Former NYC criminal defense attorney Douglas Corleone’s noirish new thriller, Good as Gone, introduces protagonist Simon Fisk, a former US marshal whose new line of work helps fill the void of his missing daughter.
When did you become interested in writing?
I grew up with a single mom. She was a schoolteacher; she liked to shop after school. I would go to the malls with her and I was very bored. So I would carry around my book. I would walk into racks, I would walk into other people. I would be reading the Hardy Boys, I was just constantly reading. And I’ll never forget one conversation I had with my mother when I was about 8. We were at a gas station in Totowa, N.J., and I said, ‘You know, I think I know what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a writer. I want to be a novelist.’ And she turned to me and said, ‘That’s not a career. That’s a hobby.’ This stuck with me for a good 15 years. It never even crossed my mind again until after I was already a lawyer and realizing that I felt like that wasn’t something I was born to do.
Does your mother feel differently now that you’ve published four novels?
Ambiguous. I think she was never truly happy that I was a lawyer either, so I’m not sure what I was actually supposed to do. When I was at my lowest point in writing, she gave me information about becoming a postal worker.
What inspired Good as Gone?
I decided I wanted to go big. I wanted to do something like Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series where you have a lone wolf hero who travels a lot and finds himself in different situations. The idea for Good as Gone actually started with a one-page article I read about this private investigator who works in Tampa and retrieves children who’ve been kidnapped by their estranged parents and brought overseas to countries that don’t recognize US custody decisions. I thought, wow, this guy would make a terrific hero for a novel.
Why did you decide to make the main character British?
I was determined that because Kevin Corvelli [from my previous series] was a lot like me and people started calling me ‘Kevin’ by accident, like my agent, I wanted someone that was very different. I’m a big fan of James Bond and a lot of the Guy Ritchie movies and I pictured my hero as someone like a Jason Statham or a Daniel Craig, or a Liam Neeson or a Clive Owen. So I felt like this character was originally from Britain but then moved to America. It also added one more layer of depth to the character because he doesn’t know his mother or sister; he’s never really tried to find them. And that’s also a parallel with my own life. I’ve never met my father. I don’t know who he is.
Have you been tempted to search for your father?
To be honest, it’s always there in the back of my mind. I don’t know what my father’s name is, my mother won’t tell me anything about him. Now that I have Jack, my oldest, he’s 4 years old, he’s my best friend. I spend so much time with him; I just can’t imagine not having that relationship. Only now do I feel like I’ve really missed out on something, and I can’t imagine that I’m [connected to] this other person and yet he never tried to find me. So I wonder if he knew about me or not, and a lot of different what ifs go through my mind. I’ve thought about hiring a private investigator…but we’ll have to wait until one of these books takes off before I can afford to do that.