“It occurred to me one day that a period of seven years in [Scudder’s] life was undocumented,” he said. The time between the novels, Eight Million Ways to Die in 1982 (which was turned into a film by the same name) and Out on the Cutting Edge in 1989 left fans of the alcoholic ex-cop turned (unlicensed) private investigator wondering what had really happened.
“I thought I was done writing about him,” the best-selling author said. But he lamented that perhaps he should not have let Scudder age in real time. The character is now in his early seventies and his life has reached a platform of stability and comfort. “He’s a bit too old now to have the kind of adventures he’d normally have,” Block said.
So when he sat down to write about Scudder again, he knew it would be set in the past.
For those now getting into Block’s writing, A Drop of the Hard Stuff is the perfect book to start with.
And for diehard fans, Block will be at the Queens Library Fresh Meadows branch on Saturday, June 11 to discuss the new book. He will also be selling and signing copies. The event is part of the Queens Library’s teaming up with the Mystery Writers of America New York Chapter to present the special A-List Author event.
But one thing you should know: Block was not always a mystery man. Under pseudonyms such as Jill Emerson and Sheldon Lord, Block penned risque porn novels before mystery writing found him. He realized overtime that crime and mystery writing was something he was drawn to; it naturally flowed out.
Block has also created other intriguing and complicated characters such as Chip Harrison, the sex-crazed teenager; Evan Tanner, the sleepless spy; Keller, a lonely conflicted hit man with whom Block shares the hobby of stamp collecting; Bernie Rhodenbarr, the good-natured burglar and Martin Ehrengraf, the always-winning, high charging criminal lawyer.
Fans of the author could also expect another novel soon. Returning to his Jill Emerson pseudonym, Getting Off, a novel about sex and violence will hit bookstores in September. It is a hard case crime novel that is sure to create the type suspense fans of Block are used to. The plot revolves around a young woman who often goes by different names and takes pleasure in meeting guys and killing them.
It’s a character and story that Block has worked on overtime. It started off as a few short stories but he then decided to turn it into a novel.
“It was enormous fun to write,” he said.
Block, whose novels have been translated into 25 languages and published in 30 countries, is the Grand Master of Mystery Writing, a title bestowed onto him by the Mystery Writers of America. He has also received recognition for his work when he won the Edgar and Shamus award four times, the Japanese Maltese Falcon award twice and the Nero Wolfe award.
But for him, it’s not about the recognition. It’s about the writing. Maybe, that’s why the Buffalo-born writer could never really give it up.
“I thought I was at a point where I was done writing novels,” he said. “I’ve been doing it for a long time … any message I’ve had for the world I had committed to paper … I was clearly mistaken.”
Lawrence Block will be at the Queens Library Fresh Meadows branch, located at 193-20 Horace Harding Expressway, on Saturday, June 11 to discuss and sign copies of his new book. For more information, call 718-454-7272.