I've the author of The Dark Pool, J.E. Fishman as my interviewee; Astute's first. I've enjoyed several thriller novels, and The Dark Pool too was one of them - a book which I particularly loved for its characters, the plot, the writing style and the financial element in the book and inevitably, ended up with a high rating in my review.
I hope you enjoy going through the interview!
Andy Anderson: Before going into the specific questions, I’d like to ask you what sort of books you like to read – just to see whether there is any correlation between your interests and your creations.
J.E. Fishman: I read pretty widely. Although, of course, I read mysteries and thrillers, I don’t stick to one genre. I’m more of a grazer. Recently I’ve been reading a bit of science fiction and historical fiction, for example. I’m sure there’s some kind of correlation between my interests and my creations, but it’s not based upon what I read, per se. It’s more based upon my interest in the human condition, the challenges regular people face or can be made to face.
AA: The Dark Pool is your third novel and from what I understand, it is not the first thriller that you’re crafted but, it seemingly is the first novel of yours centered on investments, securities and some dark elements of the financial markets largely unknown to the outside world. What inspired you to write a novel based on this theme?
JEF: A few things. First, like so many people, I was appalled at the way the financial meltdown happened, beginning with financial machinations and ending with so many regular folks feeling pain. Second, I’ve followed the stock market for a long time as an investor, and it intrigues me. Finally, for two decades I lived in the Hudson Valley in an area that was rife with Wall Street traders and hedge fund managers. I saw some of these people around socially, and I got to know a bit about what makes them tick. All these things came together to pique my interest in the subject.
AA: The Dark Pool cartel and the Q scores formed a significant part of the novel – did it also take an equally large amount of time for you to research deeply on the same to put into a novel?
JEF: I should emphasize that putting dark pools and Q scores together is my own fictional conceit, but each of these elements is quite real in its own right. The research wasn’t hard. These things are out there. What a storyteller does is use real-life elements as a point of departure to explore larger truths.
AA: The main protagonists of the novel, Shoog Clay and the young running back, Antwon Meeps, both are involved in American football, and it is more than just a hobby for both of them. But the sport hardly had any role in the novel but for Clay’s analogies, though it serendipitously turned out to be an advantage for someone who doesn’t follow the sport, nevertheless, I’d like to ask you, was it a part of the original script or was it merely a conscious decision to ignore it?
JEF: The book isn’t about football. It’s about two guys who are having their lives manipulated by powers that are unknown to them and initially beyond their comprehension. I had to give Shoog a profession that held the prospects of future fame, so I made him a successful coach at a level where there were great prospects in front of him – if only he would take them. Once I made him a football coach, however, he had to think as a football coach. So that’s how he interacts with his player and that’s the frame of reference he uses sometimes in trying to communicate.
AA: I’ve heard many say that character building is what makes a novel and it also happens to be the most difficult part of it. The characters of The Mean, Clay, Meeps, Sark or Jagus, how did you go about creating them – an allusion to your own acquaintances, plain imagination or is it a combination of both?
JEF: Character is not the color of someone’s hair or even his or her personality quirks. It’s the choices we make as people. Once I establish basic characterizations, the character comes from the actions those characters must take in a given situation. The key to that is creating conflict that tests them. They must react to that conflict in a way that is unique to them. This is what novelists mean by the character taking over the story. Once you get into the narrative, you can tell if a decision that occurs to you will ring true or not, because of the decisions that character made up to that point.
AA: The antagonist, Jagus dies in the end of the novel and Antwon’s dreams are realised, but coming to the other end, Shoog lost his godchild, Antwon lost his friend and teammate (the previous and the current case, both being Romero), Shoog also happens to be the only surviving Clay sibling now – would you consider the ending of your novel to be a happy ending?
JEF: A happy ending doesn’t require that every character has a happy outcome. What makes it a happy ending is that a measure of justice prevails and order is restored in the world. So, yes, it’s a happy ending.
AA: Many authors try and bring about social issues through their stories – such as Ian Rankin, a crime novelist whom I like, says that he brings out all the social problems in Edinburgh through his John Rebus novels. The issue you’ve chosen too, is very relevant, with financial markets playing a significant role in anybody’s lives today, did you also have a motive of throwing some light on social issues through The Dark Pool?
JEF: Ian Rankin’s novels probably do it with a lighter touch than I did in this novel. I definitely was looking for a way to dramatize the fact that in the modern financial system the actions of traders have consequences for regular people – people that the traders may not ever meet and almost certainly don’t really care about. The trader is focused on his trade, not on outcomes for society.
AA: To conclude the interview, I’d like to ask you, what sort of advice would you like give to the aspiring authors (includes myself), particularly the genre which is your forte, the thriller genre?
JEF: The advice is the same for thrillers or any other genre. Distinguish between the style of writers whom you admire – which is unique to them – and the techniques they use, which are universal and available to us all. In other words, seek to write fresh but learn the craft.
Thanks a lot, J.E. Fishman, for sparing time and helping Astute get its first author interview.
More about the author - click here
Have a nice day,