Gary Lopez grew up in the northern panhandle of West Virginia near the city of Wheeling. Gary attended West Liberty University outside of Wheeling for his undergraduate degree and later West Virginia University where he graduated with a Masters Degree in Safety Studies. Gary soon embarked on a successful business career with an international chemical company during which he had various assignments that took him around the world. A career that culminated with Gary being named a Fellow of the American Society of Safety Engineers.
One Gary's assignments was a "two year" assignment in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Gary was only halfway through this assignment and knew he had found home. As an avid golfer and scuba diver, both of these recreations fit perfectly in the South Florida lifestyle. His other vice is snow skiing which he manages to do at least once a year.
Gary always considered the art of writing as one of being a great storyteller. When his children were growing Gary would read them stories of Brer Rabbit and later the Count of Monte Cristo. Stories which he would always embellish for his children to make them more interesting. A voracious reader during his world travels Gary decided it was time to put pen to paper and write his own stories for others to enjoy.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Wow, what a difficult question. I can only pick five? Right off the top of my head they would be Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, The Source by James Michener, Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy and The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. I know that's quite a range of writing styles and subject matter. But here is what I saw in each of them.
Catch 22 is perhaps one of the funniest books I have ever read. Just the concept of what is Catch 22 is brilliant. Although the setting is an air base in World War II, it is a parody of American business ethics. I was actually required to read it the first time in college for one of my business courses. Brilliantly written.
Gone With the Wind is pure soap opera and romance. But books should entertain as well as inform. And I can think of no more classic love story than Rhett and Scarlett set to the backdrop of the greatest American tragedy, the Civil War. Plus I loved the idea that Ms. Mitchell was not into sequels. Every time she was asked about a sequel she was firm on the fact that there was no sequel. It ended like it ended. Do you think modern Hollywood would have let her get away with that today?
Red Storm Rising was I thought Clancy's best work. Oddly enough this was his one early book without his hero Jack Ryan. But I love the background work he did on this book. You learn as much about military capabilities as you do about the characters. Very well researched and written. He is inspiring me on the research I am doing on my next book, Operation Trojan Horse. Notice how I snuck that little next book promo in there?
The Source is not one of Michener's best know works, but I think it should be required reading for everyone on the planet, especially the religious fanatics. Michener does a fantastic job spinning a tale of various religions popping up in small village in the Mideast. This is no simple tale as told in his other books. Michener is making a commentary on religion in general putting it in a historical perspective. As you read the story it becomes evident that religions (plural) are made up by man and change not because of any memos received from God, but simply because man made them up. Whether it be Mohammed talking to Angels in his dreams or Moses to burning bushes on the mountain it's really just men making shit up. The undertone is that man has a psychological need for the various religions we manufacture and taken to the extreme will kill you if you don't buy into a particular version of his imaginary friend. Dan Brown did a great job of this explaining Christianity's unique start in his book The DeVinci Code. The Source struck me to the core. Especially when I thought about how must people develop their religious beliefs. Essentially you inherit your religion from your parents who inherited it from theirs. So as a small child what chance do you have. After years of brainwashing by your parents and religious figures it is a miracle if you are capable of any rational thought. Kind of scary.
The Count of Monte Cristo is that classic story of revenge. We can all relate to Edmond Dantes. Who hasn't wanted to extract revenge on someone during their life. But Dumas gives you a "be careful what you wish for" twist at the end. Dantes finds that his revenge is bittersweet. A great story told by a great storyteller. It shows great stories are timeless.
What do you read for pleasure?
For pure relaxation I love Sci Fi. My whole fraternity house used to be glued to Star Trek reruns in college. This got me reading Asimov's Foundation Trilogy and I was off to the races. My favorite Sci Fi is time travel and survival, like in Lucifers Hammer by Jerry Pournelle. He does a great job of reminding us how fragile our civilization is and how many of us would be useless in a society that is in the rebuilding process. Think of it. A farmer would be worth his weight in gold. A lawyer. Utterly useless. Makes you want to wish for a meteor strike huh? But the story lines are endless.
For action adventure you can't beat Clive Cussler. I read Raise the Titanic first and was hooked on his stories. Some people think his plots and story lines are thin, but the guy sells a lot of books so somebody loves him.
Operation Trojan Horse is a story of the real reasons why the Soviet Union suddenly collapsed. A story of how the Soviet Union fell in no small part because of an elaborate plan that was put together by a long dead German Admiral that was carried on by the CIA and resulted in one of the most remarkable and unpredictable endings in history.
Kennedy. The Kennedy assassination. Who actually shot JFK and why was he shot? To this day these questions haunt us. The Kennedy Gambit is a thrilling story of how Kennedy attempted to change history and paid dearly for it. Follow Bradley Newton, and his two love interests, who together uncover the mystery of why JFK was really killed and then become determined to put history back on track.