Tuesday 15 October 2019


One of my favourite contemporary authors is back with a new book.

Call Down the Thunder from Canadian author, Dietrich Kalteis dropped earlier this week and Dietrich was kind enough to stop by for a few questions.....

Photo: Andrea Kalteis

It's been a year or so since our last chat, what have you been up to in the past 12 months or so? 

Relating to writing, I finished one novel, and I’m halfway through a new one. I also worked on edits, organized and took part at various readings and events, and I’m getting set for another trip down the coast to California to promote the new release.

Another book dropping imminently (out now actually) - Call Down the Thunder
Can you pitch it to readers in a few words?

Sonny and Clara Myers struggle on their Kansas farm in the late 1930s, a time the Lord gave up on. The land’s gone dry, barren and worthless. And the bankers, greedy and hungry, make life even more impossible, squeezing farmers out of their homes. The couple can wither along with the land, or surrender to the bankers and hightail it to California like most of the other farmers. But Sonny comes up with a way for them to stay on their land and prosper while giving the banks a taste of their own misery.
At time of writing, I've still to get my teeth into my copy, but I read somewhere ...... bankers, loan sharks, the Ku Klux Klan—not to mention ferocious dust storms - late-1930s Kansas. So another historical novel as opposed to a more contemporary setting, how did you do the research for this one?

To get a solid feel for the times, I read many archived newspapers, historical accounts, agricultural bulletins, studies, memoirs, and I viewed hundreds of photos and maps of the damage inflicted by the dusters and drought.

I've probably asked before, are there different challenges to approaching a book set in the past as opposed to present times? I'm guessing the same levels of blood, sweat and tears are needed?

There’s an old saying, “Write what you know.” And I think that’s true. I’ve set stories in present time, in Vancouver where I live, or in Toronto where I used to live. And as much as I have lots of memories to draw on, those stories still need a degree of research. 

To write a story set in a place and time I’ve never experienced, I have to do a lot more research. If possible, I go to where I’m writing about to get a feel for it. If it’s set in another time, then I dig up enough to become familiar with it. But there’s not so much blood, sweat and tears; I enjoy the digging, learning about the people and how they survived and adapted to whatever came.

Do you have a preference between past and present?

I don’t. When I come up with a story, I just want to set it in what I feel will serve it best. 

Did the end result mirror your expectations?

I never know how a story will turn out when I start writing. I loved writing about the hard, yet simple times of the thirties, and it felt solid right from the beginning, so I’d say yes, the results met my expectations.  

At the risk of getting ahead of myself, what's next? What can we look forward to in 2020?

I won’t mention titles yet, but the next one is set in present-day Vancouver and involves a cheating couple being pursued by a gangster husband who’ll stop at nothing to catch them. It introduces readers to some new characters and takes them on a wild ride up through northern British Columbia and into Alaska. 
The one after that is also complete and based on a real-life bank robbing couple – lesser-known than Bonnie and Clyde – who were at large in the central States in the latter 1930s and topped the FBIs most wanted list. 

Random question time.....

What’s your favourite vegetable?

It would be easy to just say eggplant, but you know, Col, it also depends on setting. For instance, in the early springtime here in the northwest we get great wild fiddleheads, followed by fantastic asparagus. Then summer squash, and there’s savoy cabbage in winter. Hard to pick a favorite.

When did you last have a fist fight?

Once it a while it’s tempting, but generally I leave the rough stuff to my characters.

Have you ever been thrown out of a bar or a club?

Again, I leave that to my characters.

Do you have any tattoos?


What was your first pet’s name?

Freddy, the talking parrot.

What’s the worst meal you have ever eaten?

Back when I first learned to cook, I tried a recipe for corned beef crepes. It didn’t turn out looking like the photo in the book and had to be one of the worst things I’ve ever tasted. After tossing it in the bin, I ordered a pizza and it wasn’t bad.

Do you have any irrational fears?

My fears are all logical and reasonable. Although, I’m not partial to heights, or being in deep, murky water. So heights and depths. Generally, I’m okay with everything in between – oh, and needles, I don’t like needles.

What’s your favourite vacation destination?

There are many places that I’ve enjoyed visiting, but for the past several years I keep ending up in California, so I guess you could say it’s a favorite destination.

When did you last tell a lie?

I can’t think of anything specific, and I’d really like to say I don’t, but then I’d be lying. 

What's the best book you've read in this year?

The Border by Don WInslow.


Many thanks to Dietrich for his time.

Call Down the Thunder is available now.....

Desperate times call for desperate measures in Kalteis's lightning-fast crime caper story Sonny and Clara Myers struggle on their Kansas farm in the late 1930s, a time the Lord gave up on: their land's gone dry, barren, and worthless; the bankers are greedy and hungry, trying to squeeze them and other farmers out of their homes; and, on top of that, their marriage is in trouble. The couple can struggle and wither along with the land or surrender to the bankers and hightail it to California like most of the others. Clara is all for leaving, but Sonny refuses to abandon the family farm. In a fit of temper, she takes off westward in their old battered truck. Alone on the farm and determined to get back Clara and the good old days, Sonny comes up with an idea, a way to keep his land and even prosper while giving the banks a taste of their own misery. He sets the scheme in motion under the cover of the commotion being caused by a rainmaker hired by the mayor to call down the thunder and wash away everyone's troubles.

Links below....


Dietrich and his books previously on the blog....

Ride the Lightning

Bio: Dietrich Kalteis is the award-winning author of Ride the Lightning (bronze medal winner, 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards, for best regional fiction), The Deadbeat ClubTriggerfishHouse of Blazes (silver medal winner, 2017 Independent Publisher Book Awards, for best historical fiction), and Zero Avenue. His novel The Deadbeat Club has been translated to German, and 50 of his short stories have also been published internationally. He lives with his family on Canada’s West Coast. 

His website is http://www.dietrichkalteis.com/, and he regularly contributes at the blogs Off the Cuff:

And at 7 Criminal Minds:

You can also find him on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dietrich.kalteis/


  1. Thanks, both, for an interesting interview. I wish you much success with the book. Oh, and I like Don Winslow's writing a lot; not surprised at all to hear that you thought that was a good 'un.

    1. Margot, thanks - I'm glad you enjoyed the interview. Yes - everyone should read a bit of Winslow.

  2. Many thanks to both. Yet again a great interview on this site.

    Never tasted (or even heard of) fiddleheads. I must see if I can get hold of them in NJ.

    1. Thanks sir. Ha - fiddleheads - a new one on me also. I hazard they aren't available in Bedfordshire in the Autumn!