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August 4, 2011

You’d think I’d be grateful.

In 1977 I published Burglars Can’t Be Choosers, the novel that introduced one Bernard Grimes Rhodenbarr to an unsuspecting public. Over the years I was to write nine more books about Bernie, the most recent of which is The Burglar on the Prowl, published in 2004.

That, you’ll note, was seven years ago. Right.

Bernie has his fans, and they’re no greedier than the farmer who only wanted the land adjacent to his own. All they want is more, and all they do is tell me so. And, as I said, you’d think I’d be grateful, because these are bright and perceptive human beings letting me know that they’re eager to spend more time with a character of my creation. That’s flattering, isn’t it?

Well, sure. And remember where flattery will get you.

Will you write another book about Bernie? When will you write another book about Bernie? Why don’t you write another book about Bernie?

This is my blog, so I get to use whatever words I want, but I’d rather not employ the sort that can’t be used in what used to be called a family newspaper, back when the world still contained (a) families and (b) newspapers. But those are the very words that keep coming to mind.

Here are some answers, rendered in acceptable language:

First of all, it’s pointless to ask me what I’m going to write next. The fact of the matter is that I don’t know. I know what the next book will be if I happen already to have written it. If it’s not finished, I can’t be positive I’ll be able to complete it, and I’m certainly not going to discuss it until I have. If I haven’t even begun it, then it doesn’t exist, so what is there for me to talk about? I could go on in this vein, but I think you get my drift. I don’t know what the future holds, my friend, and neither do you. That’s what makes it the future. It’s hard enough these days to know what the present holds…

Secondly, it’s counterproductive to tell me what you want me to write. I sincerely hope that my writing pleases you, but if you think I’m here to give you what you want, there’s a lot you don’t understand about writing, and no end of things you don’t understand about me. The greatest disservice I could do my readers is to try to give them what they want. That’s just not part of my job description. All I can do is write my books my way, and try to make them so irresistible that you enjoy reading what I want to write.

Third, as much as I might want to write a book about Bernie, or any other character, the desire’s not all that’s required. There are writers who can write anything they’re asked to write, and I thank whatever gods may be that I am not of their number. I probably was, early on, but I got spoiled, and for years now I’ve been unable to go on writing a book unless it engages me.

Stephen King was asked once (well, probably more than once; nobody gets asked anything just once) why he wrote the kind of stories he wrote. His reply: “What makes you think I have any choice?”


There have been times over the years when I have tried to write books about one character or another, and I’ve pushed along for a few chapters, until it became clear to me that it was time to throw out what I’d done and try something else. I hate it when that happens, but I’d hate it a lot more if I pressed on by sheer force of will and produced a bad book.

Oh, come on. I asked you a simple question. Are you gonna write another book about Bernie or aren’t you?

You see what I mean? This is what happens. If I only got the question at great intervals, I wouldn’t mind. Just the other day I had an exchange with a fellow who had a particular fondness for an early non-series book of mine, The Girl With the Long Green Heart. A special-price promotion on Amazon got the book a lot of attention, and led him to wonder if I might be moved to write another book about the book’s lead characters, John Hayden and Doug Rance. Although I think I may have had that vaguely in mind when I wrote the book 45 years ago, I’d never entertained the idea since, and his question, from high up in the bleachers way beyond left field, got me thinking. It’s thought that’s unlikely to lead anywhere, but that’s okay, and I was glad to have been asked.

The questions about Bernie, however, are ones I get all the time. I get out a newsletter, sometimes monthly, sometimes not. No matter what’s in the newsletter, there’s one particular pest who always responds with the same question. Answering him didn’t do any good, so I stopped. That didn’t do any good either. Still his questions come, and I’m once again grateful that my keyboard boasts a delete key.

It’s been what, seven years since The Burglar on the Prowl? That’s nothing. A gap of eleven years followed the publication of The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian, and the questions drove me out of my mind. I couldn’t go out to mail a letter without someone raising the subject. When I did finally write The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams, it didn’t have anything to do with the questions, or the well-intentioned but deeply annoying people who asked them. The day simply came when I was ready to write the book and it was ready to be written. So I wrote it. That’s how it works. That’s the only way it works.

