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Andrew Gross moved from the apparel business to bestselling author

By Mary Yuhas

Andrew GrossAndrew Gross is the author of the New York Times and international bestsellers Everything to Lose, No Way Back, 15 Seconds, Eyes Wide Open, The Blue Zone, The Dark Tide, Don’t Look Twice, and Reckless. He is also the coauthor of five number one bestsellers with James Patterson, including Judge and Jury and Lifeguard. His books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages.

LitVote: Had you sold any books before you co-authored with James Patterson?

Andrew: I made a career change from the apparel and athletic business. Basically, I came home without a job one night and announced to my wife and three kids that I wanted to write a novel. I spent three years writing my first book, “Hydra,” a political conspiracy thriller. The first year I wrote it, polished it the second year and marketed it in the third. That’s when out of nowhere, I got a call from Little Brown that Jim Patterson wanted to see my book. For the next seven years, I coauthored six books in the, “Women’s Murder Club,” series with him. As a result my first book was a number one seller on the New York Times bestselling list.

Lit Vote: Why did you decide to go solo?

Andrew: It was just time. Working with Jim was a great platform and beneficial in launching my career.

I do miss being able to bounce my ideas off of a top iconic author.

LitVote: How has your writing changed since you collaborated with him?

Andrew: It has changed a lot. I learned a lot from Jim, but I don’t read the kind of books I was writing. Now that I’ve finished my ninth book, I like it just fine. I’ve developed my own voice, my pace and plot movement.

LitVote: What is the most difficult part of writing a book for you?

Andrew: Coming up with a premise or what’s at stake in the book. I triangulate or use three separate themes. In my book, “Everything to Lose,” a twenty year old murder, an ordinary woman with a handicapped son and Hurricane Sandy all come together. I want the book to execute smoothly and my characters to be very engaging.

LitVote: Do you outline every book?

Andrew: Sometimes and other times not. About fifty percent of the book is organic. Thrillers are plot intensive so it is pivotal ─ especially for aspiring authors ─ to have a road map. Without an outline, it’s easy to write into a dark corner. At the same time, I leave an outline open every day so I am open to something fresh and new.

LitVote: How long does it take you to complete a book and how many hours a day do you spend writing it?

Andrew: I’m a one-idea a year guy. I work six days a week. My chapters are usually about five pages. I try to write a chapter a day. The following morning I go back and re-edit and then write another chapter. My books are about eighty chapters. It takes around nine months to complete a book. It’s not a sprint or marathon.

LitVote: What advice do you have for first-time authors?

Andrew: Outline and patience. Everybody wants their book out, but for me all of the magic comes on a second or third draft. Creativity doesn’t always come in a linear way.

Living with a book allows a full creative process.

Today just getting a book out is daunting. Know what you’re getting into because it’s not a cakewalk. There are only a few publishers and a handful of bookstores.

The bestselling list of authors today resembles the bestselling list of ten years ago. That’s not true with musicians or actors. It’s very hard to break through.

LitVote: What is the most effective way to stand above the crowd?

Andrew: There are a lot of avenues, but there is no easy answer. Every time I think I have an answer, something happens.

I think it’s usually accidental, similar to trends in the apparel industry…an author taps into a trend. But, those are difficult to duplicate and hard to do by design. Usually they’re a one-trick pony.

Write a great book and be as energetic as you can be about getting your name out there locally and regionally. My Facebook pages have avid readers.

LitVote: How important are titles?

Andrew: There are a lot of title fights between authors and his or her editor. It can be thorny to say the least. I once switched editors over a title. To some degree, when writing a thriller, a poor title that doesn’t grab readers can dumb down a good book. I like provisional titles.

Of the nine books I’ve written, only one title survived.

LitVote: What does your future hold?

Andrew: Write more books with more richness in setting and place. In my latest thriller, “One Mile Under,” ─ a Ty Hauck novel ─ water is the conflict as townspeople in a drought-stricken, oil-rich community battle an energy company over fracking. (Release date is April 17.)


Mary Yuhas, is a journalist and has contributed to Sun-Sentinel, USA Today, China Daily USA and Washington Times among others, creator of Baby Boomers the first reality blog and the author of the upcoming memoir, QUIT AND BE QUIET, about growing up with a severely mentally ill mother,  featured three times on Scribd.


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