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Gregg Hurwitz interview with Ayo Onatade

Written by Ayo Onatade

Ayo Onatade with Gregg Hurwitz photo © 2023 Ayo Onatade


Ayo:   Hello Gregg how lovely to see you after such a long time. How are you?

Gregg: I am doing well .  It is always good to see you. Always a highlight.


Ayo:   I am so pleased to get the opportunity to do interview this evening as I have loads of questions. What I wanted to start off with first of all with is one of things that you seem to have gathered with the Orphan  Series is the fact that you have this huge swath of new fans. How did you come up with the Orphan X concept?

Gregg: Hmm, well I do a lot of research with, many of it with sketchy characters. I have interviewed outlaw biker gangs, I have gone undercover in a mind control cult and one of the community’s I am pretty close with are former spies or spec ops guys. A lot of friends in the Navy Seals community and they are always talking about these “black programmes” right buried deep in the DoD (Department of Defence). I was always interested in how they  ran the money, how they work, how they function. And I just thought, look what if there is a programme called the Orphan programme where the Government were taking these kids. They want to train basically US assets to go places the US cannot go and do things that the US cannot legally do.  And what they want is expendable weapons.  They want disposable people that no one is going to miss. Okay, well that is a notion that is not wildly unheard of. David Morrell played in that sandbox – La Femme Nikita and so that was the starting notion of it. 

What would that be like and what would that kid be like? But one of the big things that turned the corner for me was when I thought what if his handler who takes him out of this foster home, In Evan Smoak, Orphan X is the smallest kid in the whole foster home.  Jack Jones(?) who is his handler his CIA handler picks him because he tells Evan you know look you got knocked down the most time as the smallest kid but that also means that you got up the most times. He wanted a kid with grit. And it turns out that Jack actually loved this kid and that for me is where it started to take on a little bit more depth and humanity. Not only was joining the Orphan programme one of the most crazy and difficult things that Evan is going to encounter to be a twelve year old who is now trained to be an assassin but it is also the best thing that ever happened to him.  Jack is the first person whoever treated him like a human being. And Jack even says to him, and this for me is the key line around which the whole series coalesces, he says to him the hard part is not going to be making you a killer, the hard part is keeping you human. And I thought okay, well now we have something because that collision between being trained to be a killer and trying to stay human with Evan being trained under these very very strict rules of the assassins ten commandments that gives me a template of a series that I can keep writing on and forward and that was the opening kernel for it.


Ayo:   Following on from that did you expect it to become such a well-loved series? Because everyone just loves the Orphan X series.  Did you expect it to go down that route or did you just think oh, just let me write this series and see where it goes?

Gregg: I think I have been doing this long enough  not to have that be an expectation for sure. I think that was certainly the hope. I mean, look, I was afraid to write this book. I had the idea for it. I wrote four other standalone thrillers first. I kept back burnering it, developing it more in my head, letting it simmer. Because if I was going to step off on this stage you know and think about trying to create a character that might one day have a place in a  pantheon with Reacher, Bourne and Bond I better really figure out what it is that is going to make this unique. That is going to make every plot, and every bit of dialogue, every action sequence feel like that it is an Orphan X not like it could just be anyone else that has done it. Because we all know that Reacher has a particular feel. We all know Reacher dialogue, we all know Reacher fights, we all know that kind of style of dry wit that Lee is so masterful at and now Andrew. But I really wanted to get this character three dimensionalised before I sat down to do it and a lot of other pieces had to come into focus for me before I was willing to do that.


Ayo:   So when Evan broke free and became the Nowhere Man so that he could use his skills for those in dire need did you expect the response that you received? Because it just appears that with The Nowhere Man the action went up a notch.

