AUTHOR Q&A: Dana Vachon

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When I meet Dana Vachon for coffee at a café in the West Village, he's wearing a suit. Not surprising, considering he worked on Wall Street for three years. In fact, everything about him indicates that he was bred for banking-from his calm blue eyes to his soothing, if formal, Connecticut accent. But behind his upper-crust facade, the 28-year-old has something other financiers don't: a sense of irony, which was helpful when he decided to expose the absurd world of Wall Street, Devil Wears Prada-style, in his debut novel, Mergers and Acquisitions.

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MC: This book is a thinly veiled account of your experience at J.P. Morgan. When did you know you were going to write it?

VACHON: The first day I was there. I felt like a kid in a candy store. People on Wall Street don't have senses of humor.

MC: Just how true to your life is it?

VACHON: Most everything in the book happened, but not necessarily to me and not in that order. For instance, one group really did once spend a million dollars taking their clients to Macchu Pichu.

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MC: What other over-the-top expenditures didn't make it into the book?

VACHON: Someone once spent $25,000 buying two courtside U.S. Open tickets for a client who complained that the corporate box didn't offer the sort of view he was after. That, however, is nothing compared to the $20 million given to Chase CEO Bill Harrison simply for buying J.P. Morgan. That's like giving the Navy Cross to the skipper of the Exxon Valdez.

MC: Speaking of bonuses, how much was your first one and what did you spend it on?

VACHON: They sent me $15,000 as a sign-on while I was still a senior at Duke. If I recall correctly, I spent that money principally on wine and rides on airplanes.

MC: It seems it wasn't your dream to work on Wall Street. How did you end up there?

VACHON: I think I was always expected to work on Wall Street, but I always wanted to write a novel. I had no skill at doing finance.

MC: Yet you were able to keep your job for three years.

VACHON: It was hilarious. If you take a job you're not fit for, you can't go in and be like, "Hey, I'm not competent." You have to pretend. I would go to these dinners and spend weekends with these people, just waiting for the men to come and kick me out at any moment, but they never came.

MC: Is anyone going to stop talking to you when this book is published?

VACHON: My father was quite disturbed by it. Also, the character Roger Thorne is an amalgam of my friends, but I modeled his voice after one specific guy. He called me and said, "Dude, this isn't going to hurt my marriage, is it?"

MC: If the book gets bought by Hollywood, who would you want to play you?

VACHON: Three words: Haley Joel Osment. Once he gets this DUI thing expunged, H.Jo's gonna be unstoppable.

Click here to purchase Mergers and Acquisitions by Dana Vachon.

Modern Family star Winter emancipated herself from her emotionally abusive "stage mother," Chrisoula Workman, in 2015, and was placed in the custody of her older sister, Shanelle Gray, in the meantime. "This is what she wanted me to do, and she pushed very hard for that and kind of put that in the forefront of her mind instead of what I wanted and what I needed," she told People about her mother. "And that was definitely hard, but I don't think that was the only issue." She also addressed the difficulty of growing up under the paparazzi's gaze: "It's really hard to have that kind of drama in your life and to be going through that tough situation and have an open court case and have everyone look at it, because it's already hard enough for abuse victims, but it's harder in the public eye when everybody has an opinion," she explained.
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