Novel Wrestles with Sex, Drugs and Legal Gray Areas

Erica Katz, pseudonymous author of “The Boys’ Club,” says fiction is a way “to tell difficult stories” probing “the gray area of morality.”

Don’t mistake the travails of Alexandra Vogel, a lawyer in the high-powered, hard-partying Manhattan law firm of The Boys’ Club, for the real-life ordeals of the book’s author. Vogel, a first-year associate determined to make good, finds herself ensnared in a web of alcohol and drug abuse, sexual misbehavior and, eventually, violence. 

“This was not my experience,” says the pseudonymous Erica Katz, a Bergen County native and Columbia Law School grad who happens to be a lawyer in Manhattan. Fiction is a way “to tell difficult stories” probing “the gray area of morality,” she says. Surrounded by predatory men and treacherous women, her protagonist makes her share of blunders, including stumbling into a sultry affair with one of the firm’s (married) partners.  

The page-turning debut novel, due August 4 from HarperCollins, has already been optioned to Netflix for a feature film. Katz drew inspiration from the 2016 presidential election and the elevation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court amid accusations of sexual misconduct.

[RELATED: Author Meghan Daum on Trump-Era America]

“I needed to do something with my own confusion and anger over people, opinions and actions I had trouble understanding,” she says. “Writing this novel was the most amazing and unintended form of therapy for me at a time I felt very unsettled.”

Katz makes Vogel an aspiring mergers-and-acquisitions associate, not her own specialty. Ripped from reality are the time commitment required of young lawyers—and “probably” the rampant drug use. “I actually googled ‘How do you feel on cocaine?’ when I was writing this,” Katz says.

She is staying anonymous, she says, to protect herself and anybody people might wrongfully assume are characters in the story. “Everybody wants this story to be true very badly, which I find flattering,” Katz says, “but because it is fiction, and out of respect to them and their clients, I wanted to keep their names out of it.”

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