Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
David M. Salkin, 51. Most folks just call me Dave.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I’m married with two children, two dogs and about a hundred fish and sea critters.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
Where to begin? Always lots going on. BATTLE SCARS is my latest release, and a detour from my usual thrillers. This novella is a serious look at a Marine deployment, injury, and recovery – both physically and emotionally. It’s received acclaim from some real American heroes, and just won a Gold Medal in the Military Writers Association of America. The endorsements inside the book are humbling. It’s my hope to see this story “go viral” and use some of the proceeds to help me with the veteran support work that I do with the Veterans Community Alliance and the Marine Corps League.
Separately, a science-fiction horror story and its sequel – DEEP BLACK SEA and DARK TIDE RISING have been combined into one book and are being re-released by Simon & Shuster on November 21st. I loved writing those books, because I’m an avid scuba diver and love the ocean. These creepy tales will give you pause when you want to wade into the water again.
Also…yes, there’s more… my agent (Blackhawk Literary) will be selling my latest manuscript in the coming months, and I think that BLOOD FROM A STONE will have wide appeal. It’s a dark, murder mystery that combines a wise-ass main character who likes to cook and drink wine (in other words, me) juxtaposed against a grisly crime he’s forced into solving. It’s a ripper – a fast-paced, edge of your seat thriller, with occasional laughs.
In the meantime, THE TEAM series continues to sell well. I’ve had a few conversations about film on this series, as well as BATTLE SCARS, although an actual option eludes me at the moment. THE TEAM books (Post Hill Press) remain my top-selling novels, and are military-espionage / action-adventure thrillers that span the globe.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I didn’t know the answer to that question until I was helping my Dad move a couple of years ago. That’s when I came across a box of stuff my Mom had saved. In it, I found that funky-lined penmanship paper kids use when they’re learning to write. And right there, on that paper in my very young hand-writing, was a short story I had written. It really made me laugh and pause to realize I’ve always been trying to write stories. I was an English Literature major at Rutgers, and reading and writing have been important to me my entire life.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The first time I saw the cover art for my first novel with Penguin Books, called Crescent Fire, my heart was pounding in my chest. There was my name, on the cover of a book from Penguin. It was huge thrill. After it was released, a friend called me from the spy museum in Washington DC and screamed “Dude! I’m looking at your book!” I was on a shelf in a real bookstore – I had arrived!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The first full-length novel I wrote wasn’t the first one sold. That book, titled HARD CARBON, didn’t get sold for years. It’s an international thriller about the Russian mob, diamonds, and a worldwide computer heist. What’s kind of hilarious is that I wrote in 2004, when computer scams were still pretty much unheard of. The concept of the book was really more science-fiction fantasy at the time I wrote it. Now it’s just a crime thriller! When it was released, eight years after I wrote it, that very week of the release, Russian hackers stole two billion passwords! It was like a book promo! You can’t make this stuff up…
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
For which one? LOL. I have fourteen novels out at the moment. The last release, BATTLE SCARS, refers to both the visible and invisible scars our war fighters return home with. Although my shortest book – a novella actually, it may be my best writing. I basically squeezed an eight hundred page story into one-hundred and twenty pages that I’m pretty proud of. There’s a deep story there, in very raw, life-like telling. You’ll read it in two or three hours, but think about it for days. I’ve had hard-core, bad-ass veterans tell me they wept all day. Their words to me, both in endorsements and privately, have been extremely rewarding. I love these folks.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I write thrillers. Basically, I’m just a story-teller. When folks ask what I do for a living, I always laugh and say, “I literally get paid to make shit up.” My goal is to make my reader forget where they are, miss an appointment, stay up past bedtime, and just love the story they’re engrossed in. I provide a few hours mental vacation for my readers, and I love hearing their reactions and how they were up until two finishing a book. I suppose the biggest challenge for any thriller writer is the “pace”. I true thriller must be a page-turner. The reader has to need to know what’s going to happen.If I can keep readers flying through a book, then I feel like I did my job. Most fans of my work tell me they always read my books in just a few sittings because they can’t stop. That’s the perfect pace.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I write in several genres, and I think most of what I write is plausible. I read non-fiction heavily when writing fiction, and do a lot of research. My goal is to have readers believe that no matter what I’m writing about, it’s not ridiculous. In fact, it might just scare the crap out of them as they worry whether or not it could happen in real life.
Characters are often based on people I’ve known, and stories develop from news articles sometimes. Life imitates art, and sometimes art imitates life.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I don’t have to travel, thanks to Google Earth and research. That said, I have traveled quite a bit in my life, and it’s my favorite past time. Just back from Tuscany, actually, and felt inspired to write something medieval or Italian based when I came home. Not sure if that will happen, but my wheels are still turning. Many dive trips in St Lucia also helped when writing DEEP BLACK SEA.
