Saturday, August 26, 2023

Interview With Author Dale M. Pollock


1. What inspired you to write this book?

My wife Susie's great-great-grandfather became embroiled in the most notorious murder trial of the mid 1800s.  Susie's mother had first tried to gather enough information to write a biography of James Winchell Stone, but was working in the 1960s without the internet. We took her concept further and devised a mystery around the murder of George Parkman, for which Harvard Professor John Webster was tried, convicted and publicly hanged.  

2. What exactly is it about and who is it written for?

The novel concerns the Webster/Parkman trial of 1850, in which the dismembered pieces of a person were found in the Harvard Medical School privy of a meek chemistry professor. It is written for lovers of historical fiction, mystery thrillers, and unlikely love stories.  

3. What do you hope readers will get out of reading your book?

I hope they will experience Boston as it really was in 1850.  Because of my film background, I feel CHOPPED has a cinematic quality that puts you right into the action. I also hope the love story between two people of different classes will continue to resonate with readers, since many of my readers have commented on how much they love Ellen O'Keeffe (my wife's maiden name). 

4. How did you decide on your book’s title and cover design?

Originally, the novel was called "The Phonographer" but it proved confusing because people thought it was "The Pornographer!"  Shortly before we finalized the book cover design, I came up with the idea of CHOPPED, because it was the chopped-up pieces of George Parkman that sets all of the events in my novel into play.  Our book designer, Julie Allred, came up with the design of using the body parts on the cover, and we chose a 19th century deep red color rather than a modern, bright red cherry color that we had originally selected. We also had to add "a novel" to our title so people wouldn't think it was a cookbook! 

5. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers – other than run!?

Work every day, no matter how little or how much you write, as long as you do something. Persevere.

6. What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading? 

I think independent bookstores are making a great comeback after barely surviving the online onslaught that Amazon launched.  In a curious way, I think that Covid helped the book industry since people finally had time to read.  I think the growth of audio books has also really expanded the potential audience that authors can reach. 

7. Were there experiences in your personal life or career that came in handy when writing this book? 

Yes, I had a 35-mm version of my story playing in my head, the same way it did when I developed screenplays for the 13 films I produced. 

8. How would you describe your writing style? Which writers or books is your writing similar to?

I am very influenced by Elmore Leonard and Don Winslow.  I would describe my writing style as straight-forward, detailed, and hopefully cinematic! 

9. What challenges did you overcome in the writing of this book?

Since this took 19 years, there are too many to mention!  I was working full-time as a Cinema Studies professor while writing 22 drafts of CHOPPED. I did have the summers off, so I spent every summer for six years researching up in Boston.  I read the complete coverage of the 27 newspapers that were published in Boston at the time. There were another 30 papers that covered the trial from places as diverse as New York City and Berlin, Germany.  I spent weeks in the Boston Public Library Rare Books room examining personal diaries by the jury members, researching the period, and the depth of detail that I undertook to absorb was a major challenge. 

10. If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours?

Because CHOPPED is different, engaging, and surprising in its resolution.  It works as a vintage crime mystery thriller, a surprising romance that crosses class boundaries, and murder mystery, which I solved fictionally.   

Dale M. Pollock is a writer, lecturer, film producer, and cinema professor. His previous book was the bestseller "Skywalking: The life and Films of George Lucas."  He and his wife Susie reside in Winston Salem, North Carolina. For more info, please see: 

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Brian Feinblum should be followed on LinkedIn. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2023. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog, and El Chapo, a pug rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.4 million pageviews. With 4,600+ posts over the past dozen years, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Todd Duncan, Susan RoAne, John C. Maxwell, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult:  



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