It’s easy to miss Brad Meltzer, today’s guest on the Gazalapalooza Author Spotlight. To do so, all that’s required is a simple three-pronged strategy: First, stay out of bookstores and away from online booksellers, for otherwise you’ll surely encounter any number of his nine bestselling thrillers. Be warned — the newest of them, The Fifth Assassin, was released today, so it’s particularly ubiquitous. Of course if you’re successful dodging his fiction work at the stores, you still run the risk of running into his pair of acclaimed nonfiction books, Heroes for My Son, and Heroes for My Daughter. Nonetheless, you might think you can sneak into your bookshop and still exercise Meltzer avoidance by secreting yourself in your bookseller’s graphic novels section, but you’d be out of luck there. Superhero luminaries like Superman, Batman, the Green Arrow, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have all benefited from Meltzer’s touch. So, no bookstores. Now, go with prong #2 and bypass bestseller lists all over the world, where Meltzer’s novels have staked out lofty territory consistently since the 1998 publication of his first novel, The Tenth Justice. Then implement the third prong: sprint home and get rid of your television. In a vain effort to keep your TV, you may have deluded yourself into believing it’s a Meltzer-free zone. But no, my friend, the TV has to go. You’ll be doing yourself a disservice, though — especially if you’re a fan of compelling mystery and conspiracy theory investigation — because you’ll lose out on being thoroughly entertained by "Brad Meltzer’s Decoded" on the History Channel.
Meltzer is everywhere, and that’s a good thing. For 15 years our guest has worked very hard to entertain, thrill, mystify and educate us, and we think he’s done a spectacular job of it. That’s why we’re pleased Meltzer has carved some time out of his ridiculously busy schedule to visit the Author Spotlight and commemorate with us today’s release of The Fifth Assassin. Notice that it seems all his canoodling with superheroes has rubbed Meltzer the right way, since he appears utterly unflappable in the unforgiving wooden chair, even with harsh klieg light reflecting off his trademark spectacles. Meltzer looks ready to go. We are too, so without further ado, let’s get this edition of the Author Spotlight underway.
Gazala: In my omnipotence, I've sentenced you to be stranded alone on a desert island for offenses best left unnamed. In my beneficence, I've decided to allow you a limited amount of reading material to make your stay a little less bleak than it would otherwise be. I'll spot you your religious text of preference, and the collected works of William Shakespeare. In addition to those, name the one fiction book, and the one nonfiction book, you'd choose to take with you, and why you choose them.
Meltzer: To Kill a Mockingbird is the novel I'd take. But that's such an obvious answer, even if it's a true one. So I'd take Watchmen by Alan Moore for fiction. For non-fiction, I'd take my family photo album. Suck it. That counts for non-fiction.
Gazala: Your latest book is an excellent and gripping thriller titled The Fifth Assassin, featuring the return of archivist Beecher White to confront a terrifying presidential assassination conspiracy spanning a century. I've read it. I enjoyed it immensely, and recommend it highly. Shockingly enough, however, from time to time my bare recommendation doesn't always motivate a book's potential reader to become a book's actual reader. Tell us something about The Fifth Assassin, and why its potential reader should make the leap and become its actual reader.
Meltzer: I spent two years studying presidential death so I could write about a serial killer who's recreating the crimes of all the presidential assassins, from John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald. You'll get to see the secret tunnels below Camp David. And you'll find out where the government really does keep the bullet that killed Abraham Lincoln.
Gazala: What are books for?
Meltzer: Stories aren't what did happen; they're what could happen.
Gazala: W. Somerset Maugham said, "There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." Do you agree, or disagree, and why?
Meltzer: It's the number one rule of writing: There are no rules.
Gazala: A mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper is knocking on my front door. Ask yourself a question, and answer it.
Meltzer: Q: After nine books, is writing still hard? A: The day it's easy is the day I'm done.
Sure, you can try avoiding Meltzer and all his good work. The question is, why would you want to? If you’re an admirer of timely, intelligent and gripping entertainment, you wouldn’t. Resistance to Meltzer’s engaging wiles is not only futile, but an exercise in pointless self-denial for any self-respecting thriller fan. Don’t take our word for it. See for yourself by grabbing a copy of Meltzer's new book, The Fifth Assassin, right now. All you have to do to order your copy from Amazon is click here. You can thank us later, and we know you will.