Greg Rucka Real Audio Interview

[Greg Rucka Interview]There are a variety of different Greg Rucka's you may know.

There's Greg Rucka the creator of "Whiteout" and "Queen and Country." There's Greg Rucka the novelist who writes books about a personal bodyguard named Atticus Kodiak. There's Greg Rucka the Batman writer who just wrote one of the most well read, well printed comic books in 10 years, "Batman: The 10 Cent Adventure." There's also Greg Rucka the writer of Marvel Comics' "Elektra" and the recently completed "Elektra & Wolverine: The Redeemer" with Yoshitaka Amano. Then there's also the Greg Rucka you'll get to know after listening or reading this interview.

Rucka was kind enough to spend 40 minutes on the phone with us on a busy Tuesday afternoon this week to talk about comics, writing, movies and novels. He also agreed to let us record the interview and play it back in its entirety in Real Audio for you to listen to.

In reading, or listening to, this interview you'll discover a side of Rucka you may not know. He's a relaxed, affable guy who really likes telling stories. At times he questions his work, but overall you get the sense he really enjoys his life and his job.

In this interview Rucka talks at length about his creator-owned project with Oni Press, "Queen and Country," plus some exciting news about the future of this series. He hints at a project he's working on with artist Klaus Janson at DC Comics. Discusses his reaction to "Batman: The 10 Cent Adventure" which might surprise you. There's a little book coming from him, Scott Sava and Marvel Comics with Spider-Man as the star you will be hearing more about in the coming months. Rucka talks about how Hollywood is handling his properties like "Queen and Country" and "Whiteout." He discusses what's next for Atticus Kodiak and what you can expect from his next novel due Spring, 2003. And lots more.

If you have the time, and bandwidth, we recommend you listen to the interview as opposed to reading it. Listening to Rucka talk and hearing his enthusiasm come across the line makes for a more compelling experience.

DSL/Cable Stream

Jonah Weiland: I thought the best way to start out with you, considering your work load, is to find out if there are any comics you aren't writing right now?

Greg Rucka: Your mistaking me for Brian Bendis!

JW: (laughs) I think you're trying to give him a run for his money at least.

GR: It's funny because Brian now lives in Portland and I've been spending some time with him and I have no idea how he does it! (laughs) I have no clue!

JW: Well how many books are you currently writing monthly?

GR: Oh lord, let's see, "Queen and Country" isn't monthly, but it does take a while to write. "Felon," "Detective," "Elektra," those are the regulars, I think. Then there are things like "Gotham Central," but those aren't specifically like monthlies. Brubaker and I are splitting up the writing chores on that, so Ed will be on for three months and I'll be on for three months.

JW: And I'm sure you've got a hand-full of specials coming out in the next year as well.

GR: There are two mini's going on now at Marvel. There's a project I'm still working on at DC that I really don't know when it's going to see the light of day.

JW: And I guess you can't talk about that quite yet ...

GR: Not yet. I can say that Klaus Janson is doing the art. Right now it looks to be three prestige issues. It is a Batman story, but it doesn't focus on Batman per se. We're really excited about it. How vague can you get? That's really all I can say right now or else DC publicity comes after me and they kick me and say things like "You're talking out of turn!"

JW: They've kicked me on a few occasions and I don't even work for them so I can imagine you're fearful!

GR: Yes, I am frightened of them. (laughs)

5 page preview[Queen and Country #8]Cover

Page 10

JW: Let's talk about "Queen and Country" then. Considering future storylines ... how much of this book will related to the job Tara does and how much will be related to Tara's personal life?

GR: Well, you know, they link. Each story arc is specifically about an intelligence goal. There's something going on in each story arc they're trying to determine, ascertain or resolve. I like serial fiction, I like watching characters change, grow and evolve. So, I think that there are really only two options for it. One is to do sort of that "Law and Order" mode where all you're getting really is business. And then you drop in little snippets of character there and little hints about what their personal life is about. And the other is to be a little less coy and to say look this story is about the people and what the people do. And for the story to be about the people then we have to see them at home. I'm as interested in exploring the effects of the job as much as the job itself.

