An Interview with Assaph Mehr

Welcome to The Five Question Interview series on Another Hartman Author! I decided it was time to pay it forward but didn’t know how. I don’t have any free books to give away. Nor do I have editing skills someone would covet. So The Five Question Interview was born! Its mission: to give back to the writing community one interview at a time. Without further adieu, let’s learn a little bit about author Assaph Mehr.

Something not about me. Everyone has their own tastes in books (and anyone who “doesn’t like to read” just haven’t read the right books). To help people discover new authors and books, I run a blog dedicated to interviewing the characters – yes, characters – out of books. It’s an excellent way to know what you’re getting into, and perhaps to meet you next imaginary friend. Find it at

And Now The Interview

Your novel series weaves ancient Rome with paranormal investigation.
What drew you to this combination?

This is, quite simply, what I wanted to read (also, mashing isn’t just for potatoes). I grew up on classic detective stories (Agatha Christie, Conan Doyle, Alistair MacLean), and delved into Sci Fi and Fantasy during my teen years (never to emerge). I always loved ancient Rome – pretty much since my first Asterix book – and have been reading a lot of historical detectives set in this era (Lindsey Davis, Ruth Downie, Steven Saylor, David Wishart).

I had the idea for the mystery behind Murder In Absentia in the back of my head for about a decade, as a fantasy-based closed-room mystery. When it came to writing, I combined my favourite setting – ancient Rome – together with a murder-that-couldn’t- have-happened mystery and classic, cynic, hard-boiled detective.

When did you begin your writing journey?
Is there someone you can always count on for encouragement?

I started in January 2015, when my wife complained she has nothing left she wanted to read. After everyone went to bed, I sat down and started to write. I haven’t stopped since…

In those 4 years, I have: written and published 2 full books, and am halfway through the third; written and published a novella, 7 short stories, and various pieces of flash fiction. I’ve also helped publish books for other authors, and have been blogging regularly. I guess I finally found my creative outlet in writing.

As for encouragement, my wife, sister, and brother-in-law have share some of my tastes in books, and have been fans of my writing since the beginning. I’ve also met other wonderful people, both authors and readers, who have supported and encouraged me throughout. I pay it back by helping other budding authors as much as I can, and routinely post educational and encouraging posts on my blog to that effect.

In those four years I have: written and published two full books, am halfway through the third; written and published a novella, seven short stories, and various pieces of flash fiction. I’ve also helped publish books for other authors, and have been blogging regularly. I guess I finally found my creative outlet in writing.

What are your go-to stories? Authors?
The ones you’ll happily read again and again?

There are a few that have stuck with me over the years, that I’ve read numerous times (and not just as a teen, where re-reading books seems like a requirement). Those would be anything from Herman Hesse to Barry Hughart, from Roger Zelazny to PC Hodgell.

Funny thing is, my tastes are pretty eclectic. I read voraciously, but what I read depends on my mood. I’ll read anything I enjoy. That said, I do like fantasy and historical fiction the most. I tend to read those things that mix those elements first.

So far, this interview series has covered views on garden gnomes, cake, pie and science fiction. What are your feelings about cheesecake?

I like cheesecake and can bake a pretty decent one, but my cake of choice is the “Russian cake” I make for my wife. It’s actually a combination of two distinct cakes, a honey sponge (medovik) layered with sour-cream filling (smetana). I make it fairly often, and it doesn’t survive long.

As anyone who read my book might have realized, I have a fetish for historically accurate foods. I justify it by my protagonist being a cheapskate, and never passing a free meal. That, however, doesn’t mean I share his tastes…

How did you celebrate the publication of MURDER IN ABSENTIA, and its following novels?

We went out to dinner when my first book was published, and my wife gave me an engraved pen for book signing. We still go out for each book (well, we go out a lot more often, but that’s just another excuse).

I also make a big splash online, usually with fun stuff – like putting the cover and photo on billboards (Photoshop helps), or getting some extra special book quotes (Conan Doyle seemed impressed by my books). We write for the fun of it, never lose sight of that.

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