Book Talk: Tension at home fuels Michael Gruber's new novel

Tue Jun 1, 2010 10:05pm EDT
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By Belinda Goldsmith

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - It was tension at home between a peace activist wife and a son in the U.S. military that sparked U.S. writer Michael Gruber's latest and seventh novel.

Gruber, praised as a writer of literary spy thrillers, delves into religion and the Muslim world in "The Good Son," which tells the story of a mother taken hostage in Pakistan while at a peace conference and who is rescued by her son, an ex-elite soldier.

He said the book was seven years in the making as it takes him a while to "cook his books."

Gruber worked as a cook, marine biologist, speech writer, a policy advisor for Jimmy Carter's White House, and a U.S. bureaucrat before becoming a full-time writer in 1988, collaborating with his cousin, lawyer Robert K. Tanenbaum, on a series of legal thrillers about prosecutor Butch Karp.

The writer, who turns 70 this year, spoke to Reuters:

Q: What led to "The Good Son?"

A: "A few threads. When I was a kid I was a big fan of Kipling and I never abandoned my respect for his writing ... and now we find ourselves in a Kipling-esque situation with our involvement in South Asia and the graveyard of empires.

But what also got me into this book was my wife who is an English woman and the daughter of a WWI hero. He was a tank commander on the Western Front and some dreadful events happened to him and he was among the shattered generation. As a result of her experiences with him, she became a peace activist and was at the forefront of organizations against the Iraq war.   Continued...