Thursday, August 29, 2013

Gregg Hurwitz Tells No Lies to Cleveland Audience

     Gregg Hurwitz is an accomplished author of novels, movies, television, and comic books. His most recent novel, Tell No Lies, was released August 20th. Anyone who has an opportunity to meet him will know why: his stories mirror his animated, enthusiastic, and dynamic personality. Last night, about fifty people saw that first hand when Mr.Hurwitz made an appearance at the Strongsville branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library system.
Superfan Jen Forbus and Gregg Hurwitz
     Mr. Hurwitz was introduced by my friend and blogging mentor Jen Forbus, who writes for Shelf Awareness, Crimespree Magazine, and her own blog, Jen's Book Thoughts. She has been a longtime
Hurwitz fan. I could provide more details about how she feels about him, but, as it is said, a picture says a thousand words!
     During his presentation, Mr. Hurwitz talked about a topics including growing up in San Francisco, life in LA, and being a writer for television, movies, and comics. One of my favorite topics was about his experiences while conducting research for books. He spent time in Russian bath houses, surrounded by suspected organized crime members; disappeared into jungles; and watched a body being dissected, each part sent to a different place for research, more bodies nearby, suspended by the ears in a large cooler.
     Another favorite was about the violence in his books. While sometimes violence is described,  other times he intentionally does not, instead bringing the reader to the point where violence is implied. He said he finds that what the reader imagines is nearly always worse than anything he could write.
Gregg Hurwitz at
Strongsville Library
     After a short presentation, Mr. Hurwitz took some questions. The first was the obligatory, "Where do you get your ideas?" His answer, perhaps the best I've heard for such a commonly asked question, was that he doesn't know where his ideas come from any better than we know where our ideas come from.
     He also was asked about balancing his writing between novels, comics, and screen writing. Mr. Hurwitz said he thought it made him a better writer, because each of the styles could help the other. For example, screen plays require very direct, succinct writing. There is no room for lengthy dialogue or description, and that skill helps avoid getting too wordy while writing a novel.

     I have noticed in the three Hurwitz books I've read that he has an excellent ability to establish strong relationships among his characters in a very short time. Sometimes I even like the strength of the relationships more than I like the protagonists individually. I asked him about this ability, if it is something he is specifically aware of and if he has any special method for doing so. He said it comes from watching people interact, looking for small indicators about their relationship. He likened it to seeing a couple who are obviously out on their first date, or a couple where it is clear that one is more interested than the other, or a couple who have such a comfortable familiarity that they seem to be working as one. An example he provided was from You're Next, when Anabelle, the wife of protagonist Micheal, had applied too much hand lotion and wiped the excess casually onto Michael's hands.
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     The people watching skill Mr. Hurwitz described was familiar to me. Not as a writer, of course, but as a
police officer. We watch people too, and can sometimes learn more watching than talking. Body language can give away a liar or bring unwanted attention to someone. It is sometimes referred to as a 6th sense, but it isn't; it's just very small ways people interact, watch what's going on around them, pause before answering a question, looks at someone, or not look at someone, or try not to be seen, which usually makes them stick out even more.

     I try and see and meet as many authors in person as I can; it provides valuable insight into their work, is an opportunity to meet interesting people, and is always entertaining. Seeing Gregg Hurwitz was no different.
     Thank you, Mr. Hurwitz, for coming to Cleveland, and Cuyahoga County Library system for hosting him. 

     Gregg Hurwitz is the author of thirteen novels. His most recent release is Tell No Lies. Others I've enjoyed include You're Next and The Survivor.

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