Dark and, at times, amusing fiction from award-winning author Dave Zeltserman

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bad Thoughts one of the best books of 2007...

At least according to the Dover NH Library (and no, I'm not from Dover, NH, or NH for that matter). Here's their eclectic list, which I am honored to be included in:

Librarians’ Choice 2007
The Best Books of the Year

A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Last Wife of Henry VIII by Carolly Erickson
Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
False Impression by Jeffrey Archer
Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
The Uses of Enchantment by Heidi Julavits
When Darkness Falls by James Grippando
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn
Thirteenth Tale by Diana Setterfield
The Water Devil by Judith Merkle Riley
The Family That Couldn’t Sleep by D.T. Max
World War Z: an oral history of the zombie war by Max Brooks
Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier
Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir
Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay
The Wayward Muse by Elizabeth Hickey
The Dogs of Windcutter Down by David Kennard
Withering Heights by Dorothy Cannell
Red Dahlia by Lynda LaPlante
Savage Garden by Mark Mills
Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood
Dog Days by John Katz
Austenland by Shannon Hale
The Innocence by David Hosp
The Glass Devil by Helene Tursten
Keeping Mum DVD
18 Seconds by George Shuman
Bad Thoughts by Dave Zeltserman
Agnes & The Hit Man by Jennifer Crusie,
Night Birds by Thomas Maltman
Brilliance by Rosalind Laker
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Down River by John Hart
The Abduction by Mark Gimenez
Death Before Wicket by Kerry Greenwood
Cormac: the tale of a dog gone missing by Sonny Brewer
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell
The Guynd: a Scottish Journal by Belinda Rathbone
Mademoiselle Boleyn by Robin Maxwell
In the Woods by Tara French

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Dark Party Going On!

Dark Party Review is a very cool web-site (even though they don't have Blade Runner listed as one of their 8 coolest sci-fi flicks), and for some reason they wanted to ask me five questions about writing crime fiction.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

More Bad Thoughts

From Bookgasm.com's review of Bad Thoughts:

...Zeltserman builds upon the events to a bloody climax that will make readers cheer. BAD THOUGHTS is one of those books that has been under the radar all year, yet deserves to be discovered by a wider audience.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Five Years Later...

Five years ago I started studying Hung Gar Tiger/Crane Kung Fu. I had no martial arts background, and my goals were modest--stick with it for 6 months, and maybe earn my yellow belt. Watching the black belt students in the school, the idea of progressing anywhere near that level seemed impossible. Well, I stuck with it those first six months and continued with my training. A funny thing happened, I started getting better and at some point the idea of earning my black belt didn't seem quite so out of reach. Five years after starting my training, which works out to roughly 1000 classes, 3000 hours of studying on my own, and countless bruises and sore muscles, I tested for my black belt yesterday and earned my degree.

In my school, when you first start you hold your hands to your side to signify that there's no body/mind connection yet. After you earn you brown belt, you bow with your right hand as a fist and your left hand pressed against it with your fingers held straight to signify that the mind/body connection has started. As a black belt you bow with your right hand as a fist and your left hand wrapping around it to signify that there is now a mind/body connection. There's a lot to that. My black belt test was by far the most physically demanding of any of the belt tests--over 2 and a half hours of demonstating punches, kicks, the five animal forms, self defense techniques against attacks, and holding postures--but in some ways it was the easiest of the tests because for the first time taking a belt test the mind and body worked in syncrony and there was none of the feeling of being "scattered and confused" (as my head instructor likes to call it).

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Kate's Holiday Party this Friday Night

I'll be at Kate's holiday party this Friday night signing Bad Thoughts from 6:15-7. This will be my third consecutive year invited to this party, and it's a lot of fun--kind of like a mini-Bouchercon with many of the best mystery writers in the area showing up. The address for Kate's Mystery Bookstore is 211 Mass Ave., Cambridge, MA, and here's the all-star lineup that she has graciously slipped me into:

FRIDAY, DEC. 7TH, from 5:30-7:30

(* means author has a new book, the title of which follows in parenthesis)


Linda Barnes
Jim Barlett* (Death in a Green Jacket, $14.99)
James Benn
Don Davidoff
Jeremiah Healy
Lynne Heitman
Richard Marinick* (In for a Pound, $24.95)
Chris Mooney
Charles O'Brien* (Cruel Choices, $27.95)
Robert Parker* (Now and Then, $24.95)
Clea Simon* (Cries and Whiskers, $24.95)
David Stern* (Hot Tea...Cold Case, $14.95)