JW: In a lot of ways they really go hand-in-hand and aren't really separate issues.

GR: Well, that's the kind of story that I want to write. One can do it without tying them together, but I'm just not interested in that.

You know we've never seen what James Bond does on his weekends off. And that works for Bond, but I would want to know.

JW: How much will we be learning about the other characters at her office? We've had glimpses here and there, but will those characters become more developed or will the focus remain on Tara specifically?

GR: Oh yeah. You'll see more and more of them. They aren't the major characters of the story. The major characters of the story are Tara and her boss, the Director of Operations Paul Crocker. We've learned a couple of things about Paul Crocker. We now know that he's married. We know that he smokes too much and we know he's generally unpleasant to be around. (laughs). We'll see a little more.

I actually had, I think it was Brian [Hurtt] sent me an e-mail while I was working on the current arc on an issue and he was asking for a clarification in the script and while asking he goes "Have you thought about doing a one-shot about Crocker when he was in the Section?" I hadn't and I read it and thought that would be a great idea! That would be really cool to do a story set in '86 with Crocker as Minder 1 and Wallace as Minder 3 and some guy who is long, long since dead is Minder 2 and just do it from that angle. Things like that may happen.

I'm writing issue 10 of the series now and Tara has continued to develop. You learn more about Kittering in the third story arc and Wallace also continues to evolve.

JW: Do you have an ending in mind for this book or will you keep writing it until the ideas stop coming?

GR: I don't have, I mean I know how it ends, but I have no intention of ending it for quite a while.

JW: Following the events of 9/11 the intelligence community has been working overtime to avert any future disasters. How will that focus affect the storyline in "Queen and Country" and will you be addressing the issues of 9/11 head on in the book.

GR: Yeah. The third story arc begins with a sequence in the Ops room and I can tell you the sequence. It's just a page of the Ops room mid-day and there's no operation running. It's just standard staffing. Then all of a sudden the phone starts ringing. And then another phone. And another phone. And another phone. It just goes haywire! At the bottom of the page you have the duty operations officer Ron has gotten on the phone with the director of operations and is saying there's a situation, you have to come down here. That's when you see the time-stamp on the board, which is eleven, September. I don't remember the exact time in London, but we tried to figure it out when they would have realized, sometime between plane one and plane two exactly what was going on. And then there's a two-three page sequence where you see what the minders were doing when it happens. Then the story jumps about eight, nine months, so you see how the thrust of the job has immediately changed.

JW: From what I understand starting with issue #8 "Queen & Country" switches to a monthly format.

GR: Yeah.

JW: How does that switch to a monthly format affect you and how will you be approaching stories different now that there won't be a longer delay between issues? Does it really change your working style at all?

GR: Well, you know, it's weird. That world is very tight with our own, so that ... You know the current story arc was written eight, nine months ago in which the Taliban existed. The week before the first issue came out [Oni Press Publisher] Jamie Rich turned to me and said, "You know, this things gonna come out and there's gonna be no Taliban!" I said, "Yeah." So, in the current arc that's being drawn now there's an understanding that I will go back through the dialogue and make changes if I have to. I am trying to compose it in such a way that I can plug-in different people because you can't rely on anything at this point, you really can't rely on the fact that come May we may be bombing Iraq. In which case this is gonna look a little silly!

So, by moving up the schedule, the way it's going to work is that we'll be releasing each arc monthly and then between arcs there will be a month arc, which will be a little breather-room. It's just gonna make the research that more pressing. That's going to be the biggest change. And also I have to be quicker about writing those scripts. Of everything I write it takes the longest to write a "Queen & Country" script. That's not only because there's so much dialogue, I mean these people talk a lot. And it's not just because the stuff they're dealing with is fairly complex. I don't want to stupid it down. These people are talking about complex things. But they need to be clear, they can be complex, but they need to be clear, so that takes time. That'll be the biggest thing to get my schedule to fit it.

