Nyla Nox is the author of, Graveyards of the Banks – I did it for the money; here is a link to her Amazon page:
Q: What is Graveyards of the Banks about?
A: Graveyards of the Banks is a trilogy about a jobless humanities graduate who falls into a dark, secret world working on the graveyard (=midnight) shift producing graphics for the Most Successful Bank in the Universe. Nothing has prepared her for an environment that is so hostile to human life. The bankers treat her like the dirt beneath their shoes and fight each other for nightly survival. Her supervisors subject everyone to nightly public humiliation. But she desperately needs the money, after her many debts accumulated through a life ‘following her dreams’.
The book follows Nyla and her fellow workers as she discoveres the dirty secrets inside the Most Successful Bank in the Universe. It’s even inside a building with no name…
Set in the city of London, mostly during the hours of night time…
‘Graveyards of the Banks’ tells one of the core myths of the 21st century, a kind of ‘reverse LOTR’ starting out in Mordor in the City, and like LOTR it is the story of a small person who stumbles inadvertently and very reluctantly into the dark heart of a terrible world. No rings or Orcs involved though.
Q: What inspired you to write it?
A: I realised that I knew, from the inside out, a world that most people have never seen.
My own creative dreams were broken, too when I first joined the Bank and I saw so much suffering and pain among my co-workers. I also saw what caused it and the toxic system this world runs on.
I wanted to tell people that it’s not the little bankers who are evil, they are responding to a brutal system that dehumanises them and us. But they ARE being groomed to become the Masters of the Universe, of all of us.
I also wanted to write a novel about the workplace that takes this environment seriously. Not an office comedy but a literary (but very readable) novel. After all, many of us spend most of our lives at work.
And I think this is excellent material for the Big 21st Century Tragedy.
Q: What kind of job did you have in the banking industry?
A: I worked on the graveyard shift at one of the most powerful investment banks on this planet for seven years. Like Nyla, I created high end graphics to killer deadlines in order to illustrate the Bank’s version of the world. Like Nyla, I had no idea what was going on in there before I joined and like most non-bankers I didn’t realise that these banks really do rule everyone’s world.
Our jobs are tough: 8 hour night shifts with no breaks, constant stress and needless repetitions, and extreme corporate bullying and intimidation. I wanted people to know about all this.
Q: Why do you think people don’t fight back against the banks very often?
A: That’s a really good question.
I believe ‘ordinary’ people think there is no chance they will win, and they also think that somehow investment banking is difficult to understand (it isn’t, that’s all propaganda).
Generally, we are incredibly under-educated about economics and probably a little bit afraid of it. Which is a shame because it lets the banks to whatever they want. Economics is actually a really interesting subject, if you get away from the ridiculous ideologies that most bankers learn in business school.
Ask yourself: what is the purpose of the economy?
It’s to enable us to create our lives and organise our society as best we can. It is here to serve us, not the other way round.
Right now, most people are and see themselves as decoupled from the Masters of Finance and feel hopeless.
So I’m trying to empower people through my book: look, see what life inside the Most Successful Bank in the Universe is really like!
Q: What is your opinion of the media’s coverage of banking scandal over the last ten years or so?
A: The coverage is sensationalist and portrays the bankers as greedy toddlers. That is very simplistic and there is little real analysis.
But the decades of propaganda portraying bankers as a superior species are still paying off for them. The media is incredibly toothless when it comes to demanding consequences for crimes and damage committed by the banks. They seem to accept the status quo as ‘nothing to be done about it’. Just maybe a little bitching about our masters.
The media also largely still buy into the idea that investment bankers are smarter and deserve their success because of their superiority. That, of course, reflects the propaganda by the banks who style themselves as our rightful leaders because they are superior to the rest of us. I saw this cult of ‘leadership’ up close and it is very ugly.
In fact I think that the ‘leadership cult’ is one of the most dangerous ideologies around.
But mostly, the media treat banking scandals like personal horror shows – and of course, the banks always get away with it. There is a kind of sneaking admiration for that.
I’m sure it doesn’t help that most media are dependent on the banks in some way…
Q: What are some examples of the horror stories we will read about in the book.
A: Oh where to start…
The shift workers in the graphics center (a Center of Global Excellence as we were always told) are on ‘limited hours’ contracts which means that they can be cancelled any time (‘don’t come in we don’t need you tonight’), and also fired any time (‘don’t come in at all any more’) and no reason has to be given. Both of this happened very frequently.
