Growing up a distant cousin of Kurt Vonnegut and going to Harvard didn’t make him a novelist, but 15 years immersed in the cut-throat culture of Wall Street drove Norb Vonnegut to the pen. The stock broker turned writer, who worked at Kidder, Peabody in Providence 20 years ago, is now settled in Rhode Island and just released his third novel, “The Trust.” The thriller is about a network of financial criminals involved in adult entertainment who hide behind the Catholic Church and infiltrate a wealthy family.
The world of high finance is the backdrop for all of Vonnegut’s novels and when he isn’t writing or promoting a book he is commenting or blogging about Wall Street. Now with a successful fiction franchise, Vonnegut has no desire to go back to money management. He’ll be talking about “The Trust” at the Brown University Bookstore Sept. 20.
PBN: What triggered the decision to abandon wealth management and start writing thrillers?
VONNEGUT: I would like to tell you that there was a pivotal point in my career, but I think my decision was more evolutionary than instantaneous. In my family we have always been storytellers and I have told stories all my life. I built my business at Morgan Stanley by telling stories to clients about securities and the things that happened on Wall Street. And many of them found it riveting. I was writing newsletters and using it as a way to build business and a Harvard classmate after a reunion panel said [I] should think about writing. But the bigger thing that was that, as a writer, I deal with the same questions I did in financial services. … What is different is I am trying to create a roller-coaster thrill ride for families to read at the beach.
PBN: When you start a book, are you starting with an experience or character from your time in finance, or do you start with an idea and use the details from your experience to fill it in?