Author with early ties to Chatfield returns to share new novel during Western Days

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Greg Gardner’s a killer.

He’s glad people read him as such.

“I think I wrote highly believable, flawed characters who are intelligent and caring. My publisher once told me what makes Jon Wells so different is that he had empathy for people — including the people he goes after. I think his ability to understand his quarry is what makes this character connect with readers,” stated Gardner. “I also had a reader who told me she was very angry with me because I killed off one of the characters. I thought that was a wonderful moment, because I knew then that I was writing characters that people loved.”

 The author of the “Jon Wells” action-drama book “In Plain Sight” has written his sequel to that book, “Firestorm,” carrying on the fight against people who do evil.

Gardner lived in Chatfield until 1976, attending Chatfield Elementary. He will return to the community during Western Days, when he will meet his readers at a tent set up in City Park. He said he enjoys chatting with people who have put their faith in his killer writing skills.

“I make as many appearances as possible in small venues. I find going to large bookstores, I just get lost in the multitudes of options for the consumer. My favorite places are small town festivals,” Gardner said. “I’m generally the only author, and people appreciate having something different at their festival. It’s important for me to continue to ‘come home’ and share my novels with the community that shaped so much of my life.”

Gardner explained that the plot of the first book, ‘In Plain Sight’ was about a Chinese state-sponsored cyber-attack on medical device companies in the Twin Cities. There are connections to the local Somali gangs and ISIS, and the protagonist, Jon Wells, is an FBI agent who literally stumbles into things, and the novel takes off from there.

“I always had a series in mind when I started writing,” Gardner said. “I enjoy reading books with the same characters, so I wrote the two novels with that in mind.”

 Gardner shared the plot of “Firestorm” and how it came to be. “The basic plot of the novel is about an attempted takeover of the nation’s trucking system in order to ruin our economy. But there is so much more,” he stated.

His son-in-law came up with the initial draft plot, Gardner said. He runs a truck drivers’ school with his family.

“We placed much of the story in Kentucky and along the I-65 corridor after making numerous trips to visit our youngest son who was stationed in the Air Force in the Florida Panhandle,” Gardner said. “Finally, Jon Wells likes his bourbon, so Kentucky made sense, and one of the new characters comes from the town I moved to in Montana, and there is a lot of memories of that town that I bring into this novel.”

The trouble of having a successful first novel, however, came to lurk about the corners of Gardner’s writing den. “Because it is the second novel in the series, there are rules for the characters. Sometimes I would start writing something and I would have to change it because the character, as initially created, would choose to do something different,” he said. “I learned that you can’t rush things.”

Gardner said he became a student of the writing process when going through the numerous editing cycles of “Firestorm.”

“I enjoyed the entire process, from researching to editing, and even the print setup,” he said. “Each is enjoyable in its own way.”

 Readers’ responses to his first novel were favorable. “Most have enjoyed the intellectual aspect of the story and how the characters and plots intertwine to make a story that reads like real life,” he said.

He added that he enjoys talking with people about what they got out of the novel. It seems as if everyone enjoys something slightly different, but he believes anyone will enjoy it. “There is action, romance, intrigue, conspiracy,” he said. “What more could a person want?”

 The author made a point about how, when he determined that “Firestorm” would be written, he had to make a decision about whether to pitch it to a publisher or return to self-publishing, as he’d initially done with “In Plain Sight.”

“My first novel was initially self-published and then was picked up by a publisher. I went back to self-publishing because I want the control over the direction the story goes,” he said. “With that, though, I am responsible for all aspects of the publishing and marketing process.”

This isn’t the end of Gardner’s writing or the Jon Wells series. “I’m in the process of starting book three in the series,” he said. “I’m also laying down plans for book four, but that will be a different topic. There is a great story in my family history, on my mother’s side, where one of my ancestors came to the colonies from England as a redcoat and became a ‘turncoat,’ so to speak, joining the rebels and fighting for American independence from England. I’d like to use that as a basis for a historical novel.”

Gardner’s books are available online or directly from the author himself. “You can order them directly from me — with a signature — or online at Amazon. My website,, has links available.