Hi everyone -
Continuing with my interviews of crime fiction community. There isn't much rhyme or reason as to who I choose - it's just who pops into my head. I plan to post a few interviews, then do a few posts on publishing, then interviews, then... who knows? I hope you enjoy. Jim Ziskin is a great guy and I love hanging out with him at conferences, and it's not just because has the largest flask I have ever seen! Well, that might be one reason...
Is your desk messy or clean?
JWZ: I work exclusively on my iPad. That means wherever I am becomes my desk. I like to escape the house during the day. The change of scenery gives me the feeling of going to a job. And at your job you've got to get work done. The local coffee shop is one of my daytime "offices" (a cliche, I know). But I tell myself that the price of a coffee is my rent and IT budget. I get a seat and Internet for $3.50 per day. When I first arrived in Seattle seven months ago, I was finishing up CAST THE FIRST STONE, the fifth Ellie Stone mystery. I wrote most of it in a Starbuck's located in the same building as Zulily headquarters. As such, all the Zulily employees patronized the place. One day after about two weeks, the barista asked me if I worked upstairs at Zulily. I said, "No, I work here," and pointed to a table near the window. She asked, "You work for Starbuck's?"
And in the evenings, I write at home in a comfortable chair. Comfortable until Tinker decides to sit on my lap, which is always.
Here I am trying work around the cat. So I guess I'd say that my desk is messy.
What is your favorite 80’s song?
JWZ: Brahms's second piano concerto.
Oh, wait. Do you mean 1980s? That's a little harder. "Come on Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Runners? :-D Love the changing beat and the energy and the fact that even if I don't understand the words it doesn't matter. It's a fun song. But in terms of music, the eighties were something of a lost decade for me. I didn't like most of it. But I loved The Who. Still do. Face Dances. "Don't Let Go the Coat" and "Daily Records" are great songs, but not very typical of the eighties.
No. Nothing that didn't come with the original package.
What is your perfect murder weapon?
In my books, I'm a fan of the blunt object. It gives me a lot options. After all, there are lots of blunt objects out there, from bricks to baseball bats to automobiles. Yes, cars count as blunt objects. In fact, I write about murders that do not involve guns. Crimes of passion and spur-of-the-moment bad decisions. Little premeditation. That's because I can relate better to regular people than serial killers or hitmen. And if a regular person uses a gun to kill someone, well, the crime looks like murder, doesn't it? I like for there to be some doubt, at least at the outset. Was it an accident? Suicide? Or murder?
Here's a catalogue of deaths in my first five Ellie Stone mysteries. Six male victims, three female. None killed with a gun.
- Male, electrocuted in bath
- Male, bludgeoned with blunt object (door stopper)
- Female, throttled, neck broken (fit of jealous rage)
- Female, bludgeoned with blunt object (tire iron)
- Female, strangled in a panic (pervert)
- Male, run over by car (large, moving blunt object)
- Male, fall from cliff
- Male, fall from cliff
- Male, bludgeoned, followed by fall into deep ravine
What is your favorite unsolved mystery?
JWZ: D. B. Cooper. Hijacked a 727 in 1971 and parachuted somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. Never found.
James Ziskin, who goes by Jim in civilian life, is the Edgar-, Anthony-, Barry-, and Lefty-Award nominated author of the Ellie Stone series.
Jim served as director of NYU's Casa Italiana for several years before moving to Los Angeles, where he worked in the Hollywood post-production industry, running major international operations in subtitling and visual effects. He recently transferred to Seattle, where he writes full-time.
HEART OF STONE, book 4 in the Ellie Stone series, is a finalist for the 2017 Edgar for Best Paperback Original. CAST THE FIRST STONE comes out June 6, 2017. Look for A STONE'S THROW in summer 2018.