Monday, November 9, 2009

Q&A with Gregg Hurwitz

By Steve Weddle

You think your life is weird. Gregg Hurwitz went to Harvard and Oxford and is now writing Wolervine, The Punisher, and Moon Knight for Marvel Comics. Oh, and crime fiction.

His ninth novel, TRUST NO ONE, recently hit the shelves to great reviews and solid sales. In the book, Nick Horrigan wakes up in the middle of the night. Every night. At the same time. As the book opens, he wakes to military folks storming his apartment.

According to David Montgomery over at The Daily Beast: "Nick is an especially interesting creation: a thriller protagonist who, most of the time, doesn’t really know what he’s doing, makes mistakes and trusts the wrong people. Those very human qualities make the tension in the plot all the greater."

And as Thomas Gaughan said in BOOKLIST, "The scope of the book’s plot is too circuitous and elaborate to detail, but the page-to-page suspense and the breakneck pacing will please Hurwitz’s growing audience."

Basically, you can't put the book down because every few pages you're finding out something that pulls you further in. Yeah, it's one of those. I read it in two days and thought it was great fun. We sat down via the email machine for some of the Q&A stuff.

SW: TRUST NO ONE has plenty of twists and turns. When you start a book, do you know who all the bad guys are or does that develop as you go along?


GH: The twists and turns develop as I go along. As a writer, I have to stay open to the opportunities the plot and characters will present me as they evolve. I often have a sense of the main "bad guy," but as I write more, I find that I'm moving away from villains and more to antagonists—people who make bad choices and feel that their view is justified.

SW: How much fun was it to create the politicians in TRUST NO ONE?

GH: So much fun. I wrote this before Obama and McCain had emerged on the national stage (or at least before they'd emerged as presidential candidates) and it's interesting to see how certain traits of my fictional/futuristic/ideal candidates mapped onto those personalities. However, the politicians are not the thrust of the book—it's not a political thriller. It's really about Nick and the choices he's forced to make. The backdrop just happens to be an election.

SW: So, pole-vaulting, huh? How’d that happen?

GH: I was new to an all-boys high school, scrawny, and had just gotten cut from football. And so I wanted to choose the most dangerous sport imaginable to prop up my diminished self-esteem.

SW: Danger. Right. Speaking of danger and considering your scholarly background at Oxford, do you see any way to read Frank Castle (Punisher) as a Shakespearean character?

GH: Well...I suppose in his motivation and that he's doomed (or blessed?) to reenact a cycle and that it seems largely out of his control. However, he doesn't have the downfall that's required of a Shakespearean tragic hero. At least not yet!

SW: In addition to the Punisher, Marvel’s Moon Knight has made quite a comeback. What makes him a hero for our times and what draws you to him, to Wolverine, to the Punisher?

GH:They're all insane in differing ways but they also hold tight to a defined code of ethics, no matter how off kilter that code might seem to the impartial observer.

SW: You’ve written comics, novels, and movie scripts. Does writing in certain forms help with others?

GH: Yes—when I come from a script to a book, I write with more leanness, with a sense that every scene must drive the plot. And in reverse, I come with a greater sense of character and ambiance.

SW: Movies, comics, novels. You seem pretty busy. What’s a day like for you?

GH: Up at 7. Write all day. Go to the gym/soccer/hiking at 5. Home. If on deadline, more work. Then see the kids and wife/go to a movie/dinner/frolic/read.

SW: Can you think of any excuse for drinking light beer?

GH: Daytime baseball games. Or if it's your fifth beer and you're feeling bloated. I prefer Mexican beers or stouts - the two ends of the spectrum.

SW: Many of the writers who read our blog are working hard to find agents. What advice can you give to unagented writers who are sending out their queries?

GH: Make sure that manuscript is in the best possible condition, that it represents the culmination of all your talent, hard work, and skill, and that you've rewritten the hell out of it.

SW: What’s your favorite room in your house and why?

GH: My office. The view. And the fact that it largely supports the rest of the house, which is a source of humility and pride.

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There ya go. From light beer to pole vaulting. What more could you want? To find out more about Gregg Hurwitz, visit his site. Oh, and you might wanna check out this video in which he talks with Robert Crais about TRUST NO ONE. And if you'd like to read more about TRUST NO ONE, the folks at January Magazine have a pretty comprehensive write-up. You can read the first chapter here and an exclusive short with the lead character here.

1 comment:

Paul D. Brazill said...

Smashing interview. Talented young man, to be sure.