Gregg: Uh um, Look I mean if you raise someone to be a human and to also be a killer it’s just not going to work. One of the ways that I think of Evan is that it is almost as if he was raised and trained to be Pinocchio but he wants to be a real boy. Right, I say he never learned to speak the strange language  of intimacy.  So this series its really about his process of becoming. Why he was raised totally outside of society. He was trained one on one in dojos, he was drown proofed, psych ops training, he learned foreign etiquette right, so that he could blend in in Eastern Europe and commit all these acts. Hand to hand combat, knife fighting. Everything that he was trained in but he never learned to know what is was to be real or to be in a real family. And so I think of him always that he has his face up to the glass and that he is like looking in on other people leading these ordinary lives that he himself can never but at least he can protect it for him. He is like the wolf that is going to hunt other wolves. And so with The Nowhere Man, part of what happened was when he became the Nowhere Man which was one of his operational aliases he put the full focus for the first time, his whole operational ability and strategy and all of that was put finally in a position where it was aligned with his moral compass and so there was greater force for that and greater willingness to do anything he had to do to help somebody who no one else can help.  It is always somebody who calls that encrypted number whose got nowhere to turn but are in a desperate place and they are just being terrorised by another human or group of humans.


Ayo:   With the new Orphan X book which is The Last Orphan what prompted the storyline for it? As there is certainly a different tone to the book and lets not talk about the cliff-hanger at the end?

Gregg: So The Last Orphan, you know I mentioned Evan at some point left the programme we know when we start Orphan X the whole series the Government is kind of back to him Orphan X there is a line that we see on flat copy everywhere that says “but the past catches up to him”. I always knew at some point that the past wouldn’t just catch up with him, it would overtake him. And the President, the new President of the United States after his escapades in Out of The Dark releases, I mean the most powerful human being on the planet releases an insane wide scale manhunt to capture and secure him and so they get Evan. He’s bound and gagged and fully controlled for the first time since he left the programme. And basically he has got a mission which is a near impossible mission and the only person who can do it properly and without leaving any fingerprints, without leaving any back tracing is Orphan X and so she basically gives him an ultimatum. It was like do you want to  live by your code where he swore he would never kill for anyone else under anyone else’s bearings. Do you want to live by your code or do you want your life? What is it going to be? The code or your life? Or can he find a third way. And so I had that template and I also knew that the man who would represent the threat in The Last Orphan would be very different from that antagonists he has faced before.


Ayo:   Evan doesn’t seem to be as sharp as he normally is in this one either, does he?

Gregg: Well when he’s captured something happens to him that we haven’t really explored significantly in other books which is there is deep seated, like bone rattling trauma. He is captured and in turn he is contained and when he gets a moment again he’s undone. He’s OCD nearly over takes him. He deals with OCD. His second commandment . The second of the assassin’s commandments is How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything. And that’s people’s favourite. There are people that have tattoos of that, they’ve had jewellery made with it. But you can see where that can tilt into that can of intense perfectionism and result in OCD. So he’s undone so he has to reformat and reconstitute himself and it shatters him all the way back to his first memories he’s ever had. All the way back so he has to learn a different way of putting himself together and complete the mission and unfortunately for him the man whom he faces represents a different kind of threat as well.


Ayo:   How difficult is it then to have storylines like that and ensuring that they are realistic without going overboard.

Gregg: What is a really good question. A lot of it is that the research has to be really on point.  I have to be able to find the points of verisimilitude  but I have done the research, I can give the readers front row seat to the action to help carry them across the suspension of disbelief. The Orphan X books are not massively inflated like James Bond but they are turned up. The dial is certainly turned up.  They are not Le Carré, they are not nuts and bolts. They are not like Mike Connelly. Michael Connelly is so masterful in laying the steps of a very specific procedural within LAPD and within Evan action is  a bit bigger but I can’t have it get cartoonish. So it is always about modulating that line about having it be something that feels a little bit grander than the real world, but keep in mind Evan lives, one of the things that distinguishes him is that he lives in the real world. He is an archetypal character that lives among ordinary people like you and me.