It's not just all the comic book scripts. It's trying to juggle everything else in the life, it's trying to juggle the novel writing that has to be done as well.

JW: Do you think with how history has changed since September 11th and how much more the public has a greater understanding of terrorism and espionage in general ... do you think your audience has become a bit more sophisticated about things and in effect it's affecting how you have to approach the book?

GR: I'm actually not sure that they are. I'm not sure that you're correct that we know anything more about espionage now than we did in mid-September or before the eleventh. I really don't. All we really can say now is that there's a big, big thing in the media about how could we have not known and there's been a lot of recrimination about the fact that the CIA has relied on electronic intelligence primarily for the last 10 years or so rather than human intelligence. There have been discussions that seem to end pretty quickly about whether or not the CIA should employ people who kill people or sell drugs or basically do bad, immoral things.

JW: Debated ad-naseum on talk radio that's for sure.

GR: Yeah, and then it all stopped. You know, I'm not sure that ... I've never met anybody who honestly believes that spying is something that nice people do to one another. So, I think it was probably more of a surprise to people that there was actually an issue of we're not supposed to be hiring these people than we don't. I think there were more people that said, "We don't?" than "Dear God, that's wrong!" Then maybe in that sense yeah, maybe they are more sophisticated about it. I think it's really important for a writer not to speak down to their reader or their viewer or whatever the medium is. I think nothing insults people more than being told they're stupid. I think when a writer does that it's a great insult because no one is obligated to read your stuff.

So, I always approach, especially in "Queen & Country," with this feeling that people who are coming to this book are coming to get a certain thing and story and I'm going to try treat them with respect, irregardless of how I treat the characters (laughs).

JW: Also with issue #8 you've got a new artist coming on.

GR: Yeah, Leandrrrrro!

JW: Leandro Fernandez. How'd you get hooked up with this guy?

GR: San Diego. I was signing in San Diego and he came up with a group of people he was with and we had a brief talk and showed some samples and I asked if I could hold onto them and it turned out he had been making rounds. When we were casting about for artists ...

The second arc we had one artist in line for it and then something happened that was really, really unpleasant and unforeseen and he had to drop out. Then Rebecca Wood came in and then Rebecca dropped out and we got somebody else. So we really wanted to be like, we have to get these as clear as we can in the future and we were talking about who we were going to get for [story arc] three and I was showing the samples to the Oni guys and I think it was James Lucas Jones had a copy of the samples too and had been thinking let's get this guy as well.

His art style is very different. They've released, I guess, just the cover of eight and you can see he's bringing a cultural sensibility as well. It really does have that South American feel. Tara is all of a sudden much taller, much leggier and much bustier! But I mean in this arc it works. Every artist gets to come in and put their stamp on the characters.

JW: So it's actually one of those stories of an artist going to San Diego looking for work and getting some!

GR: Yeah!

JW: Wow, that's cool.

GR: And he's outstanding. I have to tell ya, I've been blessed. Everybody so far has been great. Steve, Brian ... Leandro, too.

JW: What do you like most about his work?

GR: This is the one thing I should be better at in the medium. I'm really bad at appreciating art. I can look at it and say, "Yes, I like," but I have a real hard time in saying this is great because..., or this isn't great because...

On of the things that Leandro brings is that I love what he does with his lines. The characters are almost caricatures in places. There's just something so...I mean there's very elegant stuff and the story telling is crystal clear. That is the one thing I am somewhat of a tyrant about in terms of art and working with artists is that the storytelling has to be clear. The characters don't have to look like traditional, glossy comic characters. In fact more often than not I'd rather that they don't, but dammit that storytelling has to be clear and the reader has to be able to follow it without question.

I like quiet pages a lot. I mean that's something that's in all the work that I do. There are a lot of no copy panels, silent panels. And sometimes multiple pages where nobody is saying anything and that all comes down to the artist. Like I said, I'm fortunate that I've yet to work with anybody, especially on "Queen & Country," who can't shoulder that and shoulder it well. Leandro's is just very exciting stuff.

