Interview with Rich Zahradnik
What genre do you write and why?
I write crime fiction, specifically murder mysteries. I’ve been reading mysteries since the Hardy Boys in fifth grade and love the genre. Some of my favorite authors have created real literature while working in the genre. I’m thinking of James Ellroy, Raymond Chandler and Derek Raymond. I’m not going for literature myself, but I want to write the kinds of stories I loved reading. I want to make movies in readers’ heads in the same way books do for me.
Tell us about your latest book.
Book 2 of the Coleridge Taylor Mystery series opens at the end of October 1975 with New York on the brink of financial collapse. The Daily News has just run one of its most famous headlines — FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD — after the president refused to bailout New York. Reporter Coleridge Taylor only cares about the crisis because it’s keeping his crime stories off the front page of the New York Messenger-Telegram. He’s tipped to a double murder that might get him back on page one. Police officer Robert Dodd and a punk rocker are both killed in a tenement shootout, but the details of how the incident went down don’t make sense to Taylor. As he investigates, he finds the NYPD is trying to put some of the blame for Dodd’s death on his partner, Policewoman Samantha Callahan. Taylor digs into Callahan’s story and finds police corruption and what might even be a link to the city’s financial crisis.
What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?
Social media, including boosted posts on Facebook and self-service ads on Goodreads. This blog tour. I’ve contracted a PR person to do pitches for reviews and interviews in traditional media. I’m spending a small amount on advertising in print publications and lining up conference appearances.
What formats is the book available in?
Trade paperback and all the major ebook formats.
Who are your favourite authors?
Charles Dickens, Raymond Chandler, Derek Raymond, Tony Hillerman, Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, William Gibson, Michael Connelly, Mark Twain, Dashiell Hammett, Ursula K. Le Guin, Patrick O’Brian.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Stick with it. Trite right? I became a published author at the young age of 54 because I didn’t give up. Over 20 years or more of trying, I watched lots of people quit because someone didn’t like a first draft or their first few queries went nowhere or they didn’t want to have to follow the rules for getting an agent. A big reason I’m here now is because of all the people who gave up. I’m here as much because of bloody-minded stubbornness as talent. So don’t give up.
What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
“It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”
And the title of the second chapter of Anne Lamott’s great writing book Bird by Bird: “Shitty First Drafts.”
You’ve got to write those if you’re going to get anywhere.
That moment during a writing session when you’ve been plodding along, or hardly plodding at all, and something happens you didn’t expect or plan. A new character walks in the door and becomes important to the story. Changes the story. You don’t get to those moments without all the plodding.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
My website: www.richzahradnik.com
Instagram: Rich Zahradnik
Who is you favorite character in your book and why?
Taylor, because I’m in his head all of the time and I love his instincts as a reporter. He’s a better one than I ever was. I also like Samantha Callahan for her toughness and grit as one of only a few hundred women on patrol in the NYPD at the time.