Joshua Gilder
 

 

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Introducing our new featured author, Joshua Gilder.  Author of Ghost Image, an exciting and breath-taking new thriller! 
 

Ghost Image (click to purchase)

Plastic surgeon Jackson Maebry gets a surprise one day while working a last minute shift in the ER.  The woman on the table is none other than his intended fiance, Allie, who has just arrived after being brutally attacked and left for dead.  The suspects on the list are few, with Jackson being the main one.  Suddenly his life is thrown into a tailspin, his dreams are shattered, and his life hangs in the balance as others begin to die. As Jacksons questionable past emotional problems become a threat to his future, nothing can be taken at face value.  Nothing.    

This is an astounding first novel by Gilder!  Strongly written and emotionally forceful characters are what distinguish this from the herd most distinctly, as well as a plot that is fresh and unexpected at almost every turn.  At times both achingly sad, and jarringly brutal, this is an amazingly thrilling read.  Never sure who the villain is, the final denouement comes, surprisingly, as the only answer that makes sense.  This is an author we hope to hear from again soon, hopefully, very very soon! 

An Interview with Joshua Gilder:

1.. Jackson Maebry is such a realistic character.  How much of him is in you, or you in him?

I plead the Fifth. I mean, the guy has some pretty severe issues, after all!  To be serious, though, it's a difficult question to answer. As far as external attributes go, he's very different: he's a doctor, he lives on the other side of the country. His traumatic family situation is not in fact drawn from mine. On the other hand, one can't write a character like that without getting inside his head -- or his getting inside yours.

Part of what Jackson is dealing with, of course, is coming to terms with who he is. That's why he's such an unreliable narrator. Not because he's dishonest, but because he's so uncomfortable -- terrified even -- with who he is, or fears he may become. So he edits his own story to make himself seem more "normal." I think we all do that, to some extent. Make up a story about ourselves that we think will be more presentable to the world around us, more
in line with what we think "they" think is acceptable.

So the answer to the question is there's probably a lot more of Jackson in me, or me in him, than I'm even aware of!


2.. In a previous interview you mentioned that you were still working at your "regular" job while writing this novel.  How difficult was it to transition between the two?

Basically impossible. I'm not the sort of person who can do two things well at the same time. I have trouble enough doing one. My "real" job is strategic business consulting, and I was dealing with a lot of fairly arcane issues, like antitrust law, SEC regulations and such. To put it mildly, your head is in a completely different place doing that than when writing a novel about fear, lust, love, ambition, rage and redemption. So going back and forth was
like getting serial brain transplants -- one brain for the job, one for the novel -- and was at times simply excruciating. Eventually, I gave up, took a sabbatical from the job, and finished the novel. At that point, the writing just zipped along.



3.. At what point in your life did you realize that you wanted to write
fiction?


I think I always did, for some reason. I've always had this feeling that it is one of the highest callings one can aspire to. I'm not sure it is, at all.  And I don't know why I feel that way. Human beings have always told stories, and it's not just for the entertainment value. There's something magical about the whole process. Telling stories is, somehow, what we're all about as a race.


4.. Your novel has a lot of medical facts in it, and although you are not a medical doctor, it's obvious you did your research.  Why write a medical thriller, as opposed to a political thriller, which seems more in tune with your background?  (Not that we're complaining!!)

I've spent my whole adult life, more or less, in politics. I wanted a break.  And I thought doing something completely different might give me a fresh outlook on things.

Also, I just became fascinated with the subject. My friend is a
reconstructive plastic surgeon and he was telling me about this operation he'd just done to reattach a man's severed fingers. (It was successful, by the way.) In a way, it symbolized what we all want in life: to be able to erase old mistakes, heal past trauma, start again anew. At that point, the whole theme and plot of the novel just sort of clicked into place.

I realized I'd have to do a lot of onsite research, but it was only when I was actually visiting an operating room for the first time that I remembered I'd always been slightly phobic about hospitals -- sort of like Detective Rossi in the novel. I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me before, but by that point I was committed, and so had to stick it out. Watching an operation can be a bit unsettling for your average civilian, like me, and the doctors would thoughtfully provide me with a chair or stool to sit down on if I became queasy, but the truth is that after a while you forget about how gory
it all is and just get caught up in the fascination of the human body and the technology of medicine. So I survived.

As to writing a political thriller, I may do that next.


5.. Support of family and friends seem to be quite crucial during this process.  Did you have several people read your work during the process, or only at the end?

I think maybe 50 or more people read the novel in various drafts along the way and gave a lot of helpful advice. HOWEVER, I wasn't indiscriminate about giving it out. The only person I let read it for a long time was my wife.  After that, very close friends. Always with the injunction to be positive.

The worst thing with a creative project is to get "advice" or "criticism" from people too early in the process if they don't get what your trying to do. It can completely throw you off. And the fact is, most people won't "get it" until it's finished, or even then. So I was very careful to have people read the drafts only when I was pretty solidly secure about what I was doing.




6.. This is such an exceptional first novel; we can easily understand all the kudos you've received.  But honestly, just how hard was it to get it accepted by such a respected publisher?

It was hard. But I was also very lucky. One day I walked out of the elevator into the offices of the Gernert Company and handed by draft to the guy sitting behind the desk. His name is Matt Williams. He read it and liked it and became my agent. It was his first book and mine too. If not for him -- and happening upon him that day was just pure luck -- I might still not be published.


7.. Are you surprised by the acclaim you've received from your first time out?


I'm hugely gratified and pleased. You write your heart and soul into a book, then just sort of throw it out there, and who knows how people are going to react? What's particularly pleasing is that people not only enjoy reading Ghost Image, but really seem to "get" what the book is about. I wanted to write a popular novel that took on some -- how to say it? -- weightier themes. That could be a recipe for disaster, but judging from the reaction I've gotten, it seems to have worked.


