Jon McGoran’s thriller DRIFT tackles the shadowy world of GMOs and their threat to natural farming and to society. Jon has also been a life-long supporter of agriculture and environmental issues. So launching DRIFT at Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University seemed almost like destiny.
The regal stone building houses mysteries of nature from butterflies to dinosaurs, yet welcomed us warmly. A large crowd flowed into the amphitheatre, where Jon held court with his audience. Jon spoke a bit about the road that had led him to writing DRIFT, about the moment when his day-job passion for the environment and his writer’s passion for thriller collided into the story that would become DRIFT. He spoke eloquently about some of the concerning issues touched on in the book and the fight to gain transparency into America’s food supply.
Then Jon read three excerpts from DRIFT. His voice resonant and vibrant, he brought his book alive with fervor and touches of light humor that served to deepen the shadows gathering in his narrative. He held us breathless during his reading, turning us loose only when he ducked out to get to his book signing table.
The audience streamed from the auditorium and crushed into the bookstore to buy DRIFT. I was lucky enough to be first in line. By the time I made my way back out of the shop, the line snaked out the door, around the information desk and back toward the stairs.
The line to see Jon and get him to sign the book grew as quickly. Undaunted by the gigantic T. Rex skeleton behind him that seemed ready to eat him, Jon smiled at the friends and family and fans who had come out to see him. Ever gracious and ready to laugh, Jon seemed to enjoy taking time to chat with everyone who came through the line.
And what a turnout it was! The hall of dinosaurs overflowed. People milled among the skeletal dinosaurs like random molecules, almost forming some sort of new life form. A Bookasaurus? Or maybe a Thesaurus? (Come on, you knew it was coming!)
The setting was majestic and the atmosphere convivial, but the thing that has stayed with me was how Jon managed to make it a community affair. In the hall of dinosaurs were tables manned by representatives of various environmental groups. Guests could speak to them, ask questions, and pick up brochures about their causes.
By including the environmental groups, Jon managed to expand the launch to include the world at large, not just the bookish among us. He used his book launch to shine light on issues he is passionate about, without being pedantic or bludgeoning his guests over the head with a dinosaur bone. By making the book launch about more than just him and his book, Jon embraced a larger community and made his book relevant to more than just the regular thriller crowd.
The party rolled on well past the official 8 PM closing time. Slowly, people seeped out of the room, once again leaving the hall to the dinosaurs. Four of us Chroniclers managed to attend, and we all agreed that the launch was elegant yet accessible and a model of how a good launch should be done, whether at a small bookstore or at the Academy of Natural Sciences–simple, inviting, energetic, and joyful–a fitting celebration of an accomplishment achieved.
Congratulations to Jon McGoran and DRIFT!
Jon was one of our guest bloggers for our 2011 Mystery Month celebration.
Jon McGoran is the author of Drift, a recently released ecological thriller from Tor/Forge Books. Writing as D. H. Dublin, he is also the author of the forensic crime thrillers Freezer Burn, Blood Poison, and Body Trace, from Penguin Books. His short fiction, nonfiction and satire have appeared in a variety of publications and anthologies. He is a member of the Mystery Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers and a founding member of the Liars Club.
“I have been following and writing about trends in food and agriculture for many years,” says McGoran. “As a fan of thrillers with massive crazy evil plots, and a writer with one of those minds that is always hatching them, I couldn’t help notice how the news about food in recent years has read like a thriller, or even science fiction: genetic modification, transgenics, cloning, irradiation, and the release of genetically engineered foods into the environment. When I had the ideas at the center of Drift, I knew it was a book I had to write.”
Praise for DRIFT:
“Jon McGoran has written a crisp organic thriller… Drift confronts the brutal underside of genetic engineering with wit and pace and gouts of violence… After reading Drift you’ll never look at an apple the same way again.”
-Bill Lashner, New York Times
bestselling author of A Killer’s Kiss and Blood and Bone
“Jon McGoran scores a big hit with Drift, an environmental thriller that blends a ripped-from-the headlines premise with a cutting-edge mystery and relentless action… A timely, terrifying thriller, Drift will make you think twice the next time you fill your cart at the grocery store.”
– Karen Dionne, internationally published
author of Freezing Point and Boiling Point
“Jon McGoran raises the stakes for eco-thrillers with Drift, a deftly-plotted page turner that combines the ferocious action, mordant wit and sharp characters of the best noir with an all-too-real corporate conspiracy that plays on our darkest fears.”
– Dennis Tafoya, author of Dope Thief and The Wolves of Fairmount Park
“McGoran impressively integrates concerns about genetically modified produce with an action-filled storyline and fleshed-out characters…The disturbing, but scientifically plausible, secret at the heart of the bad guys’ schemes is an original one, and McGoran makes the most of it.”
~ Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“This biotech thriller delivers a complex Frankenfood story, with lots of twists and turns leading to a startling ending. Readers who enjoy Michael Crichton or liked Paul McEuen’s Spiral (2011), or even the nonfiction biothrillers by Richard Preston, will find much to enjoy here.”
“Drift …heralds of a deep-dyed conspiracy to genetically modify innocuous crops like apples and corn in ways that will make your head spin. Drug dealers, suspect developers, Russian gangsters, mad scientists—Dunston’s got them all, and McGoran’s debut piles on the menace as if there were no tomorrow, which maybe there isn’t.”
“This is a rare rip-roaring read that’s also about something very serious—in this case, genetically modified foods. It’s somehow both escapist fun and a scary real-life wake-up call.”