Seventy books on, Rendell depicts human psyche

Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:28am EDT
 
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - English mystery writer Ruth Rendell has written more than 70 books and insists she would stop if she felt she had lost her touch for the intricate workings of the human psyche.

The 79-year-old says she won't be retiring soon. Her first novel was published in 1964 and her latest, "The Birthday Present," was released in the United States last week to rave reviews.

"I still, after all these years, love writing and I don't say I write well, but I write as well as I can," Rendell told Reuters in a telephone interview from her home in London.

If Rendell ever began to write "on autopilot," she said she would "hate it so much I would just stop."

"I have to do my best and I would not see any point in it otherwise."

Best known as the creator of English sleuth Chief Inspector Wexford, Rendell wrote her latest novel under her pen name Barbara Vine, indicating a work featuring more psychological suspense than the detective fiction of the Wexford series.

Her award-winning books, which include "A Demon in My View" in 1976 and "Live Flesh" 10 years later, have been published in some 30 countries and adapted for television and film.

Salon.com said "The Birthday Present," unlike her detective novels, was a good example of Rendell's ability to "deploy a sardonic moral calculus reminiscent of a certain dark vein in British literary fiction."   Continued...

 
<p>Author Ruth Rendell is interviewed by a reporter in New York City September 28, 2005. REUTERS/Seth Wenig</p>