Johnny Barnes
Susan Conant* (All Shots, $22.95)
Jessica Conant-Park (Simmer Down, $22.95 with Susan Conant)
Debra Feldman
Joe Finder* (Power Play, $24.95)
Chuck Hogan
Bill Landay
Katherine Hall Page
Vicki Steifel* (The Bone Man, $7.99)
William Tapply* (One-Way Ticket, $23.95)
Leslie Wheeler
Dave Zeltserman* (Bad Thoughts,$25.95)


Dana Cameron
Judy Copek
Hallie Ephron
Leslie Meier* (The Candy Cane Murders, $16)
Hank Phillipi Ryan* (Face Time, $5.50)
Sarah Smith
Toni Kelner
Steve Kelner
Mike Wiecek

Friday, November 30, 2007

I'd be amiss...

I'm still working my way through Out of the Gutter #3, and I want to mention "Playing Dead" by Jordan Harper. This is as good a piece of dark urban pulp as I've across in years. The story involves a vicious Jamaican gang raiding a Brooklyn drug den intent on a massacre, and the lengths one guy is willing to go through to try to survive. The writing is pitch perfect, and the story so far takes the award for the most violent in the journal. Damn good stuff, and I'll be looking for more from Mr. Harper in the future.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Out of the Gutter #3

I received my contributer's copy to Out of the Gutter #3 the other day, and I'm pretty damn impressed with what Matt Louis & company have come up with. This is an attractive and professional looking magazine/book, very clean design, terrific artwork. So far I've only read a few of the stories & articles, but have already come across dark pulpish gems from Pearce Hansen and J.D. Rhoades and a fascinating article by Alan Emmins on one of the most bizarre underground LA sex clubs imaginable--something you wouldn't believe if you came across it in a story or novel.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Nov. 6th 7pm at Barnes & Noble at BU

I'll be having a talk/reading/signing tomorrow night (Tuesday, Nov. 6th) from 7 pm - 8:30 at the Barnes & Noble at Boston University (Kenmore Square) for Bad Thoughts. If you're in the area I hope you drop by.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

another goofy picture of me playing pool

The Needham Times has a feature story about me in today's edition. I owe the reporter, Steve Ryan, a huge debt of gratitude for taking my rambling answers and making something coherent out of it.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Small Crimes

Last week I received the new titles catalog from Serpent's Tail and there on page 12 was Small Crimes with the following description:

A new voice from the US, Zeltserman's Small Crimes is The Sopranos meets Copland, turbo-charged with a line of cocaine.

Bent copper Joe Denton gets out of prison suspiciously early after disfiguring a fellow cop. Nobody wants Joe to hang around, not his ex-wife, his parents or his former colleagues - if he had any decency he’d get out of town and start over. Unfortunately, Joe has precious little decency - and a whole lot of unfinished business to attend to.

A tale of redemption as dark and violent as it's bitterly comic.

‘If the road to hell is paved to paved with good intentions, it may also be lined with small crimes. Classic noir, dark, funny, shocking and absolutely no compromise. Pure magic of the blackest kind’ Ken Bruen

‘Zeltserman delves deeply into his specialty, an unorthodox look at the criminal mind. It kept me turning pages and glancing over my shoulder’ Vicki Hendricks

‘Small Crimes is a superbly crafted tale. Immensely subtle, and written with a rare maturity and confidence... This deserves to be massive’ Allan Guthrie

Small Crimes will be out March 20th with Pariah fast on its heels (1/09). To say that I'm well chuffed (have to start using British slang now that I'm being published by a UK publisher!!) to have my books published by Serpent's Tail, one of the most eclectic and prestigious publishers of crime fiction, is a massive understatement. It's been a long road but fuck if it didn't work out in the end.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A couple of Boston-area author events

October 4, 2007, 7:30-9:00 pm, Needham Public Library, 1139 Highland Ave., Needham, MA. I'll be discussing Bad Thoughts, among other things, and copies will be available for purchase.

November 6, 2007, 7:00-8:30 pm, Barnes & Noble Bookstore at Boston University, 660 Beacon Street, Boston, MA (Kenmore Square). I'll be signing books and talking about both Bad Thoughts and strategies for newer writers to crack into the publishing industry.