Ayo:   I’m going to come back to (1) the commandments and (2) living in the real world. But the other thing I wanted to ask you was that was writing The Last Orphan easy? Especially when you were juggling the sub plots within it as well?

Gregg: No, this wasn’t easy.  There are a lot of different aspects now that I’m getting further and further in. It starts off that Evan is very much a lone wolf type. But he has joey now, he has Tommy, he has Mia, he has Peter and one thing that has been really cool about writing the series is that all these characters have emerged and they have emerged in some senses to me more and more three dimensional. Naomi Templeton,  she’s back. She’s Secret Service agent whose the main one on his tail from Out of the Dark. So I have like all these really complicated women orbiting around him and have some pretty complicated men too. And as that happens as I start to have Candy McClure – Orphan V, it becomes a challenge to make sure that all of the engagement feels genuine to the characters.  For me I never want it to feel that it is a walk on role. I never want it to feel that it is a strawman character. I never want to feel that someone  is a placeholder.  So what is really amazing is that I have this cast now that is this sort o make shift bizarre community that Evan has around him.  It’s his own version of living in the world, but I do have to figure out how all of them can interfere and engage with and create obstacles and challenges within a plot.  And so there are a lot of plates to spin.


Ayo:   Unsurprisingly you will know that I did actually have a question for you about whether or not we would be seeing more of Joey, and Candy, Tommy, Naomi in the series because as much as you say they may be secondary characters but they are just as important are they not.

Gregg: Well, you know I don’t know if you remember that at the end of Hellbent I introduced Joey Morale, she’s a sixteen years old hacker. She’s brilliant, ornery, difficult, you know and in Hellbent Evan basically loses his father figure and gets tasked with the care of this washout from an Orphan programme and it is the last goddam thing that he wants is to have this kid tagging along and at the end of Hellbent he has this arch inter relationship with her which becomes very real for him and for a lot of reasons it’s more real and more intimate then any relationship he has ever had aside from with Jack. And at the end of Hellbent I was supposed to kill Joey Morales and you can see the scene if those of you have read Hellbent know right where it happens and I got there and the process of writing the book I not only fell in love with her but the kind of texture that she brought to Evan, the exchanges, the different side that she showed in hm was so amazing that I was like no way she has got to be – she has almost become the number two in the books in a certain regard. She is such a big part of him and she reframes a lot of the ways in which he thinks about and moves in the world. She is this connection to humanity in a way he has never had that. She calls him “her uncle person”. He is not quite her dad, he’s not quite an older brother. He’s got this complicated role.


Ayo:   As the series is very action orientated. Which is more important to you character or plot?

Gregg: I think of plot as character in action. Everything is character. And so for me if a plot is the right plot it’s the characters moving through the role.


Ayo:   Let’s add to the mix a sense of place?

Gregg: Yeah! Place is really important. Everywhere I want to hit on it.  It’s funny as I have written a couple of books where place is an essential character and part of this is with Evan.  Evan’s in LA. LA is part of the city and the background to him. The books take place in different places. He is back and forth a lot in this one. Going to the Hamptons. He is rangy, but I have to make sure if I’m writing about a place that I’m evoking it in a way that feels real. I’m not choosing to set it there because it is another place with a bunch of buildings,  cars and people. It takes getting that part right.


Ayo:   What is it do you feel that appeals to readers about a character that is on the one hand a vigilante that operates outside the traditional boundaries? Is it the case that we  may all wish to be like Evan if we could?

