On a surface level, I know this book probably doesn’t seem autobiographical. And yes, to be clear, I am not and have never been a detective–much less a one-time locally-famous kid detective like my protagonist, Gideon Green.
I have never solved a mystery. I have never investigated a crime. But I have been Gideon.
Just swap out his singular devotion to film noir with my own teenage obsessions (Shakespeare, etymology, medieval disaster events) and you’ll get a pretty good picture of me as a 15-year-old. Strange, aware I was strange, and sure that my strangeness made me somehow smarter or better than the people who couldn’t understand me. Solidly fixed with a black-and-white view of the world and truly agonizingly honest in my assessment of it. Certain that I didn’t need–or even want–human connection. I felt like there was a giant, impassable chasm between me and everyone else. Or maybe it was a wall that just kept getting higher. I wasn’t really sure.
Like me, that’s where Gideon starts. And like me, he discovers he’s wrong about, well, pretty much everything, in the school newspaper office. From the time I started on my high school paper as a freshman reporter, the rest of the staff not only took my strangeness in stride, but liked me because of it. With each day and year I spent in that office, the chasm got narrower and narrower, or the wall got lower and lower. I wasn’t really sure, and it didn’t really matter. This is where Gideon’s walls start coming down, too, in a place where he’s liked because of, not just despite.
I began writing this book in March 2020, while living in New York City–a sentence that pretty much speaks for itself. This story saw me through some of the bleakest days I’ve lived and was fundamentally shaped by what I learned during that time: human connection, with all its risks, is the greatest joy life has to offer. Like Gideon, I didn’t always believe that. We both know it now.
At its core, GIDEON GREEN IN BLACK IN WHITE is a story about stories: their power, their limitations, and the infinite possibilities in writing yourself a new one. Despite the many things in this book that are totally made up, in the ways that really matter, this is my story. I hope you enjoy it.