Readers of the fun and funny Chet and Bernie mystery series know that author Spencer Quinn is one of the most clever and interesting writers out there. But they may not know that Quinn is the pen name for Peter Abrahams, the bestselling author of thrillers like The Fan, The Tutor, Oblivion and the Edgar Award-winning Reality Check for young adults. The man Stephen King has called “my favorite American suspense novelist” sat down with me recently to talk about Chet and Bernie, baseball, his latest book and the joy of moving around between genres.
Open Mic: I made a note to myself that I would get the fanboy stuff out of the way here early and tell you how much I absolutely love the Chet and Bernie series. It’s one of my favorites.
Abrahams: Oh, thank you.
Open Mic: You very clearly love dogs. You’ve said the idea for the series came from your wife. Can you expand on that a little bit?
Abrahams: First of all, writing novels is a very strange business and one of the strange things that happens is that sometimes six months worth of work can happen in 30 seconds. One night at dinner she said, ‘you should do something with dogs.’ I had dogs in other books I’d written but you never saw anything from their point of view. So I probably knew within 30 seconds the three pillars that hold the Chet and Bernie series up. First, that I wanted to write something that was narrated by the dog. Second, that I was going to do a traditional private eye story where the stories are told by the sidekick in the first person like Dr. Watson tells Sherlock Holmes stories. And third, and this is the most important part I think, that this dog narrator would not be a talking dog. He would not be a human wrapped in a dog suit. He wouldn’t know about Mozart. He would be as canine as I could make him. So that was the process, and the foundation for it came in about 30 seconds. So I left the house and walked over to my office, like a 15 foot commute, and I wrote what became the first page of “Dog On It,” practically in the time you and I have been talking now. I just wanted to see if it worked, and then I went back to the house and showed it to my wife. We voted two to zero that it worked and that’s how it began.
To read the entire interview