Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?
Cristina Alger: I was working as a corporate attorney in the fall of 2008, when the book takes place. It was such a surreal time to live in Manhattan and work in finance; it felt as though every day there was news of another firm collapsing or dissolving in the wake of financial distress or scandal. I read a lot of nonfiction about that period, I think in an attempt to understand what was going on around me. I found that I was perhaps most curious about the personal side of the financial crisis, however: who were the people that were behind these scandals? What motivated them? How were their families affected? Writing "The Darlings" became for me a fun way of exploring those questions.
JG: What surprised you the most during the writing process?
CA: I heard the most amazing stories while researching this book. I talked to as many people as I could: lawyers, bankers, hedge fund managers, journalists, friends, family, the baristas at Starbucks, anyone who was living or working in Manhattan during the fall of 2008 who might be willing to waste an hour talking to me. When I started that process, I really just wanted to make sure that I got certain details right. I never expected to learn so much or hear such incredible stories about families, work, love, relationships, New York. It was so cool. I think I told at least 50 people that they ought to write a book themselves.
JG: What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?
CA: I imagine I'd still be practicing law.
JG: What else are you reading right now?
CA: I'm about to finish an advanced copy of "Gilded Age" by Claire McMillan (out in June). It's a wonderful modern adaptation of "House of Mirth." Claire McMillan is also a former lawyer/debut novelist, so I was thrilled to get my hands on an early copy. And I've just started "Unreal Estate" by Michael Gross. I always find his books entirely un-put-downable.
JG: What's next for you?
CA: I'm working on a second novel now. Between that and my wedding in May, I've got a busy spring ahead of me!
For more on "The Darlings" visit the Penguin Press website.