Let me tell you a story, even as it was told to me by Joseph Bitowf, who was stationed for several years at the ground-floor desk in The Mysterious Bookshop, when that marvelous establishment was still located on West 56th Street.

For years, he said, a woman who evidently lived or worked nearby would come into the shop at least once a week. Sometimes she bought something, sometimes she merely browsed, but she never crossed the threshold without asking, “Is Lawrence Block ever going to write another book about Bernie Rhodenbarr?”

I don’t suppose Joe got quite as tired of the question as I did, but neither could he have welcomed it. “I don’t know,” he would reply, and she would go away, only to repeat the same process when next she returned.

Then Dutton announced the forthcoming publication of The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams, and Joe couldn’t wait for her next visit. But she was absent for a while, and the book was in the stores and prominently displayed on the front island by the time she finally walked in. He waited, and she looked around for a few minutes, and then she asked her question.

“Is Block ever going to…”

“He has,” Joe said triumphantly. “Right there, The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams. Right there, right smack in front of you, nice purple cover. See it?”

She picked it up, this book for which she been asking for years. She turned it over and studied the author’s photo. She flipped it open and read the flap copy. She paged through it, read a few words here and a few words there.

And closed the book, and put it back on the counter.

“Good,” she said. “I’ll wait for the paperback.”

That’s a cute story, but why can’t you answer a simple question? When are you going to write another book about Bernie?

You know, this has been a remarkably productive year for me, especially in view of the fact that two years ago I thought I was ready to retire. So far in 2011 I’ve published two new instructional books for writers, The Liar’s Bible and The Liar’s Companion. Mulholland Books brought out my 17th book about Matthew Scudder, A Drop of the Hard Stuff. Open Road, ePublishers of 40+ backlist titles of mine, just days ago issued Afterthoughts, a piecemeal tell-all memoir of the early years when those books were written.

And the year’s not over yet. September 20 will see Hard Case Crime’s publication of their first hardcover ever, Getting Off, by Lawrence Block writing as Jill Emerson. That’s five new books this year, and I wouldn’t be astonished if there’s a sixth. So I’m doing lots of things, and if you have any questions I’ll be glad to respond to them.

Just one. I suppose you get this a lot, but I just have to ask. Are you planning to write any more books about Bernie Rhodenbarr? Omigod, is that a gun? Why are you pointing it at me?

From → Uncategorized

  1. Margie permalink

    Maybe Bernie could write a blog…

  2. It’s funny how it works, isn’t it? When you’re not in control of what is coming out of those fingertips, it’s almost impossible to explain it to someone because they can’t fathom how that’s even possible.

    Writers are strange people, though I suppose you could say that of all artists. (And yes, I’m very strange, but I was strange before I ever started to write.)

    Congrats on a heck of a 2011 (never mind we still have months to go).

    • Thanks. Very funny indeed the way it works. And I too was strange before I started to write. And, while writing has done many things for me, it hasn’t cured the strangeness.

  3. I won’t ask you about another Bernie book. I don’t want to upset you. But I have tremendously enjoyed the Bernie books. My favorite is the Ted Williams one.

    BTW, “A Drop of the Hard Stuff” was superb!

  4. Paul permalink

    Ok, I won’t ask, I’ll just hope you aren’t OPPOSED to writing another book about, um, that guy.

  5. So when are you writing another blog post?

  6. Alex Grecian permalink

    I’m just happy that you haven’t been able to retire like you’d planned. But, of course, that’s selfish of me.

    So I hope you’re happy about that too.

  7. Hi, Mr. Block. Guess what? I’m not interested in another Bernie Grimes book! That should ease your mind and let you put the gun away.

    I do want to ask you if you plan any more Matthew Scudder books? (Joking!) I do have a serious question though. I saw you on Craig Ferguson and you told the audience that you wrote the book, A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF (part of the Scudder series), because Ferguson requested it. Seems to me you do take suggestions once in a while.

