My Interview with Robert Rotstein
1. Mr. Rotstein, thank you for coming again to my blog. RECKLESS DISREGARD, the second novel in the Parker Stern series, came out today. Tell us a bit more about this book.
Thanks so much for having me. In RECKLESS DISREGARD, former topnotch attorney Parker Stern, still crippled by courtroom stage fright, takes on a dicey case for an elusive video game designer known to the world only by the name of “Poniard.” In Poniard’s blockbuster online video game, Abduction!, a real-life movie mogul is charged with kidnapping and murdering a beautiful actress who disappeared in the 1980s. Predictably, the mogul–William “the Conqueror” Bishop–has responded with a libel lawsuit. It’s up to Parker to defend the game designer in the suit. Poniard and Bishop are each trying to bring the other down, and the fight gets violent. Set against a noir background of murder and deceit, the novel is many ways an allegory for the real-life struggle between our old forms of entertainment (movies, TV) and the emerging forms (Internet, interactive video games).
2. How does Parker’s character develop and grow in this book?
In CORRUPT PRACTICES, Parker suffered from stage fright whenever he walked into a courtroom, and in RECKLESS DISREGARD he’s still struggling to overcome this phobia. At the beginning of the book, he’s actually left the practice of law and has become a mediator—a much less stressful job. But when Poniard calls, Parker’s love of trial work—along with a chance to solve a personal mystery—convinces him to take the case. So, in RECKLESS DISREGARD, Parker is coming to the realization that he can’t run from his fears, that the only way to overcome his stage fright is to face it, no matter what the cost.
3. What is your greatest disappointment as a writer? What is your greatest satisfaction?
I’m not sure it’s a disappointment since I’ve been very fortunate, but because I still practice law full time, I’m not able to write as much as I’d like. I have many more story ideas and feel that I’m still new to the writing world, so I wish I had more time to develop my craft. My greatest satisfaction is that readers of my novels are enjoying what I have to say and how I’m saying it. Put another way, it’s always nice to be listened to!
Be persistent and learn to use criticism to your advantage. Like most authors I know, I had some false starts before my first novel was published. Looking back, I had to learn the craft. And I was able to do that because I found the right mentors—talented writers themselves whose criticism was constructive and incisive and candid (but never cruel). In this respect, being a practicing attorney helped: legal writing is a collaborative effort among lawyers and often clients. Many times, you try one approach, abandon it, and start from scratch. I go about writing a novel in the same way.
5. What are your thoughts on the latest publishing industry developments, mainly the rise of the self-publishing?
On the one hand, the rise of independent publishing is a wonderful development, because excellent writers who for some reason might never have gotten published can now find an audience. So in one sense, the rise of self-publishing has had a democratizing effect—exposing the public to more works. On the other hand, I’m concerned that the market will become so flooded with books that many valuable works will get overlooked. The traditional publishing houses still must play an important gate-keeping function in identifying those exceptional works. The publishers’ challenge is to do a good job as gatekeepers so they don’t lose credibility and to make books available at affordable prices.