When a fireman or a policeman would visit his school, most of his classmates’ heads would swim with aspirations of growing up and catching bad guys or saving someone from a blazing inferno. When these moments came for Ethan Cross, however, his dreams weren’t to someday be a cop or put out fires; he just wanted to write about it.
And his dream of telling stories on a grand scale came to fruition with the release of his first book, The Shepherd, which went on to become an International Bestseller published in several countries and languages. Ethan followed this up with more great titles like The Prophet, The Cage, Callsign: Knight, and Blind Justice. His latest book is the third installment of the Shepherd series coming from the Story Plant in Summer 2014.
In addition to writing and working in the publishing industry, Ethan has also served as the Chief Technology Officer for a national franchise, recorded albums and opened for national recording artists as lead singer and guitar player in a musical group, and been an active and highly involved member of the International Thriller Writers organization.
Ethan Cross is the pen name of an author who lives and writes in Illinois with his wife, three kids, and two Shih Tzus.
Currently, I am…
The Thin Black Line by Simon Gervais
National Security by Marc Cameron on Audiobook
Just Finished Reading:
Throw Like a Woman by Susan Petrone, Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell, The Kill Room by Jeffery Deaver, Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child, Book of the Dead by Greig Beck, Monster Hunter Nemesis by Larry Correia, God’s Formula by James Lepore and Carlos Davis, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, Death Masks by Jim Butcher, Summer Knight by Jim Butcher, The Book of the Dead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Ragnarok by Jeremy Robinson and Kane Gilmour, Reprisal by F Paul Wilson, What It Was Like by Peter Seth, Reborn by F Paul Wilson, The Devil’s Quota by Tom Avitabile, The Covenant of Genesis by Andy McDermott, Fatal Error by F Paul Wilson, Ground Zero by F Paul Wilson, Favors and Lies by Mark Gilleo, Shaking out the Dead by K.C. Cholewa, The Eye of God by James Rollins, Deep Sky by Patrick Lee, Ghost Country by Patrick Lee, Blowback by Brad Thor, State of the Union by Brad Thor, Japantown by Barry Lancet, 61 Hours by Lee Child, The Breach by Patrick Lee, All the Pretty Girls by J.T. Ellison, Rogue by Mark Sullivan, Red Rain by R.L. Stine, Meg: Hell’s Aquarium by Steve Alten, Meg: Primal Waters by Steve Alten, By The Sword by F Paul Wilson, Blood Line by James Rollins, Bloodline by F Paul Wilson, The Burning Wire by Jeffery Deaver, Harbingers by F Paul Wilson, The Night Eternal by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, Hannibal by Thomas Harris, Monster Hunter Legion by Larry Correia, Phantom Evil by Heather Graham, Darker Than Night by John Lutz, Silent Prey by John Sandford, Path of the Assassin by Brad Thor, And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Naked Edge by David Morrell, The Broken Window by Jeffery Deaver, The Deseret Blueprint by Jeremy Burns, The Cold Moon by Jeffery Deaver, The Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly, The Black Ice by Michael Connelly, The Black Echo by Michael Connelly, Spiral by Paul McCuen, Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child, The Twelfth Card by Jeffery Deaver, The Secret of Excalibur by Andy McDermott, The Gray Man by Mark Greaney, The Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett, The Vanished Man by Jeffery Deaver, The Protector by David Morrell, Threat Warning by John Gilstrap, Monster Hunter Alpha by Larry Correia, Monster Hunter Vendetta by Larry Correia, Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia, Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter, Infernal by F Paul Wilson, Alone by Lisa Gardner, Strong Justice by Jon Land, The Hard Way by Lee Child, One Shot by Lee Child, The Bride Collector by Tedd Dekker, Eyes of Prey by John Sandford, From the Ashes by Jeremy Burns, The Rook by Steven James, Persuader by Lee Child, Without Fail by Lee Child, The Hunt Club by John Lescroart, The Book of Spies by Gayle Lynds, Strong Enough to Die by Jon Land, The Sword of God by Chris Kuzneski, Threshold by Jeremy Robinson, The Doomsday Key by James Rollins, The Pawn by Steven James, The Woods by Harlan Coben, City of War by Neil Russell, The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry, Gideon’s War by Howard Gordon, The Fall by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, First Blood by David Morrell, Instinct by Jeremy Robinson, Hostage Zero by John Gilstrap, Echo Burning by Lee Child, The Tomb of Hercules by Andy McDermott, Crisscross by F Paul Wilson, Hinterland by James Clemens, The Charlemagne Pursuit by