Five Books & Films that Influenced Andrew Grant
ICE STATION ZEBRA by Alistair MacLean. This is the book that marked my growing-up as a reader, and the one that’s more responsible than any other for me wanting to become a thriller writer myself. One of my most prized possessions is a first edition that my wife bought me a couple of years ago, but I first read it in 1978 or ’79, thanks to the grade-school teacher I had at the time. One day he caught me with a book under my desk–probably Watership Down–which I was using to distract myself from the mind-numbingly dull projects he used to waste the class’s time with, and the sight of it set him off on a bizarre rant: “You think you’re a good reader, do you, Grant? Well let me tell you: You’re not. Not if that’s all you can manage. That book’s for babies. You’re not a good reader unless you can go to any bookcase, anywhere, pick up any book, and read it without thinking.” Read without thinking? A strange concept, you might say. But I wasn’t concerned about that, back then, because his words had struck me as a challenge. So that night I approached my father’s bookshelves and took down the first book my hand fell upon. Somewhat nervously I looked at the title. “Sweet!” I thought, feeling relieved. “There are stations on the ice? And they have zebras at them? This is going to be fun!” And it was.
RED DRAGON by Thomas Harris is possibly the first story that made me feel afraid. I’ll always remember reading the scene near the beginning of the book where the hero, FBI profiler Will Graham, visits a home where a family has been slain. The physical evidence has baffled all the other experts investigating the case, but when Graham – alone in the house – puts together the pieces of what happened, a shiver literally ran down my spine.
THE MIERNIK DOSSIER by Charles McCarry is a simply outstanding book. I’ve always been fascinated by different ways of telling stories, and the way McCarry weaves an intricate, multilayered tale through a set of “documents” rather than a traditional narrative is nothing short of brilliant.
MY COUSIN VINNIE is for me one of the most under-rated movies of recent times. Not only is it hilarious, with a fabulous cast of unconventional characters, it’s a tour-de-force courtroom drama in its own right. The way that the apparently invincible case is built up, and then systematically demolished piece by hidden-in-plain-sight piece is absolutely magnificent drama.
A FEW GOOD MEN is another interesting twist on the courtroom drama. As with Vinnie the script is full of wit, and the audience delights as the verbal trap is constructed, and the villain of the piece can’t resist walking straight in. What this movie adds, though, is an interesting moral dimension—what steps are reasonable or necessary to take in order to defend our freedom, and what right do those who benefit have to judge the things that are done in their name?
Andrew was born in Birmingham, England. He went to school in St Albans, Hertfordshire and later attended the University of Sheffield where he studied English Literature and Drama. After graduation Andrew set up and ran a small independent theatre company which showcased a range of original material to local, regional and national audiences. Following a critically successful but financially challenging appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival Andrew moved into the telecommunications industry as a ‘temporary’ solution to a short-term cash crisis. Fifteen years later, after carrying out a variety of roles including several which were covered by the UK’s Official Secrets Act, Andrew became the victim / beneficiary of a widespread redundancy programme. Freed once again from the straight jacket of corporate life, he took the opportunity to answer the question, what if … ?
Since then, he has authored 5 novels, including three in the David Trevellyan series. The latest, FALSE POSITIVE features Detective Cooper Devereaux and is the first in a new series. FALSE POSITIVE landed on shelves yesterday.
Andrew is married to novelist Tasha Alexander, and the couple divide their time between Chicago and the UK.