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Tuesday 25 September 2018

ℚ The Maybrick Affair: Three Strikes: 3 Authors, 3 Novellas [2] - Charles Salzberg

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about The Maybrick Affair, his novella from Three Strikes (26 August 2018, Down & Out Books, 286 pages), a Crime Collection, book two in the 3 Authors, 3 Novellas series.

"New York City links these otherwise disparate crime novellas. [...]

Set in 1941,
Salzberg's "The Maybrick Affair" follows rookie reporter Jake Harper, who grew up poor in Manhattan, as he sets out to write about a reclusive old woman in Connecticut who died "in the company of close to fifty cats." This seemingly benign human-interest piece flares into something of world-altering proportions.

Crime fiction aficionados with a taste for the offbeat will be rewarded."
 ~ Publishers Weekly

|| The Novellas || Teaser: KCR Preview || The Series || Author Q&A with Charles Salzberg || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome to Charles Salzberg; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

What was the inspiration for The Maybrick Affair?

"A friend of mine, Rusty Jacobs, used to be a reporter for a local Connecticut newspaper. One of his assignments was to write a human interest story on a rather mysterious, reclusive elderly woman who passed away, while living alone with a bunch of cats.

This woman turned out to have been involved in an infamous murder trial in England around the turn of the last century. He told me the story and showed me his newspaper article, thinking it would make the basis of a good screenplay, which we never quite finished.

But as a story, it stayed with me and when we were asked to do another collection of novellas to follow Triple Shot, this story leaped to mind because it had a little of everything—mystery, international intrigue, danger, a murder trial and a very famous serial killer (I won’t mention who) and it was set at a momentous time, right before America’s entry into World War II.

I’d never written anything historical before, so I thought it would be a nice challenge and a change of pace for me."
How much of yourself is reflected in this story, and how?
"I was a magazine journalist for twenty-five years and so I was familiar with journalistic techniques, and I could identify with being a young reporter.

When I began writing magazine articles, I’d had no formal training, so I could certainly get what it was like to be someone just starting out in the profession, trying to carve a place for yourself.

Jake Harper, the young reporter in the book, is a lot more daring and ambitious than I was, but we certainly share a heightened curiosity and a sense that we want to get to the bottom of every story."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Three Strikes - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"The folks at Down & Out Books are terrific at creating covers and we had no input in it. But, that said, we love the cover and know it couldn’t have been easy because the book is a collection of three very different crime novellas that take place in three very different time periods—the only thing they have in common might be location, since they all take place in the northeast. So, the artist had to read all three novellas and then in effect create three different covers while making it work as one. I think they were very successful."
Why should we read Three Strikes and what sets it apart from the rest?
"The obvious reason you should read this book is because you’ve got three pretty good writers, at the top of their game (at least I can say that for the other two), coming up with three novellas that were written expressly for this collection.

Ross, Tim and I are good friends. Ross and I have known each other for thirty years and, in fact, we have lunch together every week, where we talk about writing, the world, and anything else that strikes our fancy (Tim has joined us on occasion) and so the idea of having the three of us between the covers of one book really inspired us.

Another reason to read this is that we’ve got three very different, very distinct styles of writing—you’ll see this for yourself when you read the book. And so, there really is something in here for everyone.

If you don’t like my story, chances are pretty good you’re going to like one or hopefully both of the others. And if you don’t like them, there’s a good chance you’ll like mine. Bottom-line, you’ve got three for the price of one."
Can you tell us something quirky about Three Strikes, its stories and characters?
"One of the “quirky” things about this collection is that each story takes place in a different time period.

Tim’s is contemporary, Ross’s takes place in the 1970s, and mine takes place in 1941, just before America’s entry into World War II.

In terms of quirkiness in my story, I’ve intertwined reality with fiction. Without giving too much away, my story, “The Maybrick Affair,” is based on an actual woman, an actual murder trial and an actual serial killer. The quirky aspect of Tim’s story is that the crime involves something never actually associated with law-breaking, that is, maple syrup."
Who would you recommend Three Strikes to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"The expected thing would be for me to recommend it to everyone, but I’ll refine that a little. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes crime stories and good writing.

All three of us are writers first and crime writers second.

Ross, for instance, has a varied background. He was a reporter, actor, voice-over artist, screenwriter (check out his film, Tigerland,), and artist. Tim, is a recently retired New York City school teacher. I was a magazine journalist, nonfiction book writer, and writing teacher (in fact, all three of us teach writing). So, we bring a lot of experience to what we write.

