Q&A: Leaving Wall Street for a career as a novelist

After the latest high-profile Wall Street departure — Morgan Stanley CFO Ruth Porat announced she was leaving to take a job at Google — ex-Wall Streeter Turney Duff checks in with former Wall Street friends to see what they're up to now, if they have any regrets about leaving and the million-dollar question: Is Wall Street dead?

Erin Duffy spent 12 years on the Street working as an interest-rate salesperson. She was able to segue into writing women's fiction after leaving the buy-and-sell tickets behind. Harper Collins published her first book, "Bond Girl," in 2012. Her third book, "Lost Along the Way," is due out in 2016.

Erin Duffy.
Elena Seibert
Erin Duffy.

Question: On a scale of 1-10 how hard was it to leave Wall Street?

Answer: 12

Q: Why did you leave?

A: I got to a point in my life where I felt like if I didn't make a change, I was going to be doing that job for another 20 years and I didn't want that for myself. I wanted balance, I wanted more flexibility, and I wanted to wake up in the morning and look forward to going to work.

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Q: How's it been since you left the business?

A: I've been very lucky that I was able to switch gears the way I have. Writing was always what I enjoyed doing, and I love that I've been able to make a career of it.

Q: What's the biggest difference since you left?

A: I guess the biggest change is that I set my own schedule now so I'm not beholden to an alarm clock. I know what I need to do on any given day and I figure out how to make it work with whatever I have going on in my life.

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Q: What do you miss about Wall Street?

A: The camaraderie. Writing is isolating and that has been a really big adjustment for me. I miss working with other people and having someone to talk to during the day.

Q: Is Wall Street dead?

A: No way. I think it has changed and it will probably never be the same as it used to be, which is sad, but it's not dead.

Q: Would you ever go back?

A: No! Don't get me wrong, I had a great time and it was an awesome career in so many ways. That said, my priorities have changed and at this point in my life I'm not interested in revisiting it — which is good, because my licenses have expired and I have no interest in taking those exams ever again.

Q&A by Turney Duff, a former trader at the hedge fund Galleon Group. Duff chronicled the spectacular rise and fall of his career on Wall Street in the book, "The Buy Side," and is currently working on his second book, a Wall Street novel. He is also featured on the CNBC show, "The Filthy Rich Guide." Follow him on Twitter @turneyduff.