Cristina Alger, 32, has achieved more professionally than most people can dream of: an undergrad degree from Harvard, followed by a gig at Goldman Sachs, then New York University for law school, capped off with a stint as a bankruptcy lawyer at a white-shoe firm.
All of her high-profile accomplishments led up to the most recent addition to her resumé: author.
Her novel, The Darlings, about a privileged New York family who are ensnared in a Madoff-esque Ponzi scheme, is out now.
Alger talked to Metro about how, even though she is now a novelist, she still has a hard time saying it.
What is it about rich people that makes them such good material for writers?
It’s funny, I was much more taken with the themes of family loyalty and the universality of those themes than just the wealth of The Darlings. But I do think it’s more enjoyable to watch such themes play out in prettier settings.
Did you find it difficult to tackle the financial and legal themes in The Darlings in an approachable manner?
I did. I sent [drafts] to non-lawyer and non-finance friends to see if it resonated with them. I find white-collar crime interesting, but it can be really dry on the page.
So, do you call yourself a novelist now?
For a while, the long answer was, “I was a lawyer but now I’m working on a book.”
It’s taken me a little while to get my head around the fact I’m now a professional writer. It’s a profession I sort of baby-stepped into.
I was writing while I was working a bazillion hours a week as a bankruptcy attorney. But once I started with my agent, I started thinking about it as a full-time occupation.
The downside? You now get a writer’s paycheck.
[Laughs] Yes, but it pays in other ways, though! I get a lot more sleep, and it’s a lot more fun.