Obviously, the book isn’t going to be for everyone, but in a way, that’s the beauty of Three Strikes. The three stories are so different, not only in subject matter but in style and tone, that if you don’t take to one of the stories there’s a very good chance you’ll like one or both of the others."
If you could / wished to turn The Maybrick Affair and the 3 Authors, 3 Novellas series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Ross is a screenwriter and so it’s very possible when he writes he “sees” particular actors in the part. I don’t. In fact, the characters in so far as they look are rather vague to me. That’s kind of purposeful because I’d rather the reader to bring his or her own description to the characters. So, it’s a difficult question for me to answer, especially difficult because there are three distinct stories in the book, and probably all of them would make good films.

In terms of “The Maybrick Affair,” I could see someone like Ryan Gosling playing Jake Harper, the enthusiastic young reporter who finds himself in the middle of a story that has international consequences.

As for director, someone with a very strong sense of story. Maybe someone like Ridley Scott."
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 pretty much like to write about anything and everything. I was a magazine journalist and then segued into nonfiction book writing and so in order to put food on the table and a roof over my head, I wrote about anything that came my way. In fact, the less I knew about something the more eager I was to write about it, because I was actually getting paid to learn something new.

I stumbled into writing crime accidentally. When I wrote my first novel, Swann’s Last Song, I thought it would be my only crime novel, because I didn’t want to be limited in what I wrote about. But I was surprised to find that not only did I enjoy writing about crime, but that in doing so I could write about any subject I wanted to, not just about who killed Roger Ackroyd?

If you look at all my novels, especially the Swann series, you’ll find that each one of them is about a different subject and takes place in a different world. Swann Dives In is about rare books; Swann’s Lake of Despair is about photography; Swann’s Way Out is about Hollywood. And novels like Devil in the Hole and Second Story Man are about what drives people to behave the way they do.

In a way, the crime is really incidental to what the book is really about. For instance, Second Story Man appears to be about a master burglar, but it’s really about the American obsession with being the best, with always having to win. That’s why I keep writing crime novels, because I can write about anything that interests me and because I can examine the question, why do we do what we do? And, how does what we do affect others around us?"
What is your writing process?
"I have to admit I laughed a little when I read this question, because I don’t really have a process. I’m exceedingly lazy and can find all kinds of ways to procrastinate, and the only reason I’m so prolific is because I’m a very fast typist and because I can really focus when I finally do sit down in front of the computer to write.

I don’t write at a particular time of day. I don’t make sure that I write a set number of words per day or week. I don’t plan out my novels or stories in advance. I don’t outline. In fact, like a lot of writers I do a lot of my “writing” away from the computer in the sense that I’ll be walking around and an idea or a sentence will come to me and, if I’m lucky, I’ll remember it when I do get back to the computer or, if I’m being responsible, I’ll send myself an email with the sentence or idea.

The truth is, I wish I were more disciplined, but I guess my “process” is what I just described and somehow it works for me.

That said, I’ve never suffered from writer’s block. Perhaps it’s because for so many years I had to make my living as a freelance writer. When I can actually get myself to the computer, the page doesn’t remain blank for too long. In a sense, my process is kind of magical. I don’t understand it and I don’t question it. I’m just glad it still works."
I can completely empathise with that as it is exactly the way my brain works - you have described it to the very letter!

What is in store next?

"I just turned in the next Swann, called Swann’s Down, which might be the last one.

I also just finished a story for Tim O’Mara’s anthology, American River, out sometime next year.

I’m starting to work on another story for an anthology based on the songs of Warren Zevon. I’ve got about 5,000 words for a new novel, Canary in the Coal Mine, which introduces a new PI. And I’m toying around with writing a sequel or a spin-off of Second Story Man (I’ve even got a first sentence)."
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 don’t have a pet now, though I have had a dog and two cats (I had a friend who got married and her husband was allergic to her cats so she had to find a place for them. Sucker that I am, I said if she couldn’t find someone, I’d take them. She stopped looking and I wound up with them).

He’s not exactly a pet, but he has been with me for a long time, and he actually speaks. If you pull the cord behind Bart’s back, he’ll say, “Don’t have a cow, man!” Or, “Kids in TV-Land, you’ve been duped!” Or, “Ay, caramba!”"

Brilliant! Thank you for sharing your Bart with us and for being such a great guest :-)

“Crime fiction aficionados with a taste for the offbeat will be rewarded.”

Three Strikes
Available NOW!

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1 comment:

CMash said...

I so enjoy learning about the author behind the book. Great interview.