If you're in the area I hope you drop in and say hello!

Saturday, September 22, 2007


Since Fast Lane was published in 2004 it has been praised by a number of folks, including Craig McDonald (whose Head Games is next on my TBR pile), Ed Gorman, Bill Crider, Ken Bruen, Vicki Hendricks, Gary Lovisi, Seymour Shubin, Charlie Stella, Poisoned Pen Bookstore (listing it as one of the top hardboiled books of the year) and Kate's Mystery Bookstore. I've gotten emails from readers who somehow discovered this book, and some nice reviews and mentions on different web-sites, including Finnish writer and pulp enthusiast, Juri Nummelin, trying to decide whether this neo-noir book from a tiny publisher should make his top 10 PI novel list. The other day, Michael Robinson, a RARA AVIS stalwart, posted his thoughts on Fast Lane:

"Like Goodis, Zeltserman can bring a minor character to life in a few precise sentences. Like James Ellroy, he can smoothly crank up the tension as the story progresses. You can feel them sweat. Probably the most striking parallel is with the works of Jim Thompson. Like Thompson, Zeltserman excels at invoking an almost hypnotic fascination with a character's hand basket ride into his own private hell.

One thing worth mentioning is the juxtaposition of humor and horror. Without some sort of relief, a noir work risks losing the reader by drowning in its own morbid ooze. Woolrich's I Married a Dead Man is a good example. Dark humor is the writer's preferred choice of relief. Willeford understood this. Same with Al Guthrie and Vicki Hendricks. But the technique is not risk-free. Humor can negate the desperation of the noir condition and turn reader empathy to apathy. What it takes is a graveyard, irony-dripping humor that complements the text rather than contradicting it. In this arena, Zeltserman is a master. He has not only read Jim Thompson. He has improved on him. Thompson's Pop. 1280 is almost always in danger of devolving into a farcical joke. Fast Lane avoids this with a wicked humor integrated perfectly into the increasingly dark world of Johnny Lane."

Mike is one of a half dozen members of RARA AVIS whose postings and critical examinations I look forward to reading--both because of his knowledge and passion for crime fiction, and to get that type of reaction from him for Fast Lane is something that made my day--fuck that, my week!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bad Thoughts in the Blogosphere

It was a nice surprise finding this on the Dover Public Library blog (Dover, NH):

If you like mysteries told from a killer's perspective and don't mind a lot of blood and murder you may want to look into a little known subgenre called "noir fiction". These crime novels often combine obsessive passion with murder and always involve evil, weaving together just enough of the dark side to make one wonder. Most recently I came across an entertaining mystery that included all the noir characteristics, "Bad Thoughts" by Dave Zeltserman. I was so enticed by the tense, fast pace I immediately wanted another like it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nothing But Jerks over at Pulp Pusher

The story, that is.

Tony, who runs the show over at Pulp Pusher and almost overnight has turned his site into one of the premiere crime fiction publications either on the web or in print, is a very cool guy, and decided he wanted to publish my pulp story, Nothing But Jerks. This is one of my really early stories--I wrote this one when I first started writing, and a couple of years ago Jean-Pierre Jacquet and I adapted it to a comic book for Hardluck Stories Bank Job issue. It also features Manny Vassey who also appears in Triple Cross and Next Time (Hardboiled #22). In these early stories, Manny Vassey was mostly a two-dimensional caricature of a malevolent thug who was always eager to put his butcher's table to use, but I always had a soft spot for the guy and brought him back for Small Crimes, except fleshing him out into someone very real. Actually, I brought back two of him, both Manny Sr. and Manny Jr., but you'll see when Small Crimes is out next March. In the meantime there's a small dose of him in Jerks, a story about the problems that can happen when you have a bank robber with hurt feelings. And, yeah, there are plenty of jerks in this story...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Poisoned Pen Bookstore on Bad Thoughts

From Poisoned Pen's Booknews:

"The hardboiled savant's second novel (after HB club pick FAST LANE) is an ambitious genre-bender combining the paranoia and existential dread of the best noir with a liberal dash of The Twilight Zone. Bill Shannon, a cop in the Boston area, is still plagued by nightmares years after coming home from school as a boy to witness his mother's brutal murder. Every year, as the anniversary of her death approaches, Shannon's nightmares get progressively more severe until he ultimately blacks out and disappears from sight for a few days. Funny thing is, women have recently ended up dying in the same manner as his mother during these little spells. Could her killer be back...? It seems unlikely, since Shannon put him in the grave two decades back. Not to be missed. Zeltserman runs a fine online hardboiled zine called "Hardluck Stories" and is himself an up-and-coming star in the noir firmament." --Patrick Milliken

Monday, August 6, 2007

Defining Psycho Noir

Since I've been using the term psycho noir a lot lately in interviews I think I should offer a definition for it, especially since psycho noir is a relatively new term that's been popping up mostly to describe movies like Blue Velvet, Fight Club and Memento where the protagonist is somewhat out of touch with reality.

As far as how it pertains to literature, especially for Jim Thompson's great noir books (Hell of a Woman, Savage Night, Killer Inside Me, Pop. 1280, etc.) I posted the following definition on my Hardluck Stories web-site when I was requesting submissions for my psycho noir issue:

"...where the protagonists perceptions and rationalizations are just off center enough to send them to hell."

The esteemable James Winter posted the following definition on his Northcoast Exhile blog, which I think spells it out pretty well:

"In psycho noir, the protagonist is, quite frankly, a scumbag, knows he's a scumbag, yet deludes himself that he is not."

My own first novel, Fast Lane, fits both of these definitions, and I think sits squarely in the psycho noir category.

As far as standard noir goes, I look at books like James M. Cain's "Double Indemnity" and "Postman Always Rings Twice" where the protagonist crosses a line and there's no turning--basically the equally esteemable Jack Bludis's definition of noir==screwed.

Anyone who has a different definition for psycho noir, I'd like to hear it. Also, let me know your favorite examples of it.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

on the web

Bethany Warner interviews me over at Word Nerd and last Thursday I was guest blogger over at the most excellent site, Murderati, where I detailed my 15 year journey over 3 books and 4+ publishers.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pariah, Killer and Bad Thoughts

Lots of news. Serpent's Tail is going to be publishing my South Boston Irish mob book, Pariah, on 1/09, and my Boston Mafia hitman book, Killer, sometime afterwards. I'm thrilled to have Serpent's Tail publishing Small Crimes, Pariah and Killer, but what's really exciting to me is that although all three books are standalones, Serpent's Tail is going to be selling them as a "badass just out of prison" trilogy. More about all three of these books later.

Bad Thoughts was reviewed this past Sunday in the Virginian-Pilot by Timothy Lockhart, who had a lot of nice things to say about the book, including a comparison to Silence of the Lambs:

"Fans of Thomas Harris' "The Silence of the Lambs" and other novels featuring killer/cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter will enjoy "Bad Thoughts." Although he is not as brilliant or cultured as Lecter, Zeltserman's killer is as frightening and cruel and has certain powers that Lecter lacks. Moreover, because Zeltserman is careful to show the reader why his character became and remains a killer, the murderer in "Bad Thoughts" is in some ways more believable than Lecter.."

Jim Winter also examines Bad Thoughts in January Magazine, and finds it a compelling horror novel, particularly enjoying the smell of it. Romance Review Today also examines Bad Thoughts, and comes to the following conclusion:

"A fast paced psychological thriller, BAD THOUGHTS has many graphic descriptions, but even so, turning the pages is effortless all the way to the climactic end. Every page pulls pull the reader deeper into Bill's nightmares, leaving you wondering who the bad guy really is. Trust no one...If you like hard-edged drama and tense mystery, BAD THOUGHTS is the just the ticket!"

Joe DeMarco at Mysterical-E and Kevin Tipple at Mouth Full of Bullets also weigh in positively on Bad Thoughts, as does Midwest Book Review, calling Bad Thoughts "a must read for thriller fans." Finally, Patrick Milliken at Poisoned Pen Bookstores makes Bad Thoughts one of his July hardboiled picks.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Back Pages Books

I received my shipment of Bad Thoughts late last week and am now going to local bookstores to try to arrange signings, readings, etc., and yesterday visited Back Pages Books in Waltham MA. This is a terrific bookstore, and the owner, Alex Green, is absolutely passionate about books, especially in trying to build a more eclectic collection for his customers than what you typically find. I left him a copy of Bad Thoughts, but regardless of whether or not he wants to do something with it, this is a store I'm going to be highly recommending in the future. It's the type of store that anyone who loves books wants to see prosper, and if you're in the Boston area, check it out at 368 Moody St., Waltham. You can make a day of it--go to the Back Page Books, see an indie film at the Landmark theatre a block away, and eat dinner at any number of very good restaurants on Moody Street, including one of my favorites, the Tuscan Grill.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

