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

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Next Big Thing: The Interloper

I was tagged last Wednesday by my friend and fellow Top Suspense author, Libby Hellmann for this--

What is the working title of your next book?


Where did the idea come from?

I had this preposterous  idea for a government conspiracy thriller that I just couldn't let go of, and this led to me writing the novella  THE HUNTED, which led me to wanting to write a series of novellas where some would be part of the same conspiracy idea with a Spillane/Destroyer feel, while others would be pure crime heist with more of a Richard Stark/Parker feel and others a mix of the two. So the next one up was THE DAME. And that led me to wanting to write a 3rd, THE INTERLOPER, and wanting to see if I could package the three of them as a novel.

What genre best defines your book?

men's action, crime, conspiracy, thriller

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Dan Willis -- Clive Owen

The Dame -- Milas Kunis

Martin Luce -- Jeremy Renner

 What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Shadowy government agency, hitmen, double-crosses, and crime heists gone very bad.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The first two novellas have been self-published, but my agent is now shopping all 3 as a book.
How long did it take you to write the first draft?

6 months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The first part, THE HUNTED, will remind readers of both The Destroyer books and Mickey Spillane. THE DAME and THE INTERLOPER parts will remind readers of Richard Stark books, such as The Seventh.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Partly my love of the Richard Stark Parker books, partly wanting to do a similar series, and partly having this preposterous conspiracy idea I couldn't let go of.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

The first part, THE HUNTED has a shocker of a secret, and the 2nd and 3rd parts are for readers who love violent crime heists novels.

Now for the tags: 
Look for their posts next week and consider trying…their Next Big Thing!
Howard Shrier, Paul D. Marks and Jason Stuart


Monday, November 26, 2012

My book covers: Pariah (Fanucci Editore)

My Italian publisher, Fanucci Editore, was originally going to publish Pariah as a standalone novel, but they decided instead to publish all three of my 'man out of prison' books in a single volume under their new TimeCrime imprint. The artwork they used for the cover was the artwork they were going to use for Pariah. While Serpent's Tail and PulpMaster made Kyle Nevin (rightfully) more demonic on their covers, Fanucci went more for a bad ass look, which is still fitting.

It's possible there's a fiercer and more ruthless first-person narrator in a crime novel than Kyle, but if there is, I haven't come across the book yet.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

My book covers: Pariah (PulpMaster)

My German publisher for Pariah, PulpMaster, create very distinctive paintings for their covers, all modern pieces of art that could be hung in galleries, and their cover for Pariah is no different. What they've done with Kyle Nevin, is make him part man and part demon, which is extremely apt!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My book covers: Pariah

Serpent's Tail did a fantastic job with this cover for Pariah. An ominous Kyle Nevin in the shadows with the cabin beginning to erupt in flames. This cover not only captures the darkness and explosiveness of the book, but it was a great choice using Red Mahoney's cabin, which in the book was a place of evil and abomination.

Washington Post's review of Pariah

The Bookbag's review

Boston Globe's review

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My book covers: Bad Karma

Next up is Bad Karma, which beat Pariah to publication by a month. My publisher's original cover wasn't very good, but they were willing to work with me to come up with this cover. Unfortunately the earlier rejected cover got submitted to Amazon and stayed up there until recently.

This cover still doesn't really work for the book, which is a hardboiled and somewhat new agey PI novel set in Boulder, Colorado dealing with cults, gangsters, and evil yoga studios. But at least the mountains being shown are the Flatirons, and the image superimposed in the right upper corner is the Hindu god Kali, who is related to karma.

At some point I'm going to put Bad Karma back up as an ebook, but with a new title and a cover more relating to the cult aspect of the book.

Monday, November 19, 2012

My book covers: Small Crimes (Fanucci Editore)

The Italian edition of Small Crimes went in a very different direction  for its cover than  the US and French editions. This cover is straight from a scene from late in the book.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My book covers: Small Crimes (Rivages)

The French edition for Small Crimes went for a similar design as the Serpent's Tail cover, but even darker and more noirish.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

My book covers: Small Crimes

I like what Serpent's Tail came up. The overall look is attractive and the nighttime shot and the police lights flashing gives an indication of darkness and crime. Serpent's Tail is a UK publisher so I can't hold it against them that this looks a lot more like California than a small Vermont town. Of course, I think it would've made the cover even better if Serpent's added how the book made both NPR's and Washington Post's best of the year lists.

