7 July 2021. One could not say that Markus Will’s career has followed any sort of traditional path. At the start of his academic career, he studied economics, wrote his doctoral thesis on the German Currency Union of 1990 and later received his habilitation at the HSG on the topic of value-based communications management. Today he is a partner at goodwill communications, serves as vice director of the Institute of Institute for Public Finance, Finance Law and Law and Economics (IFF-HSG) and is a permanent lecturer at the University.
Paying the bills
As a student in Germany, Will parlayed his understanding of economics and finance into becoming a free-lance business reporter to financially support his studies. Over the years, he worked as a business consultant, a director of communications, a journalist and an editor in the USA, the UK, Germany and for the last 23 years, in Switzerland.
For the last ten years, Will has added the title “novelist” to his resume. His fourth book, “Die Dark Bankerin”, published earlier this year in German and later in English, is a crime novel set in the not-so-distant past and injects economic topics as part of the plot.
“One common thing I have done in my career, whether it was as a student, a lecturer or a consultant is write. That is something that has been a connecting capability throughout my life,” said Will. He notes that there are some similarities and differences between academic writing and fiction and they are not as different as one might think. His compared them to American football and English rugby. “The two sports come from the same origin, but they quickly grew in different directions as they developed.”
The starting block
“Whether you are writing a thesis or a book, you have to start with an index and an outline, at least in my view. Based on your “research question”, be it for a novel or a paper. You need to organize your thoughts in such a way that there is a logic to them. That’s the heart of everything. I keep telling this my students, when they come to me for writing their Bachelor or Master Thesis.”
The one thing that Will always enjoyed with writing is research. He finds delving into a topic and discovering new ideas exhilarating. For example, his last academic study, together with Katarina Stanoevska and Vera Lenz from the MCM Institute, looked at the future of science journalism. One challenge that cannot be undervalued in academic writing is the struggle to take what you have written and getting it published and presenting it to colleagues at conferences. This pressure is not something that Will misses and why he does only very little academic writing in these days.
The biggest difference between the academic writing and fiction writing for Will is the use of language. He notes that academic writing can be complex and boring, but fiction has to entertain and inform, ideally simultaneously. Will credits his work as a journalist as a gateway to bring academic topics to the forefront in his fiction.
All of Wills novels are a hybrid – they are crime novels that are heavily involved with economic topics, which are referred to as “ecotainment” a mix of economics and entertainment.
The development of a novel
Will’s fiction writing normally follows a standard process. “What is important to me, what I find stimulating are financial and economic topics. In the end I use characters and plot to explain these topics. They are fictional but the economic and financial topics that I explore are not.”
In “Die Dark Bankerin” Will started with Banking, Brexit, and Bitcoin. He thought about why economists are hesitant to embrace Bitcoin. He then started a bit of researching AI and machine learning and sexrobitics. “While this is out of my area of expertise, I learned a lot in a short period of time.”
Thus, he put together a good-looking human robot and smart and safe digital money. Once he has these topics flushed out, he thinks about the fictional part – the crime. He then strives to find a way to bring these worlds together. “When my research is done, and I have a plot – a murder, a crime, a plan, then I move on to the writing process.”
Will expects that “Die Dark Bankerin” is the first in a trilogy of novels that will be written in the next few years. How the world of finance, economics and money develops in the next few years will definitely influence what twist the story takes. “And this, sorry, `damn´ virus and its infection of both life and work will be a big issue in the next book.”
Love, lust, and passion interwoven with banks, Brexit and Bitcoin. The business crime novel and thriller "Die Dark Bankerin" is the latest book by Markus Will.