My "Bogusly Autobiographical Life in Writer's Hell" Series

I have written a series of short crime fiction that I refer to as my "bogusly autobiographical life in writer's hell" stories. What I like to do with these is have just enough superficial similarities with myself that they appear autobiographical even though they're completely fictitious. Usually I get several concerned emails when one's published. The first of them, More than a Scam, could be the first (and maybe only??) Nigerian email scam story written, and received honorable mention in the 2003 Best American Mystery Stories anthology. Here's the complete series so far (all online), but more will follow, and maybe even a novel.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Not bad from the back either...

Bad Thoughts, that is. Back cover turned out as impressive as the front. You can click on the image to enlarge it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Library Journal on Bad Thoughts

"This fast-paced, gritty psychological tale balances the fine line between mystery and horror."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Preordering some Bad Thoughts

Bad Thoughts is available for preordering from both amazon.com and BN.com, both at a discount (hardcover, regular price $25.95). Amazon is selling it for $17.13. BN is selling it for $20.76 (members $18.68).

What people are saying so far about Bad Thoughts:

A compellingly clever wheels-within-wheels thriller, Zeltserman’s new novel blends genres in a subtle mix that will appeal to both mystery and horror fans. —Elliott Swanson, Booklist (read whole review)

If you're looking for a hardboiled anybody-can-die-at-any-time book that's a change of pace from the usual, look no further. --Bill Crider (read whole review)

This book is an often graphic and intense read that delves deep into the psychology of evil and sanity. -- Kevin Tipple (read whole review)

For a dark, metaphysical thriller with very real characters, give Bad Thoughts a run. -- Frank Zafiro

Bad Thoughts is hypnotic, gripping, even terrifying. -- Steve Hamilton, Edgar Award-winning author of A Stolen Season

Stunning, though definitely not for the faint of heart— Shamus-award winning author, Jeremiah Healy


Bad thoughts is a fast moving occult thriller, with taut dialogue and smart, likeable characters… Pour yourself a fifth of Scotch, get an easy chair, grab a protective talisman and enjoy.—Adrian McKinty, author of Dead I Well May Be and Hidden River

Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday is Cruel Poetry day!

You can read my review of Vicki Hendrick's excellent new novel here. As part of a grand experiment to bring attention to a worthy book, buy a copy of Cruel Poetry today from Amazon if you like your crime fiction populated by dark, twisted souls on a one-way ticket to hell. Or maybe if you just want to read something different from the norm that's beautifully written.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Booklist on Bad Thoughts

A compellingly clever wheels-within-wheels thriller, Zeltserman’s new novel blends genres in a subtle mix that will appeal to both mystery and horror fans. Police detective Bill Shannon’s dreams are being invaded by images of horrific violence, but the source of the intrusion remains shadowed until the harrowing conclusion of the novel, a homage to the Australian Aboriginal concept of “Dreamtime.” The reader will be kept guessing as to whether the psychologically hammered cop is being revisited by his own guilt or whether there’s an outside factor involved in his recurring visions of murdering his own mother. The resolution of the novel clearly indicates the possibility of sequels to come, so if you want to get in on the ground floor, now’s the time. An ingenious plot, skillfully executed. —Elliott Swanson, Booklist

Monday, April 23, 2007

First Thoughts on Bad Thoughts

From Bill Crider:

"...And it's at this point that the genre gets bent. After that, it's a wild ride. I was reminded a little of Blood Dreams, a novel by the late Jack MacLane, published by Zebra just after the era of the knives-in-fresh-fruit covers. Joe Lansdale's Act of Love had one of those covers, come to think of it. Zeltserman's book would rest comfortably on the shelf beside them. If you're looking for a hardboiled anybody-can-die-at-any-time book that's a change of pace from the usual, look no further. Just check this one out when it appears in July."

