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If Richard Castle were real, he might be the perfect man: a prolific writer of best-selling murder mysteries, dashing, witty and ruggedly handsome. Sadly, Castle is only make-believe, the brainchild of writer/producer Andrew M. Marlowe, brought to life by actor Nathan Fillion on ABC’s hit series Castle. But being a figment of our imagination hasn’t kept Castle from publishing a series of real-life chart-topping thrillers — including Heat Rises (Hyperion, $10), out this month in paperback — or a trio of e-books — the first of which, A Brewing Storm, hits online outlets next month. Nor did it keep American Way from talking shop with him.

American Way: You’ve said that your first novel was inspired by the daytime soaps your mother watched during your youth.
Richard Castle: When you’re 7 years old, you’re kind of new to the notion of the long-lost evil twin, so soap operas become this incredible playground of discovery. For many years, I was convinced that I had an evil twin. Then I came to believe that I was someone else’s evil twin.
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AW: You’ve been critical of your early work. How do you feel about your recent novels?
RC: I feel that my recent novels are very lucrative, so I’m rather fond of them.

AW: Your Heat mysteries seem to be based on someone you love. Maybe someone named Detective Kate Beckett?
RC: I think you may be jumping to conclusions there. I didn’t say you were wrong; just jumping
to conclusions.

AW: How do you respond to rumors that your work is ghostwritten?
RC: How would a ghost even write a novel? Its hands would go right through the keyboard.