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triple shotBy Matt Ferraz

Three very different guys with lots of experience in crime get together after a job goes wrong, and decide to make a buck. If the next job goes according to the plan, all the planning won’t go to waste. One of them, who has the best contacts, finds someone willing to finance the project, and now the only question is how those three different minds will work together. That could very well be the plot of a crime story written by either Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara or Charles Salzberg. But in reality Kavlan, Salzberg and O’Mara are the three guys, and this story actually happened after them. The three authors decided to put their stories together in TRIPLE SHOT.

“We had written these novellas for a website that was going to offer a new novella every month to subscribers,” says Salzberg. “It never got off the ground, so we decided to publish them in a collection.” TRIPLE SHOT came true after O’Mara got together with editor Eric Campbell, who liked the project. “Eric likes to say ‘yes’ to ideas that interest him,” says O’Mara. “When I told him it sounded so simple, his response was ‘It is simple. The big guys make it hard.’ ”

“We’re all friends and I’ve had lunch once a week practically every week with Ross and we’ll continue that,” says Salzberg. “And if Tim didn’t have an actual job, damn him, he’d be invited too.” Since the three novellas were already finished, there was little creative pressure involved in the project. “The only way they are connected is that they’re all crime stories with a definite noir feel to them,” says Klavan.

Klavan wrote the first novella in the book, THUMP GUN HITCHED, a gritty tale of corruption that draws inspiration from Western movies. “I wanted to write something where the desert would play a big part. Something that would be a Western, but not take place on the Old West.” The author claims to take his creative process really serious ever since his childhood. One of his first published stories was Some New Faces in the Oldest Profession, which he sold to Hustler magazine in 1975. The story started as a college paper about a prostitute Klavan had met, and one of his professors suggested that, with a bit more sex, it could be publishable in a gentlemen’s magazine.

The next novella in the book is SMOKED UP by O’Mara, in which the narrator is a cigarette smuggler who finds out that his latest shipment contained some illegal automatic weapons. O’Mara drew inspiration from a former in-law to create the protagonist, and challenged himself to make him somewhat sympathetic. And this wasn’t even the oddest inspiration this author has used for his work. “My first published novel, Sacrifice Fly, was inspired by reading one more really crappy best-selling novel,” he says. “I got pissed, finished my book, found some agents from a friend in TV, and got a two book deal from St. Martin’s/Minotaur.”

Charles Salzberg’s TWISTS OF FATE started as a screenplay dealing with the concept of double jeopardy. The story is about a female TV reporter who believes to have found the story of her life after receiving a note from a young woman who claims to have been framed for murdering her husband and two children. “The difference between writing it as a screenplay and as a novella was that with the former all the film companies wanted to do was dumb it down, or tone it down,” states the author. His original idea involved a woman imprisoned for killing her whole family. “The head of production says, ‘How about her killing only her husband?’ That would take away the whole point of the story.” The novella format allowed him to use his original concept. “For a novella, the more heinous the better,” says Salzberg.

With TRIPLE SHOT released on August 15, the three shooters have their own projects on the way. Salzberg is preparing the new novel in his series on detective Henry Swann, and also a novel about a master burglar narrated from three different narrators. Klavan is working to turn his 2014 novel Schmuck into audio book and film. When asked about his next steps, O’Mara (whose “real job” is as a math and special education teacher in the New York City), jokingly says, “I refuse to work with Charles and Ross again. At one lunch we had, they hogged all the salsa and most of the conversation. Luckily I’m working on a new novel that has nothing to do with either of them,” and adds, “But, if they ask real nice—and let me talk— I’d consider it.”


Charles Salzberg is the author of the Shamus Award nominated Swann’s Last Song, and two others in the series, Swann Dives In, and Swann’s Lake of Despair, which was a finalist for 2 Silver Falchions, the Beverly Hills Book Award, and the Indie Excellence Award. The next in the series, Swann’s Way Out, will be published in early 2017. He is also the author of Devil in the Hole, which was named one of the best crime novels of 2013 by Suspense magazine, and more than two dozen nonfiction books. He teaches writing in New York City at the New York Writers Workshop, where he is a Founding Member.

To learn more about Charles Salzberg, please visit his website.


Matt Ferraz