Your series has been described as ‘tech-noir.’ What does this genre entail?
This was an invention of one of my early blurbers for ROG. I don’t know if this is an extant category or not. If I had to guess I’d say this was some subset of genre fiction (i.e., “mystery”, “thriller” etc.) featuring content of darker and more gritty variety, wherein contemporary technology merely augments age-old dilemmas of why humans keep finding themselves in the situations they do, and why they keep making the same mistakes they do while trying to get out of them. George Alec Effinger, Philip K. Dick and William Gibson exemplified this and were branded “cyber-punk” for their efforts. Genre is in the eye of the reviewer.
What inspired you to write this series?
I married in 2006, and wanted to get some books of my own out into the market following nearly a decade of writing articles on a freelance basis. I’d just had a four-part news series on the taxi industry published by Cobrapost.com, and was considering turning it into a nonfiction book. At the same time, I had an idea for a police procedural featuring a cop in a cab. By this time, I was also writing a blog called The Bunny Papers satirizing the confluence of political and financial bungling that characterized the ’07 real estate crash. When this snowballed into the stock market crash of ’08, I knew I had not just one novel, but a whole series borne of the chaos of those dark days. I knew there would be others who would write nonfiction accounts of the period, and they’d do it better than I could.
What research or personal experience allowed you to write so precisely about the New York cab industry?
To do this, I spent a lot of time with garage owners, mini-fleet owners, shop foremen, union reps, medallion loan brokers, top TLC officials, and, of course, cab drivers.
There is a shocking degree of excess and debauchery in the New York City streets you created. Is this where we are today—or where we’re headed?
If you think this is shocking you should have seen it in the ‘80s, which were every bit as bad as the ‘70s, just more colorful. My view of things to come, while admittedly dire, derives entirely from current situations, as well as extrapolations of current political, economic, and social trends to what I believe are very plausible, very attainable degrees.
What was the inspiration behind the Renny’s character?
In the ‘90s I watched several generations of young men make appalling decisions, about money, about work, about politics and people. They were absolutely convinced they were right, until they weren’t. Renny is for them.
What was the inspiration behind Santiago’s character?
Santiago was my original cop in the cab, but at that point he had little form or depth. It was only once the crash and More were fully realized that Santiago took shape as a voice of reason in a time of chaos, and an example of how to thrive in an age of decay. A survivor.
There isn’t a clear hero in the story, so who would you consider the ‘hero’?
I leave that to readers to decide. Some have told me that Santiago is a hero, while More is an antihero. Others vote for McKeutchen. Some have even said that NYC itself is the hero, for surviving such a fate as I created for it.
Do your characters—particularly Renny—get what they deserve?
They would argue lethally about “deserve”. No one gets entirely what they want, in my books.
Is Renny supposed to come across as a misogynist or does he push women like N and La away so they won’t get hurt?
Renny is played and betrayed by the women in his life. He doesn’t push them away—he thinks he’s in control, even as he’s clearly losing it. Such is the privilege of youth.
In your writing there is a beautiful, dizzying use of acronyms and technical jargon. What do you value more: plot or presentation?
One cannot exist without the other, not in this form and length.
The books seem to cautionary tales of where society might be headed. What feelings do you want readers to walk away with after reading the book?
Don’t be impulsive, reactionary, or thin-skinned. Beware the hidden dynamic of orthodoxy belying any movement trumpeting individuality, rights, special needs or interests. This is an old power game, a long con. Hone your skills, play to your strengths. Vote with your head before your heart, and if you can’t do that, stick with your feet, they may well be your last best resort.
If you could change anything about this series, what would it be?
Nothing. Just wish I’d been able to start it sooner.
ADAM DUNN is the author of the novels Rivers of Gold, The Big Dogs, and Saint Underground, the forthcoming novel The Unfathomable Deep, and co-writer (with Eric Anderson) of the forthcoming novel Osiris. He spent years as a freelance writer cultivating an extensive series of networks among the military, intelligence, law enforcement, and financial communities. His byline has appeared in 18 publications in four countries. Some of those include: CNN and BBC News (online); Inc., Paper, SOMA, and Publishers Weekly magazines (glossy); and the San Francisco Chronicle and South China Morning Post (newsprint). He and his family have left New York City.
For more information, visit: http://www.dunnbooks.com/