How does it feel to be
compared with Joseph Heller and Tom Wolfe?
I think people should make up
their minds. Is it Heller or Wolfe? I for one would like to know. It would
make things a lot simpler. It's hard enough to be compared to either of
them, let alone both.
Where did the inspiration for
the novel come from?
A story in the newspaper
reported that shares of Apple Computer rallied up 10% in price on the same
day that Apple announced layoffs of 15% of its workforce. Wall Street was
uncorking champagne when Silicon Valley was drowning itself in whiskey.
People presume the financial markets are an indicator of economic
vitality, but that's too often not the case.
Was your experience in finance
a great influence on your reasons for writing it?
After the 1987 stock market
crash, two things happened. First, my ex-wifewho was trading Japanese
Banker's Acceptances at Paine Webberwas given two hours to clear out
her desk and leave the building. Second, investors anticipated that the
Federal Reserve would lower interest rates to combat the imminent
recession. That afternoon, anyone who held bonds (such as Japanese
Banker's Acceptances) suddenly made a ton of money when interest rates
dropped. The economy had crashed and we were rolling in huge profits! It
wasn't until six years later that I realized this absurdity could be the
fuel for fiction.
When did your interest in
writing first develop?
In kindergarten I made my
first letterforms. I just tried to keep them between the lines. By second
grade I was taking it more seriously, learning to combine nouns and verbs
into full sentences. Adverbs soon followed.
I've been writing an average
of three hours a day for the past ten years. I believe the most important
thing a writer can do is make sure your work expresses all of your
personality, not just part of it. I denied my own sense of humor for
How important was it for you
to study a Creative Writing Course at San Francisco State University?
In order to break the rules,
you have to learn the rules.
Did you enjoy your recent trip
You have wonderful rain. The
drops are small and barely noticeable.
Are any of the characters in
the book based upon people that you have met in real life?
Every guy I used to work with
thinks he is the basis for Bombardiers' hero, Sidney Geeder. Not one of
them realizes they were the inspiration for minor or mundane characters.
Do you believe that vast
sums of money inevitably corrupts people?
Not just vast sums. It really
depends under what conditions money is earned. I define corruption as
being obsessed with money. Sometimes small sums are more destructive,
particularly if they are earned slowly by doing work you dislike. If you
acumulate wealth doing something you truly love, it isn't corrupting.
There is a lot of humour in
the book. How important is that?
The most beautiful noise in
the world is the sound of someone laughing. I love that sound.
Is Bombardiers likely to
become first of a series of books?
Absolutely. The first in a
long series of cantankerous rib-tickling novels, all exposing hypocrisy
and bureaucracy in the workplace. In 30 years, if you stack the books on
top of each other, they will make a nice nightstand.
Writing is a pretty good
business to be in. You can deduct from your taxes almost everything as
"research." Last week I bought a new pair of roller skates, and
just by mentioning them in this Q&A I effectively lower their price
36%. Also, if you write at home, the kitchen is never very far away.
When you first started writing
it, did you ever imagine it would be so well received?
No. Particularly because there
weren't any "novels of the workplace" that I could compare it
to. I'm hoping the money I've been paid will entice other novelists to
write angry, ranting novels about how much they hate their jobs. If enough
do it, then we would have a new genre, which I believe qualifies us for
our own section in a bookstore.
What have you got planned for
the rest of today?
I'm not very good at planning.
Thinking ahead makes me frantic and depressed, because inevitably I see
that there is a lot of work in my future.