author robert palmer author robert palmer


Robert Palmer is a lawyer and law professor in Washington, D.C. His clients have included cops and school teachers, members of Congress, judges, and agency heads—and more than a few psychologists. In his spare time he enjoys distance running, downhill skiing, and hiking and backpacking in the Blue Ridge, the Rockies, and anyplace else with mountains. He lives with his wife and son and their Portuguese Water Dog, Theo.

Why write?

Of novelists, British author W. Somerset Maugham claimed, "We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to." The great American writer of the west, Wallace Stegner, also had a stiff-necked take on writing. He could only produce if his typewriter was facing a blank wall in a separate work space away from all distractions.

I've always considered myself a slouch next to those guys. I write fiction because I enjoy it. I write in a cluttered office with a nice view of a grove of pear trees; I write at the kitchen table with a less-than-nice view; I write when I commute to my law office. I even write in the shower. Not literally, of course, but I make up bits of dialog and action scenes—whatever—and, when the water is off, I race to get a pad and pencil to write it all down.

I enjoy writing pretty much for the same reasons I enjoy teaching. Both are complex, and, if done correctly, they take you outside yourself. Constantly you have to keep your audience in mind, working with them and for them, the readers and students. Readers and students have a lot in common, too. They want to learn and be entertained. They want to explore something new. Most of all they want to be changed. That's as true now as it was when Cervantes thought up the idea of crazy Don Quixote and the windmills. Readers are looking for a special world where gravity and sky and grass and sunlight all are familiar but somehow fresh, different.

There was only one Cervantes. And only one Jane Austin, one Charles Dickens, one Eudora Welty. And just so we don't feel like snobs, there is only one Conroy, one Grisham, one Rowling. The rest of us make do with the small gifts we have—a little humor, a dark insight, a steady hand to twist the knife, or a deep love for the underdog.

So I imagine you read for the same reason I write: for the joy of it. It's a partnership that way. I hope you enjoy my books.