By Kristina Houck
Christopher Reich didn’t always want to be a writer. He studied economics at Georgetown University.
“The worst grade I ever got was a ‘D’ in financial security markets,” said Reich to a room full of people during the RSF Library Guild-hosted “Winter Author Talk” Jan. 15 at the Rancho Santa Fe Library. “So my first job was as a stockbroker.”
After three years as a stockbroker, Reich went on to study business at the University of Texas at Austin. Although he earned good grades, he didn’t land a job on Wall Street. His interview with investment bank First Boston took place a week after stock markets crashed on Black Monday in 1987.
So Reich went with his backup plan: the Union Bank of Switzerland.
He worked as an investment banker for a number of years, and then managed a watch company in Switzerland for five years.
“It was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Reich said.
His work inspired his first novel, “Numbered Account.” Released in 1998, the financial thriller sold more than 1 million copies.
“Everyone can write one book. I think all of us have one story in us, “ said Reich, who was born in Tokyo and grew up in Los Angeles. “But when you have to sit down afterward and start writing a book a year, or a book every 18 months for money, and it has to be good — that’s where the rubber hits the road.”
In 2000, he released his second book, “The Runner,” which is set against the backdrop of post-World War II Germany. Although it was a “New York Times” bestseller, it didn’t achieve the success his debut novel did.
“Anybody who’s smart … you stay with your genre,” he said. “Not me, folks. It came out with resounding silence.”
After his fifth book, “The Patriots’ Club,” was released in 2004 and “didn’t do that well,” Reich was informed that his publisher no longer wanted to publish him.
“I said, ‘Oh, that’s no problem. I wrote ‘Numbered Account.’ I’m sure anybody else is going to want to take my books.’”
There was a four-year gap between projects.
Eventually, he wrote “Rules of Deception,” the first book in a three-part espionage thriller series. Publishers wanted him again.
“It was gratifying,” he said. “You have your ups and downs, for sure, in this business. No one can guarantee what’s going to happen.”
Since his debut, Reich has authored nine books. His latest, “The Prince of Risk,” was released in December. The financial thriller is set in Wall Street, London and Shanghai.
His next goal? To have one of his books on the big screen.
Reich wrote a screenplay for “Numbered Account” and worked with a film producer for nine months before the producer pulled out of the project. Now, he’s working with another producer to adapt his third book, “The First Billion,” to film.
“I haven’t given up yet,” Reich said. “Sooner or later, it’s going to happen.”
For more information about Reich, visit christopherreich.com