8.. And finally, what are your plans for future novels?


Well, right now I'm co-authoring with my wife a nonfiction narrative titled "The Death of Tycho Brahe." He lived in the sixteenth century and was one of the greatest astronomers and scientists of all time. It also turns out, as my wife and I discovered, that he died under very suspicious circumstances. So it will be a kind of nonfiction whodunit. Doubleday is publishing it and it should be out in about a year.

As to novels, I'd like to write a comedy, but I think my next one will almost certainly be a political thriller.

Joshua's Bio:

I was born March 15, 1954 at the Bethesda Naval Hospital outside of Washington D.C, hardly more than spitting distance depending on the wind direction -- from where I now live, which may be karma, but is more likely coincidence. This was during the Korean War and my Dad, a Freudian psychoanalyst, was then serving in the Navy, there apparently being a high demand for Freudians in the military at the time. My Dad was discharged shortly afterwards, and wanting to stay close to my parents, I moved with them when I was six months old to Scarsdale, NY, just North of New York City..
There, I attended public school and learned, more or less, to read and write.. I say "more or less" because I was what we now call "dyslexic" but was then referred to in the professional literature as being "a bad reader." As my fourth grade teacher explained it to my Mom, "Josh just doesnt seem to enjoy reading for pleasure."


    People sometimes ask me why someone with dyslexia would become a writer.  This has to do with the college I went to. It was and still is called Sarah Lawrence College, and it provided me with a marvelous four years of highly stimulating intellectual activity during which I acquired an expertise in the semiotic dialectics of the "potlatch" ceremonies of Northwest Coast Kwakutl
Indians. To my profound shock and surprise, however, I found upon graduation that there was little demand for my skills in the job market. One guy actually laughed out loud when he asked me what my qualifications were and I said, "I have a B.A." I explained I wasnt joking. He said I should have been.

    So I decided to write. Short pieces for small magazines. The idea being that I might over time parlay that into some kind of editorial position. My first article was accepted by "The New Leader," which I knew had a very junior editorial spot open. I asked the guy running the magazine if hed consider me for the job, given that he liked my writing so much, or at least enough to publish it. "No," he said. Why not? "Because you obviously cant s pell to save your life." I explained I had just dashed the piece off and hadnt checked it for spelling. This was a lie. Id checked every word with
a dictionary. Even so, when I saw the marked-up copy I found Id somehow managed to misspell something like 30 percent of the words.

    He still liked my articles, however, and other magazines too, I found, were willing to overlook my spelling deficit if they liked the substance of what Id written. And after Id developed a big enough portfolio I finally did wrangle a position at Saturday Review as an associate editor. This was made possible by their crack copy editor, Dorothy, who as far as I can remember only let one mistake slip by her eagle eyes in the two years I worked there. I wrote "unequivocably," instead of "unequivocally." Id never
before received even one letter-to-the editor about anything Id written, but at least 20 outraged readers wrote in to protest "unequivocably" and ask how they could ever trust anything written in Saturday Review again.

    Unfortunately, Saturday Review went bankrupt in 1982 -- due to reasons unequivocally not related to my spelling and I needed another job. I knew someone who knew Tony ("Evil Empire") Dolan, who was then the chief speechwriter at the White House. I thought maybe I could get some position writing talking points for the Secretary of Agriculture, if I were lucky. I sent Tony some clips (most were on literature and the arts Id done very little political writing at the time) and gave him a call. He grilled me for an hour on what my opinion was of Ernest Hemmingway, and apparently my
answers were satisfactory, as he invited me to lunch the next week. At the White House. After lunch, Tony took me up to meet Peter "tear down this wall" Robinson, who was the VP George Bushs solitary speechwriter, churning out seven to ten speeches a week (this is no exaggeration) and in desperate need of help. We hit it off. Right place. Right time. I got the job as the V.Ps number 2 speechwriter.

    Peter soon was elevated to President Ronald Reagans staff and I followed about a year afterwards. My first and most famous line "Go, ahead. Make my day!" was obviously something I pilfered from Clint Eastwood, but it had the desired effect of beating back a humongous tax increase working its way through Congress. I wrote for Reagan for four years. Probably the most dramatic moment was the Moscow State University Speech during the Moscow summit in 1998, delivered in front of the bust of Lenin and a mural of the October Revolution, in which Reagan ever so nicely explained that freedom and technology were going to leave the Soviets on the dust bin of history unless they changed their act which of course they did, much sooner than we expected.

    After George Bushs 1988 campaign, I was appointed Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, spending the fall of 1989 braving death threats from the Bulgarian KGB, who were under the impression a correct one that I was trying to destabilize their regime. It fell a few days after I left. That was karma, not coincidence.

    Two years of playing battle of the bureaubots at State, however, put me in the mood for the private sector, where I helped found a consulting firm called the White House Writers Group. Got a major anti-trust issue with the Department of Justice? Were the guys for you.

    Eight years ago I had the astounding good fortune of meeting my
soon-to-be wife, Anne-Lee, who was a news reporter/producer for German TV, and convincing her after months of unrelenting pressure to finally say "yes." I mention in the acknowledgements to Ghost Image that the novel never would have been written without her. This is more true, and true in more ways, than
I can possibly express. Six years ago, we had Max, the Lord of our Universe, and already a great speller! Right now, Anne-Lee and I are writing a non-fiction book together about two astronomers at the turn of the 17th century Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler -- who changed forever our conception of the universe. Its full of intrigue, alchemy, skullduggery and even a bit of science, and if all goes according to plan, it will be published by Doubleday in the summer of 2003.
 

You can learn more about Joshua Gilder's new book at www.joshuagilder.com