Author Michael Lewis is coy about his next project.
But, she says during a video call from her home in Berkeley, Calif., “I’ll lift my skirt a little bit, but not much here.”
Then he gets more animated: “I don’t really want to reveal exactly what I’m writing,” he tells Financial News. “But I found a character that I can write through: it weirdly links Flash Boys, The Big Short and Liar’s Poker.
“I guess it might be framed as a crypto book, but it’s not going to be a crypto book. It’s going to be about this really unusual character. You’re going to learn all about crypto, and you’re going to learn what messed up the market structure in the United States, etc.
As is typical of Lewis’s non-fiction stories, the story will be character-driven.
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Aged just 29 in 1989, he made his debut with Liar’s Poker, which lifted the curtain on life as a young bond salesman on Wall Street and established Lewis as a celebrity in the financial world.
He’s had plenty of hits since, most notably The Big Short, the 2010 story of a half-dozen Wall Street insiders who piled bets against the U.S. real estate market before the global financial crisis.
For his latest book, he surprised himself by letting himself be won over by a character from the cryptocurrency industry. He says that at least once a year for more than a decade, “I’ve had a serious plea from some serious person within the crypto world to write about crypto.
“And I, with a diminishing degree of enthusiasm, have engaged with these people, thinking, ‘This seems to be somewhat important.’ Maybe there is something there. And it takes me about six hours to go cold and have no interest.”
That was until recently, when a mutual friend introduced him to a guy in the crypto industry. He declined to give more details about their identity, but said they just needed to take a walk together.
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“At the end of the walk, I was like, ‘Holy shit.’ All of a sudden, I was interested in cryptography,” he says.
“I became interested again in the financial structure, or the structure of financial markets, and the distribution of rewards within the financial system. And it was entirely because of the person.
“Interesting characters and interesting situations will generate a story for you. You don’t have to worry too much. Essentially, I’ll be on that person’s hip for the next year. I still don’t quite know what the story is.”
He’s also busy writing a script for a series on the AppleTV+ streaming service based on his 2008 Vanity Fair article about Cuban baseball players, in what could be his first foray into screenwriting. success.
“I am one of the biggest failures as a screenwriter in the world,” he jokes. “This is the sixth TV show I’ve sold. And I’m zero for five so far to get them on the air. And I’ve written a couple of movie scripts, one with someone else. Neither has been done.”
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His book-to-film adaptations, where he had little or no involvement, have a higher success rate. Oscar-nominated Moneyball and Oscar-winning The Blind Side and The Big Short were all Hollywood hits.
“People in the movie business, if they’re adapting a book, they’d much rather the author were dead,” he says.
“And you sense that. And you feel that they know what they’re doing. And if they don’t know what they’re doing, you shouldn’t sell them your book.”
Lewis says it’s “niche, but in everything.” For financial types, Lewis writes about finance. But he’s more prolific and doesn’t tend to stick to any one genre: many of his dozens of articles, podcast appearances and columns have nothing to do with finance.
Home Game was a 2009 riff on fatherhood. Playing to Win, a book he wrote for Audible in 2020, follows the rise of competitive youth sports in American culture.
His latest book, last year’s The Premonition, is about the US government’s misguided response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
He laughs at how he is often pigeonholed into genres. “I had an overly self-centered view of how my literary career would play out,” he says. “When I started, I knew I wasn’t a financial writer. Wall Street was an accident. I just started my life there.
“I thought of it as, ‘I’m going to go from the American realm of ambition to the American realm of ambition.’ I’m going to go from Silicon Valley to Washington to professional sports to the financial world. And then the public will follow me’”.
But that’s not how it turned out.
“It’s, ‘Oh, you write financial books,’ or ‘Oh, you write about sports,’ or ‘Oh, I love your book about psychologists.’
“They don’t know any other book. I didn’t think it would play out like this.”
A hearing with Michael Lewis will be in the August 15 edition of Financial News
To contact the author of this story with comments or news, email Trista Kelley