Sunday, June 25, 2017

FEATURED AUTHOR: GARY GROSSMAN



 ABOUT THE BOOK

In the midst of a heated presidential campaign, Secret Service Agent Scott Roarke gets an assignment that turns his world upside down. His investigation uncovers a plot so monstrous it can change the course of America's future and world politics. Roarke discovers that presidency is about to fall into the hands of a hostile foreign power. The power play is so well-conceived that even the U.S. Constitution itself is a tool designed to guarantee the plot's success. With the election clock ticking, Roarke and Boston attorney Katie Kessler race at breakneck speed to prevent the unthinkable. But they also know that it will take a miracle to stop the takeover from happening.

Praise for the Executive Series:

“Executive Actions is the best political thriller I have read in a long, long time. Right up there with the very best of David Baldacci. [A] masterpiece of suspense; powerfully written and filled with wildly imaginative twists. Get ready to lose yourself in a hell of a story.”
-Michael Palmer, New York Times bestselling author

Break out the flashlight, and prepare to stay up all night . . .  Once you start reading Executive Actions you won’t be able to put it down.”
-Bruce Feirstein, James Bond screenwriter, and Vanity Fair Contributing Editor



INTERVIEW WITH GARY GROSSMAN


Gary, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?

As I look back, I think I really began writing in 5th Grade. Mrs. Seymour’s class at 4th Street School in Hudson, New York. I started a class newspaper with friends. That was my introduction to journalism. But as a freshman in high school, I wrote a letter to the general manager of our local radio station recommending that WHUC put on school news and rock music. Apparently, I crafted my letter well enough to earn a call back. The station GM told me I would start on the air the following Monday as a teenage DJ and high school news writer. (May I add, with really no experience! Fortunately there are no tapes of my first months!)

I suppose it’s safe to say that the power of writing launched me. From there, college and documentary films and local TV news. Later I became a freelance writer, a columnist for a Boston newspaper, a TV historian, a documentary TV producer, and now political thrillers.

What inspired you to write Executive Actions?
I was in New York City on 9/11.  I remember the ambulances and firetrucks heading downtown and only pedestrians covered in ash walking back. I remember their blank, horrified stares. I remember the quiet. I remember the realization that nothing would be the same. I remember the realization that investigations had likely begun minutes after the attack. I remember thinking we’d never be able to completely protect ourselves.

My trip to New York was to pitch TV programs to networks. I returned to Los Angeles thinking about writing a novel that would consider how anyone could possibly incubate a deadly plot for so long, with such patience, and in hopes of gaining a great political victory.
    
Executive Actions
came out of that experience, and now more than a decade later, with the news of Russian tampering in American elections, let alone others around the world, the plot resonates more than ever.  

It certainly does! What do you hope readers will get from this book?
This is a remarkable question. What will readers get from Executive Actions? I believe they will get an understanding of Russia’s scheming, the depth of the sleeper spy networks that go way beyond the TV series The Americans, an awareness that we have to continue to think the unthinkable, and that there are brave, smart, dedicated people in the intelligence community, law enforcement, and government who recognize the real and present dangers we face. 

In the real world, these people are not headline makers or headline chasers. In fact, they prefer that their successful work will keep terrible news out of the papers and off the air.  They’re real people who help me shape realistic characters. 

They’re my father, who worked in law enforcement. My mother, who ran political campaigns. And they’re people like you and me who often find ourselves in situations we could have never imagined.  
    
Ultimately, I hope readers will relate, enjoy a thrilling read, and come away more awareness.

I see from your bio that you've worked in television, newspapers, magazines, and even teaching at the college level. Do you currently have another job outside of writing thrillers?

I’m principally a television documentary producer. My work has been on History Channel, A&E, Discovery, National Geographic, NBC News, and more than 35 other networks. I’m also a journalist, contributing editor to Media Ethics Magazine, a college teacher at Loyola Marymount University, and a TV historian. 
    
That’s lots of hats, but they all intertwine, almost on a daily basis. My TV research always works into my novels. My novel plots lead to TV documentaries. My teaching brings the debate forward, and my media criticism helps me focus on the world. 
    
Just today it’s all comes together answering your terrific questions, editing a TV presentation, preparing a school syllabus, as well as walking the dogs, cleaning the house for dinner guests, and thinking about the three pages of new novel writing I’ll be doing before going to bed. 
    
All in a day’s work.

How would you describe Executive Actions in a tweet?
A sleeper cell plot building 30 years and an assassin to pull off the biggest political coup in the world. Executive Actions, an all-too real, stay-up all-night read.

Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?

I do outline, but then the craziest thing happens. Other authors have likely told this to you, too. It’s like a Twilight Zone episode. Once the characters take form, they take over. I mean they really take over. They literally have me make room for them at the computer. They take control of the keys, and they tell the story. It happens all the time. Sometimes I’m not even aware of a new character coming to mind. He or she just appears and launches into a scene. In fact, some of the best, most colorful characters have entered the plot that way.

My only struggle is trying to tell them they’re not in the outline and they’re taking the story in another direction.
    
I haven’t won any of those arguments.  The characters are always right.

