Georges Ugeux is a global financier by trade and at heart. He is the former head of the international group at the New York Stock Exchange and the founder of Galileo Global Advisors. He is a frequent blogger for The Huffington Post and Le Monde in Paris, and teaches financial regulation courses at Columbia Law School.
Mayra Calvani: Please tell us about The Flying Dragon and what compelled you to write it.
Georges Ugeux: I spent my entire life in international finance and was deeply shocked by the financial crisis. I wrote several “serious” non-fiction books on finance. Now is the time to expose the dark side of finance in a crime case. The novel was another way for me to express my feelings about the dark side of finance and I chose a young, Chinese woman as the leading detective (Instead of the men that usually dominate the world of finance).
M.C.: What is your book about?
G.U.: It is a mystery novel set in Hong Kong in the middle of the banking world. The head of derivatives of a large bank falls from a trading room window on the 22nd floor. The detective heading the investigation is a young, beautiful and determined woman, Victoria Leung. She is a Chinese women working for a UK firm and understands the world finance very well. Ramifications from mainland China add some spice to the plot.
M.C.: What themes do you explore in The Flying Dragon?
G.U.: Greed and arrogance in the financial world, passion, sexuality, power, politics and above all the value of people and their emotions. I look at the role of trading in China, homosexuality in the Chinese culture, Chinese relations with Hong Kong, the dark side of banking in general and the strength and vulnerability of Chinese women.
M.C.: Why do you write?
G.U.: I have written several non-fiction books on finance and really wanted to write fiction – so I could create and use my imagination. I let my mind drive the story and was able to share it with readers. It has been very gratifying and fun.
M.C.: When do you feel the most creative?
G.U.: When I am at home looking at our gorgeous view of New York City…or on a plane. It is an amazing feeling to really want to be in front of your computer to write.
M.C.: How picky are you with language?
G.U.: The reason I did not publish a novel earlier is because it is a very different way of writing. A novel is about feelings, people, imagination and memories. Writing correctly and elegantly is critical in order to properly express it with the reader.
M.C.: When you write, do you sometimes feel as though you were being manipulated from afar?
G.U.: Sometimes, in the sense that personal experiences play an undeniable role in a novel and the plot and/or characters can be dictated by childhood memories or “remote control” characters. However, those who know me recognize my “voice” in the novel – so I guess I did manage to remain myself.
M.C.: What is your worst time as a writer?
G.U. : The rereading and the editing process are fairly disciplined, tedious and precise. It is not always fun, but is critical to the reality of the story.
M.C.: Your best?
G.U. : The moment I decided on the outcome of the plot. I did not begin writing knowing the ending – it was a discovery!
M.C.: Is there anything that would stop you from writing?
G.U. : I am currently writing a non-fiction book on central banking and am already thinking about the next adventure of Victoria Leung. So, I guess, I am on a roll!
M.C.: What’s the happiest moment you’ve lived as an author?
G.U.: When I receive the first printed copy and started reading it…I was thrilled…It was so real.
M.C.: Is writing an obsession to you?
G.U.: It is a journey I enjoy very much. Writing has now become a way of expressing myself and since I am a blogger at LeMonde.fr (Paris) and Huffington Post, I write every week. That does not make it an obsession.
M.C.: Are the stories you create connected with you in some way?
G.U. : Yes, there are definitely some chapters in which the inspiration comes from personal experience. The most moving example was a conversation with the parents of the victim. I lost a child understand how it feels. I absolutely drew from that experience.
M.C.: Ray Bradbury once said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Do you agree?
G.U. : I only drink French and Italian wine with a meal. Never while writing!!!
M.C.: Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about you and your work?
G.U. : In preparation for this book, I decided it was time to have a personal website. I have included a lot of information, both professional and personal.
My blog in The Huffington post can be found here.