Short, Sharp Interview: Dave Zeltserman

PDB: Can you pitch Monster in 25 words or less?

DZ: A retelling of Frankenstein where the creature tells the true story to put to rest the outrageous lies a dying Victor Frankenstein told Captain Walton.

PDB: Which books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

I’ve gotten hooked on Mad Men and have been catching up this summer with all the DVDs from past seasons. For new books, Vile Blood from Roger Smith is really quite something. For older books, I picked up Rex Stout’s The Rubber Band the other day for inspiration and was mesmerized by Stout’s wit, humor, and razor-sharp writing. I’ve also been working my way through the Richard Stark Parker books, just finishing The Black Ice Score. All have been great so far. I particularly loved The Seventh.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

DZ: Definitely. As writers, we’ll quickly notice formulaic, stale writing, but also the more inventive and passionate writing. And when we come across something really special, we know it and tend to fall in love with it.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

DZ: Right now I have two film deals in development. I’ve tried my hand at screenwriting, and think I’ve done a pretty good job at it, but what I’ve found is to get deals moved forward, producers need to attach a named screenwriter, otherwise the deal can stall out. So as much as I’d like to do the screenplays for my books, it’s best to just bow
out.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

DZ: Most of my books, very little research. In some cases, like Small Crimes, it’s reading a couple of newspaper articles. Pariah is a bit different in that it was a distillation of a lifetime of reading and listening about Whitey Bulger. Monster is also different in that I spent 9 months researching it, reading Marquis de Sade’s works, E. T. A. Hoffmann’s tales, biographies on de Sade, on Samuel Hahnemann, on the London Hells Fire Sex Clubs, London street gangs, witchcraft, 18th century European history, and other related subjects.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

DZ: I look at social media as a way to stay in touch with my readers, but I don’t think it’s very useful to attract new readers.

PDB: What’s on the cards in 2012/13?

DZ: Well, Monster came out this August, the trade paperback of A Killer’s Essence came out in September, my ‘man out of prison’ noir trilogy came out in Italy this summer, and Monster will also be out next year in the UK. Ellery Queen will also be publishing my 4th Julius Katz story, ‘Archie Solves the Case’. At this time, I’m not sure what else will be coming out, although I’m finishing up my 3rd Hunted novella.