Gregg: I think it’s more about we are all like Evan in some ways as we all have some idolised version of ourselves, right. But we are stuck in the world with other people.  Other people are messy and Evan can be perfect if he is operating by himself and he is meditating and he is training. But the more he’s with Mia, the single mother who lives downstairs from him , right who he has this on again off again confused relationship, and if she ever knew exactly who he was she would have to arrest him.  As he engages with people things get confounding. I think a lot of us feel that way. That we are trying vacillate between the world we want to try and control and inhabit and the real world of other people. And in his striving, like  I told you it is a story of becoming in a lot of ways. It is a story of him trying to figure out how to be an actual human being and I think in that people love though scenes. It’s wild.  It’s often not the big action scenes that they love. They love the scene where he comes back from a knife fight and he is bleeding through his sleeve and he is trying to cover it up and he gets stuck in the elevator with Mrs Rosenbaum who is the aggravating elderly Jewish lady who lives downstairs from him and he just wants to be left alone but he lives in this apartment, residential tower surrounded by ordinary people infringing on him. Part of his gig is that he is hiding in plain sight.


Ayo:   So he has to be a normal person?

Gregg: He has to try and figure out how to be a normal person. But what is interesting is those are the scenes that people love.  It’s not necessarily just the extreme thing that I want to be him, it’s like “God I have had that feeling”, right. When I’m like in mode, when I’m locked in and all of a sudden I’m back in he’s the one whose perfectly comfortable garrotting a human trafficker in a Muscovite banyan. But if he has to make small talk with Ida Rosenbaum by the bell slots it about kills him. Or he will be just fleeing just off a scene with him being pursued by an assassin and he’ll get stuck in a HOA meeting and they are discussing new carpeting for the lobby when he just wants to blow his brains out.


Ayo:   The other thing about Evan is that he is quite contradictory as well, isn’t he? Is there anything of you in Evan?

Gregg: All writers write about themselves. (laughing)


Ayo:   Now that’s a cop out come on.

Gregg: He doesn’t need to talk as much as I do. He’s got that part down.  He and I have an interesting relationship.


Ayo:   One of the other things is that a lot of readers think that he is one of the coolest assassins around at the moment. I’m sure that this was not deliberate was it? I mean how do you feel about that view?

Gregg: To make him one of the coolest assassins?


Ayo:   That he is, (laughing) not to make him. That he is? I mean  he’s there in plain sight.

Gregg: You know that it is very interesting.  One of the things I thought about him, I’m pretty average size, average build, average everything but I can go to the store and anything off the rack fits me and I thought that we have all these characters who are so defined. Reacher’s  6 foot 5, he has hands like catchers mitts. James Bond is devastatingly handsome, super charming.  What’s the phrase I use to describe Evan all the time? He’s average size, average build, just an ordinary guy, not too handsome.  He was raised to blend in, he was raised to not be noticed. He was raised to not be special, he was raised to not matter. He was chosen because he did not matter.  Because if he were killed nobody would miss him. And so it is a very different kind of approach into the world of thrillers that we are accustomed to and I think that people can relate to that. They can relate to someone who was the smallest kid in a foster home at aged twelve and figure out that the only thing that he had that he could rely on was his grit.  The other thing is that he is not the best like shock swagger, he is not the best hacker, we know that’s Joey. He has to bring the totality of who he is to missions to organise some kind of from the chaos and the terrors that he is confronting for somebody and so he is a lot more like Ulysses, the man of many wires.


Ayo:   One of the things about the book in the series is that they have a philosophical and moral conundrum as well as the emotional undertones. How difficult is it to juggle these different aspects without allowing one to overshadow the other ones?


Gregg: Wow, gosh that’s a good question particularly with this one. I am playing with a lot of different themes and notions. It always has to come from me from the guts up. It’s got to be what’s the scene, who are the characters, what’s the action, what’s happening. I can’t write from an abstract place and then fill in the blanks but I did have notions.  When I discovered Luke Devine who is the main character, who Evan is tasked with killing, with executing he is an incredibly powerful influencing manipulative power player. Unbelievably brilliant. And in a lot of ways I thought of Luke Devine who is a bit like Milton’s Lucifer from Paradise Lost. He’s the intellect that falls in love with himself and convinces himself that he can do anything and so he keeps on coming at Evan with abstract and Evan keeps on saying “I don’t care about that, I don’t care about politics, I don’t care about power, I don’t care about all those machinations, I care and this was  the point of entry he found in the mission, one young man was killed, one young woman was killed, that’s real tangible. If you are responsible for that you are going to answer to me. And so it was very much about these different notions and ways that we can perceive the world and how we can get lost to our own manipulative intellect.  That is a lot of what Devine is and Evan’s trying to hold his centre in the midst of that.