JW: Does he speak English?

GR: Uhh, he does.

JW: We haven't mentioned he's from Argentina.

GR: Yeah, he is. He's from Argentina. I'm actually not entirely sure on his relationship with Risso or not. I know that they know each other.

JW: Risso is?

GR: Eduardo Risso of "100 Bullets" fame. Most of the communication that he and I have, aside from San Diego, has been via e-mail and then James Lucas Jones at Oni is the person who's primarily talking to him on the phone when the scripts come through.

JW: Seeing as how he is from South America are we going to see a South American angle to any stories in the future.

GR: Eventually. It's a big planet! The arc that he's working on is the one to talk about how the events of September 11th have altered the priorities in the intelligence community. That's sort of the terrorist arc. There are going to be other ones. I wanna go into money laundering, but the question of how you make money laundering sexy in a comic book is just ... you know the problem in telling intelligence is that most of intelligence gathering is people sitting around looking at figures and facts and photographs and trying to make sense of them. Eight guys in eight different rooms each of them pulling a single piece of information and all of them presenting to somebody else. That's just analysis and frankly that's dull. That's duller than spit! So, how do you make something like tracking down money, which is a very difficult thing to do to begin with, be something that's dynamic in a comic book? That's it's own challenge.

JW: Well if Oliver Stone can make a movie about Wall Street interesting I imagine you can make a comic book about money laundering interesting.

GR: I'll take that as the compliment it's intended to be. I'm not sure how to do it yet, but I have faith that I'll come up with something.

JW: Speaking of Hollywood, ahhh, that was a very bad segue I might add.

GR: That's okay, I've heard worse (laughs).

JW: Is there interest in "Queen & Country" as a movie?

GR: "Queen & Country" has been optioned by Fox for Tall Trees Productions.

JW: Okay, what are the latest developments there?

GR: They have a treatment. They are waiting on a screenplay decision as to when to begin writing it. It is moving forward. That's in a stronger position than "Whiteout."

JW: That was going to be my next question, what's the latest on "Whiteout?"

GR: What have you heard?

JW: I haven't heard anything.

GR: Yeah! (laughs) We're kind of in a holding pattern there. It was optioned. One screenplay was done, then it sort of stalled out. The original Radiant [Productions] deal was with Columbia, they are no longer in a deal with Columbia/Sony. I actually got a fax a couple of weeks ago of another take on the project and you know, there've been all sorts of vacillations there and alterations made. One version has Carrie with another guy as opposed to the Lilly character. That seems to be the first thing that everybody says, "That goes!" Because people won't come to see a movie with two women leads ...

JW: Did they forget about "Thelma and Louise?"

GR: The discussions I've had bring up things like "Thelma and Louise" and they tend to sort of brush it over. Hollywood has a real, real long memory for things that have been done badly. For instance, "V.I. Warshawski" has killed, absolutely, any opportunity for a female P.I. story in Hollywood. People are very nervous about female private investigators based on a film that's now well over ten years old.

JW: And it was bad at the time, too.

GR: Yeah. For some reason they're unwilling to see it as a bad movie and extrapolate the movie was bad, not the idea. And this is across the board. This is the same problem you see actors and actresses having. They sit there and say, "They're not a leading actor, they've never played a leading man." And if you never cast them as a leading man they're never going to! So, the "Whiteout" issue is ... I was surprised by the number of things in that mini-series that apparently are big warning sign issues that gives people in Hollywood the screaming heebie jeebies.

JW: Let's get back to comics a little bit. You keep coming back to Oni, you've done a couple of series with them now. What keeps bring you back to Oni and what are their greatest strengths?

GR: They're the best publisher I've worked with.

JW: Why do you say that?

