I’ve had people tell me they are between books, looking for something new to read; a new author, a new genre. There are more writers than ever before: More good writers, more not so good writers. The choices of things to read are enormous. The purpose of interviewing a writer is to give you, the reader, a chance to hear from the writer directly, to hear the writer’s own voice. So here’s Hunter Goss who spent most of his working life in what is probably the most obscure and unglamorous corner of the fashion world: making finished leather and selling it to shoe and accessories manufacturers. Now he writes.
What is your philosophy of writing?
First and foremost, to come up with a story that will entertain. I like for my stories to deal with issues that everyone can relate to, so I try to have characters that have a lot of things going for them, but at the same time have doubts and insecurities. That way there’s a kind of discovery and learning process that goes on over the course of a story.
I like to use allegory, too, so that characters are dealing with things we find it difficult to discuss in the real world. And that’s very much the case with Night Market. Right now, our financial markets are trying to recover from a situation that, at least on the surface, is very much like the Panic of 1907. And just like 1907, people look at it and say it was all Wall Street’s fault so that was a good place to start.
What’s the name and genre of you book and who is the audience for it?
Night Market is the title, and since I mash up genres, I call it a Historical/Paranormal suspense. People who might want a change of pace from the more customary kinds of vampire stories. In Night Market, the vampires aren’t angst-ridden or tragic. They’re adult, they’re predatory, and not in the least ashamed of who they are. They’re capitalists, too, which these days probably makes them even more scary. But if you’re well traveled, have a sense of history, have a collection of cultural references banging about in your head, like stock markets and finance, food and wine, and even conspiracy theories, then you should be reading Night Market.
Is this book part of a series?
Night Market is the first in a series that will follow protagonists Andrew Kirkland and Veronica Fontera from the turn of the twentieth century right up to today.
Describe your protagonist, physically and emotionally, and describe the challenges the protagonist needs to overcome and the motivation for overcoming them.
Andrew Kirkland is twenty-six years old in Night Market. He’s tall, athletic and in appearance resembles his boyhood hero Wyatt Earp. He grew up on dime novels of the Old West, played football for Harvard and has a definite sense of right and wrong. Andrew’s sense of fair play is simultaneously his greatest strength and his biggest weakness and more than once, enemies attempt to take advantage of it. Andrew has to learn how to exist in a world where there are varying shades of grey without compromising his core set of ethics and beliefs.
Andrew’s co-protagonist is Veronica Fontera, a curvy Italian born over 400 years ago in Venice. I also made her an anomaly for her time in that she’s tall, symbolically making her Andrew’s equal. She grew up in an environment where scheming and subtlety were the norm and took up so much time and effort that ethics and goals were sometimes lost in the shuffle. It was a time when an elegant plot was the end in and of itself which fits her predatory personality, forged by a defining moment in her human life, really well. Veronica’s big challenge is to move beyond the grudge she’s held for four centuries while at the same time keeping the best parts of her predatory nature.
A sub-plot that runs through this and the other stories I have planned for them will eventually allow both of these characters to evolve in some surprising ways.
Describe your antagonist, physically and emotionally, and talk about motivation.
The villain in Night Market is an Austro-Hungarian vampire, Josef Graf von Borbek; ‘Graf’ being his title, the German equivalent of Baron. Borbek is an aesthetic looking Austrian who was a military leader in human life during the Thirty Years’ War of 1618-1548. He has a facial scar, but unlike Austrian and German nobles of the early 20th century, he came by his not in a student dueling society, but the hard way. In battle.
Borbek is the self-appointed leader of a faction of undead society that sees humans as a commodity useful only for food and the labor which will funnel riches to their betters. Of course, these betters are an undead elite. But Borbek isn’t just a caricature oppressor, he’s very self-aware and has a solid grasp of what motivates human society and informs both politics and public policy. And he’s prepared to use both humans and their governments in the pursuit of his goals.
Quote a passage from your book (up to 100 words) that you love.
“There is something else,” Andrew said. “It’s something basic but important. We were sitting with Mr. Morgan one night and someone asked what standard he used to decide how to loan money or invest. Was it credit, collateral or property?”
“And what did your Mr. Morgan say?”
“He said that money and property are nothing if a man lacks character. It’s the one necessary element that money can’t buy. He went on to say that a man he didn’t trust couldn’t get a penny from him on all the bonds in Christendom.”
Elaborate on the meaning of the passage.
J.P. Morgan actually expressed that sentiment in testimony before a Congressional hearing investigating the ‘Money Trust’ in 1912. But it’s not unlikely he would have done so on other occasions.
In many ways, Night Market is an allegory for the 2008 mortgage meltdown, and this passage goes right to the causes. 2008 didn’t happen because capitalism failed, it happened because ethics and common sense failed. The complex financial instruments that blew up when the housing bubble burst weren’t technically illegal, but they definitely flew in the face of common sense. And the way they were used has raised a number of questions about ethics.
Despite the complexities of his personality, John Pierpont Morgan used a fairly simple set of criteria to make decisions. And character was at the top of his list. From what I’ve read about him, I don’t think he would have touched credit default swaps or bundled subprime mortgages even if provided with a special eleven foot pole. For instance, during the Panic of 1907, Morgan vigorously opposed a $100 million expansion of clearing house credits that would allow banks to trade with one another until the crisis eased; an amount that would be calculated in the tens of billions of dollars today. The banks did it anyway though, backing the certificates with collateral that was itself composed primarily of securities and other paper assets subject to market gyrations. Sound familiar?
What surprising things did you learn while writing this book?
I think one of the biggest surprises was that the reaction to a financial crisis hasn’t really changed significantly in the 101 years between 1907 and 2008. It’s a solid example of the old adage ‘The more things change, the more they stay the same’. In both instances, political leaders and the media of the day fanned the flames of public opinion and populism by laying the blame at the feet of ‘Wall Street’. And today’s critics are saying pretty much the same things as socialists, anarchists and a variety of Progressives did in 1907. It only seems different because today better technology makes it all instantly available.
And Congress is doing much the same thing today as it did in the aftermath of the Panic of 1907, too. Back then, J.P. Morgan, along with other prominent Wall Street figures, was grilled by a Congressional committee alleging the existence of a ‘Money Trust’ controlled by a small group of insiders.
What’s that famous definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result?
Do you prefer fermented or distilled?
Fermented. The vampires of Night Market all enjoy good food, wine, and even the occasional distilled spirit in the form of Cognacs and such, even while they derive no real nourishment from any of it. It’s a deliberate paradox I wrote into the characters.
Where can people get your book?
Night Market is available as an e-book only for right now. You can get it from Amazon if you have one of their e-book readers. You can also buy Night Market through Smashwords either for e-book readers like Sony and Kobo and even as a PDF file to read on your computer. They also distribute to outfits like Diesel and of course, Barnes & Noble.
Where can people learn more about you?
I have a blog where I post about some of the things that went into making Night Market. I also like to feature people and things having to do with Pittsburgh.
That’s the interview. Thanks for listening and Have a Happy…