After the shocking developments in Dry Ice, Colorado psychologist Alan Gregory is struggling to deal with his newly adopted son and repair his shaky, though generally improving, marriage. But then Alans ex-wife, Merideth, reappears, seeking help she feels only Alan can give. Suddenly Alan is pulled into a mystery that reaches back years to a camping trip at the Grand Canyon involving Merideths fiancé and five friends whose lives were changed forever when a young woman mysteriously vanished also benefited from his fifteen years of professional practice.
White has been keeping fans of psychological thrillers on the edges of their seats ever since he published his first novel Privileged Information in 1991. The book introduced his literary alter ego Dr. Alan Gregory and made ample use of everything hed gleaned while working as a practicing psychologist. There are two benefits of my previous experience as a psychologist that I consider invaluable to my life as a writer, White revealed in an interview on his web site (www. authorstephenwhite. com).
The first is that my work gave me a chance to observe and study the infinite varieties of motivation that human beings have for their behavior. The other is that being a psychotherapist exposed me to dialogue in its purest form. For eight to ten hours a day over a period of fifteen years I had the privilege of sitting and listening to a wide variety of people just talk.
I cant imagine a better training ground for writing dialogue. As for how similar he truly is to his most-famous creation beyond their shared profession, White says, The similarities dont exactly end there but theres no need to exaggerate them, either. Although neither of us is a model of mental health, his neuroses are different than mine.
And he has advantages that I never had as a psychotherapist. First, he has the benefit of all my years of experience. And second, I get to think about his lines as long as Id like.
Real patients never offer that luxury. The resulting debut novel won rave reviews from the likes of The New York Daily News, Publishers Weekly, and The Library Journal and established White as a writer to watch. White followed Privileged Information with over a dozen additional installments of the Alan Gregory adventures.
The latest may very well be the most exciting and psychologically provocative episode yet. In Kill Me, a happily-married extreme sports enthusiast and patient of Gregorys makes a deal with a clandestine organization called Death Angels Inc. that may very well bring his life to an untimely end. As always, Dr. Alan Gregory is present, but he plays more of a background role than he does in most of Whites other novels.
Still, fans of Whites previous work will surely be captivated by the novel that Booklist has deemed Bizarre, thrilling, and oh so much fun and fellow bestselling writer Michael Connelly (Blood Work, The Closers) asserts is his best yet. In any event, White has no immediate plans of abandoning Gregory to write a non-series novel. My series is commercially successful, thanks to all of you, he says.
As important for me as the commercial success is, the fact is that the series is also creatively flexible.... I anticipate staying with the series as long as the readers are interested... If thats the case, then readers can expect the Dr. Alan Gregory to have a long and psychologically healthy life.
Good To Know Contrary to the rumor mill, the Stephen White who created Alan Gregory is not the same Stephen White who has written a series of books about... ahem ... Barney the Purple Dinosaur. However, White admits that he has occasionally signed the other Stephen Whites Barney books when asked to.
For those who are wondering what ever happened to the seemingly long-lost book Saints and Sinners, which was excerpted in Private Practices, you may have already read it without even realizing. Shortly before publication, the title Saints and Sinners was changed to Higher Authority. Some interesting outtakes from our interview with White Jonathan Kellerman and I were colleagues in the early 1980s before either of us were novelists.
At a time when our nascent field was very small, we were both psychologists specializing in the psychological aspects of childhood cancer. Jon was at Los Angeles Childrens Hospital. I was at The Childrens Hospital in Denver.
My brother is a better writer than I am. One of my first jobs was as a tour guide at Universal Studios. I lasted five weeks.
Thats two weeks longer than I lasted as a creative writing major during my freshman year at the University of California. I worked at Chez Panisse in Berkeley in 1971-72, running the upstairs café, waiting tables, and occasionally doing some cooking. Two of my bosses were Alice Waters and Jeremiah Tower.
They both cook better than I write. Jeremiah actually writes better than I cook. I learned to fly an airplane before I learned to drive a car.
Im a lucky man. Ive spent much of my adult life in two terrific, rewarding careers. In the first, as a clinical psychologist, I spent eight to twelve hours a day in a room with one other person.
In the second, as a writer, I spend a similar number of hours a day in a room with no other person, though sometimes Im blessed with the company of a dog or two. A primary difference between the two experiences? As a psychotherapist, only one other person my patient typically observed my work.
Virtually no one ever critiqued it. As a novelist, literally millions of people observe my work, and most feel no compunction whatsoever about critiquing it. Being a writer is a lovely thing.
But adapting to the reality of being read has been a constant source of wonder for me.