Zachary Klein wrote a few Matt Jacob novels years back that were pretty well received. Now, his novelw will be published again by Polis Books with a new one as well. Reasons enough to interview him about his work and protagonist Matt Jacob.
Q: What makes Matt Jacob different from other hardboiled characters?
A few things jump to mind. Although the classic hardboiled main characters are often introspective, Matt Jacob pushes the envelope. In fact, I'd say that his character extends the boundaries in dealing with his own emotional life and the interpersonal relationships he enters into. In many ways my book are crossovers between "detective fiction" and novels.
The other difference is the degree of Matt's substance abuse and his attitude toward it. This is not a private detective who plans on joining a twelve step program.
Q: How did you come up with the character?
That's a tough one. All too often people assume Matt is simply a reflection of myself. Not true. His development (continuing development, actually) is a reflection of the times and culture, even though his is a counter culture personna. I wanted to create a living, breathing human who, despite his flaws, has a commitment to other people, an intense sense of loyalty, and again, at his essence, a very human human being.
Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
I love it. I believes it gives great writers opportunities that "legacy" publishing houses didn't or wouldn't. It allows an author the choice of becoming part of an internet publishing house the way I have with Polis Books ( http://www.polisbooks.com/) or going it alone. For me, the necessity of becoming my own publicist is something I neither liked nor was particularly good at, which is one reason why I've teamed up with Polis. But some authors enjoy doing publicity and are pretty damn good at it. Me, I just like to write. The ebook revolution allows writers to make their own decisions about which way to ride as opposed to working for traditional publishers who, at least when I worked with them, often pigeon holed authors usually with sales figures.
Q: What's next for you and Matt?
Well, Polis Books is repackaging the first three Matt Jacob novels and has bought the fourth, which is titled Ties That Blind. I expect they'll release the first three in early spring and the fourth shortly thereafter. So far it's been a pleasure working with Jason Pinter, founder of Polis and, if he's interested and the series does well I'll write another one. But just like I'm growing older so is Matt, which means a whole new set of life issues to grapple with.
Q: How do you promote your work?
I'm not comfortable with a whole lot of individual self-promotion so other than my website ( http://www.zacharykleinonline.com) and my Facebook page ( https://www.facebook.com/ZacharyKleinAuthorPage) I've relied upon word of mouth. I'm hoping that my partnership with Polis will help me bring my publicity "A" game. It's a lot easier for me to work shoulder to shoulder with other people. And I have a high regard for Jason.
Q: What other kinds of genres besides crime do you like?
I'd like to approach this question a bit differently. Although I accept the term "genre" and even understand its usefulness I try to shy away from it. There are writers I like--Richard Russo, Charles Bukowski, Richard Ford, William Gibson, for example, and writers I don't. That's the determining factor for me rather than the box in which anyone is placed. As I mentioned earlier, I don't even see my own Matt Jacob series as easily stereotyped.
Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk
and Joe Pike?
Truth is, Matt Jacob has enough demons in his character to keep him and me more than busy.
Q: In the last century we've seen new waves of PI writers, first influenced
by Hammett, then Chandler, Macdonald, Parker, later Lehane. Who do you
think will influence the coming generation?
I hope they'd be influenced by Hammett, Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Parker, Lehane, and Klein. But I think you left out some hidden gems. Bart Spicer, Sara Gran, Loren D. Estleman, Stephen Greenleaf, and many more. Hopefully new writers learn from everyone they read, but there's a Miles Davis story where a trumpet player approched Davis between sets and said, "I can sound like that." Miles nodded and in his hoarse whisper replied, "The trick is to sound like yourself."
Q: Why do you write in this genre?
Ahh, that word again. What drew me to detective fiction is its relationship to American jazz. The American perspective combined with the writer's ability to create a spontaneity about his or her work. Also the violent nature of our society and exploring the "whys" of that violence be it institutional or individual has always blinked neon to me.