Sunday, September 4, 2022

Diane Cohen Schneider Interview - Andrea Hoffman Goes All In

Photo Credit: ©Gabriella Marks Photo

Diane Cohen Schneider grew up in Illinois but spent most of her adult life in Stamford, CT, with her husband and their three children. Her career as a Wall Street sales executive during the 1980s Go-Go years inspired Andrea Hoffman Goes All In, which is her debut novel. Today, she continues her love of finance through an Instagram account called @moneylikeuhmother. Seeking to re-pot themselves, Diane and her husband recently moved to Santa Fe, NM.


Greatest thing I learned at school
I confess to being a kid that loved school and I would cry on the last day before summer vacation. That said, the greatest thing I learned in school was nobody likes a know-it-all. Listen more than you talk.

My all-time favorite book
My favorite book is the children’s classic The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is the first book I remember being totally lost in and then telling everybody I knew to read it. I write adult fiction and my favorite book of non-fiction is Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis. Lewis has an amazing ability to make topics that most people would find dull, thrilling.

Has reading a book ever changed my life
When I was eleven, my 22 year old cousin saw me reading something like Nancy Drew or Cherry Ames, School Nurse and he said, “Stop reading baby books,” and threw me a paperback copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughter-House Five. I did read it and from then on, I saw myself as not a little kid anymore. I realized I could push myself to be smarter and do more.

When I was working on Wall Street, I would write down descriptions of the people in a meeting I was attending or a colorful phrase a trader would use. Years later, when the book and then the movie adaptation of Wolf of Wall Street came out, I realized that I had been there during that time and I had a very different story to tell. Luckily, I had saved all my old notes but before I could start writing, I had to teach myself how to write a novel! I started with books from the library and eventually took courses and workshops. I apologize to the many trees that were sacrificed as I wrote, printed out, and then destroyed draft after draft.

The most surprising thing I learned in creating my characters
The most surprising thing I learned was that in order to make my characters real people, I had to have the smart characters do dumb things sometimes and I had to make the evil characters show vulnerability on occasion. People aren’t one sided and characters that are too predictable aren’t relatable.

Writing behind the Scenes
Having a writing routine is very important to me to get my brain jumpstarted and the words flowing. Since my life doesn’t allow me to write five days a week at the same time, I substitute place as my most essential constant. I write in the public library. My mother was a librarian when I was growing up, so I spent many, many hours there and libraries are where I feel comfortable now. And I think being surrounded by books is incredibly inspiring. Once settled in, I start by re-reading the last writing I did. If this doesn’t spark me to continue, I’ll pick a word like “very” and put it into the search document feature so I can improve my word choices. If I find “she was waking very fast” (yawn) for example, I’ll change it to “she gobbled up the city blocks like they were peanut M & Ms.” And knowing I’ll be doing this fix later, allows me to write that first sentence and move on instead of interrupting my flow of ideas to get the perfect phrase. Usually this process, ends with me back in the mindset to continue my story. Writing something mediocre or even terrible is always better than looking at that judgmental blank screen.

What is the first job I ever had?
The first job I ever had- like millions of girls- was babysitting. It is amazing to me now that people entrusted their precious children to a thirteen year old.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
I was able to attend the Wimbledon tennis tournament in London. It was thrilling to be sitting in the stands of Centre Court watching the best players in the world. The famous strawberries and crème didn’t disappoint either!

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep?
I am going to confess that sleeping is my superpower. After turning off the light, I’m practically asleep before my head hits the pillow.

First Love?
I can cheat a little on the question and say that my first love has always been books but I’ll also give a shout out to Paul- a boy in my kindergarten class that I was mad about. We moved at the end of the school year so he was my first heartbreak as well.

The most horrifying dream I ever had?
Quite recently I dreamed that I was pregnant and the terror of knowing I had another 18 years of child rearing when my three kids are grown and about ready to have kids of their own had me waking up in a cold sweat.

What event in your life would make a good movie?
I was a sales executive on Wall Street in the 1980’s when women were few and far between. We worked hard and we played hard. I fictionalized and expanded those experiences as the plot of my novel so even if it doesn’t end up on the silver screen, I hope people think it makes a good read!

Andrea Hoffman is an overeducated, underemployed, and unmotivated recent college graduate--until an unexpected robbery blasts her out of her funk and into a job in the finance world of early-1980s Chicago. At first, it seems like a bad fit. But the world of finance has its own weird charm, and she grows increasingly fascinated by the strange language of trading, the complexity of the stock market, and her colleagues, who navigate it all with a ruthless confidence. Even though she has two strikes against her--Jewish and female--Andrea's quick wit and strong work ethic propel her into an actual sales job and her career takes off. But this is the Wall Street of the eighties, and along with making a lot more money, Andrea adopts a new, fast life of cocktails, cocaine, and casual sex. Drunk on her achievements, she gradually realizes that at some point, she's going to have to decide what success really means to her.
You can purchase Andrea Hoffman Goes All in at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you DIANE COHEN SCHNEIDER for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Andrea Hoffman Goes All in by Diane Cohen Schneider.