In September last year, JE Fishman published his first book, a science thriller called Primacy, and this September saw the release of his first mystery, Cadaver Blues. It’s about Phuoc Goldberg, a debt man who finds himself in over his head. You can read our review of Cadaver Blues here, as part of New Talent November. A former editor and New York literary agent, Fishman brings a distinctive well of experience to his writing and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for us here at Crime Fiction Lover.
Your new book, Cadaver Blues, just came out and features debt negotiator Phu Goldberg. What was your inspiration for the character?
The detective, like the novelist, is always something of an outsider. I thought it would be fun to take this toward an extreme by making him an ethnic Vietnamese raised by Jewish socialists – someone who is easily misunderstood and whose identity is all mixed up, which feeds his cynicism. Then I took it a step further by having him sort of get dragged into being a detective, rather than setting out to be one.
Cadaver Blues started out as a serial. Did you ever think it would develop into a series of its own?
I didn’t plan things that far ahead, but people seem to want series characters nowadays and I enjoyed creating Phu’s voice, so I’m happy to oblige.
Phu is a tough nut to crack, but he does have a good heart, and it shows through, sometimes when he doesn’t want it to. What’s one of your favorite things about writing about Phu Goldberg?
Exactly what you touch upon. He has this self-protective shell that at first leads him to make all the wrong assumptions about people – and about himself. Like all of us, he behaves hypocritically at times, but he makes the right decisions in the end. Also, I love the wisecracking.
Will you give us a little teaser about the next novel, Ruby Red Dead?
Phu gets a visit from a sleazy guy who works in a morgue. The guy found a giant ruby in the crematorium oven and he says he’s looking for its rightful owner.
What are some of your biggest literary influences?
It’s not what you’d expect. I’ve read many mystery and thriller writers, of course, but when I write I have in my ear the big literary crossover writers like Saul Bellow, Norman Mailer, and Philip Roth – dead or retired exuberant Jewish white men. Not that I claim to write like any of those guys.
What are you reading now?
I recently finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, I’m about to finish Helpless by Daniel Palmer, and I’ve just begun Serial by John Lutz. In non-fiction, I just finished Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and I’m in the midst of a biography of St Francis of Assisi.
What’s next for you?
I have a stand-alone financial thriller coming out early next year, The Dark Pool. After that I hope to launch a unique series of police procedurals. Also rolling up my sleeves soon on Ruby Red Dead.