In addition, they are subject to regular ‘short shifting’ – whenever the workflow dries up, they are sent home without pay, often at 4AM or 6AM. They also have to sign a contract that forbids them to work anywhere else.
And of course there’s the annual ‘cull’ – a fixed percentage of workers company wide must be fired. Up to 25%. Yes. Really true.
The environment on the working floors of those glamorous, very rich banks is very unpleasant. Desks huddled close together, overflowing with papers, dirty towels drying on chairs, filthy kitchens with overflowing garbage bins, broken air conditions (we used to call it ‘Siberia’), people forced into very close physical contact when the junior bankers hadn’t been home for 20 hours… Sometimes the bankers sleep underneath their desks and Nyla gets tripped up while running to the toilet.
Worst of all are the nightly humiliations. Nyla and friends have to endure public recitations of their mistakes and personal flaws by a quality control department that acts like the secret service. Their shiftleaders on the graveyard shift have absolute power over us because the managers are invisible and asleep.
Petty, cruel rules affect Nyla’s well being and your health.
And then the bankers run in and shout. You can hear them in the distance, like constant gun fire…
Q: What is your dream job and what have you done to make it happen?
A: Right now my dream job would be to be a full time writer.
What am I doing to make this happen?
I’m investing everything that I don’t need to eat and sleep somewhere into my books. I write as much as I can. Sometimes it all gets too much and I give up for a while. Then I get up and fight again.
I’m going to publish all my novels bit by bit and I will try to make my dream come true. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to afford to write full time again. But I will write as much as I can.
However, I will always be poor, of course. That’s the way our society is organised. I’ll never earn even a fraction of what the bankers earn. Neither will most of your readers.
Q: A lot of actors and artist who ask me for interviews do not want to admit that they have day jobs; why do you think this is?
A: Really? That’s very interesting. I need to think about this…
I’ve been moderately successful as a writer (still hoping for more of course…) but like most writers I don’t earn enough to make a living, not even a bad one…
The only reason I can think of is that when I was writing my books (before the first one was published), people often subjected me to stern questions: ‘Are you published?’ ‘Do you live on your writing?’ and when I said, no, not yet, they sometimes called me an ‘amateur’.
But then the same people got very angry when they saw my first book in the book shop. So why try to please them? I suppose being an artist is still thought of as a very privileged position, and therefore we have to show our credentials. But, see above…
Maybe artists feel that the mark of ‘professionalism’ is to be able to live on your art but for many of us, particularly writers, that is not possible. Many famous writers from the past had a ‘day job’ although they might have called it something else.
If that is the reason, it’s really sad. I know very good writers who will probably never make a living from what they write, including, of course, almost all poets.
Q: What have you done to publicize your book?
A: Oh dear. I would so much rather just write…
But actually I do quite a lot.
When volume 1 ‘Graveyards of the Banks – I did it for the money’ first came out, I was invited to write articles in publications like ‘Business Insider’ and I was interviewed in UK media. Most of this was the result of my own marketing efforts.
I try to get reviews and I’ve done discount promotions on Amazon. But it’s really not my thing. I’m sure I’m not doing it nearly as well as I should. That’s what hangs over the author all the time – did you do enough to promote? While, really we just want to write. But of course I also want to get my voice heard. So I’ll continue to try to contact people, get ignored and rejected, and sometimes I get nasty emails back. Then I cry and try to move on.
Q: What would be the appropriate punishment for a corporate criminal?
A: Tempting question…
When I think of the banking world I’d say: ‘To be treated like any other criminal. Like any other thief, fraudster, robber etc.’ Because to date no banker has been brought to justice for the crash of 2008 or any other related corporate crimes. This reinforces the idea that bankers are a superior species that is above the law.
However, from my experience in these powerful institutions, I know that the responsibility ultimately rests with the corporation itself. Of course individuals should be punished for crimes they commit, and that applies particularly to the men at the top, the CEOs who usually get a few million to resign or retire while the only ones even remotely in danger are those much further down the ladder.
But to me, justice would be if corporations risked fines that put their existence in danger, and if they could indeed be dismantled for committing crimes.
Maybe also the law needs to be tightened up to stay up to date with corporate activities that are often ‘just on the right side of the law’. So the bankers feel they haven’t done anything wrong…
Another issue which I write about in volume 2 ‘Graveyards of the Banks – Monsters Arising’ is extreme corporate bullying which is endemic to the banking world and destroys many people’s health. I would like to see many more people and corporations prosecuted for doing this, allowing this, and, in the case of the Most Successful Bank in the Universe, creating an environment that enables and rewards extreme bullying.
Corporations should be held responsible.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)