Book Nerd Interview
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.
"A lot people ask me how I have time to write novels when I have a full-time job and four little kids and I just say I got a hold of some of those pills Bradley Cooper's character popped in the movie Limitless," Carnoy says. He adds that if Bradley Cooper is reading this, he'd make "an excellent Dr. Ted Cogan for the film version ofKnife Music."
Carnoy is also fan of The Big Lebowski and all Coen brothers movies except The Ladykillers.
Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
I think it was a gradual thing, but I usually say I was inspired after I read The Phantom Tollbooth when I was eight or so. I wanted to write a book after that.
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I like to garden.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
You have to work really hard to do really well. Alas, I only worked hard sometimes.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
When I first came to New York, the novelist and great screenwriter William Goldman (Butch Cassidy, Marathon Man, Princess Pride) told me that it could take a really long time to become a writer and that it was the people who kept at it for years who made it.
In your book; The Big Exit, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?
A Sinatra impersonator with a troubled past is accused of murdering the Silicon Valley entrepreneur who married his ex-fiancée.
For those who are unfamiliar with Richie, how would you introduce him?
Well, first he's the protagonist of the book. Full name: Richie Forman. I got the idea for him when I saw somewhere that the passenger in a vehicle had switched places with the driver to avoid having the driver get a ticket (the driver had too many tickets already). I thought, "What if two friends got into a car accident and ended up killing someone and the guy who ended up behind the wheel claimed he wasn't driving." That's Richie. The guy behind the wheel who ends up going to jail for a crime he says he didn't commit. Underneath the hard exterior is a good guy who's had some very bad luck. He's an archetype but an original at the same time.
You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Take it easy. And if it's easy, take it twice.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I'd have Richie Forman have a drink with Edmond Dantès from The Count of Monte Cristo, one of my favorite books. They have something in common. I was tempted to name the book, The Count of San Francisco, but it didn't quite work.
When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
Do you like doing interviews for book blogs?
What’s your most missed memory?
Missed or cherished? You always have the memory so it's not missed. Regrets, I've had a few. They mostly involve some girl I missed out on because I was too shy. But you learn from that. You get less shy. It worked out in the end.
Who is the first person you call when you have a bad day?
I don't. I suck it up.
When was the last time you told someone you loved them?
I tell my kids every day. At least one of them anyway.
Do you remember your favorite teacher?
Had a few. One of my favorites was a sociology teacher back in high school in California who used to tell great stories and talked a lot about the criminal justice system and prisons. One time, over the course of two periods, he told a story about a friend of his who just wanted to marry a rich girl. He went through the whole courtship and how the guy ended up marrying this woman and becoming a VP in her father's firm. All the guy did was take clients to the golf course. That was his job. He'd fulfilled his dream, but unfortunately it was nightmare. In the end everybody knew he had just married for the money and none of his wife's friends wanted to hang out with him. And he couldn't hang out with his friends anymore. He was a lonely man. You'd think the moral of the story was that money doesn't buy you happiness. But it was really about shortcuts not working out. At least that was my takeaway.
That said, can you imagine a teacher who just told a story for two hours and left you with a cliff hanger at the end of the first hour? I thought it was awesome. He ended up getting a job at the University of Indiana and then I lost track of him.
When was the last time you cried?
Just after I saw this question. Other than that, I think it was during one of those sports movies where the team pulls off a miracle win at the end. I'm a sucker for sports movies with Happy Endings. Hoosiers is an all time favorite.
Most horrifying dream you have ever had?
Jean the Book Nerd asking me what the most horrifying dream I ever had was. That, and probably some sort of plane crash dream.
Where can readers stalk you?
There are a few links at davidcarnoy.com to email me. I'm also at www.facebook.com/davidcarnoy and my Twitter handle is @davidcarnoy.
While Richie Foreman served seven years in prison for vehicular manslaughter, the friend he claims was actually behind the wheel, Mark McGregor, not only achieved success as “a hotshot Internet entrepreneur” but also married Richie’s former fiancée, Beth Hill.
When Beth finds Mark’s bloody body on the floor of the garage of their pricey Menlo Park home, she and Richie become natural suspects in Mark’s murder. Evidence suggests that Richie was at least involved in the killing. While troubled lawyer Carolyn Dupuy represents Beth, and charismatic Marty Lowenstein (aka “the DNA Dude”) defends Richie, local legend Det. Sgt. Hank Madden seeks definitive proof of Richie’s guilt.
This exceptionally satisfying murder puzzle should whet readers’ appetites for more.--Publishers Weekly
I have been in California’s Silicon Valley numerous times and I can attest that David’s description of this unique region is precise and on point. This facet of the story made it authentic and real. The characters presented in this book also have authenticity to them. Readers will be exposed to the struggles Richie goes through trying to piece his life back together. Readers quickly learn all about Beth, who now lives with Mark in an extravagant home, thanks to Mark’s internet business endeavors.
The moment that Mark’s body was found, it was a sudden collision of lives because Beth had spent time with Richie on the day of the murder. The plot will have readers guessing who wanted to kill Mark, and why. David’s writing approach in this baffling murder-mystery is just perfect. He’s able to provide highly detailed description and will have readers scrambling their mind trying to figure out what next will be in store. The interactions between characters are well thought-out and the plot is superb. The Big Exit is the perfect example of a who-done-it tale and David’s writing is a convincing force to be reckon with.