    By the way, I just finished A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF. Enjoyable read. I’ve read all the Scudder series. Thanks for all of them.

    • Marsha, Craig’s enthusiasm and encouragement has been valuable to me, as is his friendship. But I wrote the book because it made itself available to me, not because he asked for it. That really is the way it works.

      And I’m very pleased to hear you enjoyed it!

  8. Larry, this is a total gem & a classic & a must-read for any writers just starting out. They need to know what’s in store for them.

    “I’ll wait for the paperback” is even better than one I got: “Have I ever read anything you wrote?”

    • Thanks, Ruth. “Have I ever read anything you wrote?” is a real stopper, innit? “I should be asking you that,” I say, and get this baffled stare in response.

  9. Thank God you are not going to retire.

    “A Drop of the Hard Stuff” was at the top of your game.

    But if you going to write a new Bernie book how about “The Burglar who Stole Ted Williams Head?”

  10. I greatly enjoyed the Bernie books and they were my gateway to the Scudder books.

    I’m happy to read whatever you write.

  11. Katherine permalink

    I’m not sure if it’s such a hot idea to blog as a fictional character. I’ve seen it done, and wasn’t impressed, and was in fact, irritated by it.

    I’m presently reading your “After the First Death”. Good stuff, Thanks. 🙂

    • Thanks, Katherine. And I agree about not blogging as one’s character. Might work for some people, but I wouldn’t care for it.

  12. Bob Belter permalink

    Chill LB. I assumed most of your readers were intelligent. I guess not,
    and you know what they say about “Assumed”. Keep writing what you want,
    and when you want to, and we’ll keep reading.

    • Bob, my readers are indeed intelligent, and possessed of remarkably good taste in the bargain. How could it be else?

  13. Dear Mr. Block:
    A few years back, I listened to an interview with the delightful author Elizabeth Peters (aka Barbara Mertz) and Barbara Rosenblat (arguably the best audiobook reader on the planet – or do I mean inarguably?). Ms. Peters also has several running series. In the interview, she mentioned that when people ask her for more Vicki, she always thinks (and possibly says aloud) – I just GAVE you a book. What do you want from me? That really made me stop and think. As admirers, I suppose we think we are flattering authors with our impatience for more more more. Of course, if you actually DID turn out three Bernies and two Matthews every 12 months, we might not value them as highly, even if they did turn out to be readable.
    Having said all that, I won’t pester you for a new book, but if you happen to see him, please tell Bernie I miss him and Carolyn and to stay the hell out of closets.

  14. Thanks for such a rapid, clarifying response, Mr. Block. (Although we’re contemporaries, I feel funny calling you “Larry” as that’s much too personal for me, having grown up in the “olden days.”)

    I really knew that answer, having heard and read from other authors just how ideas and plots and ultimately full books come into being. It’s amazing to me. And such a good thing for you.

    Best regards.

  15. I don’t recall that I ever asked when you were going to write another Bernie book. The messages you received with “Bernie” scrawled in chicken blood were …. umm…. not from me either. Seriously.

    Reading Deadly Honeymoon right now. Enjoying it very much.

  16. jalfieri permalink

    I’m just happy you’re back to being your prolific self again, and the heck with that retirement stuff. Rereading the old “Burglar” books is almost as much fun, and as long as you keep farming the backlist for forgotten gems, and something new on occasion, I think we’ll be happy.

  17. I remember when Don Westlake announced he’d retired. He then explained that retirement meant he would no longer feel under the compulsion to produce something every day. By that definition I’ve been retired all my life…

  18. I, for one, am overjoyed when you publish ANYTHING! Hang in there…

  19. When it’s time it’s time. There are stories I want to write and I even plead with that subconscious, creative part of the brain to produce something to support those ideas, but alas the brain won’t always comply and I have to move on to another story, but darnit, I hope someday the brain gets around to my backlog of story idea requests. Lawrence, thanks for your post, I was having the trouble I mentioned above today and you’re words were a great de-stressor.

    • Glad to hear it, Aron. It’s a balancing act, I find. I have to make myself available for the work, but I can’t force it. And I have had to learn not to blame myself when it doesn’t work out the way I think I want it to.

