PW: In Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, and in other novels like Going Wrong, you write about characters with obsessions. Does obsession have any parallel to a writer's drive to write?
RR: I do write about obsession, but I don't think I have an obsession for writing. I'm not a compulsive writer. I like to watch obsession in other people, watch the way it makes them behave.
PW: Your novel King Solomon's Carpet includes a plot to blow up the London subway system, an act of terrorism. Would you ever tackle anything as big as the September 11 attacks in your fiction?
RR: I wouldn't do it because I don't like that sort of thing. I have a smaller canvas. Tom Wolfe could probably do it, or Don DeLillo. I always write about subjects which attract me, because if I didn't, it would be awful, a failure.
PW: Have you ever known anyone who was a murder victim or anyone who went on to kill someone?
RR: No, I don't think I have. Of course, if I had known anyone who'd killed, that person would have been brought to justice—or it would be very indiscreet of me to reveal who it was!
PW: You've recently been made a baroness. Did your exposure to the House of Lords inspire you to create Jims, the MP in Adam and Eve and Pinch Me?
RR: Not really. I knew quite a lot about politics before I went to Parliament.
PW: Did being an only child and having a Swedish mother make you feel somewhat more isolated, more of an observer?
RR: Well, I wouldn't know, would I?
PW:Anna's Book deals with Scandinavia....
RR: Yes. It's called Asta's Book in England, by the way. I called her Asta, but my publisher at Harmony, an imprint of Random House, told me there were various things that disquieted him about the name because it was around the time Barbara Bush wrote that book about a dog....
RR: Yes. And Asta was the dog in the old Thin Man series. So I thought, oh, God, if everyone thinks this is a dog's diary, that's horrible! So that's why I changed the title. The couple in that book is not really my grandparents, but the stories and lifestyle are authentic family details.
PW: Have you enjoyed the TV adaptations based on your work? Have you seen Live Flesh, the movie Pedro Almodovar based on your novel?
RR: Very loosely based, but rather a good film. The best one that the BBC did was A Fatal Inversion. The BBC is now doing No Night Is Too Long, and I have high hopes for it. I'm supposed to be reading the script now. I hate reading scripts, but I will.
PW: Do you have plans to keep your Inspector Wexford series going on indefinitely into the future?
RR: I'm writing another Wexford now. It may be the last, and it may not. I've written a lot of Wexfords, and the difficulty is in finding something new. I may have run out of ideas for the Wexfords, I don't know.
PW: One of the recent Wexfords, Simisola, concerns politics.
RR: Yes, I call Simisola, Road Rage and Harm Done the political Wexfords because they all deal with some social problem.
PW: And the new, multiracial Britain.
RR: Yes. I think Simisola was the best of them because it was very topical to deal with rural racism and the business of domestic slavery, which is a big question here.
PW: Do you ever think about your characters beyond the frame of the novel, how Guy from Going Wrong is doing in prison, whether Jims will return from his round-the-world sojourn?
RR: [Laughter] Never! When I'm finished with them, they're gone. Authors are very brutal about that sort of thing. But I know my readers think about them.