Ayo:   One of the other things about Evan is that he is always challenging himself. What do you do to challenge yourself and what keeps you going?

Gregg: Hmm, I try to challenge myself all the time. I’m always trying to do new things and new projects and to stretch creatively. Every project that I start I should be a little bit scared  that I can’t possibly pull it off. I like to bite off more than I can chew and then figure how to chew it. I’m up for a lot of adventures, often dangerous ones or often ones where the prospect of failure is quite significant.


Ayo:   I’m going to ask you something about that in a bit of course when it comes to doing your research, which basically is my next question. One of the things you are known for is your research and how in-depth you go. How long do you actually spend on research and how do you cope?

Gregg: It depends on the book. It definitely depends on the book. For some of them I have gone undercover in a mind control cult, I’ve gone up in stunt airplanes, I’ve gone down Class 4 White Water Rapids in the middle of the Amazon. I have done a lot of front line stuff let’s just say. A lot of interviews with subject matter experts. Snuck on to demolition ranges with SEALS to blow up cars. I have shot every gun that Evan shoots, I have trained in Mixed Martial Arts fighting – got my ass kicked a whole bunch. It sounds so impressive, but really its oh yeah I was like the rag doll dummy for an hour  on the mats and so it depends on whatever the books calls for figuring out and sometimes that can be more abstract. I mean I went back and read Paradise Lost before I wrote this. I was thinking a lot about that notion about who and how I wanted Devine to be. I was thinking a lot about his henchmen. He has seven henchmen and they all represent something different and I wanted to make sure that I was holding to some of that symbolism and imagery without being heavy handed. You want to tuck it away and always remember that the story is first. That the story is primary.


Ayo:   Is there anything that you have found out whilst doing research that you wish you hadn’t and is there anything that you were pleased that you found out when you were doing research?

Gregg: Research not necessarily  just for the books but I will say having peeled back a lot of layers on fundamental power dynamics in Americana, Government and in politics that’s a process of undeceiving about how things work and that can be quite dizzying to recognise getting closer to the actual levels of power and understanding some of the forces that move round them is eye opening. It’s a lot to contend with, let me just say that.  And the things I have discovered it’s delightful. I love figuring things out. I learnt how to pick locks, I have learnt how to do all kinds of things. Hot wire cars, I learnt how to ride a Harley for one of the books. The strategy and tactics of persuasion are very much of interest to me so the mind control research was fascinating to really think about how do people craft stories, how do they manipulate, what are the rules of social psychology, how does it work on car lots, how does it work in politics, how does it work in the news cycle. So that was another aspect of research that cracked open a  while other filter on the world for me.


Ayo:   Is there anything that you would love to research that you haven’t done so far?

Gregg: Umm, Yes it’s the next book.


Ayo:   (Laughing) So you are not going to tell me!

Gregg: One of the best things about my job is that I get to wake up and only focus all the time on the things that  are most fascinating to me.  It’s great. I get to be a dilettante. I get to follow anything that is fascinating. Any dark corner I want to go and shine a flashlight into, I get to go do it.


Ayo:   How do you explain your Rolodex to people?

Gregg: My Rolodex? I don’t. I can’t explain my Rolodex to people.


Ayo:   It’s just full of bits of fascinating information and contacts that you use.

