Denison Hatch on Wall Street, quantitative programming and controlling the world through technology

IR Sticker IR ApprovedFlash Crash received a 4+ star review, making it an IndieReader Approved title.

Following find an interview with author Denison Hatch.

What is the name of the book and when was it published?

Flash Crash by Denison Hatch. It will be published for paperback and Kindle on April 13th, 2016.

What’s the book’s first line?

David Belov was late for work. He’d never been tardy before, but that wasn’t why he was so damn scared. He stood quietly inside the subway car, attempting to display zen while every synapse in his brain burned red hot. Doing his best to stop the fear inside from gurgling up and entering the world, David reminded himself that he just needed to keep it together for a few more hours—one more trading session.

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch”.

Flash Crash is an electrifying technothriller and heist mystery about a quant programmer who is blackmailed into writing an algorithm that will intentionally crash the gold market. David Belov discovers that his virtual “Flash Crash” was simply a required stepping stone towards the largest physical gold robbery in history, and that’s he’s been framed for the resulting chaos, the lives of his beloved wife and son on the balance. With Detective Jake Rivett and the NYPD’s finest operators from the Major Crimes Division actively seeking to locate and arrest David, and other, darker elements nipping at his heels, David is forced to confront his own past in order to have a future.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

This novel began when I first learned about the job of a “quantitative programmer” on Wall Street. When most people think about Wall Street—myself included—I’m pretty sure they imagine the blue-blood, Ivy League-type. And I went to Cornell. I knew a lot of those guys. But what fascinated me much more than them was the fact that computers were starting to eat everyone’s lunch. And big firms, and small secretive ones too, were no longer as interested in hiring the same old people that they used to hire. Now they were hiring PhDs, mathematics, and computer science majors.

The reason for this is that trading has become much more complicated than, as one of my characters says in the book, “Luck, spit and a handshake.” But the thing is that change doesn’t come easily, and the old hierarchy still reigned inside many banks. So you have these people, the quants, who are sort of like second-class citizens inside their institutions. But they were also critical to the bottom line of the bank. And you can imagine they might start getting mad about it…

So what I decided to do was set that up as the opening premise of my novel. The ultimate question is: What would happen if a quantitative programmer went into his own bank one day, and he was a guy who got picked on all the time, and he decided—on this day—he was going to use an algorithm he’d written and intentionally crash the gold market?

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book?

One cannot escape discussion of the “Internet of Things” in the current day, with Nest devices advertised at every Home Depot, refrigerators that tell you when you’re out of milk, and entire municipal systems controlled by computers from both central and “cloud-based” locations. And this is just the beginning. In ten to fifteen years, cars will also have joined the massive, interconnected world and the quaint “real world” that our parent’s generation grew up in will eventually be one that looks quite foreign to the socio-physical environment of the future. A recent study by Business Insider indicates that IoT-connected devices will continue to double every eighteen months for the foreseeable future. And as they do, they will permeate throughout every instance of our life—from the food we eat, to the way we travel and communicate, and all the way to commerce and the money we use on a daily basis.

With Flash Crash, we attempted to attack the reality of this new twist in the modern zeitgeist head-on. The book is all about controlling the real world through technology—and doing that within a heart-pounding, thriller form. David is a quant who has pulled himself up by the bootstraps at every stage in life. After David is coerced into causing a crash in the gold market and framed for the resulting chaos, he must clear his name. This eventually leads David to literally hack a soda machine in order to create a Trojan horse which will lead him—and his compatriots—into an inaccessible vault buried under four stories of impenetrable granite and completely controlled by computers.