Painted Ladies, Robert B. Parker's latest Spenser novel, was completed the year before he died. The novel is out this month.
From an interview at his publisher's website:
Q: Your writing career began with the 1974 publication of The Godwulf Manuscript, the first [book] in the Spenser series. Why do you think that Spenser has developed such a widespread, loyal following and is still so popular among readers?For more about Robert B. Parker, see The Rap Sheet entries Looking for Robert B. Parker: A Fond Farewell to the Man Who Saved P.I. Fiction, Part I and Part II.
A: I think people are drawn to Spenser because he's a very likeable man. He has many dimensions. He has important relationships, including an ongoing love relationship with Susan Silverman, a difficult, complicated, interesting woman. Spenser is beset by the same problems we all are, yet, being a bit larger than life, he triumphs over them in ways that we don't always. He can't be bribed, seduced with sex, or frightened with violence, and most of us can. Also, there's a persistence to him. Publishers always like to have an author who gives them a book a year. Readers do, too. Spenser is dependable in that way. He's around every year, growing and changing.
Q: Spenser is a Boston P.I. You live in Boston. Your independent film company is named after your short-haired pointer, Pearl, who has also been featured in your last few Spenser novels. How much do you draw from your own experience in writing your novels?
A: T.S. Eliot once talked about the function of the imagination, drawing the analogy of a bell jar with two separate inert gases in it. When you insert a piece of tungsten, the two become a third gas that was not present before. He likened that to the imagination; that it creates something new out of what was there. That's a fairly good analogy for what I do. Certain aspects of my novels reflect my own life, but in ways that only I understand; that is, you can't read Spenser's career and draw any very intelligent conclusions about my life. Other parts are more obvious. My wife Joan and I were separated for a period in the early eighties, which was reflected in Susan and Spenser's relationship. One of my recurring characters is a choreographer/actor and I have a son who is a choreographer, and another who's an actor.
Q: Are there any underlying themes that run through your work?
A: ...[read on]