  20. I love your attitude about writing what you want, and not what the readers want. I wish more writers had the same attitude. Instead, they write book after book after book about a particular character on a yearly basis because they figure it’s what the fans want but it’s really not what the writer wants and they end up mangling the character(s) in the process. And it’s not truly inspired stuff they’re releasing, it feels almost manufactured, labored, tired and that translates to me, as a reader, and I find it disappointing. I can’t help but think how many better books they might have written if they weren’t phoning it in on tired series’ characters.

  21. Thanks. As I said, I’m spoiled. It’s that, rather than any innate nobility of character, that’s saved me from the fate you describe.

  22. I once had a friend who latched on to a partial draft of a story I was writing. She had given me advice on something one character did, and from then on, she considered it her very own story. Not that she tried to control what I wrote, because frankly I didn’t end up writing any more on it — she killed the story dead with her badgering me to see more. So I know where you’re coming from…

    Me? I love Bernie. I would love to see more Bernie. But I also love to re-read the old Bernie books. I like re-reading books which were written with enthusiasm. I’d rather have you write more books I want to re-read, then those I only want to read once.


    • Camille, thank you. My favorite books are ones I can enjoy more than once, and that’s what I’ve always aspired to write myself.

  23. It’s possible y’all already know this, or don’t care, but I’ve recently made a Bernie Rhodenbarr short story available on Kindle. It’s not new, and was included in Enough Rope, but if you missed it it’s The Burglar Who Smelled Smoke, and it’s yours for 99¢.

  24. Kathy Maggio permalink

    i won’t write a clever response, as I don’t feel very clever tonight. (My story has been beating me senseless). I should have realized that I was out of line when I recently asked about Bernie (please don’t hurt me!) You see, every now and then I put in a name of an old friend on the Internet hoping to locate him or her, and that’s what I was doing when asking about Bernie. I know what we write is determined by the muses, and I apologize for interfering with this process.

  25. Kathy, m’dear, I assure you you’ve got nothing to apologize for.

  26. I agree with Bob, whatever you write I’ll want to read. On that subject, I’m enjoying Afterthoughts, what a great idea for a book and at an amazing price! Thank you.

  27. Locode permalink

    If the Bernie books were all you’d ever written, I could understand why people would ask. For me, since you have so many great characters and so many great stand alone books and all the great short stories, I’m happy to read whatever you put out.

    I just read Random Walk for the 1st time last week, and enjoyed it very much.

  28. Thanks! Random Walk is an anomaly. It either works for people or it emphatically does not. I looked at the reviews on Amazon, and they were almost all 5s and 1s, with a couple 4s and 2s. Not a single 3. The book’s like the proverbial statistician; he’s got one foot in a bucket of ice water and the other in a bucket of boiling water, so on the average he’s perfectly comfortable…

  29. Mea Culpa. Mea Maxima Culpa. I have been one of those clueless ones who asked for more Bernie. I am grateful for any book that you are compelled to write and would never, ever, wish to misdirect your creative juices. Keep on keepin’ on.

  30. Reading AFTERTHOUGHTS and love the tales of writing the Midcentury Erotica, wish there was more. So, um, are you going to write any more erotic novels?

    • Thanks, Bill. I’ve taken the liberty of editing your comment in the interest of, uh, editing your comment. Now to answer it: First, Getting Off, bylined “by Lawrence Block writing as Jill Emerson,” is an all-out erotic venture that far exceeds anything I could have published back in the day. Way over the top in sex and violence, and, though it’s emphatically not for everybody, I’m very happy with the way it turned out. Whether there’ll be more in this vein I don’t know.

      I do know I’ll be making more of the early books available as eBooks, though how many and which ones and when are yet to be determined. A lot depends on what kind of sales are generated by the Sheldon Lord and Andrew Shaw titles presently available.

