Donald Edwin Westlake (July 12, 1933 – December 31, 2008) was an American writer, with over a hundred novels and non-fiction books to his credit. He specialized in crime fiction, especially comic capers, with an occasional foray into science fiction and other genres. Westlake is perhaps best-remembered for creating two professional criminal characters who each starred in a long-running series: the relentless, hard-boiled Parker (published under the pen name Richard Stark), and John Dortmunder who featured in a more humorous series.Read about Donald E. Westlake in Wikipedia
In the first batch of readers, back in the '60s and '70s, the criminal class was still literate, so I would get letters from people in prison; they thought that I was somebody whom they could shop-talk with, and they would tell me very funny stories. I got a lot of those. Guys who were going to wind up doing 10 to 15 for bank robbery, yes, were reading my books.
I've had stuff of mine adapted by other people, so I've come to the conclusion that a movie is a different form from a novel and there is no such thing as a true adaptation. You have to adapt to this other thing and do it right. But that voice of the original should somehow still be there, and the original intent should still be there. So if the original writer saw the movie, the writer would say, "Well, that's not what I wrote, but that's what I meant. " And if you can do that, I think you've done your job as a screenwriter.
If your subject is crime, then you know at least that you're going to have a real story. If your subject is the maturing of a college boy, you may never stumble across a story while you're telling that. But if your story is a college boy dead in his dorm room, you know there's a story in there, someplace.
I don't think I would have been a good architect. Really, I have thought about this from time to time, and I might have wound up like my father, who never did find that which he could devote his life to. He sort of drifted from job to job. He was a traveling salesman, he was a bookkeeper, he was an office manager, he was here, there, there. And however enthusiastic he was at the beginning, his job would bore him. If I hadn't had the writing, I think I might have replicated what he was doing, which would not have been good.
I know people who have suffered writer's block, and I don't think I've ever had it. A friend of mine, for three years he couldn't write. And he said that he thought of stories and he knew the stories, could see the stories completely, but he could never find the door. Somehow that first sentence was never there. And without the door, he couldn't do the story. I've never experienced that. But it's a chilling thought.
I was writing everything. I grew up in Albany, New York, and I was never any farther west than Syracuse, and I wrote Westerns. I wrote tiny little slices of life, sent them off to The Sewanee Review, and they always sent them back. For the first 10 years I was published, I'd say, "I'm a writer disguised as a mystery writer. " But then I look back, and well, maybe I'm a mystery writer. You tend to go where you're liked, so when the mysteries were being published, I did more of them.
I'm one of the narrative-push people. I don't outline, I don't plan ahead. So I'm my first reader, telling myself the story as I'm going along. Since I haven't designed it ahead of time, each day I have to be sure that the footing is solid before I make the next step. I think you could be more intricate if you work it out ahead of time.