Monday, February 4, 2013

An Evening With Robert Crais

As you know, last week I traded in the cold of Ohio for the even colder of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I did so with very good reasons, though. The first of those reasons was Robert Crais' event at Mystery One Bookstore.

RC seemed to bring unseasonable weather with him, actually. He was in Milwaukee on Tuesday and there were high 50 degree temps but rain. The following day the temps plummeted to the 20s only to continue going down.

But the unseasonable temps weren't the only thing Crais brought with him. He brought an energy and passion about SUSPECT that reflected just how much he loved writing this book. I've seen RC on numerous occasions now and for several books; this was the most animated and excited I've ever seen him. It was inspiring.

RC explained that Maggie's heart is so pure and full of everything he values, that he knew he was ready, willing and able to spend a year writing her story. It also acted as a cathartic exercise in the sense that he now, after many years, feels ready to adopt another dog. He was unable to do so after the loss of beloved Akita.

He started out by talking about people's apprehensions that SUSPECT isn't an Elvis and Joe novel. But he explained that it IS an Elvis and Joe novel...just in this one, Scott is Elvis and Joe is a fur coat! He said think about it, she'd do anything for her partner and she doesn't talk. *ba-dum-bump*

Even his editors were not thrilled at the idea of SUSPECT. Only days after the announcement was made that he had hit #1 on the NYT bestseller list, his editors wanted to know what he was going to do with Elvis and Joe to follow it up. He had to tell them he was going to write about a dog! Obviously, not the answer they wanted to hear. But after excitement started building in the animal communities for SUSPECT, there was a bit of a change of heart.

RC's discussion about his research for SUSPECT and his determination to make sure he portrayed Maggie correctly was intense. He learned about the training tactics for service dogs, the emotional issues they experience like humans, and the main problem in their recovery. Dogs, like humans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. However, the main form of treatment for humans is talk-therapy...and obviously, dogs can't talk. So, it's a much more intense process for them to recover.

His hard work and determination have paid off in a great book and strong accolades from the dog communities. They are praising SUSPECT as the most accurate portrayal of a dog in fiction to date.

Some other interesting facts to ponder: no machine in the world can out-perform a dog on explosives detection.  And the K-9 handlers are the most dangerous positions in the police force. They are the ones who are called in when the human police officers fear what they are about to face.

RC talked a bit about how the dogs are trained, especially in this day and age of the lawsuit. He also talked about the characteristics the police trainers look for in a dog they are considering for the K-9 training program. These are the instinctual characteristics that the dogs have before training even starts.

Being a dog lover myself I found the entire discussion utterly fascinating, but I don't think anyone could help but be entranced because of RC's excitement for what he was talking about. He bounced around on the balls of his feet like a little kid waiting to open his Christmas presents.

During the Q&A sessions we learned that RC hasn't really ever had problems writing multiple points of view with the exception of writing Elvis in the 3rd person. He has done it only a few times but that is always a difficult perspective for him to take and it feels wrong.

There is already talk with Hollywood for SUSPECT rights, so don't be surprised if you hear something on that front soon. Who wouldn't want to snatch up the next big dog story, right?

The next book RC will be working on will indeed be an Elvis and Joe book. Although at dinner RC and I were discussing some different character combos that might make for a good book!

It was an exceptional night and I'm so glad I could experience a part of this book with RC. It's now taken the title of my favorite of his and there something special about having a memory like this to always attach to the book. It's been well over five years now since I experienced my first book event and I have to say, the amazing feeling I get when I walk out the door hasn't diminished one iota.

I hope you all can experience that at some point as well. Thanks for indulging my fan girl post today and happy reading, my friends!


le0pard13 February 4, 2013 at 9:44 AM  

Stellar, Jen. Stellar.

Jenn's Bookshelves February 4, 2013 at 9:49 AM  


Einoti February 4, 2013 at 10:13 AM  

You captured it beautifully, Jen!

Einoti February 4, 2013 at 10:14 AM  

Hi Jen! It's me...Paulette. Einoti is my Maasai name!

Naomi Johnson February 4, 2013 at 5:42 PM a fur coat. What an image that conjures!

Mark Baker February 8, 2013 at 12:37 PM  

I got to see him this last Sunday myself. Bought the book and read it in a week. It's great isn't it?

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