A star was born in Louisiana on the night of June 20, 1953 when Robert Crais was brought into the world. Raised as an only child by the childless couple who took him under their wings, he could have followed in the tradition of his family and either went into the upholding the law as a police officer or working in one of the oil refinery which Louisiana is so famous for. But at fifteen years of age, he got his eyes and hands on a second hand copy of The Little Sister written by Raymond Chandler. Those eternal words on paper changed the direction of his life and roused the flame of his love, that of writing.
Baby Steps to the Future
Crais knows what he wants out of life and he is willing to work for it. He is aware that getting catapulted to glory and recognition as a novelist will entail not just hard work but sheer dedication on his part. Short fiction stories defined his earlier works as well as dabbing into the intriguing world of making films. He knows that both of these are paving his way to what he really wants, which is to write his own books. He forayed into the jungle of Hollywood and started with creating scripts for the well known TV series like Miami Vice, Hill Street Blues, and Cagney & Lacey. The bigwigs in the networks recognized his abilities and gave him numerous assignments with series pilots and Movies-of-the-Week.
When You Wish Upon a Star
His work for Hill Street Blues got recognized by a nomination into the Emmy’s which made him proud of his accomplishments. Always close to his heart though will be Cross of Fire, the mini-series that last for four hours and work that he did for NBC. According to the NY Times, his writing is “A searing and powerful documentation of the Ku Klux Klan’s rise to national prominence in the 20s.”
Crais was doing a great job in Hollywood both as a writer and a producer but he felt restless and hankering for his dream to write his novel. So he left a well paying and comfortable profession and embarked on a new and uncertain journey. There were rocky patches in his road to success but he finally found the elixir that motivated him to bring Elvis Cole to life based on aspects of his life that he wants to show the world. The Monkey’s Raincoat, which was the result of his slog and perseverance, was chosen by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association to be part of the 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century. It was also nominated for the Edgar Award and won both the Macavity and Anthony Awards.
Elvis Cole was initially meant to be a loner but overwhelming responses to this character brought about more and more ideas for stories. Elvis Cole is so compelling a character that it is almost like Crais has a voice that he can use to make himself and what is happening in his life felt and heard. When his L.A. Requiem made the NY Times and LA Times bestseller lists, Crais realized just how influential his main book character has become. He streamlined his first person writing style to incorporate scenes that are made of flashbacks, using story lines that can be imagined from more than one point-of-view. He got rave reviews from Publisher’s Weekly for L.A. Requiem and was praised highly for his ability to extend himself and light up his subject matter with literary ingredients. The reviewers even went as much as dubbing his work “a wonderful experience”
Elvis Cole so made an impact that Crais created more stories for him with The Last Detective, The Forgotten Man and The Watchman. Each story in succession made an exploration of the intensity and temperament of his characters’ personalities.
Still Crais’ influence from his family of police officers shows up on his writing as he penned Demolition Angel, a book about being a Bomb Technician in the Los Angeles Police Department.
A movie brought his characters to life as Bruce Willis played an ex SWAT member of the LAPD in his novel Hostage. Granted rave reviews by Amazon.com editors by touting it as the top thriller of year, it was also branded by the NY Times as Notable Book of the Year.
Crais does not want to sell his book rights to movie producers though since he wants his readers to own the experience and be able to let their imagination run with his characters.
Personality and Profile
Forty two countries have published Robert Crais’ work and it has always made the bestsellers list in those parts of the world. He even got recognized by being one of the awardees of the Ross Macdonald Literary Award.
Despite his amazing success, he retains simplicity in his life in the mountains of Santa Monica where he enjoys relative solitude with his much loved wife, three cats that he adores and his valued collection of books that numbers in the thousand.
Crais also writes under the name of his alter ego Elvis Cole and Jerry Gret Samouche. His genre remains mystery and thriller no matter which name he uses in his work. When asked, he reveals that his writings have been influenced by authors that he admires like Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Robert B. Parke.
Fans who are thirsty for information about him can always visit his site at http://www.robertcrais.com/. Crais enjoys hearing from his fans and emails are read and answered but it does take time as he is getting numerous communications asking for his responses.
His Characters Reflect Him
Crais’ book series are ruled by his main character Elvis Cole who partners with former Marine Joe Pike. In his stories, he explores the strength of these men and applies their values to temper their adventures. The theme of upholding good over evil may be a cliché but Crais always ensure that his readers are left with the impression that honesty cannot be undermined and that it should never be just an option for anyone.
“Thematically, again and again my books are about people who are trying to be better than they have been.”
Books in order of publication by series:
Elvis Cole & Joe Pike Books
|The Monkey’s Raincoat||(1987)|
|Stalking the Angel||(1989)|
|The Last Detective||(2003)|
|The Forgotten Man||(2005)|
|The First Rule||(2010)|
|A Dangerous Man||(2019)|
|The Two-Minute Rule||(2006)|
|The Best American Mystery Stories 2012||(2012)|