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Do you think business fiction is on the rise? What inspired you to take the leap?
I remember asking associates around my office one summer in the early 90’s before heading off to vacation in Vermont, if anyone knew of a novel, I said, “Nothing wrong with trashy either… that when I start reading it I just won’t be able to put it down.” I remember the comments. “No Roth? Heller? Fast for your getaway?” I said , “Not this year… something really fast… a page turner.” And one of my favorite copywriters who worked with me at the time said, “ I have just the book but you’re going to be bad company until you finish it because you won’t be able to get your nose out of the book.” And Kim was right! It’s the only book in my lifetime I read all through the night and into the next morning: The Firm by John Grisham.
It had a pacing I had never experienced before or after . It never quit… it’s like Secretariat on a tear. And of all the novelists whose work run a bit deeper, like Roth, the author who has travelled with me on more vacations… it was this Grisham’s book that, I said to myself, “When I write that great American novel could I write with Grisham’s tempo. And it was not only the pacing that hit me about this novel. It was how cinema graphic the book was. I remember saying to myself while reading all night long, “I can’t wait to see the movie.”
What struck me so is how Grisham changed for me the perception of the legal field. I thought working at a law firm was sober/ boring stuff until I read The Firm only to see it’s inners fly off the page. What drama and “sturm und dram that book has!” And using the ad world to tell my story, Mad Men putting the bar very high, I knew people would be expecting the drama and that I had to deliver on it above and beyond Grisham… whose world, by its nature appears to be more laid back. So THEMINEFIELDS had to be a story that would charge out of the gate and never quit. As Bryan Burrough’s has suggested in his Off The Shelf Column, “I’ve often wondered why there aren’t more strong works of fiction dealing with the business world in The Mad Men tradition.” One just surfaced all the way home.
He looked quite fragile, much the way I remembered his mother, Omie, looking when I sat with her the night she died twenty years earlier. “There is no clock here. I…um…need a clock,” Harry said. “Penn Medicine always had a clock I could see. Not in this…um…farkakt hospital!”
From an early age, Sam Spiegel single-mindedly pursued an entrepreneurial path that prepared him to transform a small-time ad agency into a regional powerhouse with national ambitions. A couple decades later, Sam had achieved almost everything he ever dreamed possible as the ad agency's rainmaker, fountainhead, and unflappable pursuer of success. One final goal remained: To consolidate his gains by attracting an international advertising conglomerate and cash out. That's when the nation is hit with the most unthinkable tragedy, and Sam begins to take stock of his own life, finding that he is growing weary of the relentless hunt. Unsatisfied in his marriage and embroiled in a mind-boggling professional crisis, everything Sam had achieved is put at risk.
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