Monday, October 27, 2014


Welcome debut novelist Dietrich Kalteis to Jamie Tremain’s blog. 

Congratulations on the publication of your first novel
 ‘Ride the Lightning”

                       definition: To be executed by electrocution in the electric chair:Webster’s dictionary

Dietrich: Thank you for inviting me, Pam and Liz, it’s nice to be here.

Jamie: Your short stories have been published widely and you were a finalist with a screenplay at a Los Angeles festival. How do you compare the discipline in writing a full novel with short story writing?

Dietrich: I started writing short stories, thinking a novel would be overwhelming at first. It allowed me to play around with different genres, see what felt best, and above all, to find my voice. When I finished one, I submitted it for publication while working on the next. Getting a short story accepted and occasionally getting feedback from an editor sure helped me learn and gain confidence along the way.
When I tackled my first novel, I liked its expansiveness and being able to extend the conflict, bring in back story, develop and focus on additional characters and build in subplots, something that wouldn’t be possible in a short story. I can’t say I like one form over the other, but having written quite a few short stories before I began a novel taught me to keep it tight and aim to maintain a page-turning pace.

Jamie: Do you identify with Karl Morgan the bounty hunter or Miro Knotts the lowlife drug dealer? Just wondering… about research. Were you a bad boy in your youth?

Dietrich: Miro Knotts is the kind of character a reader will likely love to hate, there’s not much that’s sympathetic about him. Readers are more apt to like Karl Morgan. I guess there are aspects of him that I identify with. He’s basically a good guy who makes a lot of poor choices that keep him living life on the edge. Was I a bad boy? Not really. I don’t have a lot of experience with some of the elements in the story, so I had to do a lot of research for this one.

Jamie: Do you plan to write a series featuring Karl Morgen?

Dietrich: I never intended Ride the Lighting to kick off a series. Karl learned enough from his mistakes throughout the course of the story that I think he’s not likely to repeat them in the future. I did borrow a minor character from the story though. Dara Addie becomes a main character in the next novel called The Deadbeat Club, scheduled for release in 2015, ECW Press. She’s a year older, a little wiser and twice as edgy.

Jamie: What are you currently writing or are you busy promoting Ride the Lightning.

Dietrich: I write full-time, so I have plenty of time to do both. I start early every day and write till noon, which leaves me lots of time for promoting Ride the Lightning. I just finished another crime story set during the heyday of the Barbary Coast, and I started working on a new one involving some smugglers set in Vancouver in present time.

Jamie: Most writers started out with other careers – what occupations have you held while developing your writing career?

Dietrich: I was a graphic designer/art director all my working career. I really enjoyed the work, but in the back of my mind there was a story teller dying to be heard. I penned my first attempt at a novel when I was sixteen, wrote it in longhand and kept the loose-leaf pages in a shoe box under the bed. Never did anything with it, but I knew writing was something I would return to one day. It took a heck of a long time from that first attempt, but here I am.

Jamie: Bouchercon 2014 will be underway in November.  What is it about writing conferences that appeal to you personally?

Dietrich: It’s great to get together with other writers, see old friends and make some new ones. Writing is a solo effort, so events like Bouchercon allow writers to get out of their caves and socialize. I’m raring to head to this year’s Bouchercon in Long Beach.

 Jamie: How long was Ride the Lightning in the works until it was published this spring?

Dietrich: It took three months to pen the first draft and about another nine to edit it into shape. I sent it to a handful of agents and publishers that accept submissions over the transom. When I got an email from Jack David at ECW Press, saying he wanted to publish the story, I nearly tipped off my chair.

Jamie: When not writing how do you like to spend your time?

Dietrich: Cooking, hiking, painting, playing guitar, taking photos, and I read a lot.

Jamie: You share black and white photography on your Facebook page – how did you become interested in this art form?

Dietrich: I’ve always loved photography as an art form. I directed a lot of photo shoots and took commercial shots when I was in the graphics industry. Now, I just like to get out into the city with a camera and look for something interesting to shoot. Going through Europe with a camera and a backpack is near the top of my bucket list.

Jamie: Has any particular author inspired your writing?

Dietrich: There are many great authors with incredible voices that have inspired me: Hunter S. Thompson, Ken Kesey, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, Tom Wolfe, William S. Burroughs, Leonard Cohen, just to name a few. As far as crime fiction, I am a huge Elmore Leonard fan. No one did it better in my opinion.

Thanks Dietrich for sharing your writing life with us. We wish you continued success with your future novels.

Thank you so much for inviting me Pam and Liz. It’s been fun.

Links for Dietrich.

If you want to meet Dietrich in person, on Nov 4th he will be schmoozing and reading from his book Ride the Lightning at ….Noir at the Bar, Vancouver, Shebeen Whiskey House, 212 Carrall St. Vancouver

You can also catch him at Bouchercon in Long Beach CA, taking part in the panel ‘Round the world for murder’ on Saturday, Nov. 15 at 3:00 PM with Erin Mitchell, Cara Black, Sara Blaedel and Barry Lancet

Or at Book Warehouse, Main Street, Vancouver, Nov. 19th for an evening of crime fiction with fellow Vancouver authors Owen Laukkanen, Robin Spano, E.R. Brown and Sam Wiebe.

