Question: A Man of Indeterminate Value is the first novel in a planned trilogy featuring Jack Madson. What makes Madson tick?
Ron Felber: Jack Madson is a classic protagonist locked in the myth of the American Dream. He worked his way into a prestigious university, and landed a job at NuGen, a hyper-aggressive Wall Street firm that specializes in buying and gutting moderately successful American manufacturing companies, later purchased by deep-pocket Asian conglomerates at eight-times their value.
But his life is still out of whack. Jack’s marriage has degenerated into an orgy of hate. His father-in-law despises him, and he is hopelessly in debt because of his wife’s profligate spending.
While Madson detests the hypocrisy of NuGen, he eventually finds himself as jaded as they, when he starts selling the intellectual property of the companies NuGen buys to the Chinese criminal Triads.
Question: How does Jack Madson’s background impact his thinking and his actions?
Ron Felber: Because Madson blindly follows the premise of 21st Century America’s culture which is that money and happiness equate, every action he takes to free himself from the web of debt, compromise, drugs, booze, and climbing the ladder of success, has the exact opposite effect of entangling him more deeply.
Jack wants out, but his solution – faking his own death – only takes him deeper into the underbelly of the American Dream, prowling the darkest corners of “the empire in decline.”
Question: How much of your own life is reflected in A Man of Indeterminate Value?
Ron Felber: In writing the non-fiction biography Il Dottore, I got very close to former mafia chieftain Bill Bonanno, who in a reincarnation became a successful author. He told me to “write about what you know.”
Business is certainly something I know about. I have been CEO of a large and successful manufacturing company for more than fifteen years. I also understand the criminal mind. I transported federal criminals for three years after graduating college. I also know about boxing and marshal arts. I fought Golden Gloves and hold a blue belt in jiu jitsu. So these areas – along with going to school in Newark, New Jersey’s inner city – all have something to do with Jack Madson.
On the other hand, I’ve never stolen trade secrets or faked my death. Unlike Madson, I have been happily married for many years and have three great kids. While I occasionally travel to Mexico, it is never to engage in mortal combat with members of a drug cartel or to collect $2.5 million in stolen money.
Question: As CEO of a company, how does your background impact your writing?
Ron Felber: A Man of Indeterminate Value is a special and exciting genre of crime fiction that you can call the “business thriller.” Much of the novel’s background regarding business represents my views on the state of American corporations and their blasé attitude toward dismantling the U.S. manufacturing base, something I believe is vital to the country’s future.
Question: How real is corporate spying?
Ron Felber: Very real. It is the untold story of our generation. In my career, I’ve twice been involved in thwarting thefts that brought in the FBI, and that was here in the United States. The degree of technology theft West-to-East over the past fifteen years has literally changed the balance of financial power in the world.
Question: Do you have a special routine when writing?
Ron Felber: Discipline. I write during long plane flights to the West Coast, Europe, and Asia. Often, I wake up at 4 am to work on weekends when it’s quiet and my forced isolation doesn’t annoy anyone. Remember, I have a family.
Question: Who is the audience for this book?
Ron Felber: Anyone who likes a fast-paced, gutsy book that grabs you by the lapels with it’s opening paragraph. I’m proud of the fact that it’s not just a story. There is real and, I believe, important social commentary that makes this novel more ambitious than most, along with the fact that it explores territory previously uncharted in crime fiction. It breaks new ground.
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Ron’s Web site: www.ronfelber.com