Friday, November 16, 2012

My book covers: Bad Thoughts

My publisher for my second book, Bad Thoughts, came up with a cover which, being kind, wasn't very good, but they agreed to let me provide my own artwork. My friend (and my wife's cousin) Laurie Pzena is an extremely talented painter, graphic artist and photographer, and I asked her if she could come up with a cover, suggesting taking a photo at a cemetery, and what she came up with for Bad Thoughts I think is great. My publisher ended up darkening it, changing the color and font, but I always liked her version better, so  when I put Bad Thoughts out as an ebook I went back to her original version for the cover.

While there are no scenes in a cemetery, Laurie's photo expresses the grim nature of the book and that it's horror, even though the description and first 50 or so pages might make it seem like it's a police procedural.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My book covers: Fast Lane (Meridiano Zero)

Meridiano Zero's cover for Fast Lane went in a different direction by focusing on the detective angle as opposed to the psycho noir aspect of the book, although this black and white photo still has a noirish feel.

Interestingly, I sold the Italian rights for Fast Lane about a year before selling the US rights to Point Blank Press.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Looking back at my book covers: Fast Lane

Over the next 3+ weeks I'll be looking back at my book covers in the order of their publication dates, including the foreign edition covers. First up is Fast Lane.

J.T. Lindroos, graphic artist and publisher of the legendary Point Blank Press, came up with this brilliant cover--an apocalyptic scene of a man rushing towards a city bursting into flames. Not only does this capture the essence of this psycho noir novel, but it's also very close to one of the scenes from the book.

A quick story about the writing of Fast Lane. I wrote the first draft in 1992, and in '96 I was working with an agent who wanted me to start the book earlier in the story to show Johnny Lane in a more positive light so the reader could be more sympathetic to him by the time he has his psychotic break. I'd heard the same from other early readers, so I wrote around 45 additional pages. At the time I was using an early version of Microsoft Windows, and just as I was finishing these 45 pages my computer crashed and I lost these pages (I hadn't made a backup, or printed them out yet). I wouldn't be able to swear in court that I retyped those 45 pages from memories exactly as I originally wrote them, but I'm pretty sure I did, and there's no way I'd ever be able to do that again.

Monday, November 12, 2012

UK cover for MONSTER

Duckworth's cover is similar to the US cover with some small tweaks, but I like what they did. I also like the book description they came up with:

Monster cleverly – and chillingly – reanimates a classic tale. Friedrich Hoffman, the so-called monster, recounts how he was falsely accused of killing his fiancĂ©e, tortured and killed for his ‘crime’, and awoke on the lab table of Victor Frankenstein – a man with all manner of gruesome plans. We see inside Friedrich’s mind as he embarks on a single-minded quest for vengeance; but at what cost to the remnants of his humanity?

Intense and gothic, Monster depicts nineteenth-century Europe in a blaze of depravity, excess and supernatural terrors, in an ingenious tribute to one of literature’s greatest works.

Monday, November 5, 2012

How my short stories have fared

I don't write many short stories. Sometimes I'll write one when I have an idea burning inside me that needs to get out, but usually I write a story only when a magazine or anthology ask me for one. Still, over the last couple of years my stories have been faring pretty well. Here's a quick summary:

Shamus Award from the Private Eye Writers of America

Julius Katz (winner)

Ellery Queen's Readers Choice Award

Archie's Been Framed (winner)
Julius Katz (3rd place)

Derringer Award from the Short Mystery Fiction Society

Julius Katz (winner)
More Than a Scam (nominated)

Thriller Award from the International Thriller Writers

A Hostage Situation (nominated)

Notable stories in Best American Mystery Stories

More Than a Scam
Julius Katz
Emma Sue

Inclusion in Ed Gorman's and Martin Greenberg's best mysteries of the year anthologies

Julius Katz
Archie's Been Framed (which Publisher's Weekly in their review cited as the best story in the anthology)

Julius Katz and Archie's Been Framed can be found in Julius Katz Mysteries

A Hostage Situation and Emma Sue can be found in One Angry Julius & Other Stories

 More Than a Scam can be found in 21 Tales

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A "notable" Emma Sue

I was happy to see my story, Emma Sue, was named a notable story by this year's Best American Mystery Stories. Emma Sue was originally published in ON DANGEROUS GROUND: STORIES OF WESTERN NOIR, and is available in my Kindle ebook collection, ONE ANGRY JULIUS & OTHER STORIES. This makes the second story in my ONE ANGRY JULIUS collection to be recognized this year as A Hostage Situation was earlier nominated for a Thriller Award.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Killer's Essence -- first chapter

A KILLER'S ESSENCE is now out in trade paperback, and is currently in film development from Braven Films. Here's the first chapter.


