Q&A with David Liss discussion


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message 1: by David (new)

David | 9 comments Mod
Many thanks to those who have decided to take part in this discussion. As a reading addict, I’m always happy to talk about books, mine or anyone else’s, and I genuinely enjoy making contact with my readers.

I’m open to discussing anything in these forums: my own reading habits, any of my published novels, my two completed forthcoming novels, the book I’m working on currently – you name it.

I recently finished teaching a course in conjunction with National Novel Writing Month in which I, along with a small group of dedicated students, hammered out rough drafts of books between November 1st and 30th. I’d also love to use this forum to talk about issues of craft.

I look forward to what I hope is an enjoyable and lively exchange.


message 2: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Oswald (nikky1216) | 1 comments Hi David,

I am a new reader to your novels and just finished A Conspiracy of Paper about a month ago (I loved it). I was wondering how you decided to write about the early "stock marketing world"? Do you see any comparison with the financial and marketing world of today(good or bad)?


message 3: by Dottie (new)

Dottie (oxymoronid) I have read only one of your books thus far and have two others on my to-read shelf here on this site so I went exploring to find more of your books and to get some idea of publication dates, etc. More than likely my to-read shelf will grow even more as a result.

The book which I read was The Coffee Trader and I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I purchased this in Belgium in either late 2002 or early 2003 and read it there just before we left to return home to CA -- well, I came home while my husband moved with the job to Taiwan for a year.

I think my attraction to the book was the concept of how coffee became an economic indicator -- a product functioning as a stock exchange of sorts. I had just read another book with a similar theme (Tulip Fever)and followed up a while later with another (The Tea Rose). Please note that I am not putting these three volumes on a level in any way other than the similarity of at least a thread or theme within the whole of each.

I do remember also that I loved the description in The Coffee Trader -- the settings of the cafes (that's not the correct word though) where the drink was first served so secretively and the growing interest in the product and the building craze for the drink -- I think modern day Starbucks almost now that I mention it!

The characters -- whose names have faded were well-drawn and became very real for me in the setting of the book. It may well be that being close to the lowlands or Flemish character for a few years before encountering the book made some of them seem familiar, I can't really say.

I am curious about the upcooming books The Whiskey Rebels and Devil's Company -- aack, I think I've muffed one or both of the titles there, please forgive me if I have. Being a genealogical researcher of some long standing, I have entertained the possibility that an ancestor was in the whiskey making business (I've found slim evidence of it but enough that I've not given up the idea as yet -- and one branch of this line may have spent time in Barbados -- think rum running). None-the-less -- The Whiskey Rebels will definitely go on the to-read shelf and move up ahead of some which can wait a while longer since they've waited this long -- in other words it's time for another David Liss book.

And to sum up, it's always good to have access to an author and to hear from him or her some response to one's own thoughts on their work. So I thank you for being here.


message 4: by Tom (new)

Tom Walsh (teew) Hello, Mr. Liss, Your novel "A Spectacle of Corruption" begins, nicely, in the first person, from a character in the 1700s. How does one from the present time learn to speak as someone in another century? How did you concoct the words "fickle gaze" and "scribbler's perdition", which sound so foreign to our ears?

Also, I'm interested to know what kind of research one does to breathe life into another century. Thanks for any time. Tom

message 5: by Terrie (new)

Terrie (terriet) Hi David, I loved "Ethical Assassain" and got it for my brother as well (actually, I bought Coffee Trader for my mom too!) I thought of it recently and got a good laugh when a very persistent door-to-door alarm salesman came by and told me "my neighbors the so-and-sos across the street signed up for this free trial".

message 6: by David (new)

David | 9 comments Mod
I decided to write a novel about the early stock market because I was doing my dissertation on finance in 18th century British novel, and the stock market shows up over and over again. I was never interested in finance until my research backed me into it, and once I realized how insanely obsessed people were with it, I became fascinated. As far as parallels go, I think there are more than I would have guessed. The modern world with all our communications technology should preclude 18th century style corruption, but its amazing to me how many scandals emerge the old fashioned way – a small group of people making secret deals while the rest of the world looks on without noticing how obviously dodgy it all is.

message 7: by David (new)

David | 9 comments Mod
The Whiskey Rebels is a historic thriller set against the backdrop of the Panic of 1792, the first financial crisis in the United States. The novel follows two principal characters: Ethan Saunders is a former Revolutionary War spy, now disgraced and living on the fringes of society, but when he learns of a possible danger to his long-lost love, he is drawn into a plot that may undermine the new and fragile nation; Joan Maycott and her husband are tricked by unscrupulous speculators into settling on the barbaric western frontier, but when her life is shattered she vows revenge on the men she holds responsible, including Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton. This was easily the most challenging novel I’ve ever written, but it was also exciting for me for a whole bunch of reasons – grappling with some of the history of my own country, writing two distinct narrators, and, of course, learning lots about early whiskey making.

The Devil’s Company, which is the third (and maybe final) Benjamin Weaver novel is set shortly after A Spectacle of Corruption and attempts to examine the 18th century origins of the modern corporation. In this novel Weaver, against his will, is made to take on the British East India Company, and so learns about the uneasy nexus of power that exists between the Company and the British government, the ways in which the Company produces and manipulates the markets for its goods, and all kinds of juicy things. As the third novel with a continuing protagonist, I wanted to mix things up a little, so in this book there are plenty of characters from the previous two who don’t appear, there is one fairly major character who dies, and Weaver meets the woman who, if the books continue, he will likely marry. Of the three Weaver novels, it is probably my favorite.

message 8: by David (new)

David | 9 comments Mod
For some reason, I thought it would post my responses after the original questions, so I’m responding to questions as they come. It might be easier to post questions in separate threads. I’ll try from now on, though, to include the question in my response so people know what I am talking about.

"Hello, Mr. Liss, Your novel "A Spectacle of Corruption" begins, nicely, in the first person, from a character in the 1700s. How does one from the present time learn to speak as someone in another century? How did you concoct the words "fickle gaze" and "scribbler's perdition", which sound so foreign to our ears?

Also, I'm interested to know what kind of research one does to breathe life into another century. Thanks for any time. Tom"

The short answer is by reading tons of 18th century writing. In my work as a graduate student, I spent countless hours reading 18th century novels, plays, poems, political tracts, letters, newspaper articles, and just about anything else you can think of. It was actually a lot of fun to attempt to reproduce something like real 18th century diction in these books.

As far as the research goes, I did lots of research before I even knew I was going to write a novel set in this period – it was for my graduate work. But once I started the novel, I realized there were lots of things a novelist needs to know that an academic might not – what people ate, what they wore, where they might have lived, etc. There are so many sources for this stuff, both contemporary and from the period, that it’s just a matter of finding them and sorting through them.

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