  31. First I find it interesting that you have 47 comments and I’m sorry mine changes that number to 48 or whatever it changes it to.
    Second, I’m so relieved to learn I’m not weird. I can’t, for the life of me, repeat a character unless the entire story is already in my head as I write the first installment. I’ve tried so hard to write a sequel to Captured – I get constant requests – I’ve started one, but can’t get past page 30. The story is what it is, can’t give my readers more when I don’t have more.
    Now that I’ve read Getting Off – thank you so much for the privilege – guess I’m gonna have to meet Bernie. He sounds intriguing. I swear I won’t ask you to write another story about him. 🙂

  32. Hi, Julia. Since your blog review of Getting Off brightened my whole week, you’re always welcome whatever number you are. Far as the sequel you mention, and not getting anywhere with it, sometimes all that’s required is time. If I don’t force it but just put it aside, the time may come when I’ll be able to write it after all.

    That happened once with the Matthew Scudder series. After it seemed to be finished with Eight Million Ways to Die, I did find a way to write a sixth book, a prequel called When the Sacred Ginmill Closes. That book worked fine, in some ways it’s my own favorite, but it didn’t lead anywhere. And all that happened was that time passed, a couple years of it, and then one day I realized that I was ready to write about Scudder again. Nothing changed, but something was different—and the series is now 17 books long.

    Further proof that most of what happens in this curious occupation of ours happens way below the surface. But we knew that didn’t we?

    • Thank you. 47 is packed with some serious mystical power, you know. My take – so many stories in my head, so little time to get them out.
      I think I may have read When the Sacred Ginmill Closes in college. It’s now on my reread list.
      Yeah, pretty much all beneath the surface. BTW, speaking of beneath the surface, I used a lesson I learned from Kit today. My spidey-senses were tingling so I commandeered a couple of Nigerian tourists (not spammers) to hike with me through an isolated area. My dog couldn’t come today and this one guy hanging out near the trail head, who seemed innocent enough, set off some little tiny alarm bells in my alarm center. Those poor Nigerians never knew I had ulterior motives and I think the steep, narrow trail along a cliff edge scared the you-know-what out of them – but they hung in until we got back to the trail head!

  33. Good move on the trail. Years ago Lynne and I were in a state park somewhere and she got this intuitive flash that one guy we saw was a murderer. And maybe he was and maybe he wasn’t, but one learns to honor that sort of intuition. We went elsewhere that day.

    Of course if you’re writing it all as a story, the Nigerians turn out to be the evildoers. Or the story’s from their POV, and you’re the one who does them in at the end. Or—

    Never mind. I’ve been doing this sort of thing too long. I’ll be quiet now…

  34. Steve Stromquist permalink

    Thanks for more insights into the craft of writing. The creative process is difficult for this non-writer to understand, but I do appreciate and enjoy the results!

  35. Thanks, Steve. The process is incomprehensible enough for those of us who make our living do it. I’m grateful I can do so without fully understanding it!

    • Steve Stromquist permalink

      I love that you can educate, entertain and make us laugh at ourselves.

  36. So, basically, you’re telling me not to expect a new Bernie book under the Christmas tree this year. Another Christmas ruined …

    I’m finishing up Speaking of Lust (on the heels of Speaking of Greed, Keller in Dallas, and Killing Castro … giving the new Kindle a workout) and the Speaking Of novellas have me imagining your characters gathering for a night of cards and stories. I can imagine Bernie and Scudder swapping some tales. (Mind you, I’m not ASKING you to write that book …)

    • Thanks, Kosmo. So that’s where all those sales are coming from…

      Your parting shot there is worth addressing. Another too-frequently-asked question (TFAQ?) is could two or more of my series characters share a book or story, and the answer is no. Each lives in his own fictional universe. This isn’t true with all writers and all characters, to be sure; Michael Connelly’s characters not only interact, but two of them turn out to be unwitting half-brothers. Because that works for Michael, it works on the page. It wouldn’t work for me and mine.

