Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Adam Dunn.
Dunn is the author of “Rivers of Gold” and two sequels—“The Big Dogs” and “Saint Underground”—which were re-released through his publishing company, Dunn Books, earlier this month. He spent years as a freelance writer cultivating an extensive series of networks among the military, intelligence, law enforcement, and financial communities. Dunn’s byline has appeared in 18 publications throughout four countries; these have included CNN and BBC News (online), Paper, SOMA, Publishers Weekly magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and South China Morning Post. Forthcoming novels include “The Unfathomable Deep,” and “Osiris;” the latter was co-written with Eric Anderson.
“Rivers of Gold” was met with enthusiasm upon publication. Booklist noted, “The author paints an appropriately bleak picture of NYC three years down the road, and his two lead characters, the crook and the cop, are nicely drawn … Fans of gritty noir fiction, whether it be mystery or sf, should find this one very much to their liking.” Further, New York Times bestselling author Dennis Lehane praised the title as “a mile-a-minute, kick-ass blast of tech-noir. A rush from start to finish.”
From the publisher:
RIVERS OF GOLD is the first in the “More” series of dystopian thrillers featuring MARSOC operator Everett “Ever” More and NYPD Detective Sixto Santiago. The series is set in the Second Great Depression. The primary locale is New York City. The economy is shattered, the government is helpless, and crime and disease run rampant. An underground party circuit has developed, wherein rival cartels use a network of taxicabs to move contraband around the city. The only remaining obstacle to complete mobocracy is an experimental NYPD unit which relies on tough undercover detectives in taxicabs who try to keep the rising tide of chaos at bay. Detective Sixto Santiago is one of these cops, who is grudgingly partnered with a newcomer named Everett More, who does not seem to be aware of any rules governing police conduct. The brutal murder of a cab driver draws them into an increasingly complex investigation that eventually gives them a lead into the gang war between the party cartels. But as the case grows seedier and more dangerous, Santiago is forced to investigate his own partner, and is shocked to discover he is part of a covert CIA operation to infiltrate the NYPD. More is no cop he is something altogether more dangerous. But he is the only one Santiago can rely upon when their case leads them to the rising stars of New York s underworld, whose connections range from immigrant cab drivers to the captains of the finance industry.
Now, Adam Dunn invites readers to venture into his near futuristic world …
John Valeri: What initially inspired you to write “Rivers of Gold” – and how did your previous writing experiences lend themselves to such a creative departure?
Adam Dunn: In 2005, I wrote a four-part series on South Asian taxi drivers in NYC for an Indian news portal called Cobrapost. My notes and sources from that assignment formed the first threads of the cloth that would eventually become “Rivers of Gold.” I got married the following year, and wanted to get some books of my own out and earning in the market. At the time, I was considering writing a nonfiction book on the taxi industry. However, as a longtime reader of mysteries and thrillers, I wanted to try my hand at something longer than the short fiction I’d already been writing for years. I had an idea for a detective story, involving a cop in a taxicab, but it wasn’t substantial enough. I kept moving both the fiction and nonfiction ideas along on parallel tracks until the bottom fell out of both the real estate and stock markets, by which point I had the framework not just for “Rivers of Gold,” but for the whole series.
JV: That book, and its sequels, feature the team of Detective Sixto Santiago and Everett More. In your opinion, how does having two leads enhance your storytelling – and in what ways can the dynamics of such a relationship foster character development and emotional investment?
AD: Santiago was the first character to be developed of the two. By the time More came into being, I knew that he wouldn’t be doing much talking about himself. Quite early on, I decided on a literary device I’d first seen employed by the novelist Colum McCann in his 2003 novel “Dancer,” his fictionalized biography of Rudolf Nureyev. The device itself is simple—instead of the primary character telling his story from his POV, leave him out of it, and let the surrounding characters focus on him. This directs the reader’s attention and increases emphasis through empathy—the reader not only learns about the character in focus, but takes on the emotional responses of the surrounding characters who are directing the flow of attention. I don’t know what the technical term for this is called—something like the opposite of projection, maybe—but it’s nothing short of brilliant, and I’ve never forgotten it.
JV: You’ve lived in New York, which also serves as the backdrop to your series – albeit a futuristic version. How has the city informed your work – and in what ways do you see these books as cautionary tales?
AD: New York is my hometown. I saw it at its worst in the 1970s and ‘80s. I think it’s headed back that way now, which is why we fled NY (city and state) several years ago. But the city itself is an inseparable part of me, which is why it plays its own starring role throughout the series. You’re right to call these books cautionary tales—they’re not predictions of what will inevitably happen. They are warnings of what may happen given the continuing trajectories of government, the economy, and the population, and the uneasy commingling of the three. If, for instance, political trends continue on course, then the next financial shock (which WILL inevitably happen) is most likely to drive already smoldering social pressure past the point of containment. Think back to the Crisis of 1975, when whole neighborhoods were burning, crime spiraled out of control, and the government proved so inept that New York’s economy nearly brought the national and world economies down with it, with real recovery a decade away. Why should this time be different, and who’s to say it will be any better?
JV: Tell us about the genesis of Dunn Books. Why did you decide to launch your own publishing company – and what are the greatest challenges and liberties of such an undertaking?
AD: I am one of the walking wounded of the publishing business. There’s only so many hundred-hour weeks you can work, so many good books sacrificed in favor of bad ones, so much dirty pool you can stand, before you have to get out or burn out. Self-publishing was the solution that worked out best for me, over time, the result of quite a few bitter lessons learned. It’s not for everyone.
JV: How do you see Dunn Books evolving in the near future – and what advice would you give to writers currently seeking publication, given your own experiences in the industry?
AD: Hone your skills, refine your concept, and trust your instincts. Tune out the extraneous noise, much of which will come from those closest to you. I’ve worked on consolidating the position of Dunn Books domestically; now I want to see what it can do overseas.
HBE: Leave us with a teaser: What comes next?
AD: Ask yourself this: what does More do when he’s out of town?
With thanks to Adam Dunn for his generosity of time and thought and to Steven Ganes, Katnip Marketing, LLC, and Alissa Letkowski, Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc., for helping to facilitate this interview.