10 Questions with J. E. Fishman
1. Mr. Fishman, thank you for this opportunity to be interviewed for my blog. Your new thriller, THE DARK POOL, came out on January 8, 2013. Tell us a bit more about this book.
Bad, dangerous stuff starts happening to successful high school football coach Shoog Clay and his star player, Antwon Meeps. It turns out that some Wall Street traders are betting in a secret marketplace — a dark pool — on Shoog’s future prospects. Since all the trading is happening in the shadows — and, by the way, dark pools are real — the traders, believing their actions can’t be traced, are manipulating Shoog’s life, one way or another, depending on their bets. In other words, the dark pool is spinning out of control, and only Shoog and Antwon have an interest in setting it right. They have more than an interest, in fact. Their lives are at stake.
2. Who are Shoog Clay and Antwon Meeps and how did you go about creating their characters?
Shoog is one of those guys who lives for his kids and will do anything for them. Antwon grew up without a father in the projects in the Bronx and Shoog transformed his life when he joined the football program. But Antwon does something of questionable judgment that makes him vulnerable to extortion. This action will inadvertently expose Shoog’s flank to the worst players in the dark pool.
3. What kind of research did you do for THE DARK POOL?
I didn’t have to do much. I lived for two decades in a part of the Hudson Valley that is swimming in Wall Street traders and the like, so I rubbed shoulders with many of them. My oldest friend in the world happens to have gone on to be a hedge fund manager, so he vetted the book and found it quite realistic on the financial end. Beyond that, of course, I read a lot about the financial world — books, magazines, websites.
4. Why do you write?
It’s the only thing both that I enjoy doing and have turned out to be good at.
5. A word of advice for new writers?
6. What are your writing habits? How long does it take you to research and write a novel?
I go to an office and write most working days. When I’m not at the computer cranking it out, I’m noodling it over. Generally I do some research to support my suppositions for the book, then I research as I go along, seeking aspects to support the plot. I believe it was Henry James who said that in order to write about dying one only needs to have had a bad cold. I subscribe to that school. The novelist doesn’t need to make himself an expert on a subject. In fact, that can hinder him by making him dull. The worst thing you can do is use your novel as an information dump, to prove how much research you did. I do enough research to get it right and make it plausible. Then I stop. The amount of time it takes to write varies greatly — anywhere from eighteen months to six months.
7. What are your favorite pastimes?
Reading, of course. Playing tennis. Travel.
8. What do you like to read and what are you reading at the moment?
I read pretty eclectically and I’m a grazer. I rarely read entire series and I don’t confine myself to mysteries and thrillers, the genre I happen to be working in at the moment. I just finished reading The Dinner by Herman Koch, which I thought was great. Now I’m reading King Rat by China Mieville. Two pretty different novels, but storytelling is storytelling.
9. What other book(s) are you working on?
I’m currently working on a series of police procedural thrillers with a special unit of the NYPD. The commander of the unit and a former top FBI agent are my technical consultants, so I don’t have to do much research on my own. It’s great. They’re the world’s No. 1 experts on the subject, and they’re always there for me.
10. What can readers expect to find in THE DARK POOL?
Unexpected twists, I hope. Well-rounded characters who develop over the course of the story. A big theme. Primarily, entertainment.