Friday, March 18, 2011

Dishing it up with David Lender

Folks, I have the pleasure of having David Lender on with us today. David writes thrillers set in the financial sector based on his over 25-year career as a Wall Street investment banker. He draws on an insider’s knowledge from his career in mergers and acquisitions with Merrill Lynch, Rothschild and Bank of America for the international settings, obsessively driven personalities and real-world financial intrigues of his novels. His characters range from David Baldacci-like corporate power brokers to Elmore Leonard-esque misfits and scam artists. His plots reveal the egos and ruthlessness that motivate the players in the financial sector, as well as the inner workings of the most powerful of our financial institutions.

JET: Can you tell us about your most recent book Trojan Horse?

DAVID: Trojan Horse is a thriller based on the question: What if an ordinary man falls in love with an exotic woman and then discovers she’s a spy, and that he’s being used as an instrument in a terrorist plot? Daniel Youngblood is an oil and gas investment banker who’s just realized he’s no longer a young man in a young man’s business, but wants to end his career with a splashy deal. He’s hired by a Saudi Prince for an OPEC deal where he can net himself $25 million as a swan song. At the same time, he meets and falls in love with Lydia, an exotic European fashion photographer, who he later discovers is really a CIA-trained spy with a shocking history with the Saudi Prince. She convinces Daniel to enlist in what becomes a race for the lovers to stop a Muslim terrorist internet plot to bring down the Saudi royal family and cripple the world’s oil capacity, all before they wind up dead.

After finishing Trojan Horse, I re-worked it over 18 months with a seasoned publishing exec who had edited Ludlum’s first nine thrillers, fashioning it into a high concept, Ludlum-esque international espionage thriller. Then I worked with a talented Hollywood script development exec, who coached me on sharpening up plot and character elements of the novel from that perspective.

JET: What drew you to financial thrillers?

DAVID: I’ve been an investment banker for over 25 years, and understand the professionals, clients and institutions in that world. As such, it was a natural choice for the setting of my novels. And I’ve always read and enjoyed thrillers, so when I started writing, my reading interests drew me toward that genre.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

DAVID: Finding a quality agent to get a major publisher to take me on. I’ve had offers from agents who I didn’t think would be a good long-run choice, so I’ve continued to wait for the right fit.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

DAVID: Deciding to pursue writing full-time and then living with that commitment.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

DAVID: I read a lot of Jack London growing up. F. Scott Fitzgerald is my favorite writer and I think The Great Gatsby is the great American novel. Few write with his rhythm, economy (Gatsby is only about 50 thousand words), or mixture of romantic sensitivity and understanding of human depravity. I was an English major, so I read all the big names you might expect. I also admire Hemingway, Joyce, the Bronte sisters, Henry James, Conrad and Steinbeck. Thriller writers who have influenced me are Frederick Forsyth (The Day of the Jackal may be the best thriller ever written), John LeCarre, John Grisham (although I don’t think he’s ever gotten close to The Firm again), Robert Ludlum, Ken Follett, and Thomas Harris. Elmore Leonard is the contemporary author I most admire. Out of Sight is his best, with Get Shorty a close second. Nobody does dialog or backstory like him. And his Ten Rules of Writing should be on every novelist’s desk.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

DAVID: About ten years ago I decided it was something to stop thinking about and start doing.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

DAVID: I spent a few months researching what the life of a concubine would be like in the Saudi royal palace, for the character of Sasha in Trojan Horse. Searching the internet and reading books isn’t particularly crazy, but interviewing hookers and high-end call girls in retrospect seems a little out of character for an investment banker. The most interesting fact I uncovered is in the novel.

JET: Of all the novels and stories you’ve written - which one is your favorite? Why?

DAVID: I can’t answer that. Parents aren’t supposed to have favorite children (even though I believe some do, but don’t admit it).

JET: Any advice (from a writer’s standpoint) for the novices out there?

DAVID: Find good tutors or editors and keep writing.

JET: All right - now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with:

JET: Paper or Plastic?

DAVID: My own recycled, reusable plastic.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

DAVID: Steak, medium rare.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

DAVID: Both.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

DAVID: Rock.

JET: Paper or Digital?

DAVID: Digital.

JET: Classics or Modern?

DAVID: Both.

JET: Silent Film Classics or Cheesy B Rated Horror?

DAVID: Silent Classics.

JET: 2012 Mayan Prophecy Believer or Ain’t Gonna Happen?

DAVID: Won’t happen.

JET: Sword-wielding Ninja or Gun-toting Momma?

DAVID: Gun Momma.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

DAVID: Green tea.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you're working on now? What's next?

DAVID: I’m working on a memoir on our fist year of life with our recently adopted rescue pit bull puppy, Styles. I’m three months into it. I’m also writing another thriller, about an award-winning documentary filmmaker who has a drug industry whistle-blower give her evidence of a concrete link between the national vaccine program and autism, and then races to expose it before a megalomaniacal drug industry CEO can have her killed. And I’m finishing up a novella set on Wall Street about a young investment banker who helps an elderly CEO buy his company back out of bankruptcy after the Wall Streeters have driven it into the ground.

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about David Lender and his work at the following places:

his website:

his email:

link to Trojan Horse on Amazon:

link to Trojan Horse on Amazon UK:

Thanks for joining us this week.  Next week I've got Libby Hellman on tap.  Swing in and say hi!
Until then,

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