1) Tell us about your book.
Shades of Gray is a thriller/suspense novel that revolves around the theme of crossing the line into criminal activity in order to save someone you love. My protagonist is a single father who's daughter has a serious medical condition that requires him to come up with a plan to smuggle drugs aboard cruise ships in order to earn the money quickly. Furthermore, his travel agency is struggling due to 9/11 and this factor is also pushing him to this extreme option.
2) What inspired this book?
For 12 years (mostly in the 90s) I was the owner of a travel agency. One of my sales agents reported a situation to me where one of her clients was purchasing airline tickets in a legal, but unusual manner. Not too long after this, the woman was found murdered inside her burned out home. This solidified our suspicion that she must have been a drug dealer. After 9/11 and the subsequent downturn in the travel industry, an idea grew in my mind “What lengths would a business owner go to in order to save his company?” So this is how the novel was formulated.
3) It's been over a decade, but the pain of 9/11 still lingers in the American national consciousness. Were you concerned about having that as a background element of your plot?
Great question!! I was for a while when I first started writing but that concern faded as i progressed in the construction of the story (this was approx. 2003- 2006) as it became a small plot point. Furthermore, as time as passed, 9/11 has been something that has been used more and more in books and films.
4) What's the fundamental thematic question your novel explores?
How far will would a desperate father go in order to save his child's life? Would he break the law?
5) What drew you to that theme?
My experience as a travel industry owner during the tumultuous period for the industry just after 9/11 had me in a dire situation and anyone that has faced the closure of a business knows that their desperation can become overwhelming. I never turned to drug smuggling or anything illegal, but the closing of my business was traumatic and painful. Plus, I feel that this theme is one that many folks can relate to.
6) Your main characters make some hard choices; choices that some readers may find morally questionable. Did you ever worry that readers would have difficulty identifying with your characters?
Not really. I'm certain that almost everyone has had desperate financial situations and has contemplated illegal activity as a means to an end. I think readers will enjoy the morally questionable choices that are made by these characters and find that they can relate.
Part of the title, Shades of Gray, to me, represents the fact that the world is a "gray" place and very few of the decisions that we all make (especially when we are up against a wall) are black and white.
7) Can you give us any insight into any current works-in-progress?
Right now I just have a very, very rough idea and outline of my next novel. For the time being, I'm just describing it as a "Irving-esque romp through the 1990's as seen through the eyes of two Irish brothers coming of age just as the Internet is coming of age.
If you'd like to see more from Andy, please visit his blog at http://novelistandyholloman.wordpress.com/.
Shades of Gray can be purchased at Andy's website or Amazon.