Happy Friday, my bookish peeps. Every day there seems to be a news story about a new strain of Covid-19 making an appearance somewhere in the world. I’m hoping and praying that none of these new strains are as deadly as the first. Unlike many people, I actually enjoyed the “shutdown.” I stayed home and read books, lots and lots of books. The solitude was a delight for this introvert. I know, many of you had to deal with new work dynamics, not to mention childcare and education dynamics. We all learned how to cope with this new “normal.” I’m honored to welcome back Charles Salzberg, author of Man On the Run. Mr. Salzberg will be sharing the impact of the pandemic on his writing. Thank you, Mr. Salzberg, for returning to visit with us, the blog is now all yours.
How the Pandemic Played an Important Role in My Latest Novel
by Charles Salzberg
The Covid pandemic upended many lives but for someone like me who’s spent most of his adult life as a freelance writer, it was a piece of cake. After all, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that sheltering in place is something I’ve been rehearsing for all my life.
Staying home was no longer simply a suggestion. Now it was a sign of doing our patriotic duty, making sure our fellow citizens remain safe and Covid-free.
But after a while, even for me, a self-proclaimed expert at finding plenty to do within the confines of my apartment, it became a little challenging in terms of filling the time. I mean, how many Zoom lunches, or Zoom catch-ups, can one person abide?
Of course, there were the usual activities: Reading. Surfing the web. Hop-scotching between one streaming service to another, starting with A for Apple and going through P for Peacock and S for Starz, the opportunities were mind-shattering. Even doing some writing (although, to be honest, I don’t think I got any more writing done being home all day than I did pre-pandemic).
But occasionally, even the eyes need a rest and I yearned for something a little more relaxing. Something where I could lie back, close my eyes, and just…listen. And that’s how I discovered podcasts.
It wasn’t like I’d never listened to a podcast before. Like most of the country, I was hooked by Serial, the New York Times deep-dive by Sarah Koenig into the Adnan Syed murder case. And I’d been a guest on a couple of podcasts which I certainly didn’t listen to (nor, I’m guessing, were there many others who bothered to tune in). But as a steady diet? No way.
But Covid changed all that. I started hunting down true crime podcasts and was shocked to find there was a seemingly never-ending supply. I’d listen to one, which would inevitably lead to another and another and…well, you get the idea. Eventually, I was led to non-crime podcasts that offer a host of interesting topics. The search for Richard Simmons, Y2K, (Dan Taberski), Pod Save America, January 6th, the first 1993 bombing of the World Trade Building, the list is endless. And the thing of it is, much of the original reporting is first-rate.
I’m never surprised at the bottomless well of cases to talk about, injustices to uncover, mysteries to solve, but what did surprise me was the professionalism of the podcasts and the podcasters. It’s a legitimate form of journalism and, as a former magazine journalist, I was impressed, no make that extremely impressed, by the sheer, dogged, investigative work that goes into these podcasts.
And here’s how the pandemic eventually had an effect on what I was going to write next.
As soon as I finish a novel, I don’t like to put too much daylight between that ending and a new beginning. I’d finished Canary in the Coal Mine and was waiting for my next project to knock on my door. For some reason, my mind kept drifting back to the novel before Canary, Second Story Man, featuring the master burglar Francis Hoyt. Spoiler alert: at the end of that novel, Hoyt manages to elude the authorities and enters a new life as a man on the run. I had no intention of writing another book with Hoyt as the main character, but for some reason, he just wouldn’t relax his grip on me. I kept wondering, what happens to him now? Where does he go? What does he do with himself?
The only way to find out was to start to write about him, which is exactly what I did. I moved him out to the West Coast, and I even figured out what his next “job” would be, but I knew that wasn’t enough. I needed something else. And that’s where what I did during the pandemic came in handy. What if, I asked myself (the question every writer winds up asking), there’s this true crime podcaster and she decides the next subject she’s going to tackle is the legendary burglar, Francis Hoyt? And what if Hoyt found out someone was investigating his life and would then air it for all the world to hear? What would he do about it?
Thus was born Dakota Richards, a former newspaper crime reporter turned podcaster. But I knew virtually nothing about the ins and outs of the profession and so I reached out to the reporter/producer for one of my favorites, Murder in Oregon, Lauren Bright Pacheco. Unsurprisingly, (journalists are usually very helpful, especially to other writers) Lauren immediately returned my email and agreed to answer a whole bunch of questions about the profession. What kind of equipment do you use? How many people are involved in the production of a podcast and what do they do?
