Welcome. I'm so happy to host you for this stop on your tour. Thanks for agreeing to answer a few of my questions. Tell us about your current release.
I began writing Devil in the Hole almost twenty years ago. At the time, I was a magazine journalist and I came across this horrendous true crime—a man killed his entire family, wife, three kids, mother and the family dog, and disappeared. It fascinated me because he didn’t just snap and kill them, he planned it methodically, so much so that he gave himself a three week head start, before the murders were ever discovered. I wanted to write it as a nonfiction book, but publishers weren’t interested because there was no ending—he was gone, vanished into thin air. But the case haunted me, because I needed to know how someone could commit such a horrible crime and then live with himself. And there the seed of the novel was born. I had to figure out a motive, but once I did, I could start writing. Over the years, I would pick the book up and put it down, while I made a living as a writer, but finally it just grabbed me, held on, and I finished it.
Tell us about your next release.
I’ve just completed the third book in the Henry Swann Detective series. It’s called, Swann’s Lake of Despair, and it’s more complicated than the other two Swann books, because he’s working on three cases at once. In fact, the first chapter was a short story I contributed to Long Island Noir. Waste not, want not. I’m now working on a fourth Swann, Swann’s Way Out, but that might be the last because I’m running out of catchy titles.
What was your first sale as an author?
I received ten bucks for a review I wrote for Kirkus Reviews. I was thrilled. It made me a real writer. It took years after that, but my second was an article I wrote for New York magazine on agoraphobics. I believe I got fifty times more for that one.
Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers? If so, what are they?
Sit your ass down and write. Just get something down on paper and then rewrite it. And rewrite it. You’ll never get it perfect, but you’ll get it as good as you can at that particular moment. Then move on.
What would you consider to be the best book you have ever read?
This is a tough one, because I’ve read so many terrific (and a lot more not so terrific) novels over the years, but I’d have to Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov. It’s an incredibly brave novel, even now, and it’s so rich in wordplay and nuance and allusions, that you can read it over and over again and never master it.
Are the names of the characters in your novels important? How and why?
Yes, because I often use names of real people—my friends, never my enemies, though I’d like to think I don’t have any. It started off as just being too lazy to come up with good, meaningful names, and then it became fun, especially to use the name and then write against type. My friends love it, but they all want to be the bad guy (or girl.) Haven’t quite figured that out, but there’s plenty of bad to go around.
Tell us about the absolute BEST fan letter you have received.
For a while, I taught magazine writing as a Visiting Professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication at Syracuse University. Several years after graduation, I got a letter from a former student, thanking me for the class. It seems he was in a company and wanted a job at that company in communications. They wanted a writing sample but the only one he had was one he’d done for my magazine writing class. The assignment was to write a profile. I used to give them incredible leeway, urging them to be as creative as possible. He chose to profile the fraternity bong. He wrote a great piece and I gave him an A. That’s the one he used as his writing sample and that’s what got him the job! I just hoped he didn’t show his parents, who had spent a hundred grand on his education.
Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book?
Because kidnappers are holding my family hostage and will kill them unless you read my book. There, I did it in one sentence.
Devil in the Hole
by Charles Salzberg
on Tour September 1 - October 31, 2013
Book Details:Genre: Literary psychological crime fiction
Published by: Five Star/Cengage
Publication Date: July 19, 2013
Number of Pages: 253
Synopsis:Devil in the Hole is based on a true crime that occurred over 40 years ago in New Jersey, wherein a man murdered his entire family, wife, three children, mother and the family dog, and disappeared. My novel uses that event and takes off from there, following the murderer on his escape route. Using the voices of people he meets along the way, and people who are affected by his crime, the reader starts to build a portrait of the man and why he did what he did, in addition to following those who are searching for him.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 5-17-2013
This title publishes JULY 2013
“In this smartly constructed crime novel, Salzberg uses multiple viewpoints to portray an unlikely killer who methodically slaughters his family . . . an intriguing collage of impressions and personal perspectives for the reader to ponder.”
Devil in the Hole by Charles Salzberg.ISBN 978-1-4328-2696-3
In this smartly constructed crime novel, Salzberg (Swann Dives In) uses multiple viewpoints to portray an unlikely killer who methodically slaughters his family. When James Kirkland, a neighbor, notices something odd going on at the Sedgewick, Conn., home of the Hartmans, he calls the police. Inside the Georgian-style mansion, police find the neatly executed bodies of Adele Hartman, her three teenage children, and her mother-in-law. John Hartman, Adele’s husband, is missing. Salzberg adroitly creates the voices of Hartman as he tries to establish a new life for himself; Charles Floyd, a senior police investigator who becomes obsessed with finding Hartman; and Kirkland, whose discovery changes his life. A slew of other characters who knew Hartman or who encounter him as he moves around provide snippets of information. The result is not a finished portrait but an intriguing collage of impressions and personal perspectives for the reader to ponder. Agent, Alex Glass, Trident Media Group. (July)
Reviewed on 05/17/2013 | Details and Permalink (July)