Word Nerd: What is the best/most influential book you have ever read and why did it inspire you?Read the entire interview.
Zeltserman: Hell of a Woman by Jim Thompson. The book completely changed my view of writing. This was probably the first unreliable narrator that I came across-in this case what appears to be a down-on-his-luck decent guy who turns out to be out of his mind. The way Thompson suckered you into this guy’s private hell was remarkable, but more than that I never saw a book before that took the kind of chances that this book did. It opened my eyes to the fact that there are no set rules if you can make it work. The ending was mind blowing — the train of thoughts coming from both sides of a schizophrenic personality as they intersect. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Thompson was one of the great pure writers of the last 50 years. Reading that book changed my whole outlook on writing, and really freed me to write the way I wanted to.
The Page 69 Test: Bad Thoughts.