Robert Spiller


Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
January 26, 2008

Q.    Who is Robert Spiller?

A.   I am a long time math teacher and football, Knowledge Bowl, Math Bowl coach (30 years+). I currently teach 8th grade math in the little town of Monument, Colorado. For 18 years I taught on the Colorado plains in the town of Ellicott (very similar to my mystery setting of East Plains, Colorado). I live in Colorado Springs with my wife Barbara. My three daughters and three grandchildren all live within shouting distance. I run (two years ago I ran the Pikes Peak ascent, a half marathon up America's mountain). I bike, hike, and hope to be writing full time within a few years.

Q.    How did you come up with the idea to write A CALCULATED DEMISE?

A.   Several pieces fell perfectly into place. First of all, CALCULATED is my fourth novel and the second in the Bonnie Pinkwater mystery series (the first being THE WITCH OF AGNESI). In WITCH I mentioned a murder that happened fourteen months previous to A CALCULATED DEMISE. I thought what a kick in the butt it would be to write that story and skip back to the time when Bonnie first became a widow--a prequel if you will. Then a newpaper article about a narcotics bust out on the Colorado plains (a massive greehouse operation) caught my attention. The story came together like it was destined to be.

Q.    Where did the title come from?

A.   First of all, my sleuth, Bonnie Pinkwater is a high school math teacher, who uses mathematics and her knowledge of historic female mathematicians to solve murders. Each Bonnie Pinkwater mystery features a different female mathematician whose fascinating story inspires Bonnie (gives her that all important AHA moment) to solve the murders at hand. As to A CALCULATED DEMISE itself, the tale of its naming is a tale of timing. The original title of the story was MURDER BY THE NUMBERS. Unfortunately, about the time I was sending the last chapters through my critique group, a movie with just about the same title was released. I believe that all things happen for a reason and so I changed the title (in my estimation to an even better one).

Q.    How did you come about Bonnie Pinkwater's character?

A.   Bonnie began life modeled after a friend of mine (who I will not mention by name for privacy sake). If you've read the first two Bonnie Pinkwater mysteries, you know Bonnie has an incredible memory, a collection of pets (in the books named after mathematicians), coaches Knowledge Bowl (an academic competition similar to 'Jeopardy'), and teaches high school in a small Colorado town. My friend was all this and more. Unfortunately, she was a bit too nice. So I melded her personality with mine and lo and behold, Bonnie Pinkwater was born. I must confess, with every novel Bonnie teaches me more and more about herself and I couldn't be more proud of my offspring.

Q.    How did you come about the Greg Hansen character?

A.   Again, Greg like Bonnie is modeled after life. As a teacher of thirty some years I have met many Greg Hansens--stellar students saddled with families that are nothing less than nightmares. Some turned out just fine. Some stumbled and ended up in trouble despite their intelligence. I wanted to move away from the situation in THE WITCH OF AGNESI where Bonnie's sidekick was another teacher (and lover). This time I wanted a student, but no ordinary student. I wanted a student who would have initiative, intelligence, tragic circumstances, and a connection to the case. Greg fit the bill with a vengence.

Q.    Will you give the readers a brief synopsis of A CALCULATED DEMISE?

A.   When sadistic wrestling coach Luther Devereaux is found brutally murdered, Bonnie Pinkwater's mentally challenged aide Matt Boone is discovered literally up to his elbows in blood. She and student council president--and Matt's best friend--Greg Hansen are forced to investigate. What they discover is a maniacal dwarf, an amorous millionaire rancher, a homocidal dog-napper, a diabolical superintendent of schools out for Bonnie's hide, a former student now the sheriff investigating the case, and a state of the art marijuana greenhouse. As the bodies pile up can Bonnie ferret out the real killer before she is fired or becomes the next victim?

Q.    How long have you been writing?

A.   All my life it seems. During the Viet Nam war as an airman, I wrote poetry (had two published). I've written a number of short stories mostly fantasy and science fiction. In fact my first two novels (still unpublished although the first won an award at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in 1998) were science fiction. However, it wasn't until I put my hand to mysteries that I thought, "hey, I can make a living doing this."

Q.    How many books have you written?

A.   As of this moment I've penned 5 complete novels: two science fiction and three Bonnie Pinkwater mysteries. The third Bonnie mystery, IRRATIONAL NUMBERS was purchased by Medallion Press (the publisher of A CALCULATED DEMISE and THE WITCH OF AGNESI) last summer while I was on a 23 city tour promoting WITCH. I believe I was in Lincoln, Nebraska at the time eating lunch at Pinera Bread. IRRATIONAL NUMBERS is scheduled to be released in September 2008.

Q.    Are you currently working on another novel?

A.    Actually two. The fourth Bonnie novel, Radical Equations should be finished for Medallion Press this year (they are really the best and I hope to write Bonnie novels for them as long as they let me). Also I have mostly completed a Young Adult novel set back in the late sixties, which my agent and I hope to shop about before summer.

Q.    What message would you like readers to receive from reading A CALCULATED DEMISE?

A.   I've never been much into the BIG MESSAGE. I consider myself first and foremost a story teller. I've always liked cozy mysteries (where the sleuth isn't a cop or a private eye and the violence is kept to a minimum), so I feel blessed to able to write in this genre and have received the accolades from readers and critics that I've received. When I write I like to imagine some reader in Des Moines, Iowa or Tampa, Florida picking up the novel and having the time of their life.