Michael Lewis is a financial journalist and author, whose bestselling books include The Big Short and Boomerang. In an exclusive interview for the Penguin Blog, the author talks about writing Flash Boys, a thrilling exposé of high frequency traders in the finance industry.

How did you become aware of the story told in Flash Boys?

The term of art “high frequency trading” began to appear in the newspapers for the first time circa 2009. I asked a few professional investors if they could explain it to me. They couldn’t. But one of them said “there is the guy named Brad Katsuyama who explains this stuff better than anyone.” Brad led me to the others.

How did you immerse yourself in the world of high frequency trading?

I didn’t. I interviewed a bunch of people who worked, or had worked, at HFT firms but they were mostly terrified of seeing their names in print. My view into high frequency trading was opened by the Flash Boys characters who were not themselves high frequency traders, but people trying to divine HFT’s effects.

What were the challenges in writing the book? FlashBoys jacket

The complexity of the subject.

Which authors do you like to read?

I have a weakness for English comic novels. I’ll read anything by John Lanchester.

Has the publication of Flash Boys had the desired effect?

I’ll let you know in five years.

What stories are you currently interested in exploring?

I’ve found that the minute I start talking about the stories I’m interested in exploring I lose interest in exploring them.

Flash Boys, published by Allen Lane, is out now. 

Want to hear more from the author? Michael Lewis will be talking at the Southbank Centre at 7pm on 9 April. Book tickets.


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