Back in 1972 I was seven years old and always tagging along after my older brother, Mike. This was back before the attention you have today on child abductions and pedophiles—that evil existed, shit, it has probably always existed, but it wasn’t on TV or the news much, if at all. You didn’t have CNN and the Internet to focus on it twenty-four seven, and as a result a lot of parents didn’t think about it. Back then it wasn’t all that unusual for a seven-year-old and a bunch of ten-year-olds to spend their afternoons hanging around their Brooklyn neighborhood unsupervised. And that was what Mike and his friends and I used to do, at least when he and his friends couldn’t shake me, and I was a tough little bugger to shake back then, just as I am now.
This one afternoon it was just Mike and me. We had just spent a half hour in Bob’s Drugstore thumbing through the comic books until the owner got fed up with us and told us to buy something or leave. Mike spent a dime on a Sky Bar candy bar. He broke off the caramel piece for me, and we left anyway. While we were walking past the fish market a man came out and offered us five bucks to clean up the backroom. Mike wanted that five bucks, but something about the man made me grab onto Mike’s arm and pull him back while shouting “No!” repeatedly as if I were demon possessed. Mike looked at me as if I was nuts, and I thought he was going to punch me, but that wouldn’t have stopped me from what I was doing. A couple of older men from the neighborhood wandered over to see what the commotion was about, and the man from the fish market started to look nervous. He told us to forget it and he went back into his store.
“What’d you do that for, Stan?” Mike demanded, his narrow face taut and angry. “Five bucks! You know what we could’ve bought for five bucks? Are you stupid?”
At this point I was crying. I couldn’t explain to him why I did what I did. I couldn’t say it out loud. I couldn’t have him think I was even nuttier than he already thought I was. Anyway, all I wanted was for us to get away from there, so I kept pulling on his arm, using every ounce of strength I had to drag us away from that store. One of the neighborhood men gave me a concerned look and told Mike that he should take his little brother home. Mike looked pissed, but he did what the man asked him to. All the way home he kept asking what was wrong with me.
Later at dinner Mike told our folks what had happened and how I cost us five bucks. Pop asked why I did what I did, but I couldn’t explain it to him. He shook his head, disappointed-like, and gave me a lecture about the value of money, but left it at that.
The next night while we were eating dinner, Mr. Lombardi from down the hall knocked on our door. Chucky Wilson, who was a year older than Mike, hadn’t come home yet from school and he wanted to know if either Mike or I had seen him or knew anything. We didn’t. He looked tired as he apologized for interrupting our dinner. Pop asked him if they needed any more help looking for Chucky. Mr. Lombardi thought about it, but shook his head and told Pop to finish his dinner and if they still hadn’t found Chucky in another hour he’d let Pop know. After Mr. Lombardi left I told Pop that Chucky was with that man from the fish market.
“That man from the fish market must’ve promised Chucky five bucks also. That’s where Chucky is!”
“Stan, quit talking nonsense,” Mom said.
“I’m not! I’ll bet anything that’s where Chucky is!”
“Stop it now!” Pop ordered. “Christ, I don’t know how you get these ideas.”
None of us had much of an appetite after that, Mike and me mostly pushing our food around our plates and Pop staring off into space. After a while of that he got up and left the table and then the apartment. He didn’t bother saying anything to Mom about where he was going. She looked like she was fighting hard to keep from crying.
It turned out that Pop collected other men from the neighborhood and they visited the fish market. They broke into the store and found the man who had offered Mike and me five bucks. He was in the back room chopping up what was left of Chucky. I didn’t learn that part until recently, but that’s what they found. It was days after that when Pop asked me how I knew where Chucky would be. I couldn’t explain it to him, so I shrugged and told him I just knew.
For years I had convinced myself that none of that happened. That it was a dream I once had, or maybe a story I heard, or something from a movie or TV show that I saw as a kid. After meeting Zachary Lynch, I started remembering more about that day back when I was a seven-year-old kid and thinking that maybe it wasn’t just a dream. I found the old newspaper stories about that man in the fish market and what he did to Chucky Wilson, and then dug out the police reports. My pop had died when I was twenty and Mom is in no shape these days to remember anything, but I talked with Mike and he confirmed what happened. All those years we never talked about it, both of us pretending it never happened.
“What did you see that day, Stan?” he asked.
I shook my head and told him I didn’t know, and from the look on his face he seemed relieved to hear that. The fact is I did see something. When that man came out of the fish market wearing his stained apron over a pair of dirty khakis and even dirtier T-shirt, for a moment I didn’t see a man but something ghoulish, something from out of a nightmare. It only lasted a second, if that, and then he turned back into a balding and scrawny middle-aged man, but for that moment I saw something else.
Later, after talking with Mike, I sat quietly and remembered everything I could about that day and wrote it all down. After all those years I finally accepted what I saw. I still have never told anyone about this other than Zachary Lynch, and he’s the only person I know who would possibly understand.