TAKEN by Robert Crais: Q&A and Giveaway

Happy Lunar New Year to those who celebrate it! Today is the beginning of the Year of the Dragon, which sounds like it should be my year but it’s not. I’m actually Year of the Goat, an animal that has facial hair and gets eaten.

Photo: Greg Gorman

But speaking of happy and new, Robert Crais‘s latest novel, Taken, drops tomorrow (Jan. 24, Putnam), and I have a Q&A with him today. The novel moved me so deeply, I almost can’t talk about it for fear of diluting the feeling. So I’ll just say a few words and force encourage you to experience it for yourself.

Taken has the usual action as Elvis Cole and Joe Pike go up against deadly human traffickers, but it’s also a story about love, friendship, compassion, and chasing your dreams. There’s a scene that defines how Joe feels about Elvis, expressed in the only way Joe knows how—wordlessly. It’s breathtaking for both its simplicity and depth of feeling, and one day, when someone compiles a list of iconic scenes in private eye novels that best exemplify the relationship between a detective and his partner, this moment must be on top. It makes you wish you had friends like them; it makes you wish you could be like them.

I’m thrilled to have Robert in the PCN house, answering questions about the different ways he’s been taken (stop snickering) and sharing his personal photos. Afterward, stick around for a little giveaway.

Pop Culture Nerd: What’s the best trip you’ve ever taken (physical or chemical)?

Robert Crais: Prowling through bear country on Admiralty Island, Alaska, and through the East Kootenay Rockies in Canada at 9000 feet before the snow melts. Dangerous, primitive, natural, beautiful. I enjoy physical outdoorsy things like mud runs, scuba diving, and the adventures I have doing research, but the isolation and purity of rugged wilderness areas like inner Admiralty and the East Kootenays call to my heart. If it’s easy to get there, I don’t want to go.

90 feet down in the Gulf of Mexico

With his team, doing the Camp Pendleton Mud Run

PCN: Where’s the weirdest place you’ve been taken for research?

RC: A whorehouse in Mississippi.

No whores here, just doing research with the ATF

PCN: Huh. I noticed you didn’t send over photos of that. Speaking of which, favorite picture you’ve taken?

RC: Sunrise breaking over Los Angeles while the city sleeps.

PCN: Biggest risk ever taken?

RC: Writing L.A. Requiem.

PCN: What do you most fear will be taken from you?

RC: My mental faculties.

PCN: Best advice ever taken?

RC: Write what you love.

PCN: Biggest misTaken assumption about you?

RC: What do people assume?

PCN: I’ll ask them. Last Q—what do you hope will be taken away from Taken?

RC: That people find it exciting, gripping, moving, and truthful.

Thank you, Robert, for answering my questions. Readers, it’s your turn to be Taken. For more info, go to his website or peruse his tour dates on Facebook.

But first, I have a little giveaway. I’m giving away five Elvis Cole Detective Agency business cards with a slogan that comes straight from the novel. I won’t ruin it by showing or saying what it is. If you win one and don’t like spoilers, make sure you read the book before I send it to you!

I printed these cards myself and they are in no way official, but they will be signed by Robert. To enter, leave a comment below answering his question of what you assume about him. Be creative—the more wrong the assumption, the better!

Winners will be chosen randomly via random.org. Giveaway is open to everyone, and will end this Sunday, Jan. 29, 5 p.m. PST.

UPDATE: Winners have been announced, and the card looks like this.

Buy Taken from Amazon| From an indie bookstore



  • Reply
    January 23, 2012 at 4:55 am

    Love the interview, PCN. And that picture of the sunrise in LA is absolutely fantastic.

    I suck at assumptions. Either I like somebody or I don’t (and there are very few people whom I don’t like). From reading his books, your comments (yours, PCN, and the other Craisies’), and this interview, I’d assume I’d have a heck of a time just having a cup of coffee with the guy. And giving the age difference… Yes!

    I assume he is (or would be) the greatest “cool uncle” ever!

  • Reply
    Jen Forbus
    January 23, 2012 at 5:27 am

    Oh boy, assumptions, assumptions, assumptions…I remember what my mama said about assuming…

    So, here goes:

    I assume RC aspires to have his own clothing line that would consist of one-of-a-kind shirts and socks stitched from all the discarded fabric from the “loud & crazy” factory.

    I assume RC is regularly mobbed walking through the airport to his private jet for book tour.

