Adam Gittlin - Thrilling Books set in a Cut-Throat Corporate World
Adam Gittlin has a knack for writing high finance thrillers that keep readers on the edge of their seats. His first novel in the wildly popular Jonah Grey series, The Deal, is getting a film adaptation. Today, Gittlin chats with us about the third book in the DEAL series, Deal Master, what sparked his interest in becoming an author and gives us some insights in the character of Jonah Grey.
Please give us a short introduction to Deal Master, for readers who are not familiar with the DEAL books.
Power Broker Jonah Gray is home. But does that mean Amsterdam, or New York City? Will he be Ivan Janse or Jonah Gray?
One thing is certain—Jonah, as always, is steeled to get where he needs to go.
This time around, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Someone from Jonah’s past is back in a big way. Jonah has been strong-armed into using his knowledge of the business of skyscrapers to assist in a nefarious, global scheme—and failure, as has been made clear, is simply not an option. There are monstrous deals and piles of cash to be made. There are reputations—even lives—to be lost.
Facing the horrors of the past, Jonah’s own demons start to encroach as Perry, the woman he loves, seems to sink deeper and deeper into drugs—or insanity. Jonah could be cracking under stress just as he needs maximum focus. He has always been able to call up his resolute strength of character and it’s never been needed more than now. Jonah is in for the fight of his life. Not just for himself—not just for Perry—for an entire industry.
Financial brokers are often stereotyped to be boring people. How did you make Jonah's character so likable and interesting?
Jonah, in fact, is a combination of many people I know—both personally, and professionally. Just like any industry you’re always going to have personalities ranging from boring to rife with personality, but I think by making Jonah someone with both drive and demons; both simplicity and taste, he becomes someone so many can relate to on a simply personal, human level.
Tell us a bit more about the title, Deal Master. Why this choice?
You’ll have to read this installment to understand why DEAL MASTER fits.
Why did you pick the corporate world as a backdrop for your books?
I’ve always been a fan of corporate—and related—world industries. Books, film, TV—I’ve always loved all of it. The legal thrillers; Grisham and Turow. The corporate world stories crafted by the likes of Frey and Finder. The Wall Street stuff. But working in the highest end commercial real estate world—the business of skyscrapers--in a city like Manhattan, it occurred to me that the world I was inhabiting was probably bigger—from the money to the egos to the power—than all the others put together. I was surprised no one had used this specific world—the business of skyscrapers—as the backdrop for a financial thriller series. So it seemed like a good place to go.
The scenes in your books are very descriptive, making the locations come to life. How do you pull that off?
I love the visual aspect of writing—making sure the reader can feel like they’ve been taken away to the place they are reading about. Like they have not only been mentally, but almost physically, transported. Full immersion for a reader into the story is always a goal of mine, and I think writing with a bit of envisioning the words almost as a film playing out in my mind assists with achieving that goal.
Perry is caught in a downward spiral - what is so appealing about using characters with flaws and weaknesses?
Nothing brings us closer to characters than what humanizes them. Because this, at the end of the day, is what we can most relate to.
Have you always known that you wanted to be an author?
Not at all. While I always devoured stories, especially thrillers, in any way shape or form—books, TV, film—it was never even a thought to me. In college, before the internet became part of our lives, my mother—also an avid reader—would constantly send me books she’d finished reading, from Patterson’s early work to Robert Ludlum and so many others in between. When I returned for my last semester of undergraduate work at Syracuse University, I was sitting with one of my closest friends (who remains one of my closest friends today), and explaining that because I only had one required class left to take, I was unsure how to use my time. It was he who suggested, from thin air: “I don’t know…why don’t you try writing one of those books you’re always reading.” I remember looking at him, confused, and saying, “What are you talking about?”, to which he replied, “Why not? You must understand the structure of how they’re set up, whether you realize it or not…”
And that’s how it all began.
What sparked the creation of the DEAL series? Did you plan for it to become a series right from the start?
When I was writing the original book in the series, THE DEAL (currently being adapted for film), I didn’t see it as a series. But as I was writing the end of the first installment, it occurred to me perhaps I was on to something with much more longevity—in terms of where this story, these characters, could ultimately go—than I had realized.
The restaurants in your novels are all based on real ones. Why?
For me, the authenticity of the locations in my novels is key. Hamburg? Amsterdam? All of the cities I have written about I’ve been, as I don’t feel an author can truly write about a place they haven’t experienced. I tell people all the time, to really be able to write about somewhere you have to even know how it smells. Restaurants are no different, and I use restaurants in my novels strategically as I find them to be places people interact on both personal and public levels in a very relatable level. My city has some of the best restaurants in the world. So since I find them to be an ideal venue for things that happen in my stories, not only do I love using them, but I’m very careful about those I choose.
How, do you think, have you evolved creatively since you published your first book?
I think style wise I’ve become, technically, a more mature writer. Literally from the point of view of the craft of stringing words together. On the story front, I think each novel adds another level of experience toward more seamlessly being able to weave multiple stories together that move toward one cohesive, tight, ending.
What are you working on now? Are we going to see more of Jonah Gray?
I’m currently working on the 4th Jonah installment in the DEAL series, due out sometime in the second half of 2017.