Writing a Blockbuster First Novel

Sunday, January 9th, 2022

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What Happens Next is a podcast where an expert is given just SIX minutes to present his argument. This is followed by a Q&A period for deeper engagement.

Today’s topic is Writing a Blockbuster First Novel.

Our speaker is Jay Newman.


Larry Bernstein:

Welcome to What Happens Next.

My name is Larry Bernstein.

Today’s discussion is Writing a Blockbuster First Novel.

Our speaker is my good friend Jay Newman who has been a long-standing member of my book club.

Jay retired from the Elliott hedge fund after working there for many years. Jay is well known in the industry for his litigation victory against Argentina where he successfully defended bondholders after Argentina defaulted on their debt.

Jay has written his first novel about a crooked hedge fund manager. The chatter from the publishing industry literati is that it will be a blockbuster.

I want to learn from Jay how he pulled that off.

I also want to understand his creative process, that led to his novel entitled Undermoney.

Jay, please take it away.


Jay Newman

Topic: Writing your First Novel
Bio: Former Hedge Fund Manager at Elliott
Reading: Undermoney is here

I spent over 20 years in the hedge fund world, essentially chasing deadbeat countries that didn’t want to pay what they owed. I occasionally wrote op-eds describing what it took to chase down Argentina, the Congo or Peru to make them pay back what they owed. And when I retired, I thought it would be fun to write a book of non-fiction about my experience.

But I realized that I could accomplish more if I fictionalized it. My idea for a novel centered around a military guy that I knew from my days at Morgan Stanley. He was special-ops, an intelligence guy, who was a true American patriot. His name was Don like the hero of my new novel Undermoney.

Don described to me the interplay between finance, military tactics and foreign policy. I started the novel with my protagonist Don Carter who wanted to change the world. He doesn’t like how the military is run, politics are practiced and the corruption that’s inherent in money, politics and policy.

I started thinking about the ways that the Don character might change these things and his challenge is that he needs money to support his political candidate. He puts together a team of his former military colleagues to help him: An active service general, an aspiring politician, and a young woman who is the other hero in the book who is an undercover agent.

And their big idea is to take over the world’s largest hedge fund to fund their guy’s election campaign. And what they discover is that the targeted hedge fund is corrupt and engages in nefarious activities. And that’s the underlying premise of the book.

Jay Newman Q&A:

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