The latest novel from Quogue’s Cristina Alger, The Banker’s Wife, will debut this July.
We caught up with Alger, who is about to embark on a 17-city book tour, about her new thriller – which was lauded as “a perfect blend of mystery, suspense, and betrayal” by Nelson DeMille and more.
As an East End resident, what does it mean to you to be able to present your book to the hometown crowd?
CA: It’s the best. I grew up out here so it’s always nice to see old friends and have an opportunity to meet new people. There’s nothing better than doing the events out here. They’re always my favorite to do.
And your 17-city national book tour will actually begin in the Hamptons.
CA: Yes, it will actually begin and end in the Hamptons. It comes out on Tuesday, July 3 and I have a signing in Sag Harbor at Harbor Books, which is one of my favorite bookstores, and then my last event we have on the calendar right now is at the Southampton Arts Center on August 27th.
Leading up to the launch, what’s it like to await the release?
CA: It’s really nerve-wrecking. I’m working on another book that will hopefully be out next summer so I just try to stay really busy and focused on the next project because it’s really out of my hands at this point. But it’s also fun. I’m starting to see people post about it online and a lot of the early reviews have come in. So it’s kind of fun to see excitement building behind the book.
Foreign rights have been sold in eight territories. Tell me a bit about that.
CA: My first book, The Darlings, did well in a number of foreign territories – in France and Germany and Poland. So we were really excited to bring this book in particular because so much of the book is set in Europe. It’s being published for the first time in the UK – I’ve never been published in the UK before so that’s really exciting. I think it’s just a fun international book. There are parts that are set in Paris and Geneva and London so I think hopefully it will have a broad audience across Europe and across the world. I’m excited to see it come out in all the different iterations.
What inspired the book?
CA: I’m sort of a financial crime junkie. I worked for a longtime as a lawyer and as a financial analyst so I became really interested in the Panama Papers case, where there was a data leak from inside a Panamanian law firm that was mostly responsible for setting up offshore bank accounts and an anonymous source, that’s still anonymous, sent a huge amount of data to a German journalist, resulting in the Panama Papers. I became really fascinated with that case and at the same time we were heading into the election and I was so fascinated with the vitriol between what is now our current administration and journalists that I thought it would be fascinating to write a political thriller in which a journalist is really seeking to undermine a political candidate. My interest in offshore banking was the catalyst.
With your Los Angeles Times-bestselling debut novel The Darlings, did you have the opportunity to tour the Hamptons?
CA: I did a few events out there. I’ve spoken at the Quogue Library every time I’ve written a book. That’s where my family has a house and I’ve been coming out to Quogue since I was a child. We did events in East Hampton, I did East Hampton Library’s Authors Night. The Darlings is set almost exclusively in the Hamptons so that was fun.
What drew you to the thriller genre?
CA: That’s what I read primarily. As I said, I have a legal background so I read a lot of legal thrillers and I’m a news junkie so I love stories that are ripped from the headlines and have some level of political relevancy. It’s really what I like to read and writing, for me, started out as a hobby when I was a lawyer. It was fun to write thrillers that are fast paced. It was a nice change from my daily life. That’s why I’ve continued to write them.
You mentioned you were working on another book. Would you be able speak a bit about that?
CA: It’s a book called Snowbird and it’s set out in Long Island. It’s actually not a financial thriller – it’s just a straight up thriller about a series of potentially serial murders that are interrelated. It’s more procedural than I’ve written before but I’m really having a lot of fun writing it, especially since it’s set out here. I’ve been doing a lot of running around, looking for crime scenes, taking a lot of photos. It’s been a joy.
Do you live out here year-round?
CA: We come out here pretty much all year-round, but we live in Manhattan and we come out on weekends and the summer. This is definitely my family’s happy place – so we come out as much as we can.
As an East End regular, what are some of your favorite spots and things to do when you’re in the area?
CA: We’re in Quogue, so our most favorite local spot is Dockers. Our kids will have dinner there anytime and I think it’s one of the most beautiful settings out here for dinner. We also love CowFish. We’re big outdoors people. We spend a lot of time on the beach, at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge. My kids are very into hiking and tennis and we’ve just started boating with them. They also love day adventures, so we go to farms on the North Fork. We take a day trip to Shelter Island to do some hiking out there, out to Montauk to see the Lighthouse. I’d say most of our activities revolve around having a 2 1/2 and 5-year-old – but we’re outdoors as much as possible.
Alger will be visiting Sag Harbor’s Harbor Books on Tuesday, July 3; East Hampton’s BookHampton in conversation with Alafair Burke on Thursday, July 5; at Quogue Library on Sunday, July 29; East Hampton Library’s Authors Night on Saturday, August 11, and Southampton Arts Center on Monday, August 27.
For more information, visit www.cristinaalger.com.