Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Interview: Dave Zeltserman, Author of Dying Memories

Our guest today is Dave Zeltserman, author of Dying Memories. Dave won the 2010 Shamus Award for ‘Julius Katz’ and is the acclaimed author of the ‘man out of prison’ crime trilogy: Small Crimes, Pariah and Killer, where Small Crimes was picked by NPR as one of the five best crime and mystery novels of 2008, and Small Crimes and Pariah (2009) were both picked by the Washington Post as best books of the year. His recent The Caretaker of Lorne Field received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, calling it a ’superb mix of humor and horror’, and has been shortlisted by ALA for best horror novel of 2010. Outsourced (2011) has already been called ‘a small gem of crime fiction’ by Booklist and has been optioned by Impact Pictures and Constantin Film.

Welcome to The Book Connection, Dave. It's an honor to have you with us. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m someone who when I was younger never thought I’d be a writer. I always read a lot, but my interests were in Math and Computer Science, and it seemed like my life was pretty much laid out—that I’d go to college, get a degree in Math and Computer Science and work as a software engineer. That’s what happened, but I always found myself drawn to writing.
Where did you grow up?
Newton, Massachusetts. (Interviewer's note: Always great to have a Massachusetts author visiting our blog.)
What is your fondest childhood memory?
Probably when we got our first dog. He was a Black Lab – Collie mix that we brought home in a shoe box, and in a very short time grew to about 90 pounds. A great dog, very gentle, and incredibly stubborn. 
When did you begin writing?
I always tried writing at different times – as a kid, in college, later when I was working. It was around 1992 when I started taking it more seriously and believed I could be published.
Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?
These days I’m writing fulltime. When I was working as a software engineer, I’d have to sneak in writing whenever I could within an 80-hour work week.
What is this book about?
Dying Memories is my first pure thriller. The book opens with a woman shooting a man to death on a crowded Boston street, and then telling the police the man had raped and murdered her eleven-year-old daughter. Except she never had a daughter. When a reporter, Bill Conway, discovers a link between this and another killing to a biotechnology firm, he soon finds himself framed for murder, as well as being hunted by shadowy forces. The danger for Bill increases with each chapter as he searches for a way to reclaim his life, understand what’s happening, and ultimately stop a sinister plot to enslave the country. There are a lot of twists and turns throughout the book, lots of surprises, all leading to an explosive ending.
What inspired you to write it?

I’m driven to write stories and novels that readers will enjoy. In some cases they’re dark noirish journeys, in this case a page-turning thriller.
Who is your biggest supporter?

Well, my wife, by far.
Are you a member of a critique group? If no, who provides feedback on your work?

No. I have a group of early readers made up of people I’ve known for a long time, as well as other authors I know. All of them are very vocal and have no problem giving me their opinions.
Who is your favorite author?
I have a lot of favorite authors, but for crime, it would have to be Dashiell Hammett. I marvel at the five crime novels he wrote, as well as his 24 Continental Op short stories. You can look at him as inventing the hardboiled PI genre.
Do you have an agent or are you looking for one?
Yep, I have an agent. A film agent also.
Was the road to publication smooth sailing or a bumpy ride?
The very first short story I wrote for publication I sold to the first magazine I submitted to. After that, a very bumpy 12 years or so before I sold Small Crimes in 2006. Every US publisher rejected Small Crimes for being too dark or not formulaic enough or other such reasons, and I was days from throwing in the towel when Serpent’s Tail called me to tell me they wanted to publish it. The book ended up being published in 2008 and NPR picked it as one of the 5 best crime and mystery novels of that year, and the Washington Post also picked it as one of the best books of the year. Every US publisher rejected Outsourced also, and not only is the book optioned for film, but it’s now looking very likely that they’ll be going into production very soon.
If you knew then, what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently?
I don’t know. I understand the publishing industry much better now. I understand that the idea of the large publishers being any sort of gatekeeper is only a myth—that it’s all business with them and what they care about is how low risk they think a project is and how commercial they believe it is. But knowing that, I don’t think if I would’ve tried dumbing down my writing to satisfy them—I think I still would’ve been trying to write the best books I can.
Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?
Dying Memories is an e-book only, so from or
Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
My website is www.davezeltserman and my blog is:

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?
Probably spending time doing book events and getting to know bookstore employees and owners who now do a lot of handselling of my books.
What is up next for you?
My novel, A Killer’s Essence, is out from Overlook Press in the Fall, and I’ve already had one movie producer with a great track record make an offer to option the book, but I’ve been working with a film agency in developing the book as a TV series, so not sure yet whether I’ll be changing gears and accepting the offer.
Is there anything you would like to add?
I’d like to thank The Book Connection for interviewing me.

Thanks for spending time with us today, Dave. We wish you continued success.

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