  37. It is so very interesting to me that you say that When the Sacred Ginmill Closes was really sort of a prequel to “Eight Million Ways to Die.” I know that Ginmill is my favorite of the Scudder stories by a mile and is also the favorite of several other people I know that love your books. I think the reason is that Matt is still drinking in the book but is not totally off the rails. He is maintaining and his observations about the “Drinking Life” are so perceptive and penetrating that it gives a different feel to the book. Just the travelogue of the bars he hits and the different styles are riveting (well at least to me). The Irish afterhours, the yuppie fern bar, the hotel bar with the Japanese tourists, the misplaced Norwegian bar in a Hispanic neighborhood. I have been in those joints and your feel for them and your description of being in them is so on the money it is unreal.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love all the Scudder books. But I like drinking Matt just a little bit better.

  38. Thanks. It’s a lot of readers’ favorite, and is the book I’m apt to suggest as a place to start the series. Illustrators use the term “painterly” to describe an illustration with an additional dimension, and I suppose Ginmill is more “writerly” than its fellows.

  39. Ginmill was my introduction, and my favorite Scudder. The title was a brilliant introduction to a remarkable adventure. I remember why Gertrude Stein “knew” Hemingway wasn’t great: because she didn’t need to read him again. I agree with her on Papa, and prove her method with your books. If you never publish again, I’ll still curl up with the Larry Library.
    But not with the blog. I find it insistent, time-consuming. Please let me off the bus.

  40. Your thoughts remind me of Neil Gaiman’s response to a fan asking why George R.R. Martin can’t get his novels out in a timely manner for his fans. Gaiman’s response: “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.”

    Also, fun song about this same topic:

  41. One book at a time – and I love following along with what you decide to write about. Small Town was a total surprise and became one of my “LB faves” although my heart belongs to Scudder.

    • Thanks so much, Kate. And yet Small Town was the one book of mine that drew heavy negative email. Some readers were simply not prepared to, uh, swallow Susan Pomerance’s sex life. That’s one of the main reasons for the open pen name on Getting Off—though with that title and cover, I don’t think anybody could pick the book up without knowing what he/she was in for…

  42. From one writer to another, Mr. Block, let me simply say…Thank you. You’ve articulated my feelings exactly. Perfect.

    And, um, I loved Small Town. And Random Walk. Just sayin’

  43. Just discovered your blog today, which was quite ironic.

    I live in Thailand now where your books are rarely seen in bookstores. That’s a sad thing because throughout the 90’s I read most of your books published up to that time. I had shelves full of them. When you visited Albuquerque on a book tour (for, I believe, the first Keller hardcover), I got you to sign mostly my Bernie Rhodenbarr first editions. That series was my favorite, way above Scudder although the Keller novels are very close. When I moved to Thailand I had very limited luggage space for books — I brought along ‘The Collected Mystery Stories’ (UK edition) and ‘Hit Parade’, believing I could buy more when I arrived. Hell, Amazon won’t even ship to where I live and I’ve just recently started down the eBook route. Still, I NEED a physical book.

    So, imagine my utter surprise when I discovered not one but TWO copies of “The Bernie Rhodenbarr Mysteries Volume 1” on the shelf of a store in Phuket. I was utterly floored! The first five novels of my favorite series in one thick volume. But the price was far above my limited means as a teacher in a municipal school for poor kids (the majority are tsunami-orphans). I came very close to buying it today (payday) but the cost is the price of a week’s worth of groceries and dining out. I just couldn’t do it. Not even for Bernie. If the two copies vanish before next month’s salary comes in, then it’s not meant to be. But if one remains in a month I will buy it then.

    Would I like for you to write another Bernie book? I won’t join that bandwagon. The ones you saw through to publication are good enough to read again and again. Write what you want, write where the muse takes you. I would rather read a brand new series that’s fresh and exciting — populated by characters we haven’t yet fallen in love with, secure in the knowledge that your writing will bring them alive on the page for us — rather than something you’ve forced through to completion just because your fans demand it. Write for yourself first, you’ve provided plenty for your audience already but if you write something you enjoy through the entire process then ultimately that’s the best gift you can give us…

    Thanks for all that you’ve written for us in the past, the present, and anything in the future.

