- Post and Interview by MysteryPeople Scott
Richard Goodfellow’s debut, The Collector Of Secrets, is a fresh thriller that takes us through Japan. The main character Max Travers, an American teaching English, comes into possession of a diary that contains dangerous information. Stuck in the middle of the government, the police, and the Yakuza, Travers goes on the run with the help of his gorgeous girlfriend and a game-designing Shinto priest. We caught up to Mr. Goodfellow to ask him about the book and its setting.
MysteryPeople Scott: Many of the secrets in the book involve the Japanese royal family. Was there any actual history you used as a jumping off point?
Richard Goodfellow: Absolutely. One of the key inspirations was a book called Gold Warriors (by Sterling and Peggy Seagrave) which documents the gold and other looted treasure hidden by the Japanese royal family in the Philippines during World War II, and the subsequent secret recovery and use of that fortune for bribery, manipulation and covert operations.
MPS: Max is such a great every-man hero. How did you approach him while telling the story?
RG: There are so many books which have great James Bond or Jason Bourne ‘super characters’, but I clearly remember wanting something different with Collector of Secrets. I think a fallible protagonist struggling to survive in a mad situation is someone to which each of can personally relate, and I approached him by focusing on base-survival instincts as opposed to learned skills.
MPS: The reader gets to see a different side of Japan in the novel. What did you want to convey about the country?
RG: I wanted to convey that while Japan does indeed contain many of the common images we’ve all come to know, it’s a much richer and more complex society than we often see portrayed in Western culture. The Japanese dream is a slightly more compact version of the American dream, and it contains the same personal challenges and triumphs.
MPS: What is the biggest misconception about it?
RG: I think Toshi, the Shinto priest, summed it up best when he said the following to Max Travers. “You’ve seen what you’ve been told to see: sushi, karaoke, capsule hotels, geishas, and sumo wrestling. But you haven’t moved beneath the surface. This country has both good and bad. It shouldn’t be a shock.”
MPS: This being your first novel, did you draw from any influences?
RG: My influences are somewhat eclectic, but Dan Brown and John Grisham are at the top of the list for their action and style. But then there are other books that I’ve read several times over, like The Sparrow; Bel Canto; The Kite Runner; Memoirs of a Geisha and The Life of Pi, which inspire with amazing words and scenes that are so moving.
MPS: What made you choose a thriller for your first novel?
RG: I wanted to write what I love, and for me that’s the escapism of the thriller, especially the ones set in foreign countries. I’ve personally traveled to over 50 countries, but paying the bills requires a job, and this is where the thriller can provide that rush – that small daily escape – but from the comfort and safety of an arm chair.
You can find copies of The Collector of Secrets on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.