David Fisher hasn’t met topic he can’t write about

Posted

It’s not every author who can create books as diverse as the first tell-all from a professional hitman, a ghost-written biography on famed lawyer Johnnie Cochran, and a book about how to talk to a pet cat. 

Yet these are just some of the works filling David Fisher’s self-written library.

“Name a field, and I’ve worked in it and written about it,” Fisher said.

In fact, the North Riverdale author has his name on more than 80 books, 25 of which were New York Times bestsellers. 

And Fisher has two new books coming out this June. The first is “Kennedy’s Avenger: Assassination, Conspiracy and the Forgotten Trial of Jack Ruby,” based on the murder trial transcript of Jack Ruby, who was convicted of killing John F. Kennedy’s alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. 

It’s the fourth installment in a series of collaborations between Fisher and Dan Abrams — an ABC News legal affairs correspondent — about historic trials. The other three focused on trials involving presidents Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and John Adams.

His second book is a novel: “The Executive Order.” It’s an update of the classic “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis, about the idea of fascism coming to America. Fisher had to reshape and change “Executive Order,” a book that’s set in the future, because of what he says was its growing similarity to current events involving former president Donald Trump.

“As I wrote it, everything I wrote kept coming true,” Fisher said.

For instance, a big theme in the book is the dangers of presidents taking advantage of special powers, like the War Powers Act, to take unilateral control of the government. 

“And then Trump started trying to use them, the War Powers Act and things like that,” Fisher said. “And so, I had to make changes there.”

Fisher also changed the book’s perspective, shifting it from third to first person. This way he could use the main character to wink at the audience — making asides and funny remarks referring to current events.

While “The Executive Order” is mainly political commentary, Fisher said, it’s also an action-adventure story, where the protagonist is a disabled veteran who gets around in a “tricked-out” wheelchair.

Fisher has had the writer’s spark pretty much since he was a young kid growing up on Long Island.

“The two things that I wanted to do was be a writer and play for the Yankees,” Fisher said. “And when it became apparent I wasn’t going to play for the Yankees, there was only one thing left.”

Soon after graduating from the journalism school at Syracuse University, Fisher joined Life magazine as a reporter covering sports and youth culture. At the time, he was the youngest reporter to ever join the magazine’s staff.

Fisher started writing books a year later, taking a job penning a biography of Malcolm X for kids. Soon after, he wrote the book “Killer” — the first tell-all biography of a mafia hitman. He and the hitman, who Fisher referred to as Joey Black, subsequently collaborated on several more books. 

This series got Fisher deep into the world of crime reporting, to the point where a big story came right to his front door.

“One day, when I lived in the city, my buzzer rang,” Fisher said. “It was literally the guy who had been on the FBI’s most wanted list, longer than any man in history. He had read my book and decided to surrender to me. So, we actually arranged his surrender on the ‘Today’ show.”

That man was John William Clouser, who Fisher also would later collaborate with on a book about his experience running from the FBI: “The Most Wanted Man in America.”

But it’s not all crime for Fisher, who says he’ll write about almost every subject under the sun — especially sports, humor and politics.

More recently, he was a ghostwriter for “Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again,” Trump’s 2015 presidential campaign book.

Although he’s politically liberal, Fisher said he saw no issue with writing the book because he thought Trump had zero chance of getting the Republican nomination, let alone winning the presidency. Fisher did, however, draw a line in the sand when he refused to write some of the negative things Trump wanted to include about journalists.

In order to get a sense of Trump, Fisher spent a couple of days on a trip with the then presidential candidate.

“He was the most interesting combination of the biggest narcissist, egomaniac and most insecure person I’ve ever met in my life,” Fisher said. “And it was fascinating,”

Trump never really took much of an interest in the book’s contents, Fisher said. In fact, he speculated Trump never even read the manuscript.

“What was most important to him, more than anything, was the pictures,” Fisher said. “He wanted pictures of every one of his buildings in the book.”

Although Fisher is no fan of Trump, he said he ultimately doesn’t regret writing the book because he doesn’t think it helped Trump win in 2016. Simply put, Fisher thought Trump was a fascinating figure who’s emblematic of America today, and he jumped at the chance to dive into the real estate mogul’s psyche.

Outside of his bestsellers, Fisher says his favorite book — “Conversations With My Cat” — didn’t sell a single copy in the United States, but was a top seller in France and Israel. It’s a humor book where Fisher plays out an imaginary conversation between him and his cat, who shares with him the backstory of felines.

“At one point, he explained to me every kitten is taught how to deal with human beings,” Fisher said. “And the basic philosophy governing all relationships between cats and human beings is: You scratch my back, you scratch my back.”

The coronavirus pandemic hasn’t dramatically changed Fisher’s life because he was never really a fan of promoting his books in person in the first place. And writing always has been a solitary career for him — which stands in contrast to his wife, a neighborhood yoga instructor who taught classes at different locations before the pandemic began.

“I’ve always spent my days sitting at a desk by myself,” Fisher said. “The romantic image of a writer, chasing through the world, is created by a writer sitting by himself in a room.”

Want to read this story in print? Click Here

Comments