Interview with David Carnoy
What genre do you write and why?
I've written three novels, all of which are considered mystery/thrillers. For some reason, I've always gravitated toward crime fiction. I have an unpublished novel that I wrote for my thesis in grad school (Columbia University) that was also crime fiction. I think it may have something to do with the fact that my grandparents on my father's side escaped Poland just before Hitler invaded but most of their family was killed in the concentration camps. They never talked about it, but there was this intense, suppressed sorrow. I never met these family members who were killed -- I was born well after their deaths -- but their murders had an impact on me. They seeped into my imagination.
Tell us about your latest book.
My first two novels took place in Silicon Valley and the Bay Area while this one is a bi-costal thriller that switches back and forth between New York and the Bay Area. In New York, a woman gets pushed in front a car on Central Park West, and her book doctor is initially suspected of being involved. In California, my detective in the series -- Hank Madden -- is hired by a Silicon Valley entrepreneur to investigate a 20-year-old cold case where a husband is suspected of murdering his wife and both have disappeared (it's loosely based on the real-life Morrow murder case in Menlo Park, Calif). The two stories run parallel to each other until, of course, they eventually cross.
What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?
The publisher has a PR person who tries to get the book reviewed and covered (it got a starred review from Publisher's Weekly, which helps). The main things I've done so far are arranging a blog tour and doing giveaways of the book on GoodReads in advance of launch. I'll probably run some ads on GoodReads (have done that in the past) and the publisher may run some Facebook ads. I'll also try to get some media hits on my own and I've been sending out some early DRM-free digital copies to folks I'm hoping will read it. Ultimately, you have to get a little lucky -- and do your best trying to make your own luck -- but I wish prayer was more effective than it seems to be.
Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
I like them all but if I had to pick one I'd say Max Fremmer, the book doctor. He calls it like it is and is just one of those people who's fun to follow around because you're not quite sure what he's going to do next. I also like the rock star in the book (every book's gotta have a rock star, right?). He's based on a real-life rock star (you'll have to read the book to guess which one).
Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?
It has good characters, interesting twists, and plenty of humor, even though it tackles some serious topics. It's a "fun" read.
How long did it take you to write your book?
It technically took three years, but I wrote the first 100 pages rather slowly and then finished the last 200 in about five months when a deadline loomed. I can write fast, but I also have a day job (I'm an Executive Editor at cnet.com, which is owned by CBS) and 4 kids, so that's a bit of a challenge.
Who designed the cover?
The publisher. For my first two books, I made them redo the cover because I didn't like them. But this one was good from the start. I had no complaints.
How do you research your books?
I have contacts at the Menlo Park Police Department that have helped me keep create accurate settings and scenarios. I also talk to criminal attorneys and doctors to make sure that the legal and medical aspects of my narrative make sense and are accurate. For my first book, Knife Music, I followed a surgeon around for 10 days and spent time in hospitals and operating rooms.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing versus traditional publishing?
My first novel, Knife Music, was originally self-published and then got picked up by a traditional publisher (Overlook Press), which has published my subsequent novels. Several years back I wrote a piece for CNET (my day job) called "25 Things you need to know about self-publishing" that a lot of people still read and remains relevant (I should update it).
The main character in this novel, Max Fremmer, is a book doctor and Candace Epstein, his client and the victim, is a self-published author in the erotica genre. Fremmer's character is based on my experiences in the self-publishing world and dealing with all the would-be authors who've reached out to me over the years, wanting me to help them publish their books.
Ultimately, I feel self-publishing is a great thing -- it gives opportunities to folks who are good writers but have been rejected by traditional publishers -- but it's also been an awful thing because it's flooded the market with so much crap and a lot of charlatans. In Lucidity, if you read closely, you'll notice that almost every character has written a book or wants to write a book. I think that's true of real life. Almost everybody I know secretly wants to write a book.
I prefer to be published by a traditional publisher but it has its advantages and disadvantages. You obviously lose some control, particularly over pricing -- and the royalties are bad -- but you also gain some things: a higher-quality product, distribution of your print book in bookstores and libraries, and the possibility of having your book acquired by foreign publishers, where you can make real money.
I could write about this topic for hours, but the bottom line that there are plusses and minuses to each and it's hard to get noticed as a fiction writer anyway you get published.
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
As a kid, I read a ton in a lot of different genres and wanted to write books from a young age. Also, my father, a professor at Stanford, has written many academic books (I co-authored one non-fiction book with him). He always wanted to write a novel. So I think he transferred that desire onto me a little.
Where can a reader purchase your book?
It's available in bookstores across the country and online in the usual places in print, audiobook, and digital versions.
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