Gregg: Yes and for me people who are fascinating, people who are devoted to the pursuit of excellence in something.  It doesn’t matter what it is. They span the political spectrum. They span the class system.  Mean they span everything. If somebody loves what they do – I feel like if you love something, again back to the second commandment -  How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything if you love something and you strive to pursue that passion and you strive to excellence I think that everyone can get through and learn the same lessons.  Whether you are making Sushi, you are a carpenter, you are an artist,  a Professor in a certain field, whether you are a gardener. It doesn’t matter what the field is or an athlete, people who are driven by passion and driven towards what’s excellent and driven towards whatever they find animating in their life and apply themselves to it there is a common kind of language, there is a common kind of overlap and that’s mostly what’s in my Rolodex.


Ayo:   So where and how did you formulate the ten commandments?

Gregg: What’s so wild is I was writing the first book, I thought he needs his ten assassin’s commandments. I don’t know how I thought of that but hindsight what’s really interesting is that I started writing these books when I was only on the cusp of forty and here I sit on the cusp of fifty, but forty, what’s interesting for me around forty and I feel some people feel this way, you are first starting to let go, well maybe some people were more precocious than I was. I was really figuring out what are all the life skills, survival skills, ways that I am in the world that might have served me really well. And when you turn forty you think if I’m fortunate I’m at a half way point. What are the things I need to let go of?, what are the things I want to live with? What are the things that serve me well but aren’t going to serve me moving forward? So I remember I was thinking is that going to be it? Am I going to write another fourteen books and ten scripts and a hundred comics and call it a day? What’s going to happen here? What’s so interesting is that Evan in his engagement with the ten commandments I inadvertently, it’s so obvious in hindsight I wrote a character in the course of Orphan X he shatters all ten of the ten commandments.  He is in the process of shattering all through any world view that he comprehended before on his way to  splitting apart to try to and reconstitute himself in some new fashion. And so that was the underpinning and what’s amazing is that when I wrote the first book I was just making it up as I was not going to list them in order. So here’s the second commandment. Here’s the seventh commandment and so I filled them in over the first few books and what’s amazing is when I go back and look at it they actually make sense in the order that they wound up which is incredible.


Ayo:   Are you a gadget person like Evan and if so do you have a favourite one?

Gregg: Gadget? Not as much as him. But I like certain gadgets. I like fine things, I like, it’s funny because I’m not materialistic , I don’t necessarily like objects but I love occasional amazing things. I certainly like alcohol. He (Evan) like alcohol a lot, he knows a lot about Vodka.


Ayo:   Yes, hold that thought, because I have a question about that. (Laughing)

Gregg: Okay, fair enough.


Ayo:   Gadgets specifically, do you have a favourite gadget that you like to use that that either helps you with your writing or you just like to have? For me at the moment for example, I don’t go anywhere without my iPad, it’s ridiculous but that’s my gadget that I get very frustrated when I don’t have it with me.

Gregg: I’m trying to go off and separate from phones a greater intervals. It’s so hard. I have to reformat my brain when I’m back from a tour or a book tour. I have to reformat my attention span for deep focus again almost. So I am trying to get off that. I will say that I do have a beautiful Strider knife like the one that I write about with Evan and it’s got a shark fin on the back of the blade and so when he draws it out of his pocket I can hook it on the corner and it snaps open, flicks open like a switch blade but it is not technically  switch blade, it is just set up in that fashion. It’s a beautiful knife.


Ayo:   I’m not sure how much of this you are going to be able to answer – so what next for Evan because we know that in The Last Orphan it does end on a slightly major cliff hanger?

Gregg: Does it?


Ayo:   (Laughing) Yes it does!

Gregg: I don’t know, I don’t know if I’m going to get him through The Last Orphan.   I don’t really know what is going to happen.


Ayo:   I stayed up all night finishing it. Not solely because of the interview but because I was just so fascinated and I went argh!!! How could you do this?  So where are we with Evan? Are you able to tell us anything? Or let me rephrase this? We are certainly going to get another book are we not?

