Monday, June 02, 2008

An evening with Robert B. Parker

I spent the evening with Robert B. Parker the other day. Of course I had to vie for his attention with several thousand of his other admirers in Bass Hall. I was in the Mezzanine (Italian for nose-bleed) with my dad, who had scored the tickets to hear him.

Dr. Parker (he has a PhD in English Lit from Boston University) is, of course the best-selling author of the Spenser detective novels, and is often mentioned in the same breath as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Ross Macdonald. I've read a few of his books in my time. My dad has 28 of the thirty odd Spenser books.

As might be expected, Parker was funny, charming, and not full of false modesty. After a conversation/interview with host Jeff Guinn, Parker took questions from the audience. At the conclusion of the event, Border's hosted a book sale/signing of his latest novel, due to be released nationally tomorrow.

Depressing (at least to me) was the news that he wrote essentially one draft--no rewriting. Given that I'm now in the 4th draft of my novel, this only served to add to my sense of inadequacy. As did the fact that he wrote 8 to 10 pages a day, every day (I do good to get two pages out any given day--when I'm writing).

A random sampling of remarks, badly quoted (it was dark and I couldn't see what I was writing down):

On writing

    "It's never fun to write a novel."
On inspiration
    "Inspiration is one of the most vastly overrated things there is...If you wait for inspiration, you'll end up teaching night courses..."
On editors
    "They catch a lot. I'm capable of spelling dog C-A-T if the spell checker doesn't catch it...Just don't let me make a fool of myself in public."
On mentoring
    "I just say, don't do that.'They say, 'What should I do?' I say, I don't know, but don't do that."

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