Steve Berry, Wired Kingdom by Rick Chesler, Valentine`s Exile by E.E. Knight, Origin by J.A. Konrath, Grim Reaper by Steve Alten, The Hunt for Atlantis by Andy McDermott, Sign of the Cross by Chris Kuzneski, Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry, Afraid by Jack Kilborn, Killer Summer by Ridley Pearson, The Last Oracle by James Rollins, The Venetian Betrayal by Steve Berry, The Fifth Vial by Michael Palmer, Mask of Atreus by A.J. Hartley, The Last Spymaster by Gayle Lynds, Pandora`s Curse by Jack Du Brul, Freezing Point by Karen Dionne, The Lazarus Vendetta by Robert Ludlum and Patrick Larkin, The Ark by Boyd Morrison, Excavation by James Rollins, Deep Black: Dark Zone by Stephen Coonts and Jim DeFelice, The Atlantis Prophecy by Thomas Greanias, Deep Fathom by James Rollins, Try Dying by James Scott Bell, The Codex by Douglas Preston, Altar of Eden by James Rollins, Gateways by F. Paul Wilson, The Dark Tide by Andrew Gross, Scavenger by David Morrell, Silver by Steven Savile, Transfer of Power by Vince Flynn, Killer View by Ridley Pearson, The Two Minute Rule by Robert Crais, Burnt Sienna by David Morrell, Stone Cold by David Baldacci, Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, Breathless by Dean Koontz, The Judas Strain by James Rollins, The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, First to Kill by Andrew Peterson, The Stone Monkey by Jeffery Deaver, Cross by James Patterson, Dead and Alive by Dean Koontz, Shadow Prey by John Sandford, Vanished by Joseph Finder, Rules of Prey by John Sandford, The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris, The Shimmer by David Morrell, The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry, The Poet by Michael Connelly, Dance of Death by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Creepers by David Morrell, The Collectors by David Baldacci, Killer Weekend by Ridley Pearson, Pulse by Jeremy Robinson, The Blue Zone by Andrew Gross, Running Blind by Lee Child, The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan, The Mark by Jason Pinter, Sudden Threat by A.J. Tata, Infected by Scott Sigler, The Camel Club by David Baldacci, BoneMan`s Daughters by Ted Dekker, Legends by David Lynn Golemon, Power Play by Joseph Finder, Kronos by Jeremy Robinson, Brimstone by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer, The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver, and Valentine`s Rising: Book Four of the The Vampire Earth by E.E. Knight…and many more (2-4 a week)…(in case you haven’t noticed, I like books…)
The new Vacation movie, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Spectre, Star Wars Ep 7
Action/Dramas: Arrow, The Flash, Supernatural, The Walking Dead, Castle, Falling Skies, Grimm, Criminal Minds, Game of Thrones, NCIS, Sherlock, Elementary, American Horror Story, Homeland, The Following, Dr. Who, Sleepy Hollow, Hannibal, The Blacklist, Dig, Agents of Shield, Gotham, The 100, iZombie, Sons of Anarchy
Comedies: The League, The Last Man on Earth, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, American Dad, Family Guy, South Park, Spy, The Simpsons, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Big Bang Theory, Metalocalypse, Archer, Robot Chicken, Quickdraw, Deadbeat
My Road to Publication…
I’ve always had a deep love of stories and knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I had written a partially-finished screenplay in High School, and at one time in my life, I had considered moving to California and attempting to break into the film industry. But I knew that was an uphill battle, and much of my time was being consumed by another dream: music. While reaching for that dream, I was able to play all over the Midwest, record a few CDs, and open for national recording artists as a lead singer and guitar player. But I never gave up on my dream of telling stories, and I continued to develop the ideas in my head.
Up to this point, I had never been a big book reader, but then a friend introduced me to a series of Star Wars books that picks up where the original movies left off. I had always been a Star Wars fan, so I decided to give the books a shot. I loved them, but I also discovered a love for books. It wasnt long before I was reading three to four books a week, everything from suspense thrillers to action and adventure. I had always considered writing a novel, but it was at this point that I knew that was what I wanted to do. So I began writing The Shepherd, which was based upon a short story that I had written for an English class during my senior year of college. My main goal with The Shepherd was to write a book that I would want to read, and the books that I loved were fast-paced with a lot of action. After more work than I couldve possibly imagined, I finished a first draft. But the book was far from finished.
