Interview with Dave Zeltserman: ‘My novels have strong stories with lots of surprises’

Dave Zeltserman

Dave Zeltserman won the 2010 Shamus Award for ‘Julius Katz’ and is the acclaimed author of the ‘man out of prison’ crime trilogy: Small Crimes, Pariah and Killer, where Small Crimes was picked by NPR as one of the five best crime and mystery novels of 2008, and Small Crimes and Pariah (2009) were both picked by the Washington Post as best books of the year. His recent The Caretaker of Lorne Field received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, calling it a ‘superb mix of humor and horror’, and has been shortlisted by ALA for best horror novel of 2010. Outsourced (2011) has already been called ‘a small gem of crime fiction’ by Booklist and has been optioned by Impact Pictures and Constantin Film.

His latest book is Dying Memories (StoneGate Ink).

You can visit Dave’s website at Connect with him on Facebook at

Thank you for this interview, Dave. Can you tell us what your new book, Dying Memories, is all about?

Dave: Dying Memories opens with a woman shooting a man to death on a crowded Boston street, and then telling the police the man had raped and murdered her eleven year-old daughter. Except she never had a daughter. When a reporter, Bill Conway, discovers a link between this and another killing to a biotechnology firm, he soon finds himself framed for murder, as well as being hunted by shadowy forces. The danger for Bill increases with each chapter as he searches for a way to reclaim his life, understand what’s happening, and ultimately stop a sinister plot to enslave the country. There are a lot of twists and turns throughout the book, lots of surprises, all leading to an explosive ending.

I know authors have a certain liking for one genre over the other.  Why thrillers for you?

Dave: What’s important to me is the story and the charatcers, and not really the genre. I read all genres, and I write everything from charming traditional mysteries to near pitch-black crime noir to horror. Dying Memories is really my first pure thriller, although I gave it a noir edge and added my own twist to the genre.

Dying Memories KindleWhat do you believe was the most challenging part of writing Dying Memories?

Dave: Dying Memories was a lot of fun to write. Since it was my first thriller, I wanted to follow the thriller conventions, such as keeping each chapter short and having them end with a cliffhanger of sorts

Can you pick out a part of your book that most definitely has the wow factor?

Dave: The ending is pretty much a huge wow. But there’s a lot of other wows going on with each chapter.

Have you ever shaped your fictional characters from people in real life?

Dave: I do have some characters inspired by real people—Pariah, for example, has characters heavily inspired by South Boston mob figures. But even still my characters are completely fictional and exist only in my head, at least until I give them life on paper.

Where are you from?

Dave: I grew up in the Boston area, and outside of five years in Boulder, Colorado for college, have lived in the Boston area my whole life.

Do you see writing as a career?

Dave: Recently, yes. I had a film deal for my novel, Outsourced, for the last couple of years, and it’s now looking like it’s going to go into development soon, and I’m beginning to get some potentially very rewarding film deals for other books, including doing the screenwriting for them. So things are beginning to break for me where I’m going to be able to make a living at this.

Aside from writing, what other talents do you have?

Dave: Well, I have a black belt in Kung Fu.  I’m very strong in math and logic, and spent 20+ years developing complex network device and network management software.

If you could choose a talent that you don’t possess (yet), what would that be?

Dave: I’m too old now to say stud QB for the NFL or pitcher for the Red Sox, but 25 years ago that would’ve been it.

If you could change one thing about your book after the fact, what would that be?

Dave: While I’m genuinely happy with my first 2 books, although there’s some writing in them now that makes me cringe. As far as my last 10 books, including Dying Memories, there’s nothing I’d change.

One final question.  If someone were to walk into a bookstore and pull any book off the shelf, why would they choose yours?

Dave: Probably for the reason that film makers are now after my books—because they’re very different from whatever else is out there. My novels have strong stories with lots of surprises and twists, with suspense that builds throughout to powerful endings, and they’re populated with very human characters, although in most cases, very flawed ones.

Thank you so much for this interview, Dave.  Any final words?

I’d like to thank Literarily Speaking for taking the time to interview me. And I hope folks out there enjoy Dying Memories, as well as my other books.

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