Excerpted from The Devil's Banker by Christopher Reich. Copyright © 2003 by Christopher Reich. Excerpted by permission of Dell, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: Reading. I read and read and read. Newspapers, magazines, the Internet--you name it, I try and suck it up and find something interesting inside of it. I like to think of international finance as my bailiwick, so I start from there. Usually, a story will catch my interest and I'll wonder if there's enough material there to sustain a book. Then I start on the personal angle. What's the hook? The crux of the story that will drive a reader to gulp down 450 pages? From there, it's hopscotch all over the place. First I do the research, then I construct the story around interesting, knowledgeable people. The hardest part is always the character stuff- making the hero grow and come out a better person at the other side of things. Without a really compelling hero or heroine, the best "hook" is never more than that- a quirky little attention getter. By the way, I don't own a television set. As parents of two young daughters, my wife and I feel strongly that TV is a wildly negative influence on kids' minds... and adults too, most of the time. The only stuff I used to watch was the news and Biography on A&E, but now even CNN's hard to look at, with all that gibberish dancing on every available square inch of the screen. Mostly what I hate is how dumb the news is. It's time our media gives us the benefit of the doubt. We're smarter than that.
Q: How do you work?
A: Writing is a job, just like anything else. Often I think the deciding factor in who can make a career as a successful author is the ability to sit in a chair for eight hours a day (or however long one needs to write) and simply get the book written. There are so many distractions and a writer can't wait for the "muse" to land on his shoulder. I try and hit my desk by 8:15 and will work until noon. Usually, I eat lunch out somewhere nearby with my wife, then get back to it at 1:30 or 2. Those are the hardest hours. Frankly, I'd rather be napping, or playing golf. Then around 4:00 the engine really starts up again, and I'm able to get a solid ninety minutes in before dinner. The thing about writing is that it isn't constant or linear. What I mean is that you can start the day writing four great pages and then not be able to add a single thing to it. Or you can crank out an entire chapter in two hours and then spend the next two days getting it right. Usually, though, it's slow and steady. Two pages in the morning. Two in the afternoon. After six months, you've got a good stack of paper on your desk. Still, I can't think of a better way to make a living. I used to be an investment banker and the thought of those fourteen-hour days cooped up inside a skyscraper is enough to give me the shivers. No thanks. You can keep your five million dollar salaries...then again, five mil is pretty good...
Q: What do you do to relax?
A: By nature I'm a high-strung person. One of those guys that can't stand still for too long. I love to golf, but it's hard to find six hours to just disappear, especially with two awesome daughters who I love to play with. I try to run a few times a week...nothing serious, a quick ten-mile loop, then a few dozen wind sprints. Just kidding! If I make it three miles before wimping out, I'm lucky. I like to get to the gym, too, but that seems to be happening ever less frequently. My wife and I love the movies. Whenever there's something that does not center around car chases, evil cops, towering infernos, or anything with the word "Matrix" in it, we jump at the chance to go see it. Our favorite film last year was "Unfaithful" starring Diane Lane, Richard Gere, and that French guy whose name my wife keeps mumbling when she's asleep. Talk about a hard hitting movie! And if Diane Lane ever reads this: "Girl, you was robbed!" I'm looking forward to the new Tom Cruise movie, "The Last Samurai." Music-wise, I'm digging the live version of U2's "Beautiful Day," John Mayer's album "Room for Squares," and from the oldies bin, "Physical Graffiti" by Led Zeppelin. And, of course, anything by Oscar Peterson, my all time favorite. Naturally, I love to read too. I just polished off Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides and loved it. The Human Stain by Philip Roth was a great read. Genius at work! I'm waiting with baited breath for the new Le Carre. Everything stops around our house when his books hit the stands. Everything I learned about writing, I got from Le Carre.
Q: What's the next one about?
A: I'm just starting digging on the new one, but it will center around these giant private equity firms that currently control a lot of the biggest U.S. defense companies and employ former U.S. government officials. The potential for conflict of interest is so huge, the smell of corruption so rank, that even if these guys aren't guilty, they should be! So far, I've got the best villain I've come up with and a great hero. The rest is a work in progress!
From the Hardcover edition.