Perry Middlemiss clued me in to this interview with Garry Disher, the author of the Wyatt novels. I’m a huge fan of the Wyatt books, which I read in one week after novelist Scott Phillips made me buy them all when we were browsing in a bookstore together. Although there are six Wyatt novels and they read like one, big continuous story, so you really must read them in order…if you can find them. They have been out-of-print for years.
Wyatt is an Australian version of Donald Westlake’s Parker, which was Disher’s inspiration. Disher says:
Yes, Wyatt was inspired by the 1960s
Parker novels of Donald Westlake (writing as Richard Stark). I’ve
acknowledged this several times in interviews. In fact, I think we
crime writers build on the traditions and authors who have come before
us — not copying or stealing, but adapting and building on. I liked the
cool, focussed, meticulous air of Parker, and I liked the
crime-from-the-inside nature of the books, and started with that kind
of character and approach when I set out to write crime fiction (I’d
already had “literary” novels and stories published). I didn’t want to
create another kind of private eye or cop, it had been done before. I
know I write about a cop in the Challis novels, but they differ from
other types of cop novels in several senses: a regional rather than a
city setting; a main cop, but also an ensemble cast of other cops; a
main crime, but also several minor crimes; the public, workplace and
private lives of the characters; an interest in the sociology of a
[…]we never learn much about him (and nor should
we), but I think he’s a more rounded and complex character that Parker.
Also, the Wyatt novels are longer than, and structured differently
from, the Parker novels. Ultimately, Wyatt and his capers are
inventions, my inventions, not mere copies. Yes, they’re a tribute, and
I had fun with the Parker model, but I worked hard at the writing and
ensured they succeeded on their own terms.
The best news in the interview is that Disher is finally working on a new Wyatt novel after a long foray into police procedurals (with the Inspector Challis novels). I can’t wait.