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Author Interview
More by J. D. Robb
J. D. Robb

J. D. Robb

J. D. Robb is the pseudonym of New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts.

In the spring of 1995, J.D. Robb's first book, Naked in Death, appeared on bookshelves with very little fanfare. Robb introduced readers to New York City in the near future, 2058 to be exact, as seen through the eyes of Eve Dallas, a detective with the New York City Police and Safety Department. The Gothic Journal hailed Robb's work as "a unique blend of hard-core police drama, science fiction and passionate romance" while The Paperback Forum called it "a fantastic new detective series."

The popularity of that first book built up through the release of the subsequent Eve Dallas books, Glory In Death, Immortal In Death, Rapture In Death, Ceremony In Death, Vengeance in Death and Holiday In Death. Readers were taken with Eve Dallas's integrity, strength and heart and her burgeoning relationship with the mysterious Roarke.

It's been a fairly open secret that J.D. Robb is the pseudonym of the more familiar New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts. But Ms. Roberts, and her publisher, Berkley, were content to let the Robb books build slowly with very little tie-in to the Nora Roberts's style of romantic suspense.

The pragmatic reason for creating J.D. Robb was the astounding pace at which Nora Roberts produces books. With nearly 100 published books to her credit by 1995, she had built up a surplus of titles to be released by her publishers, Berkley and Silhouette, and still was creating more. Reluctant to publish romantic suspense books akin to what she was already writing under a pseudonym, Ms. Roberts was convinced that readers would enjoy romantic suspense with a difference. Thus J.D. Robb was born. The initials were taken from Ms. Roberts's sons, Jason and Dan, while Robb was a shortened form of Roberts.

"I wanted to try something a little different. I love writing romance, and suspense, but also wanted a twist," explains Ms. Roberts. "The near future setting provided this, and allowed me to more or less create a world. What would it be like in 2058? I could decide. And I could illustrate my own feeling that while the toys may change, people remain basically the same. They still love and hate and covet, they still have courage and cowardice. They're still human."

The In Death books have afforded Ms. Roberts an opportunity to explore a relationship beyond the ending of the first book. Her trilogies and family stories have been hugely popular with fans—the just-completed Chesapeake Bay trilogy, Sea Swept, Rising Tides and Inner Harbor have all spent time at the number one spot on The New York Times bestseller list—but when the story was over, she moved onto other characters.

"One of the things I wanted to do was develop those characters over many books rather than tying it all up in one," she says. "I wanted to explore these people, and peel the layers off book by book. Eve and Roarke have given me the opportunity to explore a marriage as well. Each book resolved the particular crime or mystery that drives it, but the character development, the growth and the changes, the tone of the relationships go more slowly. I'm enjoying that tremendously."

The experiment has succeeded beyond expectations. The eighth J.D. Robb book, Conspiracy in Death, was released in April 1999 as a lead title from Jove. Loyalty in Death followed in the fall, and Witness in Death was released in March 2000. This time, it's freely acknowledged that J.D. Robb and Nora Roberts are one and the same. An excerpt appeared at the end of Inner Harbor. And the Robb books will appear twice a year, much to the delight of Ms. Roberts' fans who are vocal in their demands for more of Eve Dallas and Roarke.

And Nora Roberts—in any guise—will continue to delight that audience with her inimitable combination of romance and suspense in this century or the next.

Why did you start writing books under the name J.D. Robb?

I write quickly. That's just my natural pace. As a result, my publishers had considerable inventory of my books for publication. My agent and editors suggested I write under a different name. I didn't like the idea, really dragged my feet on it. It took about two years for me to be convinced to try it. My agent explained it this way...there's Pepsi, there's Diet Pepsi, there's Caffeine Free Pepsi. And the light went on in my head! I got it! I agreed to try it if I could do something a little different. I still didn't see the point in writing straight romance or romantic suspense under a different name. That's when Eve Dallas and Roarke walked on the page.

Why do you enjoy writing as J.D. Robb and revisiting the same characters?

I enjoy writing romantic suspense and was intrigued by the idea of adding a little science fiction to the mix. I could create my own world! I felt that while the toys may change, people remain basically the same. And I enjoy writing a series with continuing characters so I could develop relationships—and the romance between the main characters over a number of books. Each book resolves the particular crime or mystery that drives it, but the character development—the growth and changes—and the tone of the relationships go more slowly. I enjoy that tremendously.

How did you come up with the name J.D. Robb?

I took the initials of my son's first names—Jason and Dan—and Robb was a shortened version of Roberts.

How many more Eve and Roarke books can we expect from you?

I have no plans at this time to stop writing about Eve and Roarke. Two more books and a novella are planned for next year.

Many of the books you write are part of a larger series. Do you find it more difficult to write a book that is part of a series?

No. Each book has its own set of challenges. Each book must stand alone and be complete. I enjoy writing connecting books but they are not more challenging than the others