After doing a lot of research and knowing that I couldnt get my book published without an agent, I decided to attend a writers conference in New York City called Thrillerfest. It included a period of time where you were able to pitch your novel to a group of agents, but you only had three minutes with each. I did well during my pitches and generated interest from all but a couple of the agents with whom I spoke. However, during Thrillerfest, I also attended three days of classes taught by some of biggest authors in the world. It was at this point that I realized my book wasnt ready for primetime, and I still had a lot of work ahead of me. I also made a lot of new friends and contacts within the publishing industry, and one of them referred me onto a man named Lou Aronica.
The funny thing is that Lou had been the head of several of the big publishing houses, and while heading Bantam Spectra, he was the guy that came up with the idea of having Star Wars books (the same books that got me into reading). It all felt very serendipitous, so I began working with Lou to take my work to the next level. But Lou wasnt finished with me yet. He also loved my book so much that he referred me onto my agent, Danny Barora man who represents some of the biggest authors in the world. Then, a few months later, Lou contacted me about a new undertaking. He had decided to start a new publishing imprint that was going to be invitation only. He asked if I would want to be one of the first authors to be published under this new imprint. I was, of course, excited to continue working with Lou and accepted. Since then, Ive signed on with Random House in the UK and have deals in other countries as well including Russia and Bulgaria.
Why I Love Stories…
Telling stories on a grand scale has always been my dream, but to what can I attribute my undying love of books and films?
It started as early as I can remember. I wasnt an only child, but since my three sisters are so much older than I am, it felt that way growing up. Ive always been an introvert and my favorite pastime as a young boy was playing pretend with my action figures and my imaginary friends (as my parents called them). But Im not sure if they were truly the imaginary friends that we traditionally think of. I say this because they were more like characters in my own little movies. At the time, it was a boy playing with his imaginary friends, but I still do basically the same thing as an adult, only my imaginary friends find life on the pages of my books.
Ive also been an ENORMOUS fan of movies since I was very young. How many ten-year-olds do you know that had a calendar hanging on their wall marking the release dates of every major Hollywood production? I would force my parents to take me to sometimes two or three movies in a single weekend. We would often hit the 4:30 matinee at the theater, walk out, and drive straight over to get a good spot at the drive-in or turn around and walk back into a 7:00 oclock showing at the same theater. In high school, I would rent a couple of movies every night from our local video store, although I did still find time to date, sing and play guitar in a rock band, play sports, and serve as our senior class president and valedictorian. Not much has changed since then; my wife and I still take in a movie every weekend. Shortly after college, I also discovered a great love for reading, sometimes consuming three to four books a week. For me, movies and books have always been and always will be magical experiences. But still the question remains. Why?
I think there are many reasons, but Im going to touch on two in particular for the sake of this article. The first of these is probably very unique and personal to me. The second is why I feel the entertainment industry exists in the first place.
The first, very personal reason is that the only time that my brain truly shuts off is during a great movie or book. What do I mean by that? The easiest way to describe it is that a thousand small televisions are constantly playing within my head. Imagine the giant wall filled with flat screens that you can find within most Las Vegas casinos, the ones that are playing all the sporting events and horse races. Now imagine that wall behind your eyes. Thats kind of what it’s like for me. This example may be slightly exaggerated, but it gives you a basic idea of the concept. Its not something that keeps me from functioning in any way, and Ive learned to ignore most of the screens and focus on the real world around me, but it can be tiring. For some reason, when Im sitting in a movie theater or reading a great book, the rest of the world and all of those other screens disappear.
The second big reason that I love stories is one that I think many others share with me: stories allow us to escape. They allow us for a few moments to be the hero, to get the girl, to save the day, to fall in love all over again or for the first time. Lets face it, most of us live pretty ordinary lives. Im not saying thats a bad thing; Im glad that no one is trying to kill me as Im writing this and the world isnt being overrun by hordes of alien parasites or flesh-eating zombies or the multitude of other bad things that often happen in books and movies. But isnt it cool that we live in a world where we can pull back the curtain and experience a glimpse of what it would be like as an FBI profiler, a fireman, a lone assassin, a special forces commando, or the President of the United States. We only get to experience life through our own very limited perception, but through the magic of stories, we can become other people. We can stand on the outside and look in on a world of endless possibilities, and we can do so from the comfort of our own homes.
Thats why, for me anyway, stories truly are magical.