If you haven’t discovered Dave Zeltserman yet, you’re in for a treat! Dave’s wonderful new novel, Monster, based on the story of Frankenstein’s monster, just came out, and it’s a perfect place to start. Dave was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer a few of my questions, so please welcome him to the blog!
You’re the author of more than 13 novels, most of them of the crime/noir genre, with a dash of horror thrown in here and there. You’re a math and science guy, so what made you sit down and write for the first time? What inspired you?
I’ve always read a lot. As a kid I started with the pulps ; Robert E. Howard and HP Lovecraft, then moved on to science fiction, and eventually to crime and mystery fiction, while at times reading the classics. At different times in my life I’d be drawn to writing. My early stuff wasn’t very good—a lot of my writing when I got out of college was trying to ape Ross Macdonald, and doing a pretty bad job of it. Then sometime in the early 90s I discovered Jim Thompson and it was like a religious experience. The first book of his I read was Hell of a Woman and I’d never read anything like it before. He broke every rule in that book that I thought I needed to follow, and it gave me a completely different outlook as to how crime fiction could be written. At the time I was struggling with a book that would become my first novel, Fast Lane, and reading Thompson showed me a completely different way to go with it, and helped me find my own voice.
Your newest novel, Monster, is based on the story of Dr. Frankenstein and his creation. Has the story always been one of your favorites?
I grew up thinking Frankenstein the novel was like the Boris Karloff movie, and when I was in high school I heard how the novel ends up in the Artic and that the monster is not the lumbering Karloff creature, but instead an intelligent and eloquent being, and I had to read it. The first half of Shelley’s novel has some sections that can be tough to get through, but once the creature and Frankenstein are in the French Alps and the creature is telling Frankenstein his tale, the book becomes absolutely riveting. In a lot of ways it’s a very noirish book with the creature having every right to make the demands that he does on Frankenstein and Frankenstein realizing this but also understanding the potential catastrophe if he does as the creature is asking, with both of them then being doomed. It’s a great book, one that I’ve read several times.
For those that haven’t read Monster yet, can you give us a bit of a teaser?
With Monster I play the following what-if games. What if Victor Frankenstein didn’t create the monster out of a misguided obsession, but was in league with the Marquis de Sade and had a far more sinister
purpose. What if everything a dying Frankenstein told Captain Walton aboard his ice-bound ship were lies to protect his reputation. What if the monster gets to finally tell the true story.
There’s a lot going on in Monster, everything from the Marquis de Sade and one of his more infamous works, to Satanists, vampyres, London sex clubs and much more. The feedback I’ve gotten is that the book can be enjoyed whether or nor you’ve read Shelley’s Frankenstein beforehand.
You mention a love of crime writers like Hammett, Chandler, and Ross McDonald. Do you have any favorite horror writers?
When I was a kid I loved the creepiness and eeriness of HP Lovecraft. Later when I went to college my school’s library had a complete set of Edgar Allan Poe, which I devoured. Just very imaginative works. The best horror novel I’ve read recently was Richard Matheson’s I AM LEGEND, which is the best zombie/vampire book I’ve read. There’s such a tragic futility and sadness to that book. A more recently written collection of short horror/speculative fiction I’ve read that I thought was absolutely great is The Mean Time by Paul Tremblay.
If you could read one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
What makes you want to toss a book aside in frustration?
Bad writing will stop me, but also if a book feels fake. For example, if characters act in an unnatural way to move a scene forward or to do something that the author thinks is cool. Fake dialog is just as bad for me.
What’s one of your favorite lines from a book or a movie?
Well, my absolute favorite line from a movie is the last line in I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang, but I’d ruin the movie giving it away that line. So instead I’ll give the line from Casablanca when Captain Renault is ordered to close Rick’s immediately: “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.” (right after that he’s handed his gambling winnings).
When you manage to carve out some free time, how do you like to spend it (when you’re not practicing Kung Fu, of course)?
I spent 25 years as a software developer. Now I’m leading a more relaxed life where I spend 4-5 hours a day writing, some time practicing Kung Fu, reading, occasionally going to Maine or into the North End in Boston.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects and events?
Monster is the big thing. I do have film deals for Outsourced and A Killer’s Essence, and with some luck they’ll go into film production soon.
Keep up with Dave: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
The supernatural, unmissable new novel by the ALA Best Horror award nominee. In nineteenth-century Germany, one young man counts down the days until he can marry his beloved . . . until she is found brutally murdered, and the young man is accused of the crime. Broken on the wheel and left for dead, he awakens on a lab table, transformed into an abomination. Friedrich must go far to take his revenge —only to find his tormentor, Victor Frankenstein, in league with the Marquis de Sade, creating something much more sinister deep in the mountains. Paranormal and gripping in the tradition of the best work of Stephen King and Justin Cronin, Monster is a gruesome parable of control and vengeance, and an ingenious tribute to one of literature’s greatest.
Purchase Monster: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound
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