I love when that happens. For me, that's the best part of writing. Who are your favorite authors?
I’m a member of ITW, the International Thriller Writers Association. Every year, we have a conference in New York called ThrillerFest where I, along with other writers and readers, get to meet and interact with the best of the best. I’m like a kid in a candy store. I participate in panels, run discussions, and I get to meet my favorite authors. Over the years they include (and this won’t be a complete list by any means) Lee Child, Brad Meltzer, Steve Beery, KJ Howe, John Lescroat, Dale Brown, Lisa Gardner, Nelson DeMille, David Morrell, Michael Palmer, Daniel Palmer, Steve Martini, and more. 

But it all started for me when I read Seven Days in May by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II. I got hooked on political thrillers. I sure love it when readers get hooked on me.  They can write me anytime at gary@garygrossman.com. 

Do you have a routine for writing?
My drill is easy. Three pages a day. Do the math with me. That’s 90 pages a month. Multiplying that out, 180 after two months, 270 after three (if I’m really diligent). Of course, that doesn’t mean every word, line and page is a keeper. I’ll spend as much time rewriting, adding to my research, continuing to do interviews with experts, and discovering where I have holes in the plot to fill.  


However, if I get away from the plot for more than a few days, invariably I’ll have to re-familiarize myself with some elements because so much is swirling around. 

My plots are intricate with strong research, relevant history, and principled characters whether or not they are hero or villain. The more I write, the more I’m able to listen to them.

If you could only keep one book, what would it be?
It’s so interesting you ask this. Often when I teach, I borrow the conceit from Fahrenheit 451 where characters have to memorize a book. I ask my students what book they’d choose. 
    
Surprisingly, I’ve never been asked the question in return. So thank you. Now I have to think . . . 
(10 minutes later) . . . still thinking.  
(30 minutes later) . . .
(an hour later) . . . I’ve got it. It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. Written it 1935, it has tremendous impact today. In fact, elements from it somehow find their way into a character or a plot line of much of my writing. 

It Can’t Happen Here chronicles a populist political movement that sweeps the electorate and catapults a power-hungry man into the White House. With him comes authoritarian changes, concentration camps, incarcerations of political foes and the press, and a singular corporatist approach to government. There’s a great hero and an all-too believable villain. 
    
Yes, that’s the book I can’t live without and would have to memorize in a Fahrenheit 451 manner, take to a desert island, and put in every school library in America.  (Hopefully it’s already there.)

Do you ever get writer’s block?
Again, another great question. I answer it with other questions. Do carpenters get carpenter’s block? Do electricians get electrician’s block? Do truck drivers get truck driver’s block. I’d say no. Well, my job (at least one of them) is to write. It’s my job, my passion, my goal. I can’t get writer’s block. Moreover, my characters don’t let me. My only block is a starting block. I take time off between books and getting started can be something of a challenge. But now in my sixth novel, it’s getting easier.

What’s one of your favorite quotes?
Let me answer with two favorite quotes.

Mark Twain:  “A lie can travel half way around the globe while the truth is putting its boots on.” 

Echoes of this astounding quote were heard in the McCarthy Era, and it’s a political reality that continues to echo today in the world of 24/7 news, which too often is little more than 24/7 dangerous noise.

The second quote is from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Act 2, Scene 1: “Whereof what’s past is prologue.”
    
We better learn from the past. It’s not the way back, but the way forward.  
    
Okay, I have one more. A corollary to the last quote:  Again Mark Twain:  “History never repeats itself, but it rhymes.” 
    
With that, it’s back to It Can’t Happen Here.  Enough said.

If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? (Don’t worry about the money. A publisher is paying.☺)
I love Positano, Italy. I love the sight of it. My wife and I discovered it in the rear view mirror of our people. And yes, I routinely set a scene at a favorite Positano restaurant, Chez Black.  It’s right on the beach and I’ve had spies, heroes, and villains eat there. They keep going back, so we do, too.

What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished a collaboration with another author, international hotel executive and anti-terrorism expert Ed Fuller. It’s a thriller titled Red Hotel. And I’m nearly finished with the draft of a new thriller in my Executive series which, of course, begins with Executive Actions.
    
I tackled another Executive book for two reasons.  Readers wrote and told me to do it, and the characters knocked on my door and said they wanted to get back to work. So who am I to disappoint savvy readers and demanding characters?

Wise choice!



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Grossman is a multiple Emmy Award-winning network television producer, a print and television journalist, and novelist. He has produced more than 10,000 television shows for 40 broadcast and cable networks including primetime specials, reality and competition series, and live event telecasts.

Grossman has worked for NBC, written for the Boston Globe, Boston Herald American, and the New York Times. He is the author of four bestselling international award-winning thrillers available in print, eBooks, and Audible editions: Executive Actions, Executive Treason, Executive Command, and Old Earth. (Diversion Books, NYC) and two acclaimed non-fiction books covering pop culture and television history – Superman: Serial to Cereal and Saturday Morning TV.

Grossman taught journalism, film and television at Emerson College, Boston University, and USC and has guest lectured at colleges and universities around the United States. He currently serves as an Adjunct Professor of Film and Television at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He is a member of the Board of Trustees at Emerson College in Boston and he serves on the Boston University Metropolitan College Advisory Board. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers Association and The Military Writers Society of America.


Connect with Gary:

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads 

Buy the book:
Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  


4 comments:

  1. Great interview. I have this on my TBR list and after reading this post, I want to read this asap.

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  2. Very busy and interesting author!

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  3. Yes, he is! Thanks for stopping by, Sharon.

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  4. I stopped by your blog today. Sounds like an intense read.
    Ann

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