Interview with David Staats, Author of A Midsummer Night’s Death

17 Nov 2020

What can you tell us about your new release, A Midsummer Night’s Death?

Book three in the Walter Dure series is an attempt to meld two incompatible ideas: a murder mystery with the delightful atmosphere of Shakespeare’s fey play.

In a setting shaped by too many dollars and too little sense, a young person dies suddenly in full view of a dozen or more people. That foul play was involved is clear, yet none of the witnesses could tell the how or the who. Caught between a nouveau riche billionaire and a stereotypical, not-as-smart-as-he-thinks-he-is sheriff, Attorney Walter Dure is maneuvered into having to investigate a murder.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

When I was a teenager, I loved the book King of Paris, Guy Endore’s fictionalized biography of Alexandre Dumas.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

Without going into a detailed essay about what constitutes a “best” book, here are five books that I would recommend to anyone, or at least anyone over the age of twenty (not because there is anything risqué in these books, but because to be enjoyed they require a certain maturity):

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes
The Odyssey by Homer (Fitzgerald translation) (hopefully this book hasn’t been ruined for you by its having been taught in school)
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Witness by Whittaker Chambers

How about mysteries?  Give us a few of the best mysteries you’ve read?

I would say these are three can’t-miss mysteries:

A Kiss Before Dying by Ira Levin
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

How do you feel about reader ratings and reviews that appear online?

I am very appreciative when anyone takes the time to share their reaction to one of my works. The overwhelming majority of readers are in fact generous. If there should be an occasional less favorable review, I can comfort myself by reading 1-star reviews of great books. For example, a 1-star reviewer of Anna Karenina, which many consider the greatest novel, wrote: “This is an extremely long-winded book …. Numerous dull and irrelevant discussions about local politics, farming methods etc take up endless pages and add nothing to the story. One gets the impression that Tolstoy was paid by the page and did all he could to drag things out.”

If Tolstoy gets his lumps, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to get some myself.

What’s the hardest thing about writing?

That as a writer you have to compete with all of the writers in history. I try to write so that someone could reasonably spend their time reading my book, even though they could instead read something by Tolstoy, or Dickens, or Mary Ann Evans, or thousands of other writers.

David Staats is the author of the new book A Midsummer Night’s Death.

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