Friday, 23 March 2012

PUSH-UPS: Brett Selmont

So what you pushing?
My debut novel I-35 is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and Smashwords as an ebook for just $2.99, in print for $9.99 at Amazon, etc and $11.95 in book stores in New York and L.A. I’m working on Route 66 now, the follow up to I-35, and that should be out around May.

What’s the hook?
Here’s the synopsis with an added teaser…
I punched in the secret code and waited. There was one saved voicemail. The only decipherable words amongst the static and terrifying screams were my name and the words Children, Devil, Tattoo’s, One, and I–35, followed by a woman’s gut-wrenching scream in the background, “PLEASE GOD NO!” My brother’s voice sounded as if it was coming through a distortion pedal. It barely resembled him at all, but I knew it was…

I-35 is the story of David, a loner in his late 20’s from New York City who suffers from black out migraines and has a penchant for painkillers. He wakes one morning, freezing in the backseat of his car 1,500 miles from home with no idea how he got there. After hearing a horrifying voicemail he embarks on a harrowing journey through America’s heartland searching for his estranged brother, and his brother’s wife, while attempting to piece together his own fractured memory.

Along the road David meets a cast of odd characters who become suspects in his clouded and paranoid mind. And just as the clues begin to add up; a chance encounter at a seedy Oklahoma diner leads him to Shawna--a beautiful girl, shrouded in mystery, who escorts him down a vertiginous path to the end of the I-35 Highway…where a shocking truth is revealed.

Why’s that floating your boat?
Well, it’s my first published novel so I’m very excited and so far the response has been really great. John Lutz, the NY Times best seller, former president of the Mystery Writers Association and Edgar and Shamus winner wrote this about I-35: “Tough, incisive, tough, evocative, tough, adroit, tough. Selmont will take you on a genuinely gripping journey down a highway that will inspire you to lock your car as automatically as you buckle your seat belt. Hard boiled fans, you’ve been waiting for this one. A nifty piece of work by a talented writer.”

And Don Bajema who was with Henry Rollins’ publishing company and now with City Lights wrote this: "Selmont’s I-35 is a car trip with Jim Thompson and the Brothers Grimm down a specific highway through the dark heart of America."

When did you turn to crime?
Probably when I was 13 and I broke into a liquor store…no, my former agent actually got me started after I murdered...kidding. My first novel, which never sold, but got me an agent, was called Lower. It was literary fiction with a little crime in it. He shopped it around and everyone had the same response. “He’s a talented writer but were not gonna make $hit off this.” He suggested I write in a genre so I started a weird road mystery that became I-35.

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary?
Really it’s all centered on my mood but if I had to choose I’d say classic. The biggest influences on my career would be A Clockwork Orange, Naked Lunch, On The Road and the films of David Lynch. I started reading in grade school doing book reports on Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, The Outsiders, Rumble Fish, American Psycho, Less Than Zero -- I think I freaked out most of my English teachers. Then I moved to fantasy with Lord of The Rings and this other series I can’t remember the name of but the cover had an evil looking guy with a skull and deer antlers coming out of it as he rode a horse and I was hooked. At 13 I found Anthony Burgess, Burroughs, Kerouac and Bukowski and started writing more when I wasn’t borrowing cars and robbing liquor stores…

And, what’s blown you away lately?
I just moved from New York to Los Angeles and I’ve been working on the follow up to I-35 called Route 66 so I haven’t been reading much lately. I’d say Russell Banks’ Trailer Park was pretty funny and great to check out if you’re a writer because it has great characters to study. Don Bajema’s Boy in the Air is a quick and fantastic read as well. But really, I’ve been so focused on my own writing. It’s been hard to pick up anything else. A friend recommended Kealan Patrick Burke’s Kin, though, so I’ll check that out when I get a minute.

See any books as movies waiting to happen?
I’d love to make I-35 into a movie. I’ve had a lot of feedback from readers saying that it would make for an amazing film. You know how Marilyn Manson did that eerie cover of Sweet Dreams by The Eurythmics? I’d love to do an eerie version of The Sun Also Rises. 1920 Paris with Jake Barnes eating brains along the Siene… It would be awesome!

Mainstream, indie – paper or digital?
I’d go indie since I’m indie but really anything that’s good should be read. And as far as the whole paper vs digital thing goes I don’t care either way. I prefer to hold a book and turn the pages but as long as people are reading and buying books I’m happy, especially if they’re buying mine!

Shout us a website worth visiting…
My friends Jeremy Buhler and Gus Rodriguez made a kickass short fiction film called The Kingdom of Ultimate Power staring Bas Rutten the former fighting champion, UFC Heavyweight Champion. The guy is insane and gives a tremendous performance. You can check it out at pilotlightpictures.com

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself…
I was born in New Haven, Connecticut. My mom was from The Bronx and my parents met in Manhattan. I started going there when I was four or five to visit my grandparents and fell in love. The lights, the excitement, the graffiti on the subway cars it all grabbed a hold of me and never let go. I moved there as soon as I could and began writing. I never thought about writing as a career though, I went to college for TV and worked at MTV and HBO but I used to skip class at Hunter College in NYC because I’d get so involved in working on a story. One day I began writing articles and got some published in various papers and wrote for the New York Press and the rest is history. I moved to Paris for a year and wrote my first novel Lower and when I got back to NYC I submitted my book to 100s of agents. After a year and a half of rejections I met an agent at a party who actually had rejected my book. We talked and he thought the book had promise and agreed to read it again, then took me on as a client after he finished it. My agent has since retired and I’m trying to decide if I should get another. I’ve worked odd jobs, sold beer for a distributor in the East Village for a while and got drunk a lot. Now I’m pushing I-35 and the follow up Route 66 so I can hopefully write full-time for a living…and get drunk a lot.