GR: Well, their communication is open. I have never, never had an issue with them, there's never been a miscommunication that's translated to a page. The work always comes first. The willingness and commitment to the work. These guys want to publish GOOD COMIC BOOKS AND THAT'S IT! THAT'S IT! It's not "We want to publish a good comic book that will tie-in and make our share holders happy." It's not that "We are involved in a pissing contest with another talent or publisher or what not." These guys are the quiet guys that are doing it. I've never, never given them a script where they said you can't do that.

I come from a novel writing background and one of the things that I've been blessed with is ... and maybe my experience in novels are limited, I've really only had one editor since I started getting published, but my relationship with her is very strong. She gets a manuscript and we can talk about it. At a big house, and it's not that the editors don't want to, but they've got eight, nine hundred other things to do. And they've got eight and nine hundred other people to deal with. If I send a new script to Oni I can say to them, "Look, I don't think this works. I think I'm weak here. I don't know how to solve this problem." And I know that Jamie or Joe or James will get back to me. Working at DC, working at Marvel, that's a very, very difficult thing to get. And it's not because the editors there don't want to. That's not it at all. It's because these guys have so many other things to deal with.

JW: Very different type of companies.

GR: It really is. I'm sure that size is a huge, huge part of it. There's a passion level that I think Oni has been able to sustain that is harder to sustain when it becomes such an obvious business. I don't mind comics as a business, but I think comics as a business needs to reconcile with the art that are comics and the artists who work in comics and when I say that I mean everybody. I'm talking about your pencillers and your inkers and your colorists and your letters and your writers. It's hard to do. There are very few people who can go to a big company and have the vision that they bring to them in the beginning be the vision that is published at the end. There are really very few. And you know their names, we all know their names.

I'm not a huge fish in the pond, but at Oni I eat well. (laughs) You know, you don't work for Oni to get rich. You work for Oni because you know the project you do there will be the project you wanted to do.

JW: Well, speaking about getting rich, the main way for you to get rich is to sell a lot of copies. How is "Queen & Country" doing in that respect? Are you happy with the numbers?

GR: I'm horribly dim on the business side of things. The guy that you want to ask is Joe or Jamie or James. My understanding is as follows. We break even on every issue, no question. The numbers are slowly increasing, which is good especially in this market. It's a black and white book and there are a lot of comic book stores that don't carry it. There are a lot of comic book stores that don't carry anything black and white and there are a lot of comic book stores that don't carry anything by Oni. Which is a mistake.

The book is doing well enough that they're willing to go monthly! (laughs)

[Batman: The 10 Cent Adventure]JW: Recently you wrote one of the most printed, most read comics in years, "Batman: The 10 cent adventure." Talk about what it meant to you to be a part of that issue.

GR: It's funny, because when I sat down to work on it ... [artist] Rick Burchett and I have a really good relationship. We talk a lot outside of comics in general, it's like we were separated at birth by twenty years. No, really, he's one of the only people I've ever met that knows all of my obscure references and then pulls out ones that I don't know! And I pull out weird, weird shit and he's like, "Yeah, I saw that!" It's like, "STOP THAT!" (laughs).

So, I was kind of blissfully ignorant when I sat down to start it. There was a task that needed to be accomplished in the issue and I wanted to do as well as I could. That was the primary concern is make sure that the story is clear, the baseline introduction is there, primarily being not so much what is going on in Gotham or even who is Sasha.

The one thing I thought when I wrote it is that there are going to be people who pick this up and their idea of Batman is going to be [director] Joel Schumacher's Batman. So, real early on it needs to become clear that this is a legitimate character and a tragic character, right off. Then tell in an efficient and clear fashion the origin story and then get onto why these things are going to matter because at the end of this issue you were kicking off the Murderer/Fugitive storyline. So, I knew where I was going with it. (laughs) I always knew what the last page was going to be.

