Prolific mystery writer Lawrence Blocks talks to PW about his latest series starring Keller, the laconic, stamp-collecting hitman on the brink of retirement. William Morrow will publish Hit and Run (click here to preview the book in HC's Browse Inside) on Block’s 70th birthday.
What inspired you to create a hitman as your latest hero?
It just happened. I wrote a short story about Keller back in 1989, Playboy bought it, MWA shortlisted it for the Edgar, and I figured that was that. Then a couple of years later I found myself thinking about Keller, and figuring he was the kind of guy who might try therapy. And, well, one thing led to another.
Keller seems on the verge of settling down at the end of Hit and Run. Is he retiring from the business?
Looks that way, doesn’t it? But then this isn’t the first time he’s tried to retire.
What sort of research have you done for the Keller series?
Hit Parade is dedicated to a guy who’s doing life without parole over in New Jersey. He kited a letter out of the joint telling me the mistakes Keller made in Hit List. He didn’t sign his name, but I managed to figure out who he is. And no, I haven’t met him. Don’t much want to. Guy makes Keller look like a choirboy.
What’s next for you?
HarperCollins is bringing out One Night Stands and Lost Weekends in trade paperback this November. It consists of some of my earliest work, from the late 50s, and was formerly available only in a limited edition for collectors. Hard Case Crime is reissuing an early pseudonymous work of mine under the title Killing Castro. And sometime in 2009, HarperCollins will publish Step By Step: A Pedestrian Memoir, an account of my experiences on foot. And I may be developing a series for TV—cable, most likely—and I may be writing a film for…well, never mind. It’s too early to talk about that.