PaperBackSwap Blog

Author Interview with Andrew Gross


Interview with Andrew Gross by Diane G. (icesk8tr)


Diane G.: First of all, I would like to thank you for agreeing to do this interview for PaperBackSwap!!

What inspired you to start writing, and how did you get involved with James Patterson?

I always wanted to write. I was a published poet while still in high school and ended up editing the literary magazine at Middlebury, but when I graduated I shifted to business and got a MBA and focused on other things. I ended up doing apparel turnaround in the sports field (Head, Le Coq Sportif) and when one of them severely didn’t turn around I decided not to leave any more blood on the field and asked my wife for a year to pursue this dream, the year turned into three, as happens, but when my book didn’t ultimately sell—twenty publisher rejections—and I was sitting around my den not knowing what my next step was in life, I got a call, out of the blue, “Can you take a call from James Patterson?”

Unbeknownst to me, my rejected manuscript had been given to him by the head of his publishing company, and he was looking for someone who “wrote women well” to team up with to start his women’s murder club” series. We did six books together!

Diane G.: How much did you learn from working with James Patterson, and did the fact that the books were bestsellers help you with your confidence to write that first novel on your own?

Not only my confidence– I knew I could do this!—but my skill sets as well. In the way of plotting, pacing, and how to create emotion in scenes, a big thing with Jim. It’s pretty clear I don’t write Patterson clones, but I have adapted many elements I learned from him into my own voice and my own concept of how a novel should be crafted. I always say it was like a combined MFA-MBA in thriller management!

Diane G.: I know your first solo novel was The Blue Zone, and since then you have written three books in the Ty Hauck series. Are you going to continue with the series, concentrate on single novels, or both?

I’m intending to continue with a Hauck novel I’m starting to write now, with publisher approval. It should be published in 2013- crazy that we’re thinking that far ahead.  I think he’ll get mixed up with American arms shipments to Mexican drug lords. Nasty.

Diane G.: I have followed your books since The Blue Zone and I get so caught up in the novels while I am reading them, which as you know, causes me to miss stops on public transportation. Eyes Wide Open was definitely in this category as well! Do you get caught up in the novels when you are writing them?

Of course. Hard not to. I always search for the emotional core of my books- and the character who best carries that weight. Sometimes I have to find it during the writing itself. It’s not always clear. It’s always emotional for me, however that character’s fate turns out. I don’t get so caught up in the “chase,” but in the human side of what’s really at stake behind it.

Diane G.: Eyes Wide Open draws from tragic events that have happened in your life, did this make it more difficult to write the story, or was it in a sense therapeutic?

In truth, the book was easy for me to write because much of the first half revolves around events that were real and to which I was party—so it kind of wrote itself. A family suicide is never easy, and it’s destroyed my brother and sister in law, but the connection of Jay in the book to Charlie and Gabby is close to how it was for me. It was an awkward distant relationship, and I was sorry for Alex, my nephew, but he was a sick, troubled and violent kid, so to be honest, I always had a distance from him so I was able to write about what happened with some emotional distance.

Diane G.: So, I have heard you had a passing encounter with Charles Manson, what was that like?

Just one quick encounter as a kid, described in the book. I recall two things: he was polite to an extreme, so polite, it was almost threatening. He was very quiet and restrained, and held my brother back from an emotional outburst, but even in saying very little, and none of it threatening, we all definitely remember that he had the most “power” in the room.

Diane G.: This book and others you have written revolve around family situations, how does your own family influence your writing?

I often take my family, which is pretty calm and loving, and then twist it and do terrible things to it to come up with the scenarios in my books. I kind of say, what is the worst thing that could happen to me, and then I write it!

Diane G.: How much time to you spend researching details of historical events or a geographical area when you are writing a book?

Depends. Enough to “sell” the scene to the reader, but not so much that I come off like an expert or a show-off. Another thing I take from Patterson—don’t let “expertise” slow the down the scene. So don’t over-study! Not my thing.

Diane G.: What authors have influenced you in your life, and do you have a favorite author you like to read?

Robert Stone’s Dog Soldiers and Robert Penn Warren’s, All the Kings Men are the two books that had the most profound affect on me. As a craftsman. In terms of who I read, whatever’s cool and hot in the thriller trade. Reading Connelly’s The Reversal and another book called Before I Go to Sleep now.

Diane G.: What is next for you?

