From Student to Master

James Patterson’s protégé finds solo success

Timing in the world of writing is essential. When Bear Stearns collapsed in September 2008, for example, author Andrew Gross realized it was time to write a financial novel.

“When I heard what happened to Bear Stearns, it hit me like the World Trade Center going down,” Gross said. “It was like a tidal wave. It was a new world. Business was no longer relegated to the business section. It was on the front page.”

That was the beginning of the inspiration for Gross’ latest novel, Reckless (Harper Collins), which he will promote Monday, April 26, at the Clark County Library, the day before it hits shelves.

Gross’ specialty is tapping into universal fears. And in the case of Reckless, it’s a palpable sense of helplessness due, in part, to the economic collapse.

“This is something people can relate to,” Gross said. “A lot of people have been touched by this meltdown. People thought it would go on forever. But there wasn’t one more house to sell. Vegas was ground zero for what has been going on with housing trouble. The people there should be able to connect.”

The financial world wasn’t the only influence in Gross’ fourth solo novel. The grisly murder of a doctor’s wife and two daughters in the bucolic town of Chesire, Conn., in 2007 inspired Gross—who also resides in the Constitution State—to write about how no one is immune to tragedy.

“What happened to that poor family in Chesire proves that affluence doesn’t protect us,” Gross said. “People might think they are safe due to what they have but that’s wrong. Bad, inexplicable things can happen to anyone. Life isn’t always up. Sometimes negative things happen and you have to figure out what to do next.”

Gross can relate. He was president of Head Sports Equipment for much of the ’90s until he lost his post at the end of the century.

“I came home without a job, and my wife and I wondered what we were going to do with three children in private school,” Gross said. “I begged my wife to let me write for a year.”

The move, which some could have called reckless, worked out for Gross. The novice obviously possessed some ability. One of his manuscripts landed in the hands of the mega-successful suspense writer James Patterson, who was looking for a collaborator.

Patterson, who is known as the “King of the Thriller,” and his protégé co-authored five books, all of which hit the New York Times best-seller list.

Gross struck out on his own three years ago to pen dramatic page-turners like his mentor: “I’m a believer in setting the pace and getting the reader to invest in the plight of your hero in 10 pages. I like to write books that are difficult to put down.”

Free. 7 p.m., Monday, April 26, at the Jewel Box Theater in the Clark County Library, 1401 E. Flamingo Road, 734-7323.

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Tim Bavington unveiled his newest collection of colorful, sound-inspired art during an in-studio open house April 10. Widely regarded as one of the—if not the—most successful artists in Las Vegas, Bavington (below) hosted the event inside his Mesquite Avenue work space where DJ John Doe (right) entertained the crowd. Bavington’s creations are displayed across the city, including inside the high-limit slot gaming lounge at Aria.