    I assume RC has a “Jungle Room” where he writes his books and eats peanut butter and banana sandwiches, oh wait…

    Can’t wait to see everyone else’s assumptions.

  • Reply
    January 23, 2012 at 5:44 am

    I assume RC is quiet and reserved. No idea why–and seeing him at Bcon pretty much proved me completely wrong–but something about his writing makes me mis-assume that!

  • Reply
    January 23, 2012 at 7:53 am

    I assume that he named his latest novel “Taken” as some sort of revenge on all the nitpickers who give him a hard time regarding his use of “bring” and “take”. (If, like me, you’re from The South, you’ll sympathize.) By the same token, I also assume that his next novel will be titled, “Brung”.

    • Reply
      Jen Forbus
      January 23, 2012 at 11:40 am

      That’s priceless!

    • Reply
      January 23, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      Point done took!

  • Reply
    Naomi Johnson
    January 23, 2012 at 9:30 am

    I assume that Robert Crais deliberately, and just to thwart me, misses opportunity after opportunity to dispose of Lucille Chenier forever. I assume he is therefore afraid of me and this is why — once again — Ohio is not on his book tour.

    I also assume he knows that Jon Stone has his sights set on starring in a book of his own, and that it’s even more dangerous to thwart Stone than it is me.

    I love your response, Eddy. I, too, wondered about the “bring and take.”

    TAKEN is a great book. Already one of my favorites in the series.

    • Reply
      January 23, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      too funny!

    • Reply
      January 26, 2012 at 9:16 pm


    • Reply
      August 22, 2013 at 11:04 am

      Funny! Afraid of you. LOL!

  • Reply
    Rhonda Hicks
    January 23, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Excellent Q&A, and I LOVE the pics! I have been worrying myself sick about these Elvis Cole business cards, so I guess I will just have to assume that RC would want me to have one 🙂

  • Reply
    January 23, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I agree with everyone about assumptions, but I’ll assume he is a great guy to party with, especially with his family in tow. He seems like a very grounded guy, and really appreciates his readers. Can’t wait to see him on Thursday!!!!!

  • Reply
    January 23, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Thanks for the Q&A. Having never met him, I’ll assume he’s an interesting combination of his creations: sense of humor and clothes like Elvis, but with the capability of getting quite (if not deadly) serious like Joe when the situation calls for it.

  • Reply
    January 23, 2012 at 11:54 am

    As usual, she have the best interviews on the web, Elyse. Fun, but so subversively in-depth. Of course, I’m waiting for this novel… and any chance at a giveaway. Looking forward to tomorrow’s launch party and to see Bob (did I mention he let’s me call him that now?) and you. Thanks.

    • Reply
      January 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      See you there also, assuming I can navigate the big city….

      • Reply
        January 23, 2012 at 1:35 pm

        Great!!! Looks like I will be bringing the family to this, too.

    • Reply
      January 26, 2012 at 9:19 pm

      Hope y’all had fun! I’d just like to know why his visits up north are on week nights! There is simply no way to get to San Mateo from here after work and make it in decent time. *sigh* Guess I have to wait for the Book Festival.

  • Reply
    January 23, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    *Ideas seek HIM out.
    *Mysteries solve themselves in his presence.
    *Literary critic is his favorite oxymoron.
    *Elvis and Joe wish they were as tough as he.
    *He has never, ever, used a bookmark.

    He is….the most interesting writer in the world.

  • Reply
    January 23, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    I think he’s a heavy drinker, but one of those who can hold their liquor, so I’m gonna say he has a hollow leg.

  • Reply
    January 23, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    I assume…
    – He sucks at staring contests. He’d crack a smile after 10 seconds.
    – He despises wearing ties.
    – He doesn’t know how to hula-hoop.
    – He can’t sing.
    – He color coordinates his socks.

    hmm, one more

    – He kicks ass at playing Connect 4

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    January 23, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    You all are cracking me up, especially the Dos Equis takeoffs. I think the Jungle Room assumption is true.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 12:35 am

    I assume Mr. Crais has an iPhone with the following apps:
    * Epicurious
    * 18,000 Jokes (for Elvis)
    * Guns and Ammo magazine (for Joe)
    * Twitter for iPhone (to keep an eye on fan feedback)
    * ESPN (to keep an eye on the LSU game)

  • Reply
    Ronnie Sowell
    January 24, 2012 at 5:39 am

    As a huge Robert Crais fan, I assume he was dropped on his head repeatedly at birth by his mother at an Elvis concert in 1953!

