Friday, February 27, 2009

Looking Twice: An Interview with Andrew Gross

' third thriller, and the second to feature Connecticut police detective Ty Hauck, Don't Look Twice, is being published next week by William Morrow. Mystery Books News is pleased to post an interview with the author provided by the publisher in which Andrew talks about the book, a sequel to The Dark Tide (which we reviewed last year, calling it "a must-read for thriller fans and those looking for high-stakes adventure"; read our review at ).

Looking Twice: An Interview with Andrew Gross

One of the strongest appeals that readers often cite about your writing are the complex web of family ties and family relationship dynamics that weave throughout your stories. In Don't Look Twice, you explore the bond between two brothers -- as well as the parent/child relationship (across two sets of characters). What draws you to focus so deeply on family in your novels? Why do you think that quality is so compelling for readers?

Andrew Gross
photo courtesy William Morrow

It’s never my precise goal to write “crime” novels, but to write stories about compelling, human situations in which a crime, or some other world-shattering event, takes place. My stories are rooted in the drama of broken trust, of calm disturbed, when something a person counts on for sure turns out to be false. The family unit is the most universal one where a rupture can feel the most traumatic. I know I’m not exactly the first to work with this material. Our most compelling stories and myths are tales of families in conflict going all the way back to Genesis.

Your previous novel, The Dark Tide, literally started with a bang. We're sensing a precedent, especially as we begin reading Don't Look Twice and our heart is in our throats in the first scene. How important is the opening scene of your novels? What do you think it has to do to be successful? How do you come up with them?

Well, call it my Patterson training, but I believe in hooking the reader in conflict right from the start. It doesn’t always have to be a bomb or a shooting. In The Blue Zone, it was a happy, prosperous family torn apart by a father’s arrest. My goal is to make the reader care about the character quickly -- in a few pages -- and then rip the rug out from under that security. Don't Look Twice is different, in that the hero and his daughter are thrust into the middle of that action from the starting bell. I think readers will care for Hauck because of the way he handles himself and protects his daughter as the bullets are flying.

Don't Look Twice by Andrew Gross
Don't Look Twice
by Andrew Gross

This is set in a relatively small town, mostly in Greenwich, Connecticut ... but it has global implications, from New York City to Asia to the Middle East. Can you tell us a little about the way corporate misdeeds can have massive, global, political repercussions?

Greenwich is a perfect “small” place with universal dimensions. It is the home to hedge fund barons and powerful CEOs. Yet, as I like to say, it’s a town of yoga moms and dads who cheer their kids’ teams from the sidelines. So what happens in the “big” world filters down to the small world pretty quickly. My books are also about conspiracies, and ultimately, the people behind them, who are not bigger than life, or twisted, evil doers, but people we all might know, and people for whom, greed, fraud, and deceit are part of the corporate misdeeds. People who have been tilted off the moral plane by the evil in life.

Yet the large scale issues you write of also have ramifications that feel so intimate, life-changing, and personal -- tell us how you bring it back home to your readers?

Like I said, these “macro events” are only the public arena for the drama that’s really playing out behind the scenes. For me, the seeds of corruption and cover-up that pit two brothers against each other, as in Don't Look Twice, are much more compelling than what happens in the boardrooms and statehouses. The death of Hauck’s closest comrade is the true cost of deceit, not the profits or loss.

How much of the scandal and intrigue that you write about in Don't Look Twice is based on fact, and how much is conjecture?

I live more in that hedge fund world than I do artists and writers, around here, so a lot of what goes on in my books are threads that I pick up. I don’t think of myself as a “topical” writer, meaning I’m not combing the headlines for ideas, but The Dark Tide is rooted in the question, “what happens when you invest billions for some of the most dangerous people in the world---and then you lose every penny?” In this post-Madoff world, just last month, the front page of the New York Times reported on an Austrian fund manager who had to go underground to save himself from that very fear. And Don't Look Twice ends up in a military corruption scheme that will also be familiar to those who watch the news.

Ty Hauck, the Greenwich cop who is the "white knight" of both The Dark Tide and Don't Look Twice, finds himself in some unlikely places (once again) -- such as in the pit boss' lair in one of Connecticut's native casinos. What motivates you to put him in such high-stakes situations?

The nature of Hauck’s worthiness is the question of whether he can go up against the modern day “fortresses” of people far more powerful and connected than he is. Some of what he does is literally in defense of “the damsel.” And some of it is simply the dogged, age old mission for the truth. He is a romantic, and is rooted in the trenches. Each book seems to have him asking, am I capable? Am I the person to do this? Yet the true triumph is always when Hauck outwits and defeats forces that he cannot even imagine bringing down.

What's next for Hauck ... and for Andy Gross?

To me, it was hard to set these books around New York City and Greenwich and not deal with the financial meltdown. So the next book pits Hauck in the middle of a group of conspirators who use vulnerable fund managers to bring an already teetering economy to its knees. For me, the struggle is for the whole story not to be too gloomy -- especially when it deals with the personal side of what’s going on today -- because I don’t believe in gloomy, especially for escapist fiction. But again, I think Hauck will find himself on a similar quest.


Many thanks to William Morrow for giving us the opportunity to publish this interview with Andrew Gross.

Visit our website for a list of all hardcover mysteries scheduled for publication in March 2009.

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