I'm pleased with it for the most part. I'm pleased with my writing for the most part. I think that it is not as accessible as it should have been. I think that's a very legitimate criticism of the work that it is awfully closed. I think what everybody else did on the book is fantastic. I've got no complaints with anybody's performance but my own. But it wasn't until Rick was drawing it and I was talking to him and he made a comment, "Working on this page I realize more people are going to see this than have seen anything I have ever done." At which point I went, "Oh dear GOD!" (laughs) I'm going to curl up and hide and I actually was in a real bad funk the week that it came out. I really sorta curled up and was like, "Wow, I tanked that job."

JW: Well it seems like the reviews were mostly positive for the book, though.

GR: I'm real leery of reviews. There are very few people reviewing comics that I think can tell their ass from their elbow. It has been said many a time, I think the first person I hear it attributed to was Devin Grayson, Mark Waid has said it, which is "There are very few comics fans. There are mostly people who want your job." I think that's true. I think a lot of critics, especially on the Internet, are people who can't write and want to. Consequently they're going to attack those people who have the job they feel they should have.

Comics are also very unique in the sense that it's one of the only creative mediums where it is considered a legitimate form of criticism for someone to say "You're doing it wrong. I know what you should be doing." The element of ownership of these characters in the fan community is enormous. So, it's hard to separate the criticism from the fanaticism. I have nothing against the fanaticism and I want to make that clear. I love these characters, that's why I do these stories and thank God other people love them or else nobody would be getting paid for it. But, I think a lot of people bring their fanaticism with them to their criticism and those two need to co-exist, they need to stand side-by-side, not linked. So there are very few critical sources that I'll even go to. And there are a lot of people who, you know, criticize, and it's like, "Who do you think you are? You think you're Hunter S. Thompson?" I mean, people write things that are like, "Greg Rucka wouldn't know his way out of a soggy paper bag if you gave him an acetylene torch and a blind showgirl to lead him.

JW: (laughs) Is that a direct quote?

GR: No.

JW: That's too bad.

GR: Okay, explain to me how that's a valid criticism of anything, number one! Great, so you found an insult that it took you three weeks to come up with. Now it's in print. You've never met me and it's pretty clear to me that you didn't read the book!

JW: Just trying to be cheeky you could say.

GR: Yeah! Like I said, it's a weird thing. I know that when "10 Cent" came out there were people that really liked it and there were people that were like, "Ehh, it's a crash and burn." And again, it's one of those things where I know there are flaws in it. In most cases when I write something and then I look at it later, I tend not to like it anyway. Very rarely, though, do I look at it and am able to empirically spot where I stepped wrong and with "10 Cent" I looked at it again and I was like, "No, it's just too closed."

There are some questions readers ... if you haven't seen Batman in years and if you pick this thing and just based on the mythology like everybody in the world does then there are very legitimate questions. For instance, where is Commissioner Gordon? Where's Robin? And those should have been answered. Those should have been in there. Those may be very minor criticisms, but they matter to me. I dropped the ball on them.

JW: Let's finish up with another project. It's a project I'm personally excited about and I know as a news person I'm supposed to impartial, but screw it I can't be! (laughs) It's a project you're working with Scott Sava on at Marvel. It's a new Spider-Man book. What can you say about that at this point?

GR: It's called "Quality of Life." "Spider-Man: Quality of Life." It's gonna be a 4-part mini-series. It is ostensibly a Lizard story and the bullet is this: Doctor Kurt Conners' wife Martha has cancer. Conners believes, and potentially has the evidence to prove, that her cancer is the result of exposure from a lab processing plant near by their home in the Everglades.

[At this point we had some phone troubles which ironed themselves out in 30 seconds or so.]

So, the company is called Monano. They basically bill themselves as "Feeding the world." They do a lot of food stuff and farm stuff and so on. They prepare genetically altered strains and the like. Anyway, Kurt believes that Martha's cancer is related to Monano's practices. Monano denies it. And Kurt's looking at his wife dying and his sixteen year old son potentially having been exposed to the same thing and he doesn't have it. The only reason he can think that he doesn't is because he's the Lizard and he gets angry and frustrated. Monano, very early on, knows that this guy who is trying to sue them is somebody else and they get nervous. So they hire someone to take care of the problem and Peter finds himself kind of in the middle because there's a question of who's right and who's wrong and what's the legality here. That's it in nothing like a broad-stroke.