    • Mark, thanks so much. Orion is publishing the ten Burglar novels in a pair of five-book omnibus editions, and evidently the first has reached Thailand. The UK price is a pretty good deal for five books, but I’m sure it’s higher where you are. I was in Phuket only once and overnight, before boarding a small ship for an Indian Ocean / Red Sea cruise. The resort where we stayed was so nice we would have welcomed an extra night or two there. Of course this was several years pre-tsunami; I don’t even know if the place is still there…

  44. i just wanted to say that i’m thrilled to have found you…your stories keep me thinking…when i’m FORCED to put them down…like when driving. OH, that’s when i pop in the audio book!

    i love mysteries…have read all the patterson, sandford, m. connelly, etcetc and needed to find someone new to read!! and wow, i am NOT disappointed!
    i started with a couple of Bernie books and am now on my 2nd Scudder. and the BEST part is that you are a writing maniac!! 🙂 you have SO MANY books…
    i try to take my time and savor them…yeah, right…forget that! they keep me in suspense and doubling over with laughter at the same time!

    THANK YOU!! you’re terrific! keep those books-a-comin’!! 🙂 have a great day.

  45. For years I wanted to see another Evan Tanner book and voila, Tanner on Ice came along. Do I want more Tanner to enjoy? Of course I do. Am I going to harangue you until you write another? Nope, not I.

    I rather like to let the books come as they do when you get the notion to produce something. As a creative person I know sometimes you just don’t wanna go somewhere until you are ready.

  46. Levin Messick permalink

    Hello Mr. Block,

    Write what you want when you want. I like all your characters. It is also nice to know that I will not have to read a book where Keller does poor Bernie in for trying to steal his stamp collection. By the way, I really enjoy your column in Linn’s.

    • Thanks, Levin. Especially nice to hear just now, as I’ve recently completed HIT ME, a fifth Keller novel, and am preparing for ePublication a collection of the Linn’s columns.

  47. Robyn Milne permalink

    I’m an old dinosaur who’s just learning about blogs etc and whilst playing around found this site. Wonderful! Finding a Bernie Rhodenbarr that I’ve not read is like winning the lottery for me. Thank you so much, LB. More? Please? A delighted Australian reader.

  48. I thoroughly enjoyed your “Don’t Ask” response. I would like to know however, Bernie’s thoughts on the Kindle. It’s got to be tough on Barnegat Books. “The Burglar Who Hated Kindles” makes me laugh thinking about it.

    • Good question, Dave. I suspect Bernie’s fine with a Kindle. But he’s in a unique position, in that his store doesn’t have to turn a profit.

      • Levin Messick permalink

        Heck, Bernie probably sells “slightly used” kindles!

  49. I mentioned to you once that I spent a lot of time in bars looking for the Glen Dromnadrodget (sp?). Well, I suppose I’ll continue to look for Bernie, but I definitely won’t ask.

  50. MikeD permalink

    I started the Scudder series in college when “A Long Line of Dead Men” was released and immediately became hooked, but resolved to try and read them in as close to a chronological order as I possibly could in the days before Amazon made such a quest simple. With Bernie you’re right, I’ve skipped around in time and never thought much about it as Bernie is ageless. I’m wondering though if that’s part of what has led to more Scudder novels than Bernie novels. As Matt ages and reaches new milestones in his life (getting remarried, having grandkids, etc.) there are new experiences to share. A Touch of the Hard Stuff had a wonderful Lion in Winter quality to it, but Berine is forever the same age so so there isn’t that question of “What have these past few years done to Mr. Rhodenbarr?” He is always a lion in his prime.

    • Good point, Mike. A good thing about Matt is that he ages and evolves; a good thing about Bernie is that he doesn’t.

  51. lolliejean permalink

    Hello! I loved the Matt Scudder series as well as the Keller books. Now I’m halfway through the Bernie stories and just love them. I’m truly laughing out loud at the dialogue between Bernie and Carolyn. They so remind me of silly conversations I had with my (gone but not forgotten) best friend, Ellie.

    Thanks for all of the great reads!

    ~ Lori

    • Thanks, Lori! The Bernie-Carolyn dialogue was such fun to write it posed a challenge; I had to keep it from taking the book over entirely. Glad you’re enjoying the books.

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