Friday 22 May 2020


A new Tom Pitts novel is always a cause for celebration round these parts and Tom's latest Coldwater dropped this week.

Tom was kind enough to tell me a bit about it.....

I’m about to start reading your latest novel Cold Water (or is it Coldwater), published by Down and Out Books. Can you pitch it to a potential reader in 50 words or less? 
*Read it now and it's a cracker.

Yeah, it’s Coldwater. The book starts in a suburban Sacramento on a street called Coldwater Court, but the relevance of cold water becomes clear later on. The 50-word pitch? A young couple move to the burbs only to find the squatters in the house across the street aren’t squatters, but a trust fund baby with unlimited resources to destroy everyone he comes in contact with. It’s a modern day, real life, suburban horror story. That’s 45 words. Not too bad.

How long from conception to completion did Coldwater take? Was it a smooth process or were there many bumps in the road along the way?

Good lord, this one was not smooth at all. It was actually written before my last book, 101. My family was split between two residences in San Francisco and Sacramento. I was working the grave shift at the cab yard and trying to balance it all. Dark days. There was plenty of turmoil going on and I think I exorcised a lot of demons while I wrote this. It was truly cathartic because, while writing—because my own troubles—I figured it’d never be published, so I took it where led me and I experimented with language and prose more than I would have otherwise.

Did the end result mirror your expectations at the start of the process, or is it a very different book to what you imagined?

They never do. And I think that’s okay.

Would you say it’s your best work? 

No, hopefully my best work is yet to come. I’d mentioned it was written before 101. Coldwater
actually lost me an agent. We battled over some of the violence and language and parted ways. By the time I’d found a new agent, 101 was nearly finished. I felt like it was the stronger book, so we shopped it instead. But Coldwater is near and dear to my heart for different reasons. It’s darker than anything I’ve done. And, shit, that’s saying something.

How has the current pandemic situation impacted on you getting the book in front of people? 

The biggest heartbreak was losing the release party. The San Francisco Public Library had set up an event on May 20th for myself and Joe Clifford. Sort of a “from the streets to the pages” kind of thing. I’d envisioned a roomful of hyperliterate hobos trying to stay warm and accidentally getting inspired. I have no idea whether we could even fill the room, but it would have been a nice fuckin’ photo op at least.

Was it an option to defer publication or was it a case of just getting it out there?

Honestly, I didn’t ask. I figured the universe would figure it out. And when the pandemic started, mid-May seemed so distant to me, I figured things would change. And they did. Just not for the better.

What’s your favourite vegetable? 

Um … corn. But I reserve the right to change my mind.

When did you last have a fist fight? 

Not since the junkie days. Back when me and Joe Clifford were on the streets, violence would occasionally bubble up or become necessary in some ridiculous corner we’d painted ourselves into, but, in truth, I’ve never been much of a fighter. He was a bit more of a brawler than I. Being Canadian, it’s never the first option.

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

Oh yes. Bar, club, restaurant, library, rehab. Check all those boxes.

Do you have any tattoos? 

Yes, plenty. Some of them are goofy, some of them are symbolically important. Some are both.

What was your first pet’s name? 

First? Not sure. But my favorite was my old hound dog named The Goose. Hey, these are starting to sound like my bank’s security questions.

Do you have any irrational fears? 

Any fears I have seem perfectly rational to ME!

What’s your favourite holiday destination? 

These days?  Mexico. Most of my life, I’d never been south of the border towns. In the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to make it down the west coast some. If I can ever afford to retire, I’d like to do it there.

When did you last tell a lie? 

Not sure. Let me this read over and see if there’s one in here. Might’ve been the corn thing.

Thanks to Tom for his time.

Check out Coldwater or one of his other books. Hell - why not all of them?

After a miscarriage, a young couple move from San Francisco to the Sacramento suburbs to restart their lives. When the vacant house across the street is taken over by who they think are squatters, they’re pulled into a battle neither of them bargained for. The gang of unruly drug addicts who’ve infested their block have a dark and secret history that reaches beyond their neighborhood and all the way to the most powerful and wealthy men in California.

L.A. fixer Calper Dennings is sent by a private party to quell the trouble before it affects his employer. But before he can finish the job, he too is pulled into the violent dark world of a man with endless resources to destroy anyone around him.

Praise for COLDWATER:

“You know those times when your reading slows down and you can’t find the right book to read next? Tom Pitts’s Coldwater was the book I needed to pull me out of those doldrums. I tore through it, gripped by every page. Simply put, Coldwater is a damn good book. A thoughtful and violent tale of bad luck and bad choices. I loved it.” —Johnny Shaw, author of Big Maria and Undocumented


  1. Great interview. I love the positive answer that the best is yet to come. I might just borrow that from you one day, Tom.

  2. Great interview, as ever, Col. And I know all about losing the chance for a release party because of the pandemic. My latest came out on 16 March...

    1. Thanks Margot. I'm sorry that you missed out too. Hopefully, a new normal exists when your next one drops and you can celebrate in style.