Short, Sharp Interview: Dietrich Kalteis

DSC01654CropLG300DPI copy 2PDB: Can you pitch your latest book in 25 words or less?

Zero Avenue is a crime novel set to the cranking beat and amphetamine buzz of Vancouver’s early punk scene.

PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows do you wish you had written?

Dietrich: I listen to music all the time when I’m writing, and I read a novel or two every week and watch a lot of films, so I could come up with a long list for each. I don’t wish that I’d created any of it, but what I do read, listen to and watch sure inspires me to create my own.

I have a broad appreciation for music, but if I have to narrow it down, I’m partial to anything by Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Neil Young. One of the best books I’ve read so far this year was Razor GIrl by Carl Hiaasen. I laughed all the way through it, it’s terrific. And there are a couple of classics that I recently reread and still love: The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley, and Miami Blues by Charles Willeford. For movies, the Coen Brothers’ Fargo and The Big Lebowski top the list, and for a series I’ll go with Six Feet Under, Breaking Bad, The Wire and Better Call Saul.

PDB: Which books do you think would make great films or TV series?

Dietrich: The Force and The Cartel, both by Don Winslow will make awesome films. The film rights have been purchased for The Force, and The Cartel is in pre-production. While I’m looking forward to both, I can’t help but think since they’re such epic tales that they each would make a better mini series than a feature film. There’s just so much great material there.

And naturally I’d love to see my own work up on the screen. It would be incredible to watch my own characters come to life and see and hear actors speak lines that I wrote. I visualize chapters in movie scenes when I write, and while any of my stories could work, I think my fourth novel House of Blazes is particularly cinematic. It’s set during the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco and the special effects alone would be pretty terrific to watch. And yup, I’m totally open to offers.

PDB: Who are the great Canadian writers?

Dietrich: There are a lot of literary greats in this country like Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Mordecai Richler, Leonard Cohen, Alistair MacLeod, Farley Mowat, and the list goes on. In the mystery/crime genre there are internationally recognized authors like Louise Penny, Peter Robinson, Anthony Bidulka, William Deverell and Linwood Barclay.

The danger in coming up with any such list is leaving off someone who’s very deserving. So, while I haven’t read all the talented Canadians authors currently working, I’ll mention a few I have recently read.

William Deverell needs no introduction to most of us. He’s given us eighteen terrific novels to date, from the multi award-winning Needles, to his ongoing and best-selling Arthur Beauchamp series. I recently read Sing a Worried Song, and I am looking forward to his upcoming Whipped. Then there’s the late Marc Strange who gave us the Joe Grundy books, as well as Follow Me Down and Woman Chased by Crows, any of which are great mysteries. And John McFetridge’s A Little More Free, the latest in his Eddie Dougherty series. Then there’s Owen Laukkanen’s The Forgotten Girls, a book I found impossible to put down, as well as Linda L. RIchard’s When Blood Lies. I’ve got a few more by Canadian authors on my book shelf that I’m hoping to get to soon: Sam Wiebe’s Invisible Dead, Ian Hamilton’s The Princeling of Nanjing, Bob Kroll’s The Hell of it All, and David Whellam’s The Verdict on Each Man Dead.

PDB: What’s on the cards?

Dietrich: My next novel Poughkeepsie Shuffle is due for release in 2018 by ECW Press. The story’s set in Toronto in the mid-eighties and centers on Jeff Nichols, a guy just released from the Don Jail. When he lands a job at a used-car lot, he finds himself mixed up in a smuggling ring bringing guns in from Upstate New York. Jeff’s a guy willing to break a few rules on the road to riches, a guy who lives by the motto ‘why let the mistakes of the past get in the way of a good score in the future.’

Dietrich: I have a short story that will be included in the upcoming Vancouver Noir, part of Akashic Books’ Noir Series, edited by Sam Wiebe.

PDB: Anything else? 

ECW-Kalteis-ZeroAvenue

 

I’ve got a couple of new novels I’m currently working on. The first story is set in Dustbowl Kansas and focuses on a couple who comes up with interesting, although not legal, ways to hang onto the family farm during some very tough times.

Then I’ve got the first draft of another novel written out in longhand. This one’s set in modern time, and it’s about a guy escaping with the girlfriend of a gangster who’s hot on his trail. The story will take readers on a chase up through northern British Columbia and into the wilds of the Canadian Yukon.

Bio: Dietrich Kalteis is an award-winning author of five novels and over fifty short stories. His latest novel Zero Avenue will be released on October 3rd, and his fourth House of Blazes recently won an Independent Publishers award for best historical fiction. Publishers Weekly called his third novel Triggerfish high-octane action that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Crimespree Magazine said it satisfies the need for all things dark and leaves the reader breathless. The National Post called The Deadbeat Club a breakout for Kalteis, and his debut novel Ride the Lightning won a bronze medal for best regional fiction in the Independent Publishers Awards, and was hailed as one of Vancouver’s best crime novels. He lives with his family in West Vancouver, British Columbia.