PW: What prompted you to write Six Days in October?

KB: I was aware that young people are doing a lot more economic activities in school—for example, a lot of kids play stock market games starting as early as fifth grade. But as a business journalist, when I started looking to see what was out there for kids in that area, I was surprised to find almost nothing. The Wall Street Journal has a relationship with Simon & Schuster [adult trade] for Wall Street Journal books, so we [at the Journal] approached S&S about the possibility of bringing our expertise to young people. And Brenda Bowen suggested the [1929] crash.

PW: What were the challenges of writing about this subject for young adult readers?

KB: The challenges were pretty big. Initially we thought [the book] would be aimed at a somewhat younger group, but the whole concept of trading ownership of a company back and forth is quite abstract. What I didn't want to do was sugarcoat [the topic] and not cover the realities of the time—the greed, the fraud.

The first challenge was to make [the crash] understandable. The second was to bring in the people. I wanted to tell stories; these are businesses, but they're driven by personalities. And the challenge then was to narrow down [the topic] and to keep it moving fast enough.

PW: Did you have any idea how timely Six Days in October would be while you were writing it?

KB: I knew we were in a bubble. That became clearer and clearer in 2000, but you can never predict [the market]. And it's actually one of the reasons why I didn't want to talk about the current market in this book, because I'd be wrong and I didn't want to date the book.

What was really almost scary were the parallels [in the 1920s] to our own time. I started this book in 2000 at the peak of our boom. I couldn't believe how similar the behavior was. Prices were going up, up, up, and people, even some of my neighbors, were day trading. It was just like the people that I discovered in 1928 who quit their jobs and sat in the brokerage offices—they were the day traders of a different time. There were stock market bulls feeding the frenzy. There were things going on behind the scenes that didn't come out until a few years later—just like now.

PW: What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

KB: I really hope they'll get a sense of how human behavior influences markets. I hope they gain some understanding of how it all works. I hope readers see that you can make choices not to be too greedy and to be ethical as an investor or as a business player—and that those choices have broader impact for our nation. I think that is the moral tale underlying this story.