Wednesday, June 01, 2016
A conversation with Donald E. Westlake July 1986 – Part Three: The outtakes
Posting the interview last week I did with Donald E. Westlake for The Asbury Park Press back in July 1986 (you can read Part One HERE, and Part Two HERE) brought to mind some other highlights of the conversation that didn't make it into the final version for space or contextual reasons. Here are a few:
– Bill Cosby optioned Westlake's Edgar-winning 1967 novel GOD SAVE THE MARK with the intention of producing and starring. He later dropped the project after deciding he would only "make films for posterity." Westlake wouldn't name Cosby when he told me the story, but there were clues aplenty. When I asked if the unnamed actor currently had a hit show on NBC, he laughed and said, "How'd you get there from that?" He later named Cosby in other interviews.
– His 1962 novel 361 (reprinted by Hard Case Crime in 2011) was directly influenced by the work of Dashiell Hammett."I was interested in the way he conveyed emotions strictly through action," Westlake told me. "Instead of explaining how someone was feeling, he'd just say,'He gripped the chair'."
– When I asked him who was the current mystery/suspense novelist more people should be reading, he enthusiastically sang the praises of Lawrence Block, and said he had recently introduced Stephen King to Block's work.
– The tough-talking and larcenous businesswoman Josephine Carol "J.C." Taylor, introduced in the 1986 Dortmunder novel GOOD BEHAVIOR, was originally conceived as a foil for Parker in a "Richard Stark" novel that was never completed.
– The working title of his 1975 novel BROTHERS KEEPERS was THE FELONIOUS MONKS.