Q & A with author David Carnoy

The Book Diva’s Reads is pleased to present a little “Q & A” with author David Carnoy.

1. Have you always known that you wanted to be an author or is this something that you only realized as an adult? 

I knew it from a pretty early age. I think after I read The Phantom Tollbooth I wanted to write a book. I did the whole high-school newspaper thing and wrote a couple of novels in my twenties that were never published.

2. Why write suspense thrillers? 

I don’t really think of my books as suspense thrillers, although The Big Exit is more action oriented than my first book, Knife Music. I would describe them as unconventional mysteries or offbeat crime novels (that hopefully keep readers turning pages). They’re a little more literary than I think they get credit for. I would say they’re tweeners in the sense that they’re a cross between literary and commercial. I think the books may disappoint someone who’s expecting the typical action thriller.  

3. Your bio states that you have a MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. Have you ever written in any other genres or seriously considered writing in any other genre?  

My thesis for my MFA was also a crime novel (never published). Every once in a while I’m tempted to try a Nick Hornby/High Fidelity type book. I always loved Brave New World and had a sci-fi streak as a kid, so something set in the future would also be fun. But as I try to build an audience I’m going to probably stick to plots that have a strong mystery element.

4. You’re obviously a busy man with a full-time career at CNET, a family and your writing. Do you have a writing routine, even if it’s only a few minutes a day or week or do you squeeze your writing in whenever you can?    

Though I publish stuff on the Internet almost every day for my day job, I actually stop writing fiction for several months until the urge to write a new story builds and I formulate a set of characters and a plot. I’m also a deadline writer, so it helps to have a contract that says I have to turn something in on a certain day. When I’m writing fiction, I get up at 4 AM and write till about 9 AM (or longer on the weekends). I’m a morning writer as far as fiction goes. For CNET, I’m 24/7. 

5. Although The Big Exit isn’t considered a sequel to Knife Music there are recurring characters. Will we see any of these characters return in a third book? 

Some will, but I’ll have a new protagonist. My first two books were a little unusual in that the detective (Madden, who continued on) isn’t the main character. He’s an important character, but not the protagonist.  

6. What authors do you consider to be your inspiration? 

Truman Capote, Joseph Heller, George Orwell, Agatha Christie, Paul Auster, Philip Roth, Mario Vargas Llosa, Kurt Vonnegut, Milan Kundera, Harlan Coben,  Michael Connelly, to name a few. 

7. What are some of your favorite reads from 2012?  

I thought Defending Jacob was well done. And Jo Nesbo’s Phantom.

8. What are you currently reading?   

Dennis Lehane’s Live by Night. I’ve also been dipping in and out of Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Lincoln book. I tend to read a few books at the same time. I’ll read The Racketeer because my books usually have a bit of legal thriller to them, so it’s good to see what Grisham is up to. 

About the author:

While David Carnoy lives in New York City with his wife and children, his novels take place in Silicon Valley, where he grew up and went to high school (Palo Alto). His debut novel, Knife Music (2010), was a Top-10 bestseller on the Kindle and also a bestseller on the Nook. More medical thriller than high-tech thriller, to research the novel Carnoy spent a lot of time talking with doctors, visiting trauma centers, and trailed a surgeon at a hospital in Northern California to help create the book’s protagonist, Dr. Ted Cogan.

The Big Exit (2012) isn’t a sequel to Knife Music per se. However, a few of the characters from Knife Music figure prominently in the story. His second novel has more of a high-tech slant and reflects Carnoy’s experiences as an executive editor at CNET.com, where he currently works and is trying resolve his obsession with consumer electronics products. He went to college at Wesleyan University and has an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University.

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About the book:

By the acclaimed author of the remarkable debut novel, Knife Music, The Big Exit is a suspenseful crime novel that keeps the surprises coming right up to the end. Richie Forman is freshly out of prison. By night, he makes a living impersonating Frank Sinatra in San Francisco’s lounges and corporate parties. But then his ex-best friend—the man who stole his fiancée while he was in prison—is found hacked to death in his garage, and Richie is the prime suspect. In a murder mystery with the twists and turns of a microchip, Carnoy weaves his characters like a master. He has written an authentic, unputdownable thriller that is sure to chill and delight.

