Sure, Spenser's for hire, but not Robert
Parker: I'd say the first book to
break out was "Looking for Rachel Wallace" (1980). The
first best-seller was "Valediction" (1984). I judge success
two ways: Is it good in my judgment (I don't read reviews) and do
I make money with it? The two standards are not incompatible, but
neither are they inevitable. If the book doesn't make any money,
however, the impact on my wife and children is greater than it is
if the book fails artistically. Until I had money to invest, I had
no investment plan. Now I do. My accountant supervises a couple
of different investment procedures for me. I have made money buying
(sometimes rehabbing) and selling homes. But basically I let other
people invest it for me.
Bankrate: Spenser always
has a healthy suspicion of wealth and the wealthy in your books,
a trend that continues (and rightly so) in your new one, "Bad
Business," in which the Kinergy Corp. looks an awful lot like
Enron. Do you follow the ins and outs of corporate scandals? What
appeals (or doesn't appeal) to you about that world from a writer's
point of view?
Parker: I read a couple
of books about Enron, and a couple of books about other financial
huggermugger. What has fascinated me is the aimless venality of
it all. After you have more money than you need, why keep dealing
from the bottom?
Bankrate: Was it difficult
to adjust to sudden wealth yourself? Do you take an active part
in managing your money? Does money in general interest you? Bore
Parker: My wife and
sons were able to adjust promptly. I am neither better nor worse
for it. It allows me to give it to the people I love (above named
wife and sons). Which I do. I let others manage the money, though
I am not unaware of what they're doing. Money is a means to an end.
It neither interests me nor bores me, any more than say gasoline
areas or interests did your success with Spenser open up for you,
professionally and/or in your free time? Do you feel you would have
been more, less, or just as happy had you been forced to employ
plan B? What would you be doing now?
Parker: Spenser got
me into the TV and film business and that has been interesting,
as long as I don't really need it. My happiness depends primarily
on Joan and my sons, beyond that I need to have a job that allows
me autonomy. Few jobs give better autonomy than staying home and
Bankrate: You have
been extremely successful on television, with numerous screen adaptations
of your work over the years, yet it's not a medium you particularly
enjoy. What has been the secret behind Spenser's success on the
small screen? What's the biggest reason you prefer not to write
for the screen?
Parker: I guess people
like Spenser and keep hoping the TV version will be like him. Screen
writing is a collaborative business and I'm not a collaborative
Bankrate: Do you foresee
a day when you'll stop writing and do the R word? Do you plan to
write a "Spenser RIP"? Has your motivation to write changed
from what started you on this journey in the first place?
Parker: I won't retire.
I'll keep writing until I can't, or no one will read me. I do not
have, nor do I anticipate a "Spenser RIP." My motivation