Gregg Hurwitz is the New York Times, #1 internationally bestselling author of 23 thrillers, including the Orphan X series, and two award-winning thriller novels for teens. His novels have won numerous literary awards, graced top ten lists, and have been published in 33 languages. Gregg currently serves as the Co-President of International Thriller Writers (ITW).
Gregg has written screenplays for or sold spec scripts to many of the major studios (including Sweet Girl and The Book of Henry), and written, developed, and produced television for various networks. He is also a New York Times bestselling comic book writer, having penned stories for AWA (Knighted), Marvel (Wolverine, Punisher) and DC (Batman, Penguin). He has published poetry, numerous academic articles on Shakespeare, taught fiction writing in the USC English Department, and guest lectured for UCLA, and for Harvard in the United States and internationally. In the course of researching his thrillers, he has sneaked onto demolition ranges with Navy SEALs, swum with sharks in the Galápagos, and gone undercover into mind-control cults.
Additionally, Gregg is actively working against polarization in politics and culture. To that end, he's produced several hundred commercials which got over a hundred million views on digital and TV platforms, and won multiple American Advertising Awards (Addys) for creative digital political commercials. His editorial pieces have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, The Bulwark, and others.
Q. When we profiled you in 2016, you had just released your first novel in the Orphan X series. Your 7th, Dark Horse, is being released in a couple of weeks. How has your protagonist Evan Smoak changed over time, and how have you?
A. Evan develops in tandem with me. Whatever I’m contending with in my personal life or in the socio-political landscape (in my pro bono political work) he seems to find his way into, albeit in more violent fashion. The further I get in my career, the more my writing and my own life become aligned, where I’m dealing with reflections of the same issues and trying to answer the same unanswerable questions in fiction and in reality.
Q. Is the series still in development?
A. No. I’m pulling Orphan X back for now and waiting for a piece of talent I admire to come with a creative approach that makes sense. I’ve decided I don’t want to actively try to sell it – I want to find a connection with someone who already knows the series and has a notion of how to bring it to life.
Q. You have written compellingly about how thrillers can serve up a positive archetype of masculinity that is based on the hero myth, something that is hardwired into our culture. Why are these stories important?
A. In many regards, crime fiction has replaced the social novel. Thriller and mystery writers can reach an incredibly broad audience to challenge notions of power and identity, place and character, social inequality and injustice. And our protagonists exist to shape chaos into order, no matter how painful that process may be.
Q. Toxic masculinity has been more conspicuous than ever, from the Navy SEALs to the White House. Yet popular action heroes are more vulnerable and open these days, even James Bond. You set out to make Evan Smoak vulnerable emotionally from the beginning of the series. Have you ever gotten pushback for that approach?
A. No. I’ve only received positive input about that. I think it’s because Evan still exhibits appropriate mercilessness when he must. He’s not afraid to use brutality and force. But only when necessary. And he was raised to be a blue-collar gentleman.
We're excited to kick off our 20th Anniversary Season with a special series of posts that bring you stories of Harvard alumni working in the arts, media, and entertainment. These snapshots, spanning careers from entry to senior levels, reflect the diversity in both talent and perspective of our membership.
Enjoy these snapshots from the lives and careers of Nick Baker AB '07, Ryan Halprin AB '12, Ruiqi He AB '19, Gregg Hurwitz AB '95, and Valerie Weiss MMS '97, PhD '01.
I wanted to say thanks again for how life-changing my Harvardwood experience was. Not only was Harvardwood 101 a fabulously-run program with an amazing director, but it shed light on the career path I'd now like to pursue, which I was so confused about before. I feel incredibly blessed and thankful every single day for the Harvardwood 101 week, as well as my internship at MRC Studios. If it weren't for either, I wouldn't have found out what [is now] my career goal, which is to start out in investment banking and use this finance and valuation knowledge to use my MBA as a pivot into producing and financing films in Hollywood. Forever grateful for Harvardwood, which basically changed and shaped the rest of my life.
- Ruiqi He (Analyst, J.P. Morgan)
By D. Dona Le
Orphan X, the latest novel by Gregg Hurwitz AB '95, will be published on January 19, 2016. The book is the first in the Evan Smoak series that Hurwitz is adapting for Warner Brothers, with Bradley Cooper producing (and possibly starring). Recently, director Colin Trevorrow finished shooting Hurwitz's screenplay, The Book of Henry.
Read our special Q&A with Hurwitz about both of these upcoming projects below!
Q. There's been a tight lid on details about THE BOOK OF HENRY, but can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind the idea and the choice to explore this dark plot with child-aged protagonists?
A. I can't even remember the inspiration since I wrote the first draft—literally—18 years ago. It felt like this pure, rare thing where I just thought of this single mom and her two kids stuck in a near-impossible predicament. I will say that Henry's voice (Henry is the 12-year-old prodigy at the center of the story) came very naturally. Not because I'm a prodigy or anything close to it but because sometimes my characters are smarter than I am, even in real time. I can't remember ever hearing characters' voices that distinctly right off the bat. Read more
Gregg Hurwitz '95 (Author)
By Dayna Wilkinson
Gregg Hurwitz’s tenth novel will be released on July 6th. "I’m really excited about this one,” he says, "in some ways I’m more excited about this than any of my other books. It’s an homage to the suspense and paranoia of REAR WINDOW where you realize someone’s watching all the time.” The film rights to this novel, THEY’RE WATCHING, have already been snapped up.
Anyone who knew Gregg Hurwitz as a child wouldn’t be surprised that he grew up to be a writer. "When I was young I wasn’t allowed to watch TV so I read all the time. All I ever wanted to be was a writer. I wrote mysteries that I illustrated with crayons and put together with cardboard covers. I still have some of them on my shelf.”Read more