JW: A rather large nut-shell.

GR: Yes. There you go. (laughs)

JW: Scott's artwork is pretty much completely different than anything anybody else out there is doing since it's all CGI.

GR: It's all CGI. Everything is built on computer. I got an e-mail from him yesterday with a link to all the final sort of builds and designs on the characters and locations. It's pretty spectacular stuff. I'm not a big CGI fan in comics, but Scott is doing a very good job of converting me. It's going to look really neat.

JW: What do you think fan reaction is going to be? In talking with people about this project I get a great sense that they have very big expectations for this project. What do you think?

GR: Oh Lord! NO HAVE SMALL EXPECTATIONS! That way I can't be accused of disappointing you! (laughs)

What do I think? I think it's going to look spectacular. I don't think there's any question about that. I think people's eyes are going to pop out of their heads.

It's the first time I've ever written Spider-Man. And, again, before I sat down to work on it I had dinner with Brian Bendis and I was talking about the fact that I wasn't sure how I felt about Peter, I didn't know if I was going to be able to get behind him and he looked at me and said, "Just write him. Just write him once and he sorta comes alive to you." And he was right! It was amazing.

There's a cold open sequence in the first issue that Scott worked out with Axel Alonso who is editing it and I was tied up on something else and he wanted to get Scott working. So, they worked out a seven page sequence and it hadn't been dialogued. Then I got the artwork for it and sat in to dialogue it and you know, all of a sudden it was like, "Wow!" He's a very cool character. There's a beautiful honest in Peter. He's just, "Woah, how'd I get here?" (laughs) I mean he really is. He's constantly kind of amazed. Talk about the pure of heart and best of intentions.

JW: When does that come out?

GR: Oh I don't know. I think around the time of the movie. May, June. I'm not sure, though.

[Critical Space]JW: Final question, and it's the obligatory one that I'm sure everyone asks you. When's the next novel coming out? It's not like you didn't just finish one or anything.

GR: The new novel is called "A Fistfull of Rain." Anybody who's a Warren Zevon fan knows where I got the title. It's scheduled right now for spring, 2003. So, it's a little over a year off. That will be followed by a "Queen & Country" novel and then there will be another Atticus.

JW: In "Critical Space" every character was affected dramatically. So with this next book are seeing a totally new book ...

GR: Oh, "Fistfull" isn't a Kodiak. "Fistfull" is about a young woman named Myriam Brocka and she's a 26 year-old rock star.

I actually had my editor, she's gone through a draft once, I'm doing the rewrite now, she went through the draft and this was one of those cases where I sent her the manuscript saying, "I know there's a big thing missing and I don't know what it is!" (laughs) She called me and we talked about it and one of the things that she said, and I actually quite like it, is that in part this is sort of the story of somebody who needs somebody like Atticus. She needs to be able to hire somebody like Kodiak and she doesn't. She can't. She starts in a position where's she's kind of blissfully unaware.

The real quick thumb is this: Her father killed her mother when she was eight. She has been in a sequence of foster homes until finally she lands with one family that puts a guitar in her hands and that kind of saves her life. Then the story begins with her being kicked out of the band that she is in and returning home and trying to rebuild her life and discovering that while she was away a couple of things have happened, not the least of which being Dad got out of print.

JW: Sounds excellent.

GR: Very different.

JW: So another Atticus novel is a ways down the road giving yourself a bit of a break there.

GR: Yeah. One of the things Bantam wanted to do is they were like, "Now do something else."

"But I have more Atticus!"

They were like, "Save it. Do something else."

JW: Yeah, leave 'em waiting. Thank you for your time, I really appreciate it.

GR: No problem at all.

JW: I think this went well and take care.

GR: Okay, you too. Thanks very much.

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