I’m always happy to welcome previous interview subjects back to ramble on with me, but it’s always an honor when someone really well known agrees to be interviewed or re-interviewed. Today I get to welcome back the great Lawrence Block. You know him at the author of the Bernie Rhodenbarr and Matthew Scudder mysteries, among many others. He’s got a new short story collection out, so we chatted via email about it.
ANTHONY: Hard Case Crime just released the hardcover edition of CATCH AND RELEASE through special arrangement with Subterranean Press. How closely did HCC publisher Charles Ardai work with you to choose the contents of the book?
LAWRENCE: Not at all, actually. I proposed the book to Bill Schafer, and made up a list of contents. Charles was good enough to offer his support and co-sponsorship for the book.
ANTHONY: The advertising copy for CATCH AND RELEASE says the contents are all short works that have not appeared in previous collections. When did the oldest story in the book last see print?
LAWRENCE: Well, remarkably enough, “Part of the Job” was published in Dapper in 1967—but I didn’t learn about it for over 40 years! The whole story of its publication and re-discovery is included with the story itself.
With that curious exception, these are all recent stories, all written in the present century. Thus they weren’t included in my omnibus collection, Enough Rope.
ANTHONY: What is the newest piece in the book?
LAWRENCE: Probably “See the Woman,” written a couple of years ago for the L.A. Noire anthology.
ANTHONY: CATCH AND RELEASE includes stories featuring Bernie Rhodenbarr and Matthew Scudder, correct?
LAWRENCE: Bernie’s here in “A Burglar’s-Eye View of Greed,” a newspaper op-ed piece I did for New York Newsday in 2002. Mark Lavendier published it as a deluxe limited-edition broadside, but it’s never appeared anywhere else. Matthew Scudder’s here twice, with “Mick Ballou Looks at the Blank Screen” and “One Last Night at Grogan’s.” These are the last two stories in the Scudder collection, The Night and the Music.
ANTHONY: The volume also includes a play script. Was the script ever produced? (And if so, can you tell us a bit about the production?)
LAWRENCE: It’s the adaptation of a short story, and I believe it was performed a couple of times in Australia. And there have been a couple of Stateside nibbles, but so far nothing has happened—as is not unusual in the theater. It’s a natural for an amateur production—two characters, one set—so if anyone wants to stage it, all they have to do is get in touch.
ANTHONY: Are there any other Block (or pseudonymous) stories out there left to be collected, or have they finally all been un-earthed?
LAWRENCE: Well, only “Part of the Job” was unearthed; the others are all pretty recent. It would surprise me mightily if any more stories turned up from way back when, but the possibility’s hard to rule out.
ANTHONY: This is the second time Hard Case Crime has partnered with Subterranean to release a limited edition hardcover collection of yours. The STRANGE EMBRACE / 69 BARROW STREET collection is out of print now?
LAWRENCE: I believe so. The two individual titles are eVailable as eBooks from Open Road.
ANTHONY: Most of the Hard Case Crime line is mass market or trade paperback editions. Will we be seeing paperback releases for either of the Subterranean titles?
LAWRENCE: No plans that I know of for PB editions of Strange Embrace or 69 Barrow Street. As far as CATCH AND RELEASE is concerned, I retained both eBook and paperback rights, and have already self-published the eBook edition; it’s on sale even as we speak, and here’s a Kindle link.
I’ll also be bringing out a trade paperback edition any day now; it’s coming from CreateSpace, and will be widely available at Amazon and other online booksellers as well. Same format as the SubPress hardcover, same great cover art—and, since the hardcover’s essentially sold out on publication, a chance for readers to get the printed book at a reasonable price.
There an audiobook coming, too, and Dreamscape is already taking preorders in advance of a November release date. I did the narration, with an assistant from the beautiful and talented Lynne Wood Block; the play, “How Far,” needed two voices, one male, one female. And while she was at it she also voiced “Without a Body,” a brief monologue with a woman narrator.
ANTHONY: Since there’s a Scudder story in the new collection, I have to ask how filming for “A Walk Among The Tombstones” has progressed. Are they still filming, or are they in post-production now?
LAWRENCE: It’s in post-production, and I don’t know if they’ve set a release date, but I’m sure it’ll be sometime in the first half of 2014.
ANTHONY: You got to spend some time on the set. How was that?
LAWRENCE: It was fun. Liam Neeson was absolutely brilliant in the scenes I saw, and I think fans will love him as Scudder.
ANTHONY: I’m looking forward to that. Final question: What’s coming down the pike in the next few months?
LAWRENCE: A brand-new novel, the one I wrote this summer on a Holland America cruise. Don’t ask me where we went, as I barely got out of my cabin. I’m very excited about the book, and couldn’t bear to wait a year and a half for a traditional publisher to bring it out. So I’m publishing it myself, and we’ve settled on Christmas as our release date.
Yeah, this Christmas. Christmas of 2013, which is like 90 days from now.
And, for the moment, that’s all I can tell you about it…