Best-selling author Andrew Gross will discuss latest thriller at library

In his latest book Everything to Lose, best-selling author Andrew Gross poses the question, How far would you go to protect your own child?

“It poses the kind of moral dilemma that everyone, every mother, every parent can face,” said Mr. Gross earlier this week. “Also, would you cross the line into doing something criminal?”

Mr. Gross will examine these questions and more when he visits Wilton Library Tuesday, April 22.

The protagonist in Everything to Lose is a woman named Hilary Cantor, whose life has gone into free-fall, said Mr. Gross.

“She’s lost her job, she’s a single mom to a kid with Asperger’s, she has a deadbeat ex-husband who’s walked away from any responsibilities, and her house is underwater,” Mr. Gross explained.

“She is driving down a road between Greenwich and Westchester, and she comes upon an accident. As she goes to save the person, she finds out the guy is dead but there’s a satchel next to him with $500,000 in it.”

Hilary is faced with the choice of stealing the money and getting her life back on track or reporting the cash and losing the life she has worked hard for.

“She ends up taking it and there are consequences. It leads to a lot of conspiracy and life-threatening situations that follow her,” Mr. Gross said.

In addition to the posed moral dilemma, Everything to Lose weaves three other themes:

  • Hurricane Sandy.
  • A 20-year-old murder in Staten Island.
  • Callous and unemotional kids, whom Mr. Gross refers to as children who “don’t really see the moral application of their own actions.”
  • Mr. Gross said the hurricane is not only a backdrop of devastation in the story but an emblem of hope.

“Through the storm, the damning piece of evidence comes back that is pivotal in solving a 20-year-old murder,” he said.

“I had this old story sitting on my desk for five years about this 20-year-old murder committed on the shores of Staten Island, and as I was writing this book, Hurricane Sandy happened and I knew it was something I wanted to fit in.”

Mr. Gross said the convergence of the four themes makes Everything to Lose a “very textured” story.

“I’ve woven these four themes together to create a story about a callous, unemotional kid, who may have committed this murder 20 years ago,” explained Mr. Gross, “and a mother who takes money that leads back to the murder.”

Mr. Gross said he writes one thriller a year and each one takes him about eight to nine months to “get down on paper, edit and polish.”

He said he usually has a strong sense of where he wants his stories to end up.

“I outline heavily in advance. I really think it’s a good thing in very plot-intensive books to have a strong sense of where they’re going,” he said. “That way you don’t get trapped down blind alleys that you don’t want to be in.”

Before publishing his own books, Mr. Gross co-authored with best-seller James Patterson.

“I’ve adopted into my writing style a very strong sense of pace, throwing a lot of unanswered questions out there, keeping the reader guessing and writing short chapters that hinge on the next one,” said Mr. Gross.

“I think my style is a bit more textured than Patterson’s and I sort of let scenes go on to their full dramatic consequence, as opposed to just cutting them off.”

The pivotal action in Everything to Lose takes place near Connecticut, Mr. Gross said, but it’s not the first time he has set a book in the area.

“Several of my books have taken place in Connecticut,” he said. “About four of them have taken place in Fairfield County.”

Mr. Gross said he believes readers in and around Connecticut will see similarities between people they know and the characters in his books.

“My books have people you can recognize, like soccer moms and guys that work for financial companies,” he said. “When bad things happen to the characters and their happy lives are interrupted, it’s almost as if the readers can see themselves in the situations.”

Not only is April 22 the day Mr. Gross will visit Wilton, it is the day Everything to Lose goes on sale.

“It’s nice to be able to share the day that my book comes out with the people of Wilton,” he said.

The hour-and-a-half-long book discussion at Wilton Library will begin at 7 p.m.

The event is free and registration is highly recommended.

Information and registration: Wiltonlibrary.org or 203-762-3950, ext. 213.