Times Are Changing All Around: MysteryPeople Q&A with Robert Knott

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Since Robert Knott took over Robert B. Parker’s Old West town tamers Hitch and Cole, he has added an authenticity to the series as well as a subtle examination of both men dealing with a world that is making them less relevant. This time the two are going after Driggs, a slick psychopath who broke out of prison with the warden’s wife as a hostage, and who has a history with Hitch. I look forward to introducing you all to Bob Friday, February 10th at 7 PM, when he will be at BookPeople with Reed Farrel Coleman. As you will see, even on a Q&A via e-mail, he can be entertaining.

MysteryPeople Scott: Driggs is one of the best bad men Hitch and Cole have come up against. How did he come about?

Robert Knott: I was walking down the Street in Brooklyn NY and came to Driggs Street. I stopped and said: that is him. That is my guy. The name alone rang a bell for me and I loved the idea of a powerful man to go with the name. Driggs is stoic, cunning, charismatic, effortless, a leader with little to no need for followers. Then of course he had to have a background. So I put all the darkest elements of his past and family and mixed them with the most capable of men, and that was him, that’s Driggs. I basically planted him and watched him grow.

MPS: It feels like you are subtley bringing Hitch more into focus. Is there a particular reason for this?

RK: Times are changing all around for Hitch and Cole in the western expansion. I love the idea of these men learning and adapting in front of us. They can still be what we expect but the unexpected is also refreshing. Hitch is more independent than he used to be and Cole is okay with not being so Cole. I think we all get tired of ourselves and Hitch and Cole are no exception. Fun characteristics to work with.

MPS: What was the biggest thing you had to research for this novel?

RK: Prisons of the time period, pigeon post, mining, business expansion, syndicated news. But these changes to the west I deal with in each novel and will continue to do so. The evolution of our history and the effect the changes had on the people, including H & C truly interest me.

MPS: You have a great shoot out in a bath house. Do you look for interesting locations like this in your research?

RK: That hot springs bath house near Las Vegas New Mexico really existed back then. It was the largest resort / hotel destination west of the Mississippi. And according to history, three presidents actually visited the hot springs bath houses. But yes, finding texture that is is far from the normal saloon or street scene I enjoy.

MPS: One thing I like about the series is that you understand Hitch and Cole’s relationship without any “I love you, man.” moments. How do you go about depicting a friendship between two laconic characters?

RK: Trust. These guys know each other like the back of their hand. Their movement together is second nature. Like sports greats. They do shit and it goes by unsaid. Like a great pass in basketball. The guys barely acknowledge each other and that is what makes them cool beyond cool. It’s second nature and like what Hitch and Cole slyly say from time to time, “It’s what we do.”

MPS: You’re one of those guys who has a lot of creative irons in the fire. What should we be on the lookout for that you’re involved in?

RK: I’m trying like hell to bring a western to TV and I’m close on a number of fronts. I think the best thing to say (so we don’t jinx anything) is let me get back to you once I have a green light:)

You can find copies of Revelation on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. Actor, writer and producer Robert Knott comes to BookPeople to speak and sign his latest continuation of Robert B. Parker’s Hitch and Cole series, Revelation on Friday, February 10th, at 7 PM. He’ll be joined by legendary crime writer Reed Farrel Coleman, here with his second Gus Murphy novel, What You Break.

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