Short, Sharp Interview: Michael Zimecki

ZIMECKIPDB: Can you pitch DEATH SENTENCES in 25 words or less?

MZ:  It’s about what happens when one believes the lies broadcast by the American right-wing noise machine and foolishly, tragically, act as if they were true.

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

MZ:  John D. MacDonald’s The End of the Night (1960) and the TV series Fargo.  I was also thrilled by the opening pages of Paul D. Brazill’s Werewolf P.I. and plan to get back to it as soon as this interview is over.

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

MZ:  If pitching is 75% of baseball, as Connie Mack once said, subject matter is 75% of writing, and determining what’s important enough to write about is a very subjective thing.

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

MZ:   I’ve tried my hand at plays but prefer writing novels. As for films and TV?  My teacher, Martin Russ (Breakout, The Last Parallel), once had one of his books optioned by Stanley Kubrick, who treated him to a glorious lunch in Hollywood.  That was all he got.  Kubrick never exercised the option, the film project died, Martin went back to writing books, and was probably the better for it.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

MZ:  Death Sentences is based on an incident in Pittsburgh in 2009, and I researched that incident thoroughly before writing the book; however, the book doesn’t presume to be history or journalism.  It’s fiction, and the events that triggered it were just a springboard.

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

MZ:  In my day job as a lawyer, I’m mindful of the fact that people say things in social media they probably shouldn’t – often without realizing that their unfiltered comments are discoverable, potentially actionable.  That being said, I have a Twitter account and am beginning to appreciate social media as marketing tools.

DEATH SENTENCESPDB: What’s on the cards for 2014?

I’m working on a novel based on a 40+-year-old murder case.  Someone, Ross MacDonald, I think, described Oedipus Rex as the first detective story, and I’m interested in writing an account of a search for a murderer that leads the detective inward, one that becomes an exploration of self as well as an attempt to solve a crime.

Bio: Michael Zimecki writes fiction, nonfiction and plays while continuing to work as an attorney.  Born in inner-city Detroit, he did turns as a steelworker, advertising copywriter, medical editor and teacher before practicing law.

Michael has written for Harper’s Magazine, The National Law Journal, College English and The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, among other publications.

His novella, The History of My Final Illness, about the last five days in the life of Joseph Stalin, appeared in the online magazine, Eclectica.  A play, Negative Velocity, about atom-bomb father J. Robert Oppenheimer, is a past winner of the New Playwright’s Contest of the Fremont Center Theatre, located in South Pasadena, California.

Michael lives in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania with his wife, Susan.  He enjoys travelling outside the United States, swing jazz, fedoras and Hardboiled fiction.


One thought on “Short, Sharp Interview: Michael Zimecki”

  1. I never considered using historic events as a springboard but (to an ex-adman) it really makes sense when the event adds significance to your story. There are real life scenario’s that everybody knows or subconsciously recognises. Gives you extra room to play with other things.

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