Dietrich Kalteis's short stories have been widely published, and his screenplay Between Jobs is a past finalist in the Los Angeles Screenplay Festival. Dietrich lives in West Vancouver, BC, and his debut novel RIde the Lightning was published this past April by ECW Press.  

If you enjoyed this interview,check back next month as we grill Cathy Astolfo.


Pam and Liz

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Red Flags

Those of you who follow me on Facebook would have seen a photo I posted on Monday as I began a long awaited few days away. The drive up to Wasaga Beach only took a couple of hours.  Fall colours are well underway, but the weak sunlight failed to highlight the colours to their full beauty.  

Still it was a nice, uneventful drive and we arrived early afternoon at the “resort” previously booked online. Let me digress a moment.   With a modest budget to plan a few days away, the selection was limited. But we believed we had found reasonable value while booking through and were excited to know we had three days to wind down.  A pile of books, decks of cards and no definite plans equalled some serious R & R.

Wasaga Beach is definitely geared to summer time tourists and this time of year is much quieter; the lodging was only a block from the beach! With sweaters and flannel hoodies I didn’t care about the cold as long as rain didn’t interfere.  Anticipated walks along the beach awaited.

Oh how photos can deceive. The booking promised a suite with living area and two separate bedrooms plus kitchenette. Perfect!  Upon check in we were led to our unit by a pleasant woman who advised that because it’s not summer season, there would be no regular housekeeping.  Not a problem – meant if we decided to veg in front of the TV or read all day we’d not be disturbed. 

But - you know when you get those ‘red flags’…..? 

Red Flag #1 – opened the door to our unit (across the lot from the parked car) and wondered if the aroma wafting out was unique to the area – best description -  cinnamon laced bleach.  Ok, it meant the room has recently been cleaned, not a bad thing.  But I’d have preferred a less intense scent to whatever commercial cleaner had been used.  And even with windows opened the smell never seemed to lessen.

Red Flag #2 – no phone in the unit.  Huh…guess its assumed everyone has a cell phone these days, but then how would we contact the service desk if there was a problem?  (ie how can we get rid of this smell!)

Red Flag #3 came when I looked into my bedroom (and I use the term loosely) where a double bed filled most of the room. A miniscule bedside table with a reading light made for a Barbie doll completed the d├ęcor.  No dresser, not even a fold up luggage stand to put my suitcase on.  A tiny alcove of a closet with mismatched plastic hangars would be it for unpacking.   The bed had seen better days, but hey, I’m the type of person who can sleep pretty much anywhere so I wasn’t concerned.   (That would be Red Flag #4, if you’re keeping count)

At least the unit was clean.  Handy to the beach, and shopping we wanted to do.  And shopping we did – I bought a small bed side light knowing that the one provided would not suffice for my planned reading binges.   With only a ceiling light in the living area – no light beside the couch, there’d be no reading there.  Oh, the couch.   Yes, that got covered quickly with a spare sheet before either of our derrieres made contact.  Not exactly a large couch either, the only other seating available were two mismatched chairs meant for the kitchen table, and one of those was pressed into service as a coffee table.

The bathroom was clean – but just like the kitchen and sitting area, the curtains were not exactly sewn for privacy, if you get my drift.  Looked for the light switch – and looked.  Not in the room itself, or by the door.  However, around the corner – BEHIND the fridge, I found it.  Imagine the middle of the night, stumbling to the washroom and groping past the coils of the fridge to find the switch. Yep.

 Light Switch!

Finally came time to call it a night.  Managed to fit my CPAP machine on the tiny bedside table and was too tired to read.  Ah…time to drift off to sleep.  Or not…listened to the rain, and tried, and tried, to get comfortable.   The bed creaked and groaned more than a haunted house. Sleeping right on the box frame might have been softer!  At least using my CPAP machine allowed me to escape the cinnamon/bleach bouquet for a while.  (2 days later and at home, I still get whiffs of the scent when using the CPAP).

Needless to say the next morning, after comparing notes on both bedrooms, we decided there was no way we’d be able to spend another night, so we packed up and left.  Ironically the office didn't even question why we were leaving after just one night. 

The day wasn’t a total loss, sun shining and breezy; a walk along the beach came to pass.  A drive into Collingwood and more time spent by the water satisfied the urge to be by the lake, if only for an hour or too.


All in all, an interesting start to a week of vacation. But next time, a thorough review on Trip Advisor will be the rule of thumb…in hindsight reading about our accommodation after returning home showed the concerns raised by other travellers. At least I did gain a new reading light.

And now, Thanksgiving approaches, and despite the disappointment of a flubbed vacation, there is so very much to be thankful for.

This month’s interview will feature Deitrich Kalteis – be sure to check back for that later this month.     

Cheers and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


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