26th Sep 2006 | 15:33
David Fisher's a bit prolific - he's written over 50 books, on subjects ranging from sports to biochemistry, from humour to stem cell research. He's perhaps best known for his working relationships with the FBI and the Mafia; his latest book, Good Guys, has him working with a mob boss and Joe Pistone, aka Donnie Brasco. He is also working closely with Silverback Studios in the making of Mafia shooter, Made Man...
You've sold millions of books over the years... What attracted you to writing a videogame?
I've been a writer for 35 years, and I've done a lot of writing about organised crime and the FBI. Acclaim called me one day, wanting to make what they said would be the most realistic Mafia game ever done, and asked if I'd be interested in joining them. I've written a lot about the Mafia and the FBI - I'm the only reporter the FBI have ever let into their crime labs. So, we spent a lot of time hammering out what the game should be, and an amazing amount of that original conception has survived.
I read you have 'unparalleled access into the world of crime'. How do you go about getting that?
The first books I did with Joey Black, the Mafia hitman, were extremely successful. Other criminals read them and liked them. Once, some cops on the New Jersey turnpike stopped a car, and they had all kinds of ammunition and rifles, and a copy of my book. And once, I got a letter from a guy who'd separated from his wife, and he felt she was keeping their kid just to collect the money. He'd decided to kill his wife, but he wrote to me asking how he could get away with it. I would get letters like this all the time. Most of the time I didn't answer.
Do you ever see any representations of the Mafia that get it wrong?
There's an old saying, if you have to choose between the truth and the myth, write about the myth. And The Godfather created the myth of the Mafia, but it became the truth. So if you're not true to that myth - even if you're true to reality - people won't accept it. A lot of things made it all more glamorous than it is, but Goodfellas and The Sopranos removed the romance. You have to work, you can't make mistakes, you have to take orders and listen to people who you may not like. We try to fit within that for the game.
Was it difficult, getting inside the mind of a hitman?
Well, his brother was a cop, he was a killer. The Mafia was Italian and he was Jewish. So he didn't belong anywhere. He was very small, but with huge shoulders and he liked people to be afraid of him. At dinner once, with some of my friends, one person asked, 'What would you do if I said I didn't believe you are who you say you are?' And he jammed a fork into this guy's throat, and said, 'I'd ask you to say it again'.
Did you ever feel threatened?
Never. He was always very protective of me. Once, I was playing basketball in Greenwich Village, somebody started pushing and we got into a bit of a fight. I looked up and there he was - he just showed up. And I had to stop, because I didn't know what he was capable of doing - I just knew he was protective of me. I know he wouldn't have let it go too far.
The Sopranos has its fans in the Mafia - do you think they'll enjoy Made Man?
I think they'll laugh. I think they'll enjoy it!