Friday 26 November 2021


One of my favourite authors, Dietrich Kalteis kindly dropped by to answer a few questions on his latest book, Under an Outlaw Moon.

Your latest offering, Under an Outlaw Moon has just dropped from ECW. Can you sell it to new or old readers in 50 words or under?

Under an Outlaw Moon is the true story of Bennie and Stella Mae Dickson. He’s out for kicks and she longs to feel wanted. When they pull a bank robbery to celebrate her sixteenth birthday, the ensuing fireworks are more than they ever bargained for.

It's another dip into the past. Was there one spark or germ of imagination that got you up and running with this one?

In 1938, Bennie and Stella Dickson robbed two banks shortly after her sixteenth birthday. They did it without a shot being fired, yet soon found themselves the focus of a nationwide FBI manhunt, wanted dead or alive. The punishment didn’t fit the crime, and that was the spark.

I've probably asked before, is it a different kind of process writing 'historical' as opposed to contemporary crime?

There was more research and fact-checking involved in following actual events as opposed to writing contemporary fiction. Since Under an Outlaw Moon was based on a true story, I kept to the actual timeline of events. Once I got to know the couple through the research, I fleshed out the characters, and I just started writing.

Was it a book conceived in lockdown, or did it's creation pre-date the madness of the COVID/post-COVID world?

I came upon an old news story of Bennie and Stella while doing research for Call Down the Thunder, which was set in the same era. This was in 2018, and I set the idea aside until I finished my work in progress. By the time I started working on it, we were in the early stages of lockdown.  

How has the pandemic impacted on you and yours? Hopefully you have all been safe?

My family and I have stayed safe. And I’ve been able to stay focused and able to disappear into my stories. That said, I sure miss gathering with friends and family, and I sure miss taking part in public reading events too.

Did lockdown have any discernible effect on your creativity?

The trick has been to stay positive so I can focus on my writing. So far, so good.

Regarding Under an Outlaw Moon, how long did it take from the first word to last to complete?

From the time I started gathering research to the time I laid out the timeline and wrote my way through several drafts, it took about nine months. Then there was another month or so spent on story and copy editing.  

Is it the same book you anticipated when setting out, or is it markedly different?

Since the story followed actual events, it turned out as I expected. I was pleased with how the scenes I made up flowed in, and how the characters came to life through their interactions and dialogue.

I believe it's your ninth book. Is it your best work?

I’m too close to it to say it’s my best work. I do think it’s consistent with everything I’ve written to date. And I can say I’m more sure of my writing now; I don’t second guess myself as much as when I started, and I’m better at knowing when a novel is done, and when it’s time to send it to my publisher.

Do you have a favourite of the nine? Which would you press into a new reader's hands first?

I don’t have a favourite. When anyone asks about my books, I try to find out what they’re into, and hopefully I’ve written something that might appeal to them.  

What's next?

Nobody from Somewhere is set to be released by ECW Press next June. It’s a crime story set in present-time Vancouver. Here’s the pitch: 

When long retired cop, Fitch Henry Haut, sees two men forcing a runaway girl into their vehicle, he steps in and gets the upper hand. He and the girl escape in his broken-down Winnebago, and as Fitch listens to her story, he realizes the men will come after them. A bond forms as he and the girl struggle to escape out of town. Anyone interested can find out more on ECW’s website here.

Thank you for inviting me over, Col.

Many thanks to Dietrich for his time.
Check out the his latest and thank me later!


Under an Outlaw Moon

Meet Depression-era newlyweds Bennie and Stella. He’s reckless, she’s naive. Longing for freedom from tough times, they rob a bank, setting off a series of events that quickly spin out of their control

Under an Outlaw Moon is based on the true story of Depression-era bank robbers Bennie and Stella Mae Dickson. She’s a teenage outsider longing to fit in. He’s a few years older and he’s trouble. They meet at a local skating rink and the sparks fly.

They marry and Stella dreams of a nice house with a swing out back, while Bennie figures out how to get enough money to make it happen. Setting his sights on the good life, he decides to rob a bank. Talking Stella into it, he lays out his plan and teaches her to shoot. The newlyweds celebrate her 16th birthday by robbing a local bank.

They pull it off, but the score is small, and Bennie realizes the money won’t last long, so he plans a bigger robbery. What lays ahead is more than either of them bargained for. After J. Edgar Hoover finds out they crossed state lines, he declares them public enemies number one and two — wanted dead or alive. So much for the good life. The manhunt is on, and there’s little room for them to run.

You can catch up with Dietrich at the following haunts.


  1. As always, a very interesting interview, for which thanks, both. True stories can be fascinating, and it's interesting how those lesser-known stories can be at least as absorbing as the better-known ones (like Bonnie and Clyde, for instance). Wishing you continued success.