You can read the whole review here, and I'd like to thank Bill for taking the time to read Bad Thoughts, reviewing it, and putting it in such fine company.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A Hardluck Sampler

We're in between issues right now at Hardluck, and I thought I'd put together a 12-story sampler from Hardluck's archives to show new readers some of the goodies lurking there. Enjoy.

Punk by Ken Bruen
Beauty by Ed Gorman
"One Step Closer" by Iain Rowan
What's in a Name? by Robert Wm. Wagner
I'm No Killer by Allan Guthrie
Evil Forces by Gary Lovisi
A Handful of Dust by Harry Shannon
Keely Sings The Blues by Sarah Weinman
No Hablo Ingles by Manuel Ramos
Lost in the Water by Trey Barker
Coyote's Ballard by Mike MacLean
Church Social by Pearce Hansen

Friday, April 20, 2007

Hardluck turns the spotlight on Five Star

Here's the general announcement for the Summer issue of Hardluck Stories that John Helfers and I came up with:

"Hardluck Stories announces a call for stories for its upcoming Five Star Publishing edition:

Hardluck Stories, the noir fiction e-zine edited by Dave Zeltserman, is announcing a call for story submissions for a future edition that will celebrate the Five Star Mystery line. Edited by Dave and guest editor John Helfers, who oversees the Mystery Fiction line for Tekno Books, and packager of the Five Star Mystery line, this special edition of Hardluck stories will be open to any Five Star author who wishes to submit, whether they've published in the Mystery, SF/Fantasy, or Expressions lines.

Of course, stories must be noir, the darker the better, and the overarching theme of the edition will be Crime in the City. Stories should be no more than 5,000 words long, are due by July 1, 2007, and should be sent to dz@hardluckstories.com. Authors of the chosen stories will be notified by e-mail. For more information on Hardluck Stories, please visit the website at http://www.hardluckstories.com"

So why a Hardluck Five Star issue? For a lot of reasons, really. One is I have a book coming out with them July 18th. But that's only a small part of it. Without the support of people like Ed Gorman (who created the Five Star Mystery Line), Michael Black, Harry Shannon and Trey Barker, Hardluck wouldn't be what it is today. All of them have of them have been guest editors (in Michael's case, twice), all of them have been contributers, and they all helped shaped Hardluck's vision. There have been other links between Hardluck and Five Star--Jeremiah Healy, who gave Hardluck a much needed boost in the early days by guest editing a special issue of Hardluck, had one of his standalone books published by Five Star and gave me the privilege of publishing one of his stories in the Western Noir issue, as did Bill Crider, who's been a great friend of Hardluck, and also has a standalone coming out through Five Star. Other Five Star authors who've been published on Hardluck include Julie Hyzy and Dave Case. Anyway, Five Star is putting out some terrific crime fiction by some amazingly talented writers, and they deserve any attention Hardluck could provide it. Plus, I'll end up publishing a terrific collection of noir stories in the process. Can't beat that.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Bad and Beautiful

Bad as in the first word of the title for my upcoming novel Bad Thoughts, Beautiful as in the stunning cover my publisher settled on*. So far I've been lucky--both the Point Blank and Meridiano Zero covers for my first novel, Fast Lane, have been works of art. Now just waiting to see what Serpent's Tail comes up with for Small Crimes.

*the photo for the cover was taken by a good friend and an amazingly talented artist, Laurie Pzena.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Monday, March 12, 2007

Cast of Small Crimes, part 6

Another one of Joe.

Cast of Small Crimes, part 5

Clara Coakley, Phil Coakley's daughter. In this drawing, Jean-Pierre was experimenting with a more "Leonard Cohen" look for Joe Denton.

Friday, March 9, 2007

250-word Flash Fiction

I originally posted this on the unfortunately now defunct Flashing in the Gutters. At less than 250 words I think it works well as a fully-realized story. One of these days I might look at rewriting this as a 60,000 word novel.

Danny Smith by Dave Zeltserman

I can’t get Danny Smith off my mind…

He was a good-looking kid. Well-mannered, soft-spoken, just an overall good kid. Only twenty-four years old. Six months ago he hired me to find his birth parents. You see, he was adopted, had great parents, but he wanted to know his roots. There was something familiar looking about him, made me think I had seen him before. The reason for that was his birth dad turned out to be Sam Lombardo, top guy in the Boston Mob. It didn’t take me too long to find that out. It turns out Lombardo had a one-night fling with a dancer, never knew he had this other son. When I told him about Danny, he told me what he would do to me if this kid ever bothered him.

