A former marine biologist, restaurant cook, federal government official, and political speechwriter, Michael Gruber traveled a fascinating path toward his latest occupation as the bestselling author of unique, history-tinged thrillers like The Book of Air and Shadows.
Michael Gruber, in his own words:
I was born and raised in New York City, and educated in its public schools. I went to Columbia, earning a B.A. in English literature. After college I did editorial work at various small magazines in New York, and then went back to school at City College and got the equivalent of a second B.A., in biology.
After that I went to the University of Miami and got an M.A. in marine biology. In 1968-69, I was in the Army as a medic.
In 1973, I received my Ph.D. marine sciences, for a study of octopus behavior. Then I was a chef at several Miami restaurants. Then I was a hippie traveling around in a bus and working as a roadie for various rock groups. Then I worked for the county manager of Metropolitan Dade County, as an analyst. Then I was director of planning for the county department of human resources.
I went to Washington, D.C., in 1977, and worked in the Carter White House, Office of Science and Technology Policy. Then I worked in the Environmental Protection Agency as a policy analyst and also as the speechwriter for the administrator. I started writing freelance at that time, and shortly after being promoted to the Senior Executive Service of the U.S., I left Washington and settled in Seattle. I worked for a while for the state land commissioner, but since 1988 I have been a full-time writer.
I am married, with three grown children and an extremely large dog.
Good To Know
Some interesting anecdotes from our interview with Gruber:
"My first job was writing copy for Classics Comics, which was the best job I ever had. Reducing Tolstoy to thought balloons!"
"I did my Ph.D. on the relation between moray eels and octopuses. As a result of this work, I am one of the few people who have been bitten by both a moray eel and an octopus. Being bitten by a moray is much like catching your finger in a car door. Being bitten by an octopus is like being snakebit. Your arm swells up and turns black."
"I was once a member of a traveling commune called the Hog Farm. I was the cook on one of the buses. My roadkill dumplings were famous throughout the mobile counterculture. I once made eggs Benedict for 14 hippies on the banks of the Rio Grande. Aside from that my life has been fairly dull and no fun at all."
"I have no hobbies. The only thing I do with my time is reading, writing, and research. I walk my dog. I occasionally dig in the garden, but we have a gardener and this tends to upset her. I never unwind, except I get drunk with a bunch of journalists every Friday. Every Wednesday I teach snippets of Catholic theology to people who wish to join the Church."