Married; children: three sons (triplets).
Writer, manager, and financial professional. Lehman Brothers, manager of global credit.
Wall and Mean (novel), W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2007.
Novelist Tom Bernard is a former Wall Street financial professional who served as the head of global credit for Lehman Brothers. Fully immersed in the rigors of the financial industry, Bernard often spent upwards of ninety hours a week at work. This grueling pace, while lucrative, "left little time for family, much less writing a novel, his dream since he was a teen," noted a contributor to BusinessWeek. Bernard also felt the pressure of family demands, including the needs of his triplet sons, one of whom suffers from autism. To create time for pursing his writing dream, Bernard struck an agreeable compromise with Lehman Brothers, reported the BusinessWeek writer. He would not quit Wall Street entirely, but would ease away from his full-time management position to take up less time-intensive positions serving on investment committees and working on private equity deals. This arrangement carved out a nearly full-time writing niche for Bernard, who was then able to spend up to thirty-five hours a week writing, stated the BusinessWeek contributor.
The result of this hard-won writing time is Bernard's debut novel, Wall and Mean, a thriller based in the financial world that offers a meditation on what happens when Wall Street meets the mean streets of crime and corruption. Protagonist George Wilhelm is a recent college graduate whose position at the Emerging Markets desk of City Trust Bank puts him at the bustling core of the immensely lucrative futures market. Financially successful and professionally fulfilled by his challenging position, Wilhelm thrives at the center of the controlled chaos of futures trading. Along with his job success, however, comes a darker obsession with gambling. Soon, Wilhelm's gambling debts mount so high that even his already very high salary cannot cover them. In debt to bookies in the amount of some 25,000 dollars per week, Wilhelm is soon menaced by a pair of brutal thugs who have bought the contract for his gambling debts and want their money immediately. To drive home their point, the two enforcers force Wilhelm to accompany them as they pay a violent visit to another of their "clients" who is having trouble paying his debts.
Terrified and intimidated, Wilhelm concocts an intricate plan to manipulate one of his investment accounts, "finessing the market trade on a timeline that will allow him to take what he needs without getting caught," noted reviewer Luan Gaines on the Curled Up with a Good Book Web site. As the scheme unfolds, Wilhelm takes greater and greater risks to deceive and outwit his bosses and his coworkers. Desperate, Wilhelm finds himself increasingly in the company of the criminals he fears and despises, even as he works feverishly to save his career, his relationship with his fiancée, and even his life. "For stock aficionados, the novel may be more enticing, for the discussion of the market and the fine art of futures trading as well as George's clever manipulation of the numbers," commented Gaines.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
BusinessWeek, July 9, 2007, "And Now for That Dream Job," profile of Tom Bernard.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2007, review of Wall and Mean.
Publishers Weekly, March 5, 2007, review of Wall and Mean, p. 41.
Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (November 27, 2007), Luan Gaines, review of Wall and Mean.