Novelist, entrepreneur, hedge funder and chief investment officer.

A Stab at Fiction

Andreas Clenow | Dec. 17, 2021, 11:38 a.m.

Inside Every Non-Fiction Author, there is a Fiction Author Trying to get out

When I wrote my first book a decade ago, I didn't expect it to get much attention, or sales. I was in the wrong country, of the wrong nationality, I had shunned social media and was nearly invisible on the internet. On top of these obstacles, I tried out a whole new style of writing trading books.

It was quite shocking when I saw that book take off and hit the number one slot on the international best seller lists. The best part of this was the doors it opened and the people I got to meet and hang out with.

Back in the 90's, when I started trading, I read all the usual books at the time, by and about the top traders in the world. These people were rock stars to us young traders. And because of my book, a couple of decades later, I started finding myself hanging out with them over a dinner and drinks or sharing a stage at a conference. Back in 2019, when the world still had conferences, I was sitting by one of two tables up on a stage, signing books for a few hundred people. At the other table was someone featured in the original Market Wizards.  That made me pause and think.

My first book was meant to be a once-off, but it was simply too much fun to just stop. I followed up with my second books on stocks, and that too sold really well and got translated into eight languages. My third book was quite technical, explaining how to use Python for backtesting financial models. That's a really narrow topic and now I was expecting quite low sales. To my surprise, Trading Evolved outsold both my previous books.

Most authors had at least one commercial or critical failure. I've been incredibly lucky to avoid that fate. I'm having fun writing the books and I'm having fun traveling the world to talk about them at conferences and events. I'll probably keep writing for as long as it's fun.

A few years ago I was speaking at a conference in New York, when someone during the Q&A session asked me if I make a lot of money from my books. My personal brand of humor being somewhat of an acquired taste, I deadpanned "To my knowledge, the only way to make serious money from books is to write about vampires, wizards or bdsm, and sadly I lack sufficient experience in either topic."

I figured it would be clear which three books I was referring to, in particular that last one which was annoying in the news all the time back then. But of course, my attempt at a joke fell flat and the room got dead quiet, and now I'm the weird European who just said that word on stage, in a recorded presentation... Oh well.

Inside Every Non-Fiction Author, there is a Fiction Author Trying to get out

If I had a penny for every time someone told me that they're writing a novel, I would have... a lot of pennies. Writing a non-fiction book is fairly easy. If you know your subject matter, you just write down your thoughts. That's why I picked an informal style of writing for my trading books. That way, I can type fast, by simply writing it as if I'm sitting across the table, explaining things to the reader.

Writing a novel is a whole different thing. There's practically nothing in common with writing as simple as a trading book, and attempting an actual novel. It took a few years and it took a lot of time and effort. But now it's finished, ready for the judgement of the readers.

I knew that I had a nearly inexhaustible supply of absurd anecdotes and experiences after a few decades in high finance, but I have no interest in compromising anyone out there, naming names and writing narrative non-fiction. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't do that as well as Turney Duff already did.

What I have written is a work of fiction. One which will introduce you to a very real high finance world, a place with rules of its own. A place that very few are ever admitted into, ever allowed to visit.

My novel plays out over a single week, in the financial center of the Zurich Old Town. It follows an American expat, a disgraced hedge fund manager who found the perfect place to set up his little family office. It was a great place to lay low, a place where no one cared about his past, a place where he could be a big fish in a small pond. Until she showed up. Until that Monday morning meeting that would change everything.

They say that you should write what you know. This is a world that I have lived and breathed for decades. And if you let me, I'll take you on a ride and give you a tour of my world.