‘Bond Girl’ Author Erin Duffy Dishes on Her Debut Novel And Working in Finance
Duffy gives us the inside scoop on Wall Street antics, what’s next on her agenda, and why you should never, ever date a co-worker.
In recent years, most of us would only say the words “Wall Street” in public if there was a negative reference (or two) to go with them. But Erin Duffy, who spent about a decade working in fixed-income sales on the most controversial street in America, hasn’t let the naysayers stop her from penning her first novel.
Titled Bond Girl, the story follows the tough and ambitious Alex Garrett as she attempts to find her place among the industry’s heavy hitters…in Louboutins, of course!
Will Alex win over her super cute co-worker? Will she rise to financial fame and glory, even with a sleazy, misogynistic client? You’ll just have to pick up a copy of Bond Girl to find out! But in the meantime, we chatted with Duffy about sexism in the workplace, her own experiences in finance, and if women really run around in 4-inch heels all day.
You can call us sold.
Betty Confidential: Alex seems to have come face to face with a significant amount of sexism in the office –did you have similar experiences at some point in your own career?
Erin Duffy: I’d be lying if I said that I never encountered anything in my years in finance. It is an industry that is heavily weighted toward men, so you are going to have outliers who act inappropriately. What’s important is to remember that those people are not the norm, and to not let them make you start doubting yourself. They are just miserable little men who were never going to be on my Christmas card list anyway. Remembering that is key, otherwise I think it could breed insecurity that would be destructive.
BC: What’s your assessment of sexism and misogyny in the workplace in 2012? Is it as bad as what Alex must face?
ED: Look, sexism exists everywhere, in every industry, and Wall Street is no different. But no, I think women are treated pretty equally for the most part in 2012. I know there have been vast improvements since, say, the 1980s. Alex faces more than what most women have to endure starting out, but she handles it all the best she can, and I think that’s why people like her. Her ride wasn’t easy.
BC: How did you make the transition from Wall Street professional to novelist?
ED: It was difficult and I had a mini identity crisis at first. The truth is, I’m working on a second book and there was no way I could do that and continue to work in finance, so I had to make a choice. Writing is my dream –there was no way I wasn’t going to pursue it– so I retired from Wall Street to give it a shot.
BC: Who do you see as having that Alex-spirit?
ED: You might think this is strange, but I think Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman was very Alex-esque in spirit. She had some issues, and she recognized that, but she held her own in every situation she was put in and she was never afraid to stick up for herself. She was a fighter. I mean, is there anything better than when she goes back into the store to yell at the ladies who wouldn’t wait on her? That is definitely something Alex would do.
BC: Should we expect a Bond Girl sequel or movie at any point?
ED: I hope so! I’d love for Alex to return at some point, and it would be amazing to see her live on the big screen. I will keep you posted!
BC: What was the most difficult part about writing this novel?
ED: Separating myself from the character. I was very careful to not inject too much of myself or my former colleagues into the story. I didn’t want people to think they were reading my diary. I definitely struggled with staying detached to some degree.
BC: How much of Bond Girl is based on your experiences in finance?
ED: Perfect tie in to the previous question! Obviously, it’s based on my own experiences, so it would be impossible for me to write a story about that life and not draw on some of the things I witnessed first-hand. That said, this story is fictional, so not everything that is in the story actually happened, but it definitely could have. Some of the characters in the story have certain quirks or idiosyncrasies that I pulled from guys I used to work with, but no one is modeled after any one person in particular.
BC: Do you look back on your time in finance positively?
ED: Absolutely. I miss it. It was a wonderful place to work. It was a lot of fun, I made a lot of good friends, and I learned a lot. The stress was overwhelming at times, but I wouldn’t trade my years there for anything.
BC: If you wrote this book all over again would you do anything differently and why?
ED: That’s a good question. I honestly don’t think I would do anything differently. I put so much into this and was really thrilled with the way it came out, so it’s hard to look back and say that I would change things. I did throw around the idea of adding an epilogue at the end saying what exactly happened to all of the characters, but then I realized that tying it up like that wouldn’t leave any room for a sequel, so I omitted it. That was the only decision I struggled with, really.
BC: How long did this book take to complete and how did you stay motivated?
ED: It took me about eight months full time and then another two or three at night once I went back to work on Wall Street. Staying motivated was actually not a problem for me because I so wanted to tell this story. I had a lot of fun writing it and hoping that people would want to learn more about the people who work in finance. I wasn’t happy with the way the media was portraying everyone when the recession started, my experience was very different, and I wanted people to know that.
BC: Did the women in your office really run around in 4-inch heels all day?
ED: Oh absolutely! Don’t get me wrong-–we wore flats on occasion, too. We had to dress conservatively for obvious reasons, so footwear was the only way for us to have any fun with our appearance.
BC: What are the next steps for you in your writing career?
ED: I’m currently working on a second book! It is not a sequel, though I’m pretty sure Alex will return with more calamity in another part of her life. This book revolves around thirty somethings at the beach. It’s early yet but I’m having fun with it. I hope people will like the new characters as much as the old ones.
BC: What tips do you have for women who do want to enter into finance?
ED: There are a few things I would say. First, is to have a thick skin. You can’t be overly emotional or you will have a nervous breakdown. Second, be able to laugh at yourself. Everyone will mess up, everyone will have embarrassing moments, so laughing at yourself is essential. Lastly, I’d say to stay focused. It’s very easy to get distracted because of the socializing that is part of the job, and remembering that you are there to work and not play is important. Some people forget that at points along the way. P.S. I’d also suggest not dating a co-worker.
Diana Denza is a regular contributor to BettyConfidential.