And so, with the help of Lauren, I hope I was able to create a compelling character and an impressive figure for Hoyt to spar with. And if I have been successful, I owe a lot of that success to Covid-19. ♦
Man on the Run
by Charles Salzberg
April 17 – May 12, 2023 Virtual Book Tour
Master burglar Francis Hoyt is on the run.
After walking away from his arraignment in a Connecticut courtroom, he’s now a fugitive who has to figure out what he’s going to do with the rest of his life. And so, he heads west, to Los Angeles, where he meets Dakota, a young true crime podcaster who happens to be doing a series on Hoyt. At the same time, he’s approached by a mysterious attorney who makes Hoyt an offer he can’t refuse: break into a “mob bank” and liberate the contents.
Published by: Down & Out Books
Publication Date: April 17, 2023
Number of Pages: 340
ISBN: 9781643963075 (Paperback)
ASIN: B0BXFPFYMB (Kindle edition)
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Bookshop.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Down & Out Books
Praise for Man on the Run:
“The stakes couldn’t be higher as the cat and mouse game moves to the Left Coast in Salzberg’s compelling Man on the Run. A superb mix of action, suspense, psychopathology.”
“One part heist movie, one part psychological thriller, three parts great character and blend. Salzberg’s superb Man on the Run will keep your head spinning from the first page to the last.”
~ Reed Farrel Coleman
“Man on the Run grips you from the opening page and doesn’t let go. The plot will leave you breathless with anticipation as a master burglar and a crime podcaster try to outwit and outmaneuver each other before an outrageous heist. There’s nothing better than smart characters, with smart dialogue, going head to head. You won’t want to miss a twist or turn.”
~ Michael Wiley, Shamus Award-winning writer of the Sam Kelson mysteries
“Francis Hoyt, Charles Salzberg’s brilliant burglar anti-hero from SECOND STORY MAN, is back on the prowl in Man on the Run. Old-school crime meets the podcast age as Hoyt tangles with a true-crime reporter as well as fellow felons and the law. Like his hero, Salzberg is a total pro who always brings it home.”
~ Wallace Stroby, author of HEAVEN’S A LIE
“Charles Salzberg is a genius at not only crafting a helluva page-turner of a heist novel, but he also manages to make the reader care about Francis Hoyt, master burglar and pathological narcissist. Hoyt is the man on the run, and the story of how he eludes the law, the mob, and a retired cop who has become his personal nemesis packs a solid punch and leaves you rooting for the guy who’d steal your family jewels without breaking a sweat.”
~ James R. Benn, author of the Billy Boyle WWII mystery series
“When it comes to Charles Salzberg’s work, you can expect a hard-edged story, crisp dialogue, and memorable characters. This is certainly true — and then some! – in his latest, Man on the Run. Featuring master burglar Francis Hoyt, a tough and intelligent criminal who can’t seem to turn down tempting criminal scores despite the inherent danger, Man on the Run features a true-crime podcast host, a criminal fence, and an investigator hot on the trail of Francis Hoyt as his most challenging and dangerous burglary comes into play. Very much recommended.”
~ Brendan DuBois, award-winning and New York Times bestselling author
“It’s a battle of wits and nerves as a cop, a robber, and a journalist dance around each other weaving a tapestry of deceit and suspense. Salzberg’s dialogue flows like water until it finds truth in this most entertaining read.”
~ Matt Goldman, New York Times bestselling author
“Smart, sly and compelling, with a fascinating main character – the very definition of intelligent suspense.”
~ Lee Child
Charles Salzberg, a former magazine journalist (New York magazine, Esquire, Redbook, New York Times, and others) and nonfiction book writer (From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, an oral history of the NBA, and Soupy Sez; My Zany Life and Times with Soupy Sales), has been nominated twice for the Shamus Award for Swann’s Last Song and Second Story Man, which also won the Beverly Hills Book Award. His novel Devil in the Hole was named one of the Best Crime Novels of 2013 by Suspense magazine. He is the author of Canary in the Coal Mine and his short stories have appeared in Mystery Tribune, Down to the River, Lawyers, and Guns and Money. He’s been a Visiting Professor Magazine at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and he teaches writing in New York City for the New York Writers Workshop, where he is a Founding Member. He’s also on the Board of PrisonWrites and is a former Board Member of MWA-NY.
Catch Up With Charles:
Instagram – @charlessalzberg
Twitter – @CharlesSalzberg
Facebook – @charles.salzberg.3
YouTube – @CharlesSalzberg
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