Gregg: I am fairly certain that we will, but we probably have to check my contract. I have got to see what’s happening.


Ayo:   Okay, that’s good. That I can live with.

Gregg: Yes that I can live with. In fact, I will tell you this and I have told nobody this. The first ten are going to form a unit and this is the eighth book and I have plans to have the first ten of them complete a larger arch.  Each book can be read on its own. You can read The Last Orphan by itself. Everything is there. You can catch up to it all the way, you don’t have to read them that way but I’m certainly driving to an uber conclusion of the first ten that will come at the end of that book. And then after that I don’t think much will be like what came before.


Ayo:   That I can understand. So what’s happening with the filming of the series? Is that going ahead?

Gregg: Nothing right now. I have all the rights back. I have had a bunch of different attachments to it In and Out and I have it back and I’m now waiting to find the right creative partnership with somebody.


Ayo:   You have mentioned that you like alcohol and I know that it is specifically bourbon. Whist Evan on the other hand loves Vodka. I was just rather surprised and I thought that it would have been easier for you to choose the same tipple. Why the difference?

Gregg: I love bourbon. Umm, part of what you want to do, the author should not be present in the story.  The story has always got to come first and why Evan loves  vodka is it’s the purest liquid on earth. He’s OCD, everything for him it’s like a purification ceremony – he drinks vodka. I mean it’s filtered sixteen times. It’s strained through charcoal. That’s just what his drink is. I also like vodka so it’s okay. And I get some of the world’s greatest vodka’s mailed to me now because if I write about them the sales go up sometimes and so I get these beautiful bottles that will be etched thanking Orphan X and I keep thinking damn I should have just done bourbon. I should have just led with myself. But I do love vodka and I have some exceptional bottles and there are vodka’s that are as good as any liquids on earth.


Ayo:   I freely admit that I am a gin person.

Gregg: I love gin too but we are not talking about that at the moment or you are going to make me sound like an alcoholic.


Ayo:   No of course not! I’ve only got a couple more questions to go but one question I wanted to ask is what do your books mean to you? Not solely the Orphan X series, but you have written some standalone books, you have the comics and at the moment I am particularly referencing the Batman comics that you wrote for DC?

 Gregg: What do they mean to me in what sense?


Ayo:   In the sense that writing can be incredibly solitary and when you finish one book and then you start another how do you feel about it and then when you look at your bookshelves and you see all your books how does it make you feel?

Gregg: It’s so weird, it’s so weird now. I mean I would have done this – when I was graduating college, my college room-mates were going off and becoming doctors, lawyers and bankers and everyone was going off to get real jobs and I did this stalled year. I came to England. I was super fortunate I got a Fellowship, I came over here to study, I got a Master’s in Shakespearean tragedy because I needed a highly practical degree to enter the job force. There was no back-up plan. I was rewriting this first book but if somebody had come to me in my senior year of college and said we will pay you $2000.00 a month for the rest of your life and that you can live in a studio and just write I would have signed that deal. And so it was the only thing that I wanted to do and I was super lucky. I sold my first book, I was twenty-one or twenty-two and I only looked at it as gas for the tank for the car. How many months of writing is this? I parcelled it out. If I only spend x a month, how many months can I write. Every deal I did, how many more months do I have to write? And so looking at them all now, I’m just so fucking grateful. I can’t believe they pay me to do it.


Ayo:   Okay, last question? What would you like to say to all the fans of Evan and the series?

Gregg: I would like to say thank you. Without you this would all be one great exercise in self-indulgence.


Ayo:   Self-indulgence at times is good.

Gregg: Yeah I know but it is better when it’s not just that.


Ayo:   Thank you Gregg so much for the interview.

Gregg: It’s always great to see you Ayo.

Published by Michael Joseph / Penguin  February 16, 2023 Hbk £14.99 

©Ayo Onatade (February 2023)

Gregg Hurwitz

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