Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Author Interview: J.E. Fishman

This week please welcome J.E. Fishman, author of Primacy, Cadaver Blues (reviewed here) and The Dark Pool (reviewed here).

About Cadaver Blues:
When smoking-hot Mindy Eider walks into the office with a foreclosure notice directed to her elderly Uncle Gunnar, cynical debt man Phuoc Goldberg at first sees her as little more than the source of this month’s rent payment. But Phu soon learns that Uncle Gunnar’s problems run deeper and darker than the money he owes. The niece can’t find him, suspicious characters lurk everywhere, and a sleazy bank has alarming designs on the old man’s little house. 
Beguiled by Mindy’s beauty and innocence, Phu gets sucked further into playing detective with each passing unpaid hour, venturing from a small town near Wilmington, Delaware, to the snow-choked Pocono Mountains to dank mushroom farms closer to home. Before long he’s seeking much more than debt relief for Mindy’s wayward uncle. To everyone’s surprise, the debt man won’t end this fiasco looking for cash relief, but for cadavers.

About The Dark Pool:
The Dark Pool follows Bronx high school football coach Shoog Clay and his star player, Antwon Meeps. When strange and tragic things start happening around them – events out of their control – they discover the source is a secret marketplace where investors bet on the coach’s marketing prospects (his Q Score). Those who are bullish on Clay want him to succeed, no matter who gets hurt. Those who are bearish on him will stop at nothing to see him fail – even if it means killing him. 
The Dark Pool was inspired by Fishman’s time spent living among some of Wall Street’s top players in Westchester County and seeing how the pursuit of their self-interest nearly wrecked the national economy, putting millions of ordinary Americans out of work. In dramatic fashion, the novel communicates that pressing a button on a Bloomberg terminal doesn’t just make or lose money for a trader – it has real-world consequences.

Now the questions:

Describe your ideal writing space. How does it compare to reality?

My ideal writing space is a villa in the hills of Tuscany or Lazio. First of all, they're beautiful. Second, I'm inspired by places where human continuity stretches back to ancient times. In reality, I work in a corner office in a cottage in Delaware rented by a small corporation. It overlooks some woods in the Brandywine Valley, which isn't so bad. There's an attractive contour to the land, old trees, quiet country-ish roads. Going to an office rather than writing at home may seem like a luxury, but I consider it a necessity.

What is the first story you remember writing and what was it about?

When I was in sixth or seventh grade I started writing short stories for my own amusement. The first one that I recall was a science fiction story about visitors from another planet who present to the earthling as a housefly in a room. The visitors are flying around, checking out this new world. A kid swats the spaceship-fly to death in one shot. End of story.

Name a memorable book from your childhood. Why is it memorable?

God, I hate to say this given all the hype this month, but as a kid I was blown away by The Hobbit. It was the first book I read that really took me to another world I couldn't have imagined, but that felt real. It's funny, because I believe I'd read the Narnia Chronicles first, and although they took you into another world, it was a world that felt magical. Tolkien, on the other hand, felt very real to me. The fact that Bilbo Baggins lives in the ground is not a trivial item, nor is the the name Middle Earth. That book was grounded in a way much fantasy literature isn't. You look up from reading and almost expect to see a hobbit ducking behind a real-life tree.

If you could ask any writer (living or dead) a question, who would it be and what would you ask?

I would ask Shakespeare whether he'd bother to spend any time on social media.

If you could pick any of the worlds or characters you have created, which would you want to visit or spend a day with?

Here's a kind of cheat, because I'm looking ahead, but I would spend more time with a particular New York Police Department squad that is the subject of a series of books I'm writing now and that I plan to launch by mid-2013. The word "hero" is greatly overused of late, but these guys are heroes in their day jobs. They run toward danger when others run away from it. Yet they go home every night to the same problems any person faces and have to deal with that as regular people, not heroes. I'd like to sit invisibly in the characters' kitchens and watch them cope. Unfortunately, I can't tell you the name of the squad, because I haven't announced it yet. They're small and overlooked, highly technical in some ways, but rarely far from danger. And they're pretty thoughtful people. Very cool in real life, and I hope I'll be able to bring some of that to the page in a compelling fictional way.

What is one thing you like to do when you are not reading or writing?

I like to play tennis, although sometimes I want to break my racket across my knee. On the other hand, there are few better feelings on earth than hitting a perfect passing shot.

What are you currently working on?

The series I mentioned above, but I'm also gathering string for another stand-alone thriller (after The Dark Pool, which comes out early in 2013). It's a supernatural thriller about Typhoid Mary, who lived in New York at the turn of the last century. It was a fascinating time because we were really at the cusp of the modern medical era and a little further along in advances in public health. Typhoid Mary, who was an asymptomatic carrier, was held against her will at a tuberculosis hospital on an island in the East River. The book will be entitled The Prisoner of Hell Gate.


J.E. Fishman is a former New York literary agent, Doubleday editor and ghost writer. As an author he delights in keeping readers guessing, laughing and eager to find out what will happen next. He is author of the critically acclaimed thriller Primacy (Verbitrage, September 2011) – which Kirkus called “more fun than a barrel of overgrown monkeys” and Publishers Weekly called “an appealing debut thriller” – and Cadaver Blues (StoneGate Ink, October 2012), the first book in the “Phuoc Goldberg Fiascos” mystery series, and The Dark Pool (StoneGate Ink, Feb. 2014), a financial thriller. Fishman draws from his publishing experience and real-life adventures when crafting his novels. He has rubbed shoulders with Wall Street executives, decorated cops and America’s mushroom farmers, using all of this material and more to craft unique, accessible fiction. A contributor to the online literary magazine The Nervous Breakdown and entrepreneur-in-residence at Acorn Energy (NASDAQ: ACFN), Fishman splits his time between Chadds Ford, Pa., and New York City. For more information and to learn more about Fishman’s contest, The Clliffhanger Project, please visit www.jefishman.com.

Where to find him:

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