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Thursday 1 September 2016

ℚ♫ A Black Sail: Coleridge Taylor Mysteries [3] - Rich Zahradnik

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Black Sail (, Camel Press, 222 pages), a Mystery Thriller, book three of the Coleridge Taylor Mysteries series.

"★★★★★ A BLACK SAIL is a beautifully written crime story; absorbing, fast-paced, and laced with literary gems that will make the overall reading experience fun and enjoyable for fans of mystery and murder... The writing is superb, and the pace mimics the rhythm of a heartbeat, with intense action and surprises that are dizzying. Overall, Zahradnik is a great entertainer, a writer to keep an attentive eye on if you are a fan of crime novels and mystery." —Readers' Favorite

Author Q&A | Synopsis | Teaser | The Series | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

A very warm welcome to Rich Zahradnik; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

We love music; do you have a music playlist that you used in Black Sail, or which inspired you whilst you were writing it?

"A playlist was created for the first book in the series, Last Words. There’s a lot of punk because my protagonist is into punk and still is in the newest book, which takes place 16 months later. In this book he’s also listening to Springsteen’s Born to Run album, which has been out about a year. He hates anything pop—ABBA, Starland Vocal Bank, disco.."
I like that list, which includes two of my favourite Ramones songs ;-) I have tried to use original recordings and footage from the 70s - enjoy!

What was the inspiration for Black Sail?
"I write a series set in the 1970s so I’m always looking for an exciting event or incident during the time period I’ll be working in when writing each novel. I jump forward in time each book. A Black Sail is set in 1976, so I chose the U.S. Bicentennial, when hundreds of sailing and naval ships visited New York Harbor for the celebration. I thought it would provide a great, chaotic backdrop for a murder mystery."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"Taylor, my protagonist, is a journalist and I was a journalist for three decades…though I did not do as much police reporting as he has. Still, I know how newspapers and journalism work. I feel I need to be careful. Too much realistic detail gets boring. I like to think I have a sense of humor, so hope some of that gets into the book, though the story is dark."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Black Sail - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"I wanted a square-rigged sailing ship because of the 16 tall ships of sail that came to New York for the Bicentennial. That was key to me. We continue to use the distressed typewriter font for the series, which makes sense with a journalist working in the 1970s. Sabrina Sun designed the cover."

Why should we read A Black Sail and the Coleridge Taylor Mysteries series; what sets it apart from the rest?

"There aren’t a lot of people writing 1970s New York City and treating it like it really was--dark, gritty, distressed and dangerous. People usually go for the bright disco scene. A journalist writing a journalist as protagonist gives readers a real feel for what the job is like. Finally, I always include real events as part of the background—the Bicentennial, the near bankruptcy of New York City, the end of the Vietnam War—to provide readers with a feel for the period."
Can you tell us something quirky about Black Sail, its story and characters?
"If you look up the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge in the encyclopedia, he will be listed as:

Coleridge, Samuel Taylor

That’s my protagonist’s actual name (without the comma). His father is a college professor and a Coleridge scholar. Taylor hates the ornamentation of his name and only uses Taylor. Taylor’s Labrador is named Mason. Taylor adopted the dog after its owner was murdered; his original name was Perry Mason as the owner was a bit eccentric. Taylor dropped the Perry. I chose the name because “Perry Mason” was a TV crime series of my youth."
Who would you recommend Black Sail to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"Fans of realistic and hard-boiled crime, people who lived through the seventies or are interested in the period, and those who like a mystery that will keep you guessing. The profanity is what you’d expect from journalists and cops of the period and the violence is pretty much what happens in a crime novel."
If you could / wished to turn Black Sail and the Coleridge Taylor Mysteries series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"The entire team that made “The Wire.” Locations would have to be NYC dressed for the period."
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I move around. I have a middle grade time travel adventure now on submission. I’m just finishing a thriller set in the present day for the adult market. I have ideas for mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, YA and middle grade. Those are all genres I read myself. I guess you could say I like to write what will entertain. I want to create a movie in your head you don’t want to stop watching until it’s over."
What is your writing process?
"I outline lightly…a few sentences on the first few chapters on Scrivener index cards and then I write. I like the discovery that comes from this process. As I move forward, I outline a few more chapters. I do four revisions off the first draft, two on screen and two on paper reading the text out loud."
What is in store next?
"The thriller I mentioned is called The Causeway and is about three people who witness a drug murder as a hurricane is about to strike a barrier island off of New Jersey. With the storm wreaking havoc, they race to get to the Causeway off the island before the bad guys can get them.

The next Taylor novel will be set during the months in 1977 when the serial killer Son of Sam was on a killing spree and a July blackout resulted in thousands of arrests and millions in damage. Exactly what crime Taylor will be chasing I’m working on."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"I volunteer to teach kids how to publish newspapers around my area and in New York City. It keeps my hand in journalism and in touch with the energy of kids."
Colonial Times 2014-15 staff

Black Sail
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CMash said...

Very interesting interview!! I now have this book on my TBR list. Thank you for introducing this title.

Rich Zahradnik said...

It was a pleasure joining you for the interview. Great photo research! I'd not seen the MTA poster on Operation Sail before and was more than a bit surprised to see the Colonial Times kids. I'll be stopping back to see if your readers have questions for me.

BooksChatter said...

Hello Rich, thank you for stopping by.

Glad you liked it! I find stuff like that incredibly interesting, and it is one of the main reasons I like interviews - there is always something new to learn :-)

The MTA poster used a painting by Letizia Pitigliani, called "Parade of the Windjammers".
There are so many fantastic images out there, but it can get a little confusing as the ones from Fleet Week in 2012 are quite similar!

Colonial Times kids: I had to figure out what you were talking about ;-) Brilliant site!

I hope you are having a great tour!


Rich Zahradnik said...

Thank you...the kids do some amazing stuff. That's the favorite other thing that I do. The tour is going really well.