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Interview with 'Julius Katz and Archie' Dave Zeltserman

Julius Katz and Archie
Julius Katz and Archie
Dave Zeltserman

Dave Zeltserman won the 2010 Shamus Award for Julius Katz, Ellery Queen’s Readers Choice Award for Archie’s Been Framed, and is the acclaimed author of the ‘man out of prison’ crime trilogy: Small Crimes, Pariah and Killer, where Small Crimes was named by NPR as one of the five best crime and mystery novels of 2008, and Small Crimes and Pariah (2009) were 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 was 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 Julius Katz and Archie (Top Suspense).

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

Thank you for this interview, Dave. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

I live in the Bostonarea, and have been here my whole life except for 5 years when I was working on my B.S. in Applied Math and Computer Science at the Universityof Colorado. I worked over 20 years as a software engineer and am now trying to eke out an existence as a full-time writer.

I live and die every year with the Red Sox and Patriots. About 10 years ago I started studying Kung Fu and earned my black belt and am close to testing for my second degree.

I’ve always read a lot, and have been writing off and on my whole life, and more seriously around 2003. Since 2009, I’ve been trying to do this full-time. Thanks to a couple of film deals, I thinkI’m going to be able to keep this going.

Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?

‘Julius Katz and Archie’ is a charming and fun mystery based on the characters from my award-winning stories from Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Julius Katz is Boston’s most brilliant and eccentric detective, who is also incredibly lazy, and must be pestered by his sidekick, Archie, into takes cases, and will only be willing to do so when his funds reach anemic levels. Archie, while he has the heart and soul of a hardboiled PI, isn’t the usual sidekick. In fact, he’s probably the most unusual sidekick in the annals of mystery fiction.

‘Julius Katz and Archie’ starts with a famous writer telling Julius that he wants to hire Julius to discover who’s planning to kill him, and this soon plunges Julius and Archie into a murder investigation and the world of publishing.

Who is your intended audience? Have you been able to crossover into other audiences as well?

This is really appropriate for any mystery reader. I follow the same guidelines for this book as I do for my Julius Katz stories that appear in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, so there’s no profanity, no overt sex, no gory violence.

I write a wide variety of genres. While my Julius Katz mysteries have been widely accepted by mystery readers, winning both the Shamus Award and Ellery Queen’s Readers Choice Award, my dark noir crime thrillers have been well-received by crime readers, with Small Crimes and Pariah both being picked by The Washington Post as best books of the year. My first horror novel, The Caretaker of Lorne Field, was also well-received by horror readers, and short listed by the ALAfor best horror novel of the year and nominated by Dark Scribe Magazine for best dark genre novel of the year.

Why did you choose your particular genre?

Again, I write a lot of different genres, but I do particularly like writing these Julius Katz mysteries. They’re fun and charming and with a lot of humor, and Archie is a blast to write. Also they’re a good break from the dark crime and horror novels I usually write.

Do you ever experience self-doubts with your work?

These days, no, not at all. Early on when I was working on my first book, yeah, I thought what I had was good, but I wanted confirmation. With my book Small Crimes, when I was writing it, I thought I had something very good, but then it got rejected by every NY publisher, with some, several times, so when it finally got bought and published by Serpent’s Tail, I was taken by surprise when NPR picked it as one of the three best crime and mystery novels of 2008, convinced by all the rejections I received that I must’ve misjudged it. These days I don’t take NY’s rejections seriously as I know it means absolutely nothing about the quality of the book.

Where do you write? Do you have a favorite place?

I spent over 20 years developing software, so I treat writing as a job, and I sit in my office and write.

What kind of research did you have to do during the writing process?

Usually my books require minimum research. Maybe one or two newspaper article might trigger an idea, and whatever research I can do I can usually accomplish with Google. But I recently sold a book to Overlook Press titled, Monster, which is a retelling of the Frankenstein story, except in this case Victor Frankenstein doesn’t create the monster out of a misguided youthful obsession, but for much darker purposes, and I spent 6 months researching this book. I read dozens of books on European history, witchcraft, the early sex clubs in Londonand autobiographies of some of the historical figures who show up in this book.

Who is your publisher and how did you get accepted by them? Did you pitch your book yourself or go through an agent?

I’m putting out ‘Julius Katz and Archie’ myself as an e-book, but I have two publishers now, Serpent’s Tail and Overlook Press. Those books are pitched by my agent.

How are you promoting your book thus far?

My ‘Julius Katz’ mystery stories have a good number of fans, so I’m trying to reach out to them, as well as collect blurbs from fellow authors who had earlier commented positively about the stories. As well as doing this blog tour, I’m also running an ad in Boston Magazine, and will also be running an ad in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine when my next Julius Katz story runs later this year.

If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?

What I’ve found with print books, the best promotion is bookstore events. I’ve developed a lot of fans/readers among booksellers and if they believe in your book they can do an amazing job hand selling you and finding you more readers.

I’m clueless right now about what works with e-books although B&N recommended a couple of my e-book and that triggered 1000s of sales, but that’s not something you can count on.

What’s next for you?

I’m negotiating right now with a film company over one of my books, where I’ll also be writing the screenplay. I have an offer with them, and am trying to negotiate better terms, but by the time this interview runs I’ll have the deal in place. This is potentially very exciting, both to get the film made, but also to make sure it captures the spirit of my book. I have another film deal that’s been ongoing for the last 3 years for another book (Outsourced), and it’s looking like that one will be going into production soon, which will be a game changer for me.

I’ve got a story out right now in Akashic’s ‘Cape Cod Noir’, a new anthology of Western noir stories ‘On Dangerous Ground’ that I co-edited with Ed Gorman and Martin Greenberg, a bunch of stories that will be showing up this year in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, a crime thriller, A Killer’s Essence, coming out in the Fall from Overlook Press, and my novel, Monster coming out next year.

Right now I’m finishing up a YA noirish horror novel, titled ‘The Boy Who Killed Demons’ and then after I write the screenplay I’m being contracted to write, I plan on writing more Julius Katz short stories and another Julius Katz Mystery novel.

Thank you for this interview, Dave. We wish you much success!

You can order your copy of Julius Katz and Archie at the Barnes & Noble Book Store at 4485 Virginia Beach Blvd. or Books-A-Million at 3312 Princess Anne Road.


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