Q & A with Andrew Gross

Andrew Gross has written another intriguing book with his latest, Everything To Lose. As with most of his books he explores the question of how someone’s life can change in a brief moment. These random acts and their resulting consequences lead to dire penalties.


The plot has a down on her luck mother, Hilary Cantor witnessing a car accident while driving on a road she had never taken before. Having just lost her job, caring for her handicapped son with Asperger Syndrome, and having a deadbeat husband she makes a fatal decision. In a weak moment she takes the money hoping to prevent her financial ruin. This act entangles her in a twenty- year old murder conspiracy where she is in a position to lose everything. Teaming with a policeman, Patrick Kelty, they work together in an attempt to bring down a powerful enemy.


Elise Cooper: Do you like to write how life has us making choices, which can have a major effect on our future?


Andrew Gross: I think every one of my books has begun with a mundane act that just spirals and multiplies in consequence. My idea for a novel is that something starts on a bit of a routine level and then the stakes become larger and larger. I think this is what makes a good thriller. I used these powerful words in the opening, ‘life is about one mistake and then what happens afterward.’ I like the sense of randomness where all the variables are put together to create an incident.


EC: Did you have any influences in writing these types of stories?


AG: One of my favorite books growing up was The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder. He writes about five people who are on a bridge that collapses. I consider this story an act of fate since each person is brought to the bridge by some circumstance. My books are like that in the sense that my characters have multiple choices regarding a certain situation. Of course, because I write thrillers they make the wrong choice or it would be a dull book.


EC: You used to write with James Patterson, was he an influence?


AG: He writes plot based books and taught me to move the story in a bunch of different directions. I learned from him that you have to include your reader in the character’s plight during the first ten pages. I hope my books build strong characters that the reader becomes invested in. I know some have said that short chapters do not allow character development, but I disagree with that analysis.


EC: Do you think you created a sympathetic character with Hilary?


AG: That is why I created her as a single mom who is seen as gritty, devoted, and desperate. Her son has Asperger syndrome and needs attention. His deadbeat father refuses to help. A tempting twist of fate lures her to the edge of what she knows is right. It’s just a small step from the moral high ground to total free fall.


EC: The book seems to be about how far would a mother go to protect her child?


AG: Sacrificing everything for her child is what the book is about. How far would you go to protect your child? Would you cross the line and do something that you knew was wrong and criminal? And does doing a bad thing for the right reason make it any more right, or forgivable? I hope this makes Hilary someone to root for and forgive since all she was doing was trying to protect her child.


EC: Was Hurricane Sandy a supporting character in the book?


AG: Yes. Everything in the book is tied to this storm from having Patrick needing some of the money to pay off the Russian mob to having clues washed up on shore, to a twenty year-old unsolved murder. Everything is set in motion by the storm.


EC: Where did you get the idea for the murder?


AG: I saved a newspaper article from five years ago describing the murder of a teenage girl by her boyfriend decades before on the blighted, industrialized shoreline of Staten Island in New York City. I can’t quite recall what attracted me back then: the ugly, moonscape setting; that it was buried and forgotten for twenty years; that ultimately, when it came out, it was such a seemingly spontaneous and motiveless act. Whatever it was, it provided the third strand of Everything To Lose. What if the boyfriend was my aforementioned ‘bad seed’ as a teenager? He did something terrible, and had to hide for his life.

EC: The ending is perhaps a bit too dark. Do you agree?

AG: My last few books had a happy ending and I wanted to make a change. My daughter reads my books and told me ‘I didn’t like the ending. I wanted it to be happier.’ As she was reading it I got a call and she said, ‘I don’t like what just happened dad but I will continue reading hoping that it is not exactly what I think had happened.’ Unfortunately, she guessed correctly.

EC: Can you give a heads up about your next book?

AG: It is the fourth book in the series. Ty Hauck is no longer the head of detectives with the Connecticut police force and now works for a posh security firm. The new book takes place in Colorado and deals with corruption in the oil and gas business. The controversy is between hydraulic fracking and the effect on ranchers/farmers in the area. I consider this story a bit of a modern western.”