What is it to be lucky? Getting to 'interview' some amazing writers. Robert J. Randisi is one of those. Who knew back when I started reading some of his work that I would one day be sharing his insights into this career of writing. Reading the answers can inspire others to want to follow in his footsteps, as best they can.
Enjoy, I know I did.
|Photo provided by RJR|
1. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was fifteen years old when I decided “This is it! I had gone to the movies to see Paul Newman in HARPER. When I came out I was hooked on the private eye genre. I bought the Ross Macdonald book the movie was based on, THE MOVING TARGET, and I said “This is what I’m going to do for a living by the time I turn thirty.” And I did.
2. Did you choose the genre or did the genre choose you?
The Western genre chose me when a publisher came to me and said, “Can you write Westerns?” I had never thought about it because I was writing mysteries, but I said, “Of course I can!” That’s how The Gunsmith was born. I wrote the first one and the editor said, “It’s good, but we have to break you of this hardboiled style. I said, “In westerns, it’s not hardboiled, it’s hardcase!” I’ve been producing a Gunsmith book every month since January of 1982
3. What was the nudge that gave you the faith that you could and wanted to be published?
There was no “nudge,” there was just never a question of doing anything else. I was committed to this and didn’t allow any room for failure. I made sure I had no other profession to fall back on.
4. Is there a writing routine you follow or do you write when the muse strikes?
When you’re on a schedule like mine—for the most part, sixteen books a year—there’s no “muse” and there’s no “waiting.” There’s no time between books, there’s just always a book-or two. I usually start to write after breakfast and stop to have dinner. After that, I’ll take a nap to get the day book out of my head. I head back to the office around nine p.m. and start working on the night book, stop at around midnight (when we have a coffee/tea break) then go back and work from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. I go to bed around 5:30 a.m. and sleep til noon. It only changes if I’m working on three projects at once. Then there’s the day project, the 9-to-midnight project, and the 1-5 a.m. project.
5. If you had a choice what is your favorite to write, short stories, novellas, or full-length novels.
My favorite has always been novels. I am just naturally a long-winded sonofagun. Even when I try to write short stories, they usually come out to about ten thousand words. And I ever think in terms of a novella.
6. Is there a process where you find your next story, or does it just come to you?
As I said about, the process is that there’s always a book, always stories to tell. I don’t understand a life where you don’t wake up in the morning with an idea and go to bed at night with another one.
7. Do you write in other genres?
I’ve written in just about every genre except Romance—but my career has been Mystery and Western. I started out writing mysteries when my first book, THE DISAPPEARANCE OF PENNY, came out in 1980. It was that same publisher who came to me and asked me to write Westerns. From that point on, I did both. While I’ve written about 500 Westerns, I believe I might be better known in the mystery genre,, where I’ve written many private eye books, edited about 30 anthologies. While being one of the founding members of Western Fictioneers I’ve also founded The Private Eye Writers of America, created the Shamus Award, founded the American Crime Writer’s League, and co-created Mystery Scene Magazine (with my late friend and colleague, Ed Gorman)
Of late I’ve been concentrating on my Rat Pack mysteries series, of which there are 12 books. I’m working on #13. They are now being reprinted and published by Speaking Volumes. I’ve also recently had two books in my Nashville P.I. series appear from Wolfpack Publishing, and two books in by Headstone P.i. series from Down & Out Books.
And of late, as well as the Gunsmith, I’ve been writing Ralph Compton books for Berkley, four of which are now available on Amazon and in Walmart.
RALPH COMPTON SERIES
BIG JAKE’S LAST DRIVE (2021)
FRONTIER MEDICINE (2021)
RIDE FOR JUSTICE (2021)
THE WRONG SIDE OF THE LAW
RAT PACK SERIES
Everybody Kills Somebody Sometime (2006)
2. Luck Be a Lady, Don't Die (2007)
3. Hey There (You with the Gun in Your Hand) (2008)
4. You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Kills You (2009)
5. I'm a Fool to Kill You (2010)
6. Fly Me to The Morgue (2011)
7. It Was a Very Bad Year (2012)
8. You Make Me Feel So Dead (2013)
9. The Way You Die Tonight (2013)
10. When Somebody Kills You (2015)
11. I Only Have Lies for You (2018)
12. That Old Dead Magic (2020)
1. The Headstone Detective Agency (2019)
2. Headstone's Folly (2020)
1. The Honky Tonk Big Hoss Boogie (2013)
2. The Last Sweet Song of Hammer Dylan (2019)
For a complete list, check out the link below.
Thank you, Robert, for being so generous with your time and knowledge. I know I appreciate your years of experience and all those wonderful stories you've written over the years.