8 Great Questions: Robin Burcell

The author sounds off on the word that makes her happiest and a surprising favorite writing spot.

robin burcell

Robin Burcell is a suspenseful force in her own right, and The Gray Ghost, her latest collaboration with the iconic Clive Cussler, follows the search for a legendary automobile that threatens the careers and lives of husband-and-wife team Sam and Remi Fargo.

Recently, Robin clued in Read It Forward on her “towering” to-be-read list, how she’d like to break bread with Tolkien, and the value of teaching sign language to babies.


Featured Image: Lorenzo Gritti

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What’s the book on your bedside table?

Because Clive and I are in the midst of working on the next book, the only free reading I’m doing right now consists of research. Trying to keep up with all the locations the Fargos travel to is hard work, especially when those locations have historical aspects that affect the plot. The fortunate byproduct of this research is that it’s fascinating, so I don’t feel deprived. At the top of my towering to-be-read stack for the next break is The Emperor’s Revenge by Clive and Boyd Morrison. I was forced to wait to read it because my husband claimed it first.

Name three characters from literature or authors (dead or alive) that you’d want in your ideal book club?

Besides Remi Fargo? (Assuming she had time to come, wouldn’t she be fun? She has near-photographic memory—the perfect person when you can’t recall where in the book you read something specific.) I’d also invite J. R. R. Tolkien and Jack Reacher.

What word do you love and why? What word do you hate and why?

I love serendipity. Everything about the word makes me happy, from the meaning of being a pleasant surprise to the way it’s spelled. I hate awkward. It’s one of those words I always have to think about when I’m trying to write it. (And I’m grateful that’s not too often.) I often misspell it, because that first “w” always seems to me as though it doesn’t belong.

What’s the one book you love to give as a gift and to whom do you give it?

Baby Signs. I know it’s not fiction, but it’s a wonderful resource for new parents. I taught my twins some baby sign language, and it made life so much easier. They couldn’t talk yet, but they could tell me what they wanted (everything from the type of food to going to sleep). When it comes to my friends who are avid readers of fiction, I usually get a gift certificate from whichever independent bookstore is nearest to them and let them pick their own book.

What’s the one book you read as a kid that has stuck with you?

That’s a toss-up between The Three Musketeers and The Scarlet Pimpernel. I loved action/adventure even back then—so much better than some of the stuffy classics I was forced to read in school. I would daydream about the adventures in class, and try to dream about them at night when I went to sleep. (Not that I ever had much luck at forcing a dream to go where I wanted.)

What’s the one book that never fails to delight or inspire you?

The Lord of the Rings. The fantasy aspect of it aside, it really is a great action/adventure. Even a thriller, considering that if the heroes don’t win, it’s the end of the earth as they know it.

If you could only read one genre for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Not fair! I read across all genres. And there are so many fabulous books that don’t necessarily fit into one. Besides, I hate labels. There are times I don’t want anything heavy, or scary, or depressing. There are other times I want edge-of-the-seat action. If the book is good, and I’m in the mood, I want to read it.

What’s the last book you read on a long flight?

The last long flight was this past summer, coming home from Europe, and I was actually working on the next book that Clive and I are writing together. I’d visited some places I thought would make a good setting for Sam and Remi. In truth, I can’t recall the last time I actually read a book on a plane or during a layover. I tend to use the time to write because I’m not distracted by the internet or phone calls. (I’m one of those rare people who actually enjoy getting to the airport a couple of hours early, just for this reason!)

ROBIN BURCELL spent nearly three decades working in California law enforcement as a police officer, detective, hostage negotiator, and FBI-trained forensic artist. She is the author of ten novels, and co-author with Cussler of the Sam and Remi Fargo novels, Pirate and The Romanov Ransom. She lives in Lodi, California.
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