  • Reply
    Susy Correia
    January 24, 2012 at 7:10 am

    I assume that since his characters are so rich in personality and believability that either he is a keen observer of human nature, or he based the characters of Elvis and Joe on aspects of his own personality.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 10:40 am

    I assume that Robert is very much like Elvis Cole but wishes he was more like Joe Pike. I sure do!

  • Reply
    Kelly V
    January 24, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Gotta take the easy photography buff’s way out–I assume that RC shoots Canon, because he’s awesome in every other way too. 😉

    Great interview, and I can’t wait to get my hands on Taken!

  • Reply
    Rich Miner
    January 24, 2012 at 10:49 am

    I assume RC is an alias for some cola company that has gotten true stories to be published as fiction!
    Perhaps that’s why i read all those books.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 10:59 am

    I assume you are every bit as awesome as Joe Pike is and I assume that you have a few tattoos you keep hidden. I assume he likes to sing in the shower to Dolly Parton…..but that will most likely remain a real secret.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    I was so taken by Taken I will be reading it again very soon. I assume RC has a no name cat that owns him. I assume he really doesn’t like Hawaiian shirts and only wears them to confuse us.

  • Reply
    Bill Bradshaw
    January 24, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    I assume that Elvis Cole books are actually real life stories about Robert in his younger, more adventurous years and Joe is his next door, childhood friend.

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    I assume that RC will not be touring Australia 🙁

  • Reply
    January 24, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    I assume he only came to writing after a failed audition to be one of the New Kids on the Block. He played the cowbell.

  • Reply
    Chuck M.
    January 25, 2012 at 12:09 am

    I assume he doesn’t exist and the books are written by committee like the Hardy Boys.

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    January 25, 2012 at 2:02 am

    Ok, maybe I’ll have to skip ahead again and read Taken rather than continuing to work my way through chronologically! A lovely interview, PCN. I’m a dragon and don’t I feel especially lucky at the moment ~ I wonder if it will help me to win one of those very cool business cards you have up for grabs. My grocery bill was exactly $100 today ~ seriously, how often does that happen?

    • Reply
      Pop Culture Nerd
      January 25, 2012 at 4:34 am

      This is your year, Shell! Sounds like you already got lucky. My grocery bill comes to $100 a day, nay for lunch, which is NOT so lucky.

  • Reply
    January 25, 2012 at 2:14 am

    judging from the shirts he wears, he must be color blind.

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    January 25, 2012 at 4:29 am

    Ha! These all sound plausible to me, especially the cowbell. Keep ’em coming!

  • Reply
    Jean L
    January 25, 2012 at 5:55 am

    I assume that he is not loquacious.

    I have read all of the books. Love the Elvis and Joe books best.
    There is a dreadful need for the writing to go faster, much faster.

  • Reply
    Bill Bradshaw
    January 25, 2012 at 9:30 am

    I also assume that once TAKEN reaches #1 on the NY Times best seller list, Robert will announce that his next book will be free to all his loyal fans!

  • Reply
    January 25, 2012 at 11:11 am

    I assume RC has a cigarette after he finishes his novels. That’s what I do.

  • Reply
    Rhonda Hicks
    January 25, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I think he probably does twelve sun salutes on his back deck every morning while quietly humming Barry Manilow songs.

  • Reply
    January 25, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    I assume that he keeps himself fit and healthy to live a long productive life, he will never retire, and keep writing Elvis and Joe stories for a long, long time. Ideally the very last book will be out the week before I die (and I’m aiming for another 50 years yet).

  • Reply
    January 25, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    He likes cats, so he probably cries at chick flicks.

  • Reply
    Eric Edwards
    January 25, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    Based on the pictures I have seen of Robert Crais signings and on this website, I can only assume he dresses himself.

    • Reply
      January 25, 2012 at 4:41 pm


  • Reply
    January 26, 2012 at 7:58 am

    I got “Taken” in MP3 format the day it came out and played it for the full time. Loved every word. Keep up the good work. I never ass-u-me anything.

  • Reply
    January 26, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    I assume RC got a bit of his bevvie up his nose after snorting at some of these funny assumptions.

  • Reply
    Julie Creel
    January 27, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    I read the first Robert Crais book because I loved the title “The Monkey’s Raincoat.” I’ve been addicted ever since. My husband bought me “Taken” for my birthday, coming up on Monday, and gave it to me today. I’ll be up all night so I can read it in one sitting. I speak from experience.

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