Another thriller built off a real life experience. Last year in Houston, while on book tour, I was stopped for a traffic violation, and ended up pulled out of my car, cuffed, throw in the back of a cop car, told I was being arrested and taken to jail, then after ten other cops arrived, had a bunch of chilling 9/11-type questions thrown at me: “what were you doing in a federal office building in downtown Houston?” “When was the last time you were stopped by the police?” Fortunately, for me, the situation ended benignly, with a full apology. But for my character, and for the “arresting” officer, it doesn’t end so benignly at all. So as long as these crazy things keep happening, I’ll have good fodder for new books!

You can learn more about Andrew Gross and his books at his web-site: www.andrewgrossbooks.com


A big PBS thank you to Andrew Gross and Diane G for a great interview!

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13 Responses to “Author Interview with Andrew Gross”

  1. Hunter S. (Hunter1) says:

    YAY! I just picked up Eyes Wide Open in audio, but haven’t started it yet. I’ll be moving it to the top of my TBR list. Thanks so much for doing this interview!

  2. Robin K. (jubead) says:

    I moved away from Mystery/Thrillers a few years ago, but now I want to try the genre again. Eyes Wide Open sounds really good, as does the upcoming novel described in the interview.

    Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.

  3. Barbara (femmefan) says:

    Thank you both so much–enjoyed the interview. As it happens, I have Eyes Wide Open on my TBR right now. Can’t wait to start reading.

  4. Joy L. (vintagejoy) says:

    Great interview! It is always so interesting to read an author interview as it gives insight into their thoughts and such while writing.

  5. Amanda S. (ABCatHome) says:

    What a treat to have been “mentored” by James Patterson!!! I’ve enjoyed his books, so now I have to check these out too!

  6. James L. (JimiJam) says:

    This turned out to be the most engrossing interview yet! As a writer, I’m always drawn to any mention of the writing process, and in this interview I found so many pearls of wisdom thus far lacking in the course of my own development. I have a lot of respect for the fact that Mr. Gross has made a point to avoid simply mimicking Patterson’s style. I imagine such an effort to be somewhat difficult. Whereas the temptation to follow that path of least resistance might not be a problem, I expect there to be a sense of gravity, or rather gravities, pulling the author toward the creative environment of the collaborative effort and yet toward independence as well. To have learned so much from an author as renowned as James Patterson, yet strike out with a style all his own, Mr. Gross must be a formidable craftsman indeed. Mysteries and thrillers are not typically part of my reading curriculum, but I think it may be time to make a few exceptions. Fantastic interview, thanks to both Mr Gross and Diane for sharing it!

  7. Lori B. says:

    Thanks for another very interesting interview. Both books are available here at PBS. I just ordered The Blue Zone from a fellow member and look forward to reading it!

  8. Elizabeth R. (esjro) Stockton, NJ says:

    Always looking for a good thriller, I will check out your books!

  9. People who sit around thinking about all the horrible things that could go wrong with their perfectly wonderful family normally get diagnosed with an illness, or paid well, or both. I think it is fantastic and a great outlet. Too often writers get too wrapped up in writing what makes money rather than what makes them shiver with excitement. You seem to hold tight to that shiver. Passing that on makes you contagious, your wishlist line could well explode here and many of us buy books to fill the needs of those lines, joyfully. Thanks for sharing with us.

  10. Diane G. (icesk8tr) , says:

    For anyone who likes reading mysteries or thrillers, I would highly recommend his books. Some of them are also available in the PBS Market!!

    I have all of his books as hardcovers that I purchased right after publication, and they are on my keeper shelf!

    I think one of the reasons I enjoy his books so much is that he takes an average family, and comes up with a lot of “worst case scenarios” It keeps you thinking about the book for days after you finish reading it. I am anxiously awaiting the publication of his next book!!

    He can’t write fast enough for me!

  11. Patty P. (Patouie) , says:

    Piqued my curiosity for sure! Thanks for the link to Mr. Gross’s website. I now know what I’m getting (from my local wonderful bookstore, Copperfield’s) for my husband’s birthday… along with the blown glass elephant salt & pepper shakers I picked up in Mendocino.

  12. Jade K. (Jade4142) says:

    Another rocking fine author interview. I’m off to read those books again!

  13. Patty P. (Patouie) , says:

    Just wanted to follow up on this. I bought the book for my husband and he started reading the book this week and says it’s great. He’s headed off for a week, and is taking it with him.

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