Thursday, December 29, 2011

Z is for Zeltserman: Dave Zelsterman

So we've reached the end of the Mystery Author Alphabet Meme today with Z is for Zeltserman. Yes, a few letters are missing, but hopefully some authors in 2012 will feel the necessity to come forward and fill in those letters.  So to end 2012 on a high note, here's Z is for Zeltserman: Dave Zeltserman.

Dave Zeltserman is a lifelong Red Sox fan, 2010 Shamus Award winner for 'Julius Katz', and the author of 14 novels and numerous short stories. He lives in the Boston-area with his wife, Judy, holds a black belt in Kung Fu, and spends his days writing everything from charming mysteries to pitch-black noir crime fiction, and even some horror now and then. With some luck his books Outsourced and A Killer's Essence will be made into movies in the not-so-distant future.

Dave Zeltserman: A Killer's Essence

Janet told me I could write about anything, so I’m going to write about the Red Sox, particularly the Sox beating the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS playoffs. If you ask any Red Sox fan who’s been following the team since at least ’78 what their most joyous professional sport moment is, it’s going to be the Sox coming back from the dead to beat the Yankees in ’04. The Sox still had to beat St. Louis to win their first World Series since 1918, but that was all anticlimactic after beating the Yankees.

As Sox fans we suffered through Bucky “effing” Dent in ’78, a last second World Series collapse in ’86 (I never blamed Buckner—a lot of stuff went wrong well before the ball went through his legs), and Grady Little leaving Pedro Martinez in the 7th game way too long in the ALCS against the Yankees. So in 2004 we have the Sox down 0-3 against the Yankees. No major league baseball team had ever come back from an 0-3 deficit before, and it’s looking like the Sox are dead, especially with Curt Schilling injured. Game 4 they’re trailing the Yankees 4-3 in the 9nth and the best reliever in the history of the game, Mariano Rivera, is trying to close out the series. A walk, a stolen base, a hit, and the game’s tied, and the Sox go on to beat the evil empire in the 12th in dramatic fashion with a homerun by David Ortiz. The Sox are still trailing the series 3 games to 1 and barely have a pulse but then they take game 5 in equally dramatic fashion winning it in the 14th inning, again a game winning hit by Ortiz. Game 6 is the bloody sock game where they win thanks to Curt Schilling’s heroics. Game 7 is a blowout, and the impossible has happened. The Sox have not only come back from the dead to beat the Yankees, but they’ve beaten the curse of the Bambino at the same time. They end up sweeping the Cardinals in the World Series, and something that Red Sox fans were told would never happen has happened. After 86 years the Sox have won another World Series.

So what does all this have to do with crime fiction? Well, nothing really except the Red Sox winning that series was such a cathartic moment for me, as it was for millions of Sox fans, that I decided to place my novel, A Killer’s Essence, mostly during the 2004 ALCS playoff series. Since New York was a better fit for location for my story than Boston, I had my first flash of inspiration where I’d show the Yankees collapse from the point of view of a diehard Yankees fan. A Killer’s Essence is a mix of different genres: a police procedural, a crime novel, a supernaturally tinged horror thriller, but it’s also very much about the chaos and confusion that blinds us in our lives. My main character, Stan Green, is a decent man and a good cop whose personal life is spinning out of control, and having yet one more absolute truth in his life taken away—that the Yankees will always find a way to beat the Red Sox (or as us Sox fan always thought of it, Sox always finding a way to lose)— the eventual demise of his beloved Yankees becomes more nail in his psychological coffin. There are other ways in which I integrate the playoff series into the novel, including giving Stan one more way to disappoint his son. In the end A Killer’s Essence is not only a mélange of all the genres I already mentioned, but redemption for Red Sox fans as well as to a small degree a book about the love of baseball.

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