ABOUT DAVID
David Riley Bertsch, a native of Pittsburgh, graduated from Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Since 2009 he has lived in Jackson, Wyoming, where he is a professional fly-fishing guide.

-Where did you get the idea for Death Canyon?

The characters and setting almost created themselves when I moved to Jackson Hole. The story was a simple murder mystery that turned into an "eco-thriller," first, because a dear friend of mine and now brother-in-law said something along the lines of "you should write about fracking, everybody is talking about it", and second, because I became more attuned to the political and environmental world in the Tetons as time went on.

-It looks like you and Jake Trent share some of the same biographical information. Is he a stand-in for you?

Stand-in? Jake Trent is more like Dave Bertsch on physical and cerebral steroids. I think most protagonists share a lot with their creator, if only because it is a platform to start with. I do have a J.D., but I only worked in the legal profession as a Summer Associate (at a defense litigation firm) and Intern (at a women's legal aid clinic), before moving to Jackson Hole. I haven't chased any Nazis, but would cherish the opportunity.

It is true that I am a fly fishing guide, like Jake. But sadly, I had to replace my sky blue skiff and now run a Clackacraft 16 LP with black and gold (Go Penguins!), accents.

-Is it true that there’s a volcanic field beneath Yellowstone National Park?

Yellowstone is an active volcano. That being said, there is no reason to believe an eruption is in the cards. See http://www.nps.gov/yell/naturescience/volcanoqa.htm

-How did you become a writer?

Chance. Luck. And by writing a book. The only way to become a writer is to stop telling people you are a writer and finish a book. The truth is a) you are probably a lot better than you think you are and b) no one will ever come along and ask you to be a writer if you don't finish your project and get it out there!

Also, the undying support of my wife, friends, my parents and parents-in-law went a long way. Nobody ever really said "What the hell are you doing? You should be a lawyer!" Though they probably thought it.

-How did you find your agent/publisher?

Again, luck. I think that is most often the case. A good friend of mine in Jackson gave me the contact information for Margaret, my agent at William Morris. Finding Scribner and Paul, my editor there, was kind of the same deal. Margaret had her sights on him as "our guy" before she pitched it. Working whatever magic and southern charm she could, she convinced him it was a worthwhile project.

My manuscript was rejected by a few "lesser" agencies before Margaret became interested. You have to get your manuscript in front of the right person at the right time.

-Is it true you work as a fishing guide?

True. I shovel water for a living. You can book me through West Bank Anglers.

-I’m visiting Jackson! What are you favorite things to do there?

Summer or winter? Obviously, our seasons dictate our activities. Our nearby rivers and lakes truly do offer some of the best freshwater fly-fishing in the world. The Snake River in Jackson Hole is perhaps the most beginner friendly piece of water I have ever seen, and the scenery is spectacular. If you desire a frustratingly challenging river, we can do that too!

In the winter, the skiing is unparallelled. If you are experienced, I highly recommend booking one of the resort's backcountry guides for a day or two. They will show you skiing you that you will never forget.

If you are here in March or April to ski and you get a sunny 35+ degree day, look into fishing the Snake. This is one of my favorites times to fish.