That was six months ago.

Two weeks ago I heard Lombardo was on his death bed, dying of congestive heart failure, and word was he was going down fast. His goons brought me to to see him. Lombardo wanted to know about Danny. I thought he just wanted to make peace with his son before he died.

A week ago Danny’s parents called me. They were frantic. Danny had disappeared. They had no idea where he was.

Three days ago I heard through the grapevine that Lombardo had found a heart donor. A good match, too. Transplant looks like its going to be a success.

I can’t get Danny Smith off my mind…

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Cast of Small Crimes, part 4

Toni, a stripper with not quite a heart of gold. For the movie version, think Eva Langoria.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Femme Fatales on Hardluck Stories

The Femme Fatale issue of Hardluck Stories is now online. Guest edited by O'Neil De Noux, with original noirish femme fatale stories by Michael Bracken, Trey Barker, Pearce Hanson, Stephen D. Rogers, George Wilhite, John J. Wilson, Patricia Abbott, Matt Spencer, Garnett Elliot, T. P. Keating, Rafe McGregor, Mary Elizabeth Merrem Shaw and Terry White, and illustrated by Jean-Pierre Jacquet, this is one collection of Hardluck Stories you don't want to miss!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Cast of Small Crimes, part 3

Manny Vassey, a 56 year-old local mobster who's dying of stomach cancer, and if the DA is able to coax a death-bed confession out of him, Joe and a lot other people are going away to prison.

Manny has long been a been one of my favorite bad guys, appearing in three earlier short stories: Next Time (Hardboiled #22), Triple Cross, and Nothing But Jerks. Here I've turned him into more of a flesh and blood character, taken him out of Chicago and moved him to fictional Bradley, Vermont.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Cast of Small Crimes, part 2

DA Phil Coakley, the man Joe Denton stabbed 13 times in the face, and now that Joe's out of jail he wants his pound of flesh back! When I was writing Small Crimes I pictured Coakley looking somewhat like Billy Bob Thorton . Jean-Pierre drew him almost as a younger Whitey Bulger. Here's how Joe describes the damage he did to Coakley's face when he finds Coakley waiting for him outside of jail:

When I moved closer to him, I could see the scarring along his face more plainly, and it was all I could do to keep from looking away. The damage was far worse up close. He looked almost as if someone had played tic tac toe on his face. As if he were some grotesque caricature from a Dick Tracy comic strip. Parts of his face were uneven with other parts, and that chunk of flesh missing from his nose, Jesus Christ. As tough as doing so was, I kept my eyes straight on him.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

some short crime fiction

Some of my short crime fiction that's either been published recently or will be available soon:

Dave Stevens, I Presume? -- March 2007 Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine --read review

Nine-Ball Lessons -- Bullet #7, one of my more thuggish stories about life lessons gleaned from a game of nine-ball between two mob guys.

A Rage Issue -- Thuglit #11 -- another of my more thuggish stories, this one inspired when a Phil Leotardo look-alike backed into me in traffic.

A View from the Mirador -- March/April 2007 Futures -- this one is written in a light, bantering cozy-type style, but is easily the sickest story I've ever written.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Cast of Small Crimes, part 1

Before I sold my noir novel, Small Crimes, to Serpent's Tail, Jean-Pierre Jacquet and I were pitching it to a French graphic novel publisher. Jean-Pierre is a professional artist who has done among other things commercials, animation for SNL, and regularly has art shows for his paintings. We collaborated together on a noir comic book, Nothing But Jerks, that I published on my Hardluck Stories web-zine, and Jean-Pierre has also done the artwork for Hardluck's Psycho Noir and the upcoming Femme Fatales issue. We almost sold Small Crimes as a graphic novel--we went through a number of board meetings until the publisher finally decided that Small Crimes was too mature for their audience. Anyway, I have all these great drawings that Jean-Pierre did for the proposal, and he has graciously given me permission to post them here, which I'll be doing over the next couple of weeks, along with a short description of the characters. And don't worry, no spoilers will be given--only details that you'd be able to get from the first few pages of the book.

Pictured above is my noir hero, Joe Denton. Jean-Pierre named him Danton for the graphic novel to give him a more French sounding name. When I wrote the book, I was picturing someone physically resembling Bruce Willis when he had hair, but Jean-Pierre drawing him with more of a Clive Owen look works well.

