James Lee Burke
The Houston native celebrates his seventieth year on earth by publishing the twenty-sixth novel of his forty-year career. Pegasus Descending is the latest book in the Dave Robicheaux crime fiction series.
What is it about Robicheaux that appeals so deeply to your readers? Well, I think it’s that he’s based on classical antecedents, really the Prometheus figure. He has qualities of the tragic protagonist but possesses virtues that we admire.
Has your approach to writing changed any since your first novel? No, nothing’s changed. There’s only one way to do it. You write from “can see to can’t see,” and you do it seven days a week.
Most of your books are set in Louisiana, where you’ve spent most of your life. Where were you when Katrina hit? I was in Montana. It was Rita that hit New Iberia, where I live. Rita really tore up southwestern Louisiana; the damage is the worst I’ve ever seen. Few people have any idea of the suffering.
Is it true that one of your books was rejected 111 times before it was published? Actually, it was more than that. It was The Lost Get-Back Boogie. Then Louisiana State University Press published it, and it was nominated for a Pulitzer. There’s a lesson there.
And you’re still going strong. Ever tempted to put your feet up and just be done with writing? Oh, no. When I catch the bus, I’m taking my typewriter with me. Simon & Schuster, $26