Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Interview With Author Dave Zeltserman- Book to Film

Big treat for you today- we're speaking with Dave Zeltserman, an author who's having a pretty good year.
Here's a good mug shot for a writer of crime novels.

First, he's adding to his output of books by writing a serious of successful crime thrillers for Kensington Books (note the pen name)

 And  big news is the recent release of a major film made from his book Small Crimes
(currently a steal on Kindle- grab it!).
Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones' Jaime Lannister)

Q. So how did this novel come to be? Was it envisioned from the start as a bigger canvas, or did it expand organically out of an idea? Please tell us a bit about the origin.

A. The idea was triggered by an article I read about the Denver’s sheriff’s office in the 60s, and how these officers were robbing the stores blind that they were supposed to be protecting. I started playing what-if games with this idea of an utterly corrupt sheriff’s office, and that led to Small Crimes being born.

Q. Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?

A. I need a detailed outline before I start writing. At some point while I’m writing the book will become something organic and take on a life of its own. New characters and subplots will develop, but I’ll always navigate back to my original roadmap.

Q. What do you feel is the main theme(s)?

A. Small Crimes is noir. A man’s past crimes dooming him. There’s the added element that all of his scheming to try to escape responsibility ends up causing so much damage to the town, but at its heart, this is pure noir.

Q. Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book?

A. I enjoy well-written noir more than any other type of crime fiction. It explores dark realms of the soul that are barely touched on by other crime and mystery subgenres. It can also be thrilling as the reader puts himself/herself in the place of the noir protagonist desperate for a way out of a doom that there is no escape from.

Q. What makes a good book or engaging story?

A. For the reader to completely disappear into the fictional world. I don’t necessarily need the protagonist to be likeable, but I need him to be fascinating, and I need to be fully engulfed in his problems and desires. There has to be a growing, nearly unbearable tension. I need to want to turn the page to find out what happens next.

Q. Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you?

A. Jim Thompson and James M. Cain wrote probably the best noir fiction of the 20th century. When I reread SMALL CRIMES, I also saw in the more hardboiled action sequences strains of Dan Marlowe, who wrote the classic noir/hardboiled crime novel THE NAME OF THE GAME IS DEATH. I love noir. I love the depths it brings you to, and how it challenges you. I love the tension that great noir creates.

Q. Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions? Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story?

A. Entertainment is an important element, but fiction can also help the reader better understand the human psyche, and take them places they wouldn’t otherwise go.  Some of my novels are imbued with themes I wish to explore, some are just meant to be thrilling escapes.

Q. Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally?

A. I’m trying to write professionally, in other words, make a living at it. SMALL CRIMES being made into a feature film helps. I have several other movies based on my books in development, and if those get made it will help even more. 

Q. Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise? When you send the book off to the publisher, are you happy with it, or just tired of it?

A. I write a detailed outline before starting. This helps me keep my plot from needing much, if any, revision. I do line editing every hundred pages, which also allows me to get a feel for how the book is working, and then another pass of line editing once I’m done. Publishers will then do two passes of editing—one with the editor, the other with the copyeditor. So far the editor passes have been fairly light—mostly line editing, and none of my books have required significant changes.

Q. Do you have good editors, and if so, how do they help you? Do they look for particular things? Do you have different people for different editing levels?

A. I’ve had 4 books published by Serpent’s Tail  with one editor, and the editing was extremely light—maybe a half dozen light edit requests or name changes. With my four Overlook Books, I had four different editors, all at different levels. The Boy Who Killed Demons probably went through the most extensive editing of these. Right now I’m being published by Kensington, with the same editor, and I’m enjoying working with her.

Q. If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help?

A. Do anything but writing if you can help it. Seriously. It’s the most random enterprise you can possibly get into, and there’s so much outside of your control. But if you’re truly driven to write, and it’s all you want to do, and you want to be published, then take it seriously as a business. Read and understand the types of books the industry is looking for.  Understand that the industry isn’t looking for great books, but good commercial books. It took me years to learn that last lesson.

Q. Stories can be told by using a different medium, and Small Crimes is now a big movie. How does that alter the story?

A. Changes will always have to be made, both because of budgetary and time constraints, and of course, the director’s vision. There were quite a few changes for the SMALL CRIMES film, but somehow the director/screenwriter made it faithful to the spirit of the book. Even with the changes, I’m happy with it.

Q. What's the next step in your writing world?

A. I’m writing a serious of crime thrillers for Kensington Books. The first of these DERANGED came out in March, the second, CRAZED, will be out in September. Right now I’m writing book 4 in this series. I think these are fun, twisty books, with lots of surprises and twists, some humor, and a bull terrier!

Q. Tell us fun facts about yourself.

A. How about that I had dinner with Robert Forster during the shooting of SMALL CRIMES?
Or that I also have published two computer books?
Or that when I was in my 40s I started studying Kung Fu and earned a black belt?

Website: https://www.davezeltserman.com

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