have no intentions of ever selling Elvis to Hollywood. Having worked in Hollywood I’m sure you have your reasons, and I get it. Does this extend to all the characters you’ve written as well?
RC: No, only Elvis and Joe. THE PROMISE is the sixteenth Elvis and Joe novel. I’ve written four standalones, and I’ve happily sold or optioned the film rights to all four. HOSTAGE was filmed with Bruce Willis. DEMOLITION ANGEL, THE TWO MINUTE RULE, and SUSPECT are in various stages of development.
Jon: Would you have an interest in developing something original for TV or screen or would you rather concentrate on the novels?
RC: Novels. I write novels. I am a novelist.
Jon: Ok, here’s a couple off beat ones. If there is a movie of your life made and you could pick any actor living or dead to be you in the film, who would it be?
RC: King Kong.
Jon: Comics, DC or Marvel, or “I’m an adult and don’t have to choose”
Jon: What are some of your favorite ways to relax.
RC: I cook. I hike. I fly airplanes. I do outdoorsy things. I also like to veg out in front of the tube. Current faves are THE WALKING DEAD, GAME OF THRONES, and ORPHAN BLACK. Maybe I should write fantasy novels.
Jon: Have you ever pulled a perfect prank?
RC: Like the time I wore a fake blue beard at Bouchercon and pretended to be Jon Jordan? Everyone thought that was a riot.
Jon: What is your favorite thing to hear from a fan?
RC: Oh, man. Any sort of appreciation is a gift. Sometimes, people tell me how my books changed their lives or helped them through a terrible experience, and their stories move me deeply. I take these things in. They don’t realize it, but they’ve touched me as deeply as I’ve touched them. That’s what art is all about, right?