When Stark isn't off sulking somewhere, or whatever he's doing when he won't return my calls, I alternate between the two. That usually works well, though occasionally an idea for the wrong guy drifts through my mind.— Donald E. Westlake
The most almighty Donald E. Westlake quotes that are glad to read
I start with the story, almost in the old campfire sense, and the story leads to both the characters, which actors should best be cast in this story, and the language. The choice of words, more than anything else, creates the feeling that the story gives off.
As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December's bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same.
I loved it, but social reality impeded.
Now I wander in here at 9 in the morning or so, and come back for a while in the afternoon. I am a very lenient boss.
Who's a boy gonna talk to if not his mother?
The trouble with real life is, there's no reset button.
Those 4 guys in the late 60's who attacked a jewel merchant on New York's West 46th St. on the sidewalk, so they could steal his jewel-filled station wagon, which they abandoned 2 blocks later because none of them could drive a stick shift. Where would I be without such people?
When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage, killing a man.
If it weren't for received ideas, the publishing industry wouldn't have any ideas at all.
A friend of mine, now retired, was then a major exec at a major bank, and one of her jobs, the last four years, was the farewell interview.
I make a note, set it aside, and hope it makes sense when the time comes to look at it again.
Nothing about it interested me. Or about anything else, except making up stories. If literacy weren't so nearly universal, God knows what I'd be. A drain on the State, I shouldn't wonder.
Everybody in New York is looking for something. Once in a while, somebody finds it.
When the guy with asthma finally came in from the fire escape, Parker rabbit-punched him and took his gun away.
Years ago, I heard an interview with violinist Yehudi Menuhin.
The interviewer said, "Do you still practice?" And he said, "I practice every day." He said, "If I skip a day, I can hear it. If I skip two days, the conductor can hear it. And if I skip three days, the audience can hear it." Oh, yes, you have to keep that muscle firm.
It's so difficult, particularly with an antisocial character.
It's much easier if he's already a blank page, but once you've written on him, it's hard to keep him that stripped down.
All of the changes in publishing since 1960 are significant. There are far fewer publishers.
The many magazines, ranging from pulp to slick, that used to serve as both farm teams for writers and lures to readers, with hundreds of short stories every month, don't exist. Most of the doors for new people have been sealed.
I do bookstore signings, and it seems to me that I get a variety of men and women, more women than I'd expect, and grown-ups among my readers.
The only thing I learned from the architecture is keep the bathroom and the kitchen near each other, so you don't have to run pipes all over the place.
My work schedule has changed over the years.
The one constant is, when at work on a novel, I try to work seven days a week, so as not to lose touch with that world. Within that, I'm flexible on hours and output.
I don't think I ever have trouble with writer's block.
It's different when you make it up as you go - that means you're going to get stuck. I wouldn't call it writer's block, I'd say, "I don't know where the hell this story is going."
The fictioneer labors under the constraint of plausibility;
his inventions must stay within the capacity of the audience to accept and believe. God, of course, working with facts, faces no limitation.
What did Jesus Christ say to the Teamsters? 'Do nothing till I get back.
I'm one of the narrative-push people.
I don't outline, I don't plan ahead. So I'm my first reader, telling myself the story as I'm going along. Since I haven't designed it ahead of time, each day I have to be sure that the footing is solid before I make the next step. I think you could be more intricate if you work it out ahead of time.
Christmas shows us the ties that bind us together, threads of love and caring, woven in the simplest and strongest way within the family.
My wife says in Richard Stark's world, the honest citizens are goofy.
Okay, they are. I don't know if it's good or bad, but because he's outside his own world, it sort of freed up the environment around him to be a little more looser and goofier.
If your subject is crime, then you know at least that you're going to have a real story. If your subject is the maturing of a college boy, you may never stumble across a story while you're telling that. But if your story is a college boy dead in his dorm room, you know there's a story in there, someplace.
I know people who have suffered writer's block, and I don't think I've ever had it. A friend of mine, for three years he couldn't write. And he said that he thought of stories and he knew the stories, could see the stories completely, but he could never find the door. Somehow that first sentence was never there. And without the door, he couldn't do the story. I've never experienced that. But it's a chilling thought.
My mother believed in all superstitions, plus she made some up.
Whenever things sound easy, it turns out there's one part you didn't hear.
A grifter's got an irresistible urge to be the guy who's wise.
There's nothin' to whipping a fool. Hell, fools are made to be whipped. But to take another pro. Even your partner, who knows you and has his eye on you. That's a score! No matter what happens.
The British were doing crime stories first, but the British thing is a very different thing. There, the stories are about restoring a break in the fabric of society. The American thing has never been worrying about breaks in the fabric of society, but about people doing their job, whether it's police procedurals or criminals or whatever.
Eyes wide and blank as the buttons on a first Communion coat.
In order to hold your faith intact be sure it's kept unsullied by fact.
Hoke Moseley is a magnificently battered hero.
Willeford brings him to us lean and hard and brand-new.
New York doesn't exactly have neighborhoods, the way most cities do.
What it has is closer to distinct and separate villages, some of them existing on different continents, some of them existing in different centuries, and many of them at war with one another. English is not the primary language in many of these villages, but the Roman alphabet does still have a slight edge.
Writing is flat, so if you only have part of one eye working, you still can do the job. It's just that you sit there and you're angry, which doesn't help.
If Chester had a failing, it was that he believed people were what they thought they were.
The thing that I prefer, when I'm working on a book, is to do a seven-day week, because it's easy to lose some of the details of what you're doing along the way.
Once he became a series character, I made the conscious choice that he would never act like a series character, never wink at the reader, never pull his punches. Better for him, better for me.
Sorry; I have no space left for advice. Just do it.
Science fiction is a weird category, because it's the only area of fiction I can think of where the story is not of primary importance. Science fiction tends to be more about the science, or the invention of the fantasy world, or the political allegory. When I left science fiction, I said "They're more interested in planets, and I'm interested in people."
I also wanted Parker to operate in the Internet age without losing being Parker.
He's always operated in the world without really being with the world, and cyberspace means that the rest of us are more and more living the same way.
Nobody gets everything in this life. You decide your priorities and you make your choices. I'd decided long ago that any cake I had would be eaten.
What advice I would give to anybody about anything.
Life is a slow-motion avalanche, and none of us are steering." (When asked in an interview about what question he's tired of being asked.)
Seem to be telling this, but really telling that.
Three-dimensional writing, like three-dimensional chess. Nabokov was the other master of that. You could learn something from Nabokov on every page he ever wrote.
For a long while, I found Parker impossible.
He went away for 23 years. I tried to bring him back a few times, and I sort of figured out where he came from, why he went away, and why he came back. The thing that I have to tap into for Parker is in some way the outsider. If I can tap into the outsider, I can write about Parker, and if I can't, I can't.
I have no known marketable skills.
One of our continuing myths was summed up in Huckleberry Finn: Our escape, what we think of as our escape, is that we can always light out for the territories. Well, we really can't, not anymore, but that's part of the American character - that belief that at any moment, I could just drop the coffee cup and disappear. And it makes for a different self-image and a different story, in a way.