"The gold standard for financial thrillers."
*Publishers Weekly starred review of Top Producer
HANK: Coming up: Hornet Gak.
But first: Financial sharks take on a whole new meaning in Norb Vonnegut's acclaimed debut thriller. Let me just give you a hint: it begins with a gala party at the Boston Aquarium. And a certain large fish is no longer hungry at the end of the evening.
But swimming with the fishes is not what's on Norb's mind today. The female mind--if there's such a thing--is what's on his mind.
And also, Norb says:
Hornet GakTo be brutally frank, I have an ulterior motive for being here.
For my next novel, I’m collecting words and expressions that only women use.
No guy, for example, ever says, “She’s adorable.” My buddies would hoot if they heard me say, “too cute,” particularly in reference to knee-high boots. Hank sent me an e-mail, signed it “xoxo,” and observed, “There’s another one, right?”
See what I mean?
Will you comment with a few expressions unique to women, as I recount what is perhaps the most horrific author experience of all time? I’ll send a free copy of my Wall Street thriller, Top Producer, to the person who submits the best word or phrase. (The contest ends at 11:59 pm on Friday, November 20.)
What about the author horror story?
In fact I was not a published author that Sunday morning during August 2007—just hopeful as I worked through my literary agent’s redlined edits of Top Producer. I heard an odd, semi-rhythmic clicking just over my desk, annoying as all hell. It sounded like dripping water, but it wasn’t raining outside.
Get ready for an “ewwh” moment.
I tapped the slanted ceiling over my desk, gently at first, nothing too aggressive. To my surprise the wallboard split, and hundreds of insect legs poked through the crack.
That’s when I decided to suck out with a vacuum cleaner. It worked great at first. The bugs made a pleasing and fairly regular “thump” sound as they barreled into the canister.
The calm before the storm.
A chunk of the wallboard gave way, though, and a thousand "bald-faced hornets" swarmed into my office. These yellow jackets sting repeatedly, not just once. They're vicious. When they sting, they leave a scent—a homing device for their brethren to attack the same spot. I got lucky. The hornets didn’t sting me once.
Even so, you could hear me screaming all the way to Boston.
With the yellow jackets buzzing everywhere, I ran from the room and slammed the office door shut. Using a rolled-up towel, I sealed the crack under the door so the hornets could not strafe the rest of the house.
An exterminator—a guy in a Hazmat suit fresh off the set of Ghostbusters—arrived several hours later with two tanks of poison strapped to his back. There was a pitched battle, man versus insect, winged carnage everywhere. And a three-by-three section of wallboard collapsed over my desk, exposing the mother lode of all nests.
There is no word in the English language that adequately describes the fallout. I'll go with "gak." Hornet gak–writhing wasps, wriggling slugs, and grey catacombs oozing with white maggoty larvae gasping their last breath–crashed onto Top Producer.
The gak buried my agent's redlined edits, his meticulous markings and thoughtful suggestions for improving the story. The gak dealt Grove O’Rourke, my fictional hero, a major setback in his quest to help a widow find her missing fortune.
I took one for the team, rolled up my sleeves, and fished the be-gakked manuscript from the slime. Things got safer, I’m pleased to report, post publication. There are no trace elements of hornets anywhere in the hardbound copy of Top Producer, just a few sharks.
When’s the last time you heard an author describe writing as a life-and-death experience?
Norb says he'll stick close to his computer today--isn't that--adorable? What a sweetheart, I mean, OMG. Cutie-pie. ;-)
He also told me a great story about his most embarrassing moment as a newly published author, so I convinced him to confess it to you, too. So come back tomorrow to hear all--and Norb will announce the winner of the free Top Producer during halftime of the Harvard-Yale game. (Shall we make a list of things only men would say?)
**NORB VONNEGUT is a wealth adviser who writes about Wall Street’s behavior behind the headlines. His first novel, Top Producer, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. He is now editing The Fund, a thriller scheduled to print in the winter of 2010-2011. Norb built an extensive career with Morgan Stanley, Paine Webber, and other Wall Street institutions. His author’s website is http://www.norbvonnegut.com/. His blog, Acrimoney, has non-fiction insights into today’s financial news.