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Guest post: Author Michael Williams

On Difficulty by Michael Williams

Sometimes—not always, but sometimes—people object to Vine because of its “difficulty”. They claim obscure or abstruse words, long sentences, fragmented episodes. These are things that get in the way of the story, they claim. Things that disrupt the pleasure of reading.

Let me make my case.

Suppose you were at a diving event. Which would you rather see: a lithe young Australian doing a back one-and-a-half off a high board, or a dumpy, fifty-something Irishman such as myself attempt a cannonball from poolside? Not for the comedy, mind you. For the sheer athletic and aesthetic pleasure of a dive.
It’s what they call degree of difficulty. We are impressed by things exceptional, things that ordinary folks don’t or can’t do.

It’s why literature is more than writing, though we tend to forget it because of the very nature of the literary medium. Neither you nor I would expect to be playing a trumpet well enough to record if we first picked it up a month ago. But writing is regarded as different, because we all use language. Everyone can communicate with sentences, but to really write is to delight in the ways of communication, to juggle and manipulate them.

The story itself is part, not all, of fiction, I think. If it were simply story, if it were the writer’s job to get out of the way, there would be very little difference between how fiction and journalism are done. But with fiction it seems there is more emphasis on the way the story is told—on language or rhetoric. In fact, fiction that employs transparent prose and linear, causal narrative is really basically a holdover from the mid to late 19th century—writers like George Eliot, Gustave Flaubert, Stephen Crane. Writing before and after that relatively brief window of time is often writing that calls attention to itself, that is ruffle and rhetoric, back-pedaling  and leaping perilously from one circumstance to the next. Look at Tristram Shandy or The Pickwick Papers or Frankenstein on one side of that window, Lovecraft or Joyce or Garcia Marquez on the other. These are fictions that delight as much in how the story is told as in what is told.

So I will play with ways of telling. I will offer my readers a chance to work with the story I tell, to help me make that story by their involved and intelligent work with the words I give them. I hope that doing some work has its rewards, that the reader emerges, deepened and exercised, from something of mine that they’ve read. If they don’t, they don’t. If they choose not to undertake my offer, I understand: I respect that they want something else from the reading experience, and the two of us wave and walk our separate literary paths.

But it itself, difficulty is not a bad thing, I maintain. It is a choice, a tactic to reveal and challenge, not a posture or design to intimidate. Indeed, I think that difficult fiction can respect the reader more; in asking you to shoulder more of the burden than to sit back and be entertained, it is asking you to undertake something that can be a different, and sometimes a better adventure.

About the author:

Michael Williams was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Much of his childhood was spent in the south central part of the state, amid red dirt, tobacco farms, and murky legends of Confederate guerillas. He has spent a dozen years in various parts of the world, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin, with stopovers in Ireland and England, and emerged from the experience surprisingly unscathed.

Upon returning to the Ohio River Valley, he has published a series of novels of increasing oddness,combinations of what he characterizes as “gothic/historical fiction/fantasy/sf/redneck magical realism” beginning with Weasel’s Luck (1988) and Galen Beknighted (1990), the critically acclaimed Arcady (1996) and Allamanda (1997), and, most recently, Trajan’s Arch (2010). His new novel Vine will be released this summer.

He lives in Corydon, Indiana with his wife, Rhonda, and a clowder of cats.

Connect with the author:      Facebook     |     Author’s Blog  

About the book:

Vine: An Urban Legend by Michael Williams
ISBN: 9781613181256 (paperback)
ASIN: B008G5WHHA (Kindle ebook)
Publication Date:  March 28, 2012
Publisher: BlackWyrm

Amateur theatre director Stephen Thorne plots a sensational production of a Greek tragedy in order to ruffle feathers in the small city where he lives. Accompanied by an eccentric and fly-by-night cast and crew, he prepares for opening night, unaware that as he unleashes the play, he has drawn the attention of ancient and powerful forces.

Michael Williams’ Vine weds Greek Tragedy and urban legend with dangerous intoxication, as the drama rushes to its dark and inevitable conclusion.

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