Thursday, October 29, 2020

Dietrich Kalteis, Author of Cradle of the Deep

Dana’s gone off and left me the keys to the place, asking me to do a guest spot — and that’s a true honor.


I’m not sure the best way to work this, but first I’ll find his liquor cabinet, then I’ll just get comfy and ask myself some questions. 


So here goes:


Is there a central idea or thread that runs through your books?


Small-time crooks can lead to big-time misadventures.


What attracts you to writing the kinds of stories you write?


I like letting unwitting characters loose in uncertain situations, letting them tell it from their own shaky points of view, with me just following the action and seeing how it all ends up. It makes for fast-paced action, dark humor, mixed with unexpected twists, and accented by the heavy thump of ill-luck.


Tell us about your writing routine and how you approach the craft.


As for routine, I get up early most mornings and I start writing. Coffee must be involved, and I’m not sure how many words I get to the gallon, but it’s my fuel of choice at that early hour. And I’ve always got some music playing.


There’s no word count that I shoot for. Sometimes I crank out a lot, other days I only write a few pages, and as long as they’re good pages, then I’m happy with that.


I often write the first draft in longhand. It’s a mess to sort out with margin notes, scribbles, circles and arrows, but there’s something natural about writing by hand. For the subsequent drafts and any major edits, Mac beats pencil every time.


Mostly, I don’t plan out the stories before I start writing. I rely on instinct. A single idea for a scene kicks it off, leading to the next, and I write my way to the heart of it as more ideas keep coming along. By working like this, I end up with something much better than anything I could have pre-planned ahead of time.

What’s one thing you’ve learned since you started writing?


I learned from the first Bouchercon I attended — where I met Dana and his lovely wife Corky — to always have an elevator pitch ready. A well-known Canadian author came up to me before one of the panel discussions and asked what my debut novel was about, and I gave him the deer-in-the-headlight look and stumbled on with, “Uh, um …”  


Since then, I’ve learned to always have a pitch ready. In fact, here’s the one for the new book, Cradle of the Deep.

Getting into bed with the wrong guy can get you killed.

Wanting to free herself from her boyfriend, aging gangster “Maddog” Palmieri, Bobbi Ricci concocts a misguided plan with Denny, Maddog’s ex-driver, a guy who’s bent on getting even with the gangster for the humiliating way in which he was sacked. 

Helping themselves to the gangster’s secret money stash, along with his Cadillac, Bobbi and Denny slip out of town, expecting to lay low for a while before enjoying the spoils. 

Realizing he’s been betrayed, an enraged Maddog calls in stone-cold killer Lee Trane. As Trane picks up their trail, plans quickly change for Bobbi and Denny, who now find themselves on a wild chase of misadventure through northern British Columbia and into Alaska. 


Time is running out for them once they find out that Trane’s been sent to do away with them, or worse, bring them back — either way, Maddog will make them pay. 


Is there a point about the new book you’d like folks to be aware of?


Mainly that it’s published by ECW Press, will be released on November 3rd, and available in print, e- and audiobook formats.


How did you come up with the story idea?


The initial idea stemmed from a short story I wrote a couple of years earlier about two protagonists, Bobbi and Denny, who bump into each other in the middle of the night, each trying to rob the same gangster’s house. For Bobbi it’s the crime boss she’s been seeing, a thrill at first, but now she’s seeing him as a total bore. After discovering where he hides his stash of cash, she started getting ideas. For Denny, it’s revenge for being sacked as the crime boss’s driver — fired in the middle of a downtown street — kicked out of the car while beautiful Bobbi sat watching from the back seat. Denny had heard rumors that the old guy kept a lot of cash hidden in his big house, and he gets ideas of his own.


The short piece wanted to become longer, so I let it evolve, and more scenes just kept coming as I wrote — like the naked people in Whistler, and the car chase over the thin ice of a deep lake. A dead-end northern town where the locals don’t pay taxes and shoot at anyone speeding down their main drag. There’s a crazed war vet buzzing the treetops of the hinterland in a water bomber. A grizzly beating up a Ford Cortina, and a stone killer sent by the gangster to hunt down the pair.


I was in Oakland while I was still working on it, and I saw a piece of art depicting tattoos of ancient mariners. One of the images had the words “In the Cradle of the Deep” woven around an anchor and chain. I loved the phrase and it just worked so well with the story, and I knew I had my title.


Well, Dana’s nearly out of scotch, and that’s about it for me. If you pick up a copy of the book, I do hope you enjoy it. 


And thank you again to Dana for letting me sit in. It’s always fun dropping by.

(Editor's Note: It's always a pleasure to have you, Dieter. The book sounds like great fun. I'm looking forward to it.)



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