While the Hudson Valley is a hotbed of both successful and aspiring authors, when one of our own contributing writers publishes his first novel, well, we have to crow about it a little bit. So kudos to Greg Olear of Highland for the debut of his noir thriller Totally Killer (Harper Paperbacks, $13.99). The book centers around Taylor Schmidt, a recent college grad who comes to New York City in 1991 and hooks up with an employment agency that promises her a great job — if she’s willing to kill for it. And apparently, she is! (While the Hudson Valley staff already knew that Greg could be funny, we had no idea that he harbored such a dark side.)
Still, one of the most interesting aspects of the book is its ongoing love affair with the 1990s, a decade that Olear thinks “is generally unappreciated in popular culture.” He chose 1991 as the setting, he explains, because it was an extremely significant year. “I think that for Gen X it is our 1969,” he says. “American Psycho came out, Seinfeld started, there was The Simpsons, the Nirvana album came out — it was grunge, man!” And there’s more: The Soviet Union collapsed and the Web browser was invented. Who knew?
And for his next major creative endeavor? “I’d like to write one of every type of genre. This is my thriller, then I want to do a sci-fi, a romance, and then something serious,” he says. And he probably will. Olear, who previously worked as a recruiter and did a short stint as a voice-over agent, says “I’m pretty disciplined and I write pretty fast. I wrote Totally Killer mostly during my son’s naps.” We’re also happy to report that Olear, who moved up north from New York City several years ago, is inspired by his local environs. “When you are in New York City, you have this view that the rest of the U.S. is culturally bankrupt, and then you find that it is completely not true. It’s more arty up here than it is in New York at this point, and I think that Kingston is much cooler than Brooklyn; it has everything you want if you’re looking for a hipster place.”
But Olear plans to drag himself away from the Hudson Valley and his family (singer-songwriter wife Stephanie St. John and two pre-schoolers) to do a book tour. But no worries: You can catch him giving a reading at the Inquiring Minds Bookstore in New Paltz on Saturday, Oct. 3, from 7-10 p.m. Click here to see a trailer of the book.