You've said that you don't like having your books described as business thrillers.

To me it's a boring name for something that can be quite sexy.

Most books in this genre concentrate on Gordon Gekko—type characters: sleek men, striding down marble hallways, barking orders to their surrounding minions. Yours aren't like that.

That's right. Who cares about those kind of guys? Who cares about manipulating derivatives? For me it's about writing stories involving regular people.

In your newest book, Killer Instinct, the hero, Jason Steadman, is a salesman. His friend at work, Kurt, a former Special Forces soldier, offers to help Jason by divulging what his boss is saying about him. That's a pretty hard offer to turn down.

That's the basic Faustian bargain: what if you had someone on the inside telling you what's really going on. Would you accept? Readers might think that they personally wouldn't make a deal with the devil, but I believe they'll enjoy reading about someone who has.

There's lots of fascinating insider lore on being a corporate salesman, a subject most people might think isn't very interesting.

I loved doing the research. I like to learn things, and I think readers like to learn things.

Dick Francis always set his books in a different aspect of the horse-racing community. You do the same thing within the business world.

I'm deathly afraid of writing the same book over and over again. It's boring for the writer and in the end the readers get bored with it, too. With every book I try to find a different world.

What world will your next book take place in?

It's set in the aerospace industry.

There's more than just a hint of Mamet's Glengary Glen Ross in Killer Instinct.

That's one of my favorite plays and movies. I tried to temper the Mamet vision with reality. The sales culture really does have this sort of kill or be killed ethic. It was intriguing to get into the heads of nice salespeople and see how they deal with that ruthlessness. Mamet's take on the subject was a dark, cynical portrait. That's not what I do. I try to make my characters much more sympathetic.

Jason is very sympathetic, as is his wife, who at one point looks as if she's going to turn into Lady Macbeth. You were confounding expectations there. Is that something you like to do?

Yes, that's exactly what I like to do. I like to pull the rug out from under you. Besides, it's more fun for the writer that way. I love to confound your expectations.