A little bit about Small Crimes; it's a completely different vision of noir than FAST LANE, more modern and with little of the psychotic, self-delusional aspects. It takes place in a small, rural Vermont town and centers around Joe Denton, a disgraced ex-cop. When Joe was on the force he drifted into payoffs and graft and other crimes, not the least of which was emotionally abandoning his family. When his crimes escalate, he ends up maiming the County DA who's been building a police corruption case against him. The book opens with Joe being released from jail after serving seven years for what he did to the DA.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Bad Thoughts

A good friend of mine, Laurie Pzena, who is an amazingly talented artist (and did the logo for my web-zine Hardluck Stories), took the photo and made this layout for my Bad Thoughts book cover, and my publisher Five Star has decided to use it. They might end up changing the font, but this is for the most part going to be the cover, and I couldn't be happier about it. I finished going over the copy edits for the book, and it's on track for a July 2007 release. Bad Thoughts is more crime thriller than noir, and is a completely different style than my first book, Fast Lane. Here's the decription from the front cover flap, and a few comments from some authors I respect immensely:
When he was thirteen years old, Billy Shannon came home from school one day to find his mother being murdered in their California home. Dying slowly of asphyxia, she is drowning in her own blood; a knife protruding from her open mouth and impaling her to the kitchen table. Twenty years pass, and Bill Shannon is a cop in Cambridge, Massachusetts, living with his wife Susie and trying to get a handle on the nightmares that have plagued him for most of his adult life. Every year, as the anniversary of his mother’s death approaches, the nightmares of his mother’s killer, Herbert Winters, get progressively worse until the blackouts come, and then Shannon simply disappears from sight to return home days later without a clue of what he has done while gone. The 20th anniversary of his mother’s death is quickly approaching and Shannon desperately needs to figure out what he has been doing during his black outs, especially since women have recently started dying in the same grisly manner as his mother. His nightmares are getting worse and the evidence against him is stacking up... Everything seems to be pointing to one of two possibilities: Shannon has gone insane or Herbert Winters is back to his old tricks. The problem is if it’s Herbert Winters, then he’s come back from a long way to torment Bill Shannon… back from the grave which Bill Shannon had sent him to twenty years earlier.

Bad Thoughts is reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs and Darkly Dreaming Dexter, a terrifying vision of evil that straddles the razor-thin line between horror and crime. The story will leave readers breathless as it races towards a shocking conclusion that few, if any, could anticipate.

"Dark, brutal, captivating -- this is one hell of a book, the kind of book that doesn't let go of you once you start it. Dave Zeltserman is clearly the real deal."
Steve Hamilton, Edgar Award-Winning Author of A STOLEN SEASON


"Dave Zeltserman's Bad Thoughts is a fast moving occult thriller, with taut dialogue and smart, likeable characters. Darkness pervades the Bay State in the late 1990's and Detective Bill Shannon will be lucky to solve a standard missing person's case in one piece. In fact as the story unfolds we see that death and dismemberment could be the least of Bill's worries. Pour yourself a fifth of Scotch, get an easy chair, grab a protective talisman and enjoy."
Adrian McKinty, author of Dead I Well May Be and Hidden River

"I'm not sure I ever truly understood the concept of 'evil' before reading Bad Thoughts. In chilling prose and dialogue, Dave Zeltserman paints a portrait of a serial killer who surpasses Hannibal Lecter in 'creativity' and substitutes astral guile for intellect: a villain who not only toys with his victims' minds but also can enter both his victims' and the hero's dreams. Stunning, though definitely not for the faint of heart."
Jeremiah Healy, author of TURNABOUT and THE ONLY GOOD LAWYER


I used to have a blog called Hardluckwriter. It was kind of pointless and meandering (and as my friend Vicki Hendricks kept telling me--too negative a name), and I decided to get rid of it. The hardluckwriter blog still exists but its not mine--as soon as I dumped it someone else grabbed the name. Those weird esoteric posts over there ain't mine. People have asked me about those, and I don't have a clue what they mean.

What I'm going to do with this blog is simply post news about my writing. I have two books coming out this year, Small Crimes and Bad Thoughts, along with an anthology of western noir stories that I'm co-editing with Ed Gorman, and some short stories. As information about my books and stories are available, I'll be posting it here.