The northwest corner of Yellowstone Park is closed for bear management, and Rachel, a bear biologist, is discovering some very startling animal behavior—grizzlies denning in June, swans at their wintering grounds in summer, what appear to be Irish Elk, an extinct species, with huge palmated antlers. There are also horrific mutations in the young—elk calves with no front legs, earless bear cubs, and eaglets without wings. What has gone wrong? Why is this area closed? Who’s covering up these animal abnormalities in the Park?
A non-stop thriller set in some of North America’s wildest country, In Velvet takes you deep into the hearts of a hard case local detective and a Chicago cop as they take on a corrupt sheriff, a pathalogical poacher, and a lethal black ops manager to solve this ghastly mystery and restore the natural order in Yellowstone National Park
Number of Pages: 280 pages
Publisher: Rare Bird Books, A Vireo Book
Publication Date: June 10, 2014
Burt Weissbourd writes character-driven thrillers. Reviewers describe his work as “brilliantly detailed, evocative … thrillingly suspenseful.” “His descriptions are luscious.” “An incredibly strong and intelligent female protagonist.” “[His] dark characters rank with some of Koontz’s and King’s worst imaginaries.”
Burt began his career producing movies, working closely with screenwriters, then writing his own screenplays.
A newcomer to Hollywood, he approached writers whose movies he loved — movies such as “Klute,” “Two for the Road,” and “Ordinary People” — and worked with those writers and others, including working with Ross Macdonald, a legend in crime fiction, on his only screenplay.
This was the “New Hollywood” (1967 – 1980), and he found writers whose work grabbed viewers viscerally, not with explosions but with multi-dimensional characters who would draw you into a deeply moving story.
Savvy actors wanted to play finely drawn characters in compelling stories, and before long, Burt was developing screenplays, working directly with Robert Redford, Lily Tomlin, Goldie Hawn, Sally Field, and Jill Clayburg, among others.
As a producer developing a screenplay, he looked for stories with strong, complex characters and a “rich stew” — that is to say, a situation with conflict, emotional intensity, and the potential to evolve in unexpected ways. This is exactly what he tries to create for the books he writes.
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Q&A with Burt Weissbourd
Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
Yes, I draw from personal experience and current events, especially personal experience. In Velvet, my new novel, draws on more than twenty-five years of fly fishing thirty to fifty days a year with my children in Montana and in Yellowstone Park.
To a lesser extent, I draw on current events. Although I imagined the research and science in the book (with a very able virologist), there is actual research being done on thermophile – heat loving organisms – that live in Yellowstone’s hot spring pools. The heat resistant enzymes produced by the hot springs bacterium, Thermus Aquaticus, include a DNA polymerase called Taq, which is used in medical diagnosis and forensics, especially DNA fingerprinting.
Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
As a writer, I try to start with strong, complex characters and a “rich stew” — that is to say, a situation with conflict, emotional intensity, and the potential to evolve in unexpected ways.
Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I write, then rewrite, then rewrite again. I try to write every day, but since I also invest in financial markets, sometimes I don’t really start writing until after market close at 4:00.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
My favorite authors include Ross Macdonald, James Welch (The Indian Lawyer), Jim Harrison, Ross Thomas, Steig Larsson, and Scott Turow
What are you reading now?
I’m about to start The Book of Ash by John McCaffrey. I’m just finishing Maria Semple’s wonderful Where did you go Bernadette?
Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
Yes I’m just finishing Teaser, the sequel to my first novel, Inside Passage. Here’s how I describe it on my website:
Teaser, the sequel to Inside Passage, takes Corey and Abe into the interconnected worlds of private school kids and the runaways who roam Seattle’s streets. Billy attends the Olympic Academy, where two friends, Maisie and Aaron, are experimenting with sex and drugs. They’ve become close to Star, a streetwise seductress who leads them down a treacherous path. Despite the best efforts of Abe and Corey, Maisie is abducted by the diabolical “Teaser,” a man determined to take revenge on her father, his former cellmate. Teaser is a mystery to everyone except Abe and Corey, who alone realize what they must do to rescue Maisie. They contrive a plan that shocks even them.
Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
I spent years producing movies. When I think about In Velvet, I imagine it as long form television with no big movie stars. When I think about it as a feature film, I think of directors like Steven Spielberg – I think In Velvet could be like Jurassic Park. There are no big movie stars in that movie. Spielberg is the star, and I’d leave it up to him to cast the movie.
Manuscript/Notes: hand written or keyboard?
I use a keyboard to write and then hand write notes on the printed pages.
Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
My favorite leisure activity is fly fishing.
My favorite meal is BBQing wild boar and elk sausages.
Burt will be offering a weekly giveaway through Goodreads
of copies of In Velvet throughout the Month of May