One of the best compliments on my research came from someone’s review of THE TEAM II – Into The Jungle. The reviewer wrote about how I must have spent a lot of time in the Amazon area from which he had just returned. He said the description was exactly what he’d just seen. That was awesome, because I’ve never been there – just lots of hours on Google Earth and reading online.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Some very talented artists! The big publishers typically have their own folks. I’ve self-pubbed a couple of books, and used talented artists that I found through my own research. Some amazing people out there. Usually, I give the artist a concept idea, and they just run with it.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Well, usually I just write to entertain my readers. Only BATTLE SCARS was written for a specific reason – to honor our veterans. Their reaction and the reviews have been extremely rewarding and humbling. The goal of this book was to give non-veterans a real look at their sacrifices, and to give veterans an actual Thank You. I’ve had reviews that said it should be “required reading in school.” That would be perfect.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Even authors have their favorite authors! My list spans genres and decades, but includes, Ken Follett, Lee Child, Robert Crais, Rudyard Kipling and others. Any writer who can make me forget everything except their story has my appreciation. And there are SO many talented folks out there waiting to grab a wider audience, just like me.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Outside of family, I’d have to say Penguin Books gave me my first big break. Editor Tom Colgan bought my first two novels, and got my foot in the door of publishing. Tom and Doug Whiteman at Penguin are forever in my heart! Post Hill Press has also been very supportive.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. It’s not just a story – it’s also food, shelter and clothing!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
The latest one isn’t out yet. (BLOOD FROM A STONE) We spent a lot of time editing, (my agent and editor and I) and I think it’s ready.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Like I said, I do a lot of research when writing anything. That research is a ton of fun for me. Sometimes, it can actually lead to distraction because I get all these other ideas going at once. It requires discipline to just find the answers I need for a book, and not spend twenty hours reading about something just because it’s interesting!
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
BATTLE SCARS started as a screenplay. The main character needs to be a “twenty year old Tom Hardy”, whoever that guy is. A man’s man, not too pretty, but rugged and hard – a Marine whose face and demeanor scream “OohhhRahhh”.
For BLOOD FROM A STONE, I’ll take Tom Hardy, Alexander Ludwig or Barry Pepper. I need a bad ass who can also be funny and sarcastic. I’m sure some producer in Hollywood “knows that guy”.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Read, write, repeat. It’s a craft that requires constant improvement. That improvement can only come from reading better writers, talking to other writers, whatever it is you need to get better. Attending conferences, taking classes – just be working all the time to get better, and leave your ego at the door. Listen to your editor if you have a good one –and you need a good one!
You also need thick skin. You can’t even call yourself a writer until you have at least a hundred rejection letter!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Please keep reading and writing those amazing reviews! You keep me motivated and inspired, and I thnk you for reading my work!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I recently read a book by my friend Lisa Black, who writes great mystery-thrillers. Also, when I came home from Thrillerfest, I returned with twenty books! Mark Greaney has a good one coming out soon, and I just finished Lee Child’s newest thriller.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Sorry, way too long ago – but my Mom was huge on her kids reading. We always read books growing. Where The Wild Things Are, and tons of DrSuess as I recall. It wasn’t long before I discovered Aesop’s Fables, and then on to The hardy Boys.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I love standup comedy. Who doesn’t love to laugh? Cry? Well, there’s plenty of sadness around us all the time, but I try to focus on what makes me happy.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I want to sit down with Gary Sinise and convince him to produce and direct BATTLE SCARS!
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Too many! I’m a writer, a traveler, a scuba diver, (and I have 7 fish tanks, including a large reef tank), an amateur gourmet chef and oenophile. I’m also the Deputy Mayor of my town where I’ve served for 23 years. I’ve been called a Renaissance Man on quite a few occasions, I guess because I’m always doing something.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Not much TV, but I like good movies. The few series I love are Billions, Game of Thrones, and Homeland.Narcos was a binge watch as well.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I LOVE to cook and have friends over to eat and drink great wine. I lean towards Italian cooking, but it’s sort of my own thing. A little French, a little “American” whatever that is, seafood, whatever seems fun at that moment. My trip to Tuscany was all about the food and great wine!
I also love music. I played drums for about 30 years. They’re dusty these days, but I still LOVE music. Favorites are mostly rock like Led Zep, Doors, Boston, Hendrix, ELO, ELP, Dave Mathews, Peter Gabriel…I can keep going!
Color? Blue, like the warm ocean for diving~
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Travel. Maybe take a cooking class while in Italy or France. Or just scuba dive in St Lucia with my friends down there, and eat Lionfish out of existence.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
The year 2065. J(That’ll make me a hundred.) Actually, I’m an organ donor, and the rest gets cremated. I’m hoping to be so old and banged up by the time I kick it, that there’s nothing left over to use! My ashes go in the ocean, and my family visits me there on beautiful sunny days. I don’t need a rock with my name on it- they’re be book out there instead!
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
www.DavidMSalkin.com come visit me ! You can also email there, or find me on Facebook or Twitter. I always try and write back!