If you are a fan of prolific, best-selling author Stuart Woods' novels, you surely know about some of his most famous characters, including NYPD detective-turned-lawyer Stone Barrington, retired Army Maj. Holly Barker, and Rick Barron, police detective turned Hollywood executive.
Woods is bringing his craft, those characters, his newest book, "Foreign Affairs," and the story of his career to the Mark Twain House & Museum Tuesday, Oct. 13, for the program, "A Conversation with Stuart Woods." An accomplished pilot and sailor, the 77-year-old Woods is skillful and clever and an interesting guy as he Spilled the Beans with Java.
Q: When did the writing bug bite you and why the fascination with police, detectives and lawyers?
A: I was about 9 years old when I tried to write my first novel. I got three pages into it and realized how hard it was going to be. I didn't go back to it for many years. As far as being interested in using police in my stories, that started because my maternal grandfather was a police officer. And not everything uses policemen. There are some books I've written outside the Stone Barrington series.
Q: You are one of those prolific writers now, I believe you are now writing book number 62 and 63 and you have had about 60 of your books on The New York Times best-sellers list. So how many hours a day must you be chained to that computer?
A: I write improvisationally. I write every day from 11 a.m. to noon, about one chapter a day. And I answer my emails. The other 23 hours I do anything but write, boating, lots of reading, watching old movies. One of my favorites is "The Best Years of Our Lives."
Q: You mentioned your grandfather was a police officer. Did you ever want to be a cop or a detective or an FBI agent or any of the other professions chosen by your characters?
A: When I was a small child, I wanted to be a policeman, but I wanted to be a cowboy and a fireman, too.
Q: What is one book you could read over and over again?
A: I am not sure there is just one. I really don't read anything over a second time. I have so many books waiting to be read, so it's hard to justify rereading anything. I may reread my own first novel because we are coming up to the 25th anniversary of its release. And sometimes I do reread my own books but only if I am writing a sequel. Right now I am reading Harper Lee's new book. I like it.
Q: My experience has been that novelists, especially those who do series, inject a bit of themselves into their main character, especially as that character develops from book to book. How are you and Stone alike?
A: We both fly and we used to share the same tailor. I am actually leery of any author who does not inject some of themselves into a character. There are other similarities, but I won't tell you those. It's deeply personal to both of us.
Q: How do you envision writing about Stone Barrington's ultimate retirement?
A: I have no intention and if there were going to be a book in the series that includes his retirement it would be called "Stone Dead" and would be my last novel. And I don't anticipate that being for another 20 or 25 years. I do have to say I don't think it would be a bad idea for Stone to get married again. We've already had to kill off one wife and imprison another. But it does seem like he is a more interesting character when he is single.
Q: Speaking of single, you have remarried again. How's that going?
A: I thought I was a born again bachelor but am three years into this marriage. She's a keeper.
Q: What's your guilty pleasure?
A: Shirts. I have too many shirts. I've been going to the same English shirt maker for 44 years now and my collection just keeps on growing.
Q: You are coming to Hartford as a guest of the Mark Twain House & Museum. Are you a fan of the man?
A: I have never been to the Mark Twain House and always intended to go when I drive through on I-84. We are remodeling in a major way on a house in Santa Fe and am interested in seeing his home in Hartford. He could have had anything he wanted and I want to see what he did.
Q: What has been your best adventure?
A: When I was sailing a lot in my life. I am having a new motor boat next week and plan to go from Annapolis to Key West this fall.
Q: What is something most people don't know about you?
A: I am very interested in politics.
Q: Would you run for office?
A: I have much too nice a life to go to the Capitol. I think it's sad to see the GOP party crumbling before our eyes. I think Hillary Clinton will be elected president, but I wouldn't be too upset if Joe Biden got the job.
"A CONVERSATION WITH STUART WOODS'': Tickets for the program to be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Mark Twain House & Museum, 351 Farmington Ave., Hartford, are $30 for the general public and $25 for Twain members. There are also $75 per person tickets that include a VIP meet and greet with Woods. Tickets: 860-280-3130 and marktwainhouse.org.