ANDREW KLAVAN was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island. His father was Gene Klavan, a popular morning DeeJay in New York, and his mother, Phyllis, was a homemaker. He also had three hilarious and raucous brothers who rendered his childhood a strange blend of the stateroom scene in “Night At The Opera,” and the last reel of “The Spoilers,” where everyone starts punching everyone else.
Having read Jack Kerouac’s On The Road one too many times, Klavan left home after high school and wandered about the country. Stopping over in hobo camps and parks in nearly every state in the union, he developed a lifelong love of “flyover America,” which he still believes is badly misrepresented by the coastal media. One of his fondest memories is being billy clubbed out of a cozy doorway by an exuberant New Orleans police officer during Mardi Gras. Possibly the officer was also misrepresented by the coastal media but Klavan doubts it.
Klavan attended the University of California at Berkeley for a year but dropped out when he discovered the sixties were over. He was one of the very few people at Berkeley who actually did discover this. He went to work as a reporter at a local radio station where he ended up covering the Patty Hearst kidnapping and the other major stories surrounding it.
Returning to UC Berkeley for a few years to pick up his diploma, he also picked up an extremely attractive hitchhiker named Ellen. Spying her as he was walking to his car, Klavan jumped into the antique vehicle, drove across a lawn to beat the one-way grid, dragged the poor girl off the street and abducted her for more than twenty years, forcing her to bear his two children, Faith and Spencer. So let that be a lesson to you. Ellen turned out to be the daughter of Thomas Flanagan, then chairman of the Berkeley English department, a fact which may account for Klavan’s graduation. Thomas Flanagan later went on to become an award-winning novelist, also named Thomas Flanagan.
Klavan and Ellen lived in New York City while Klavan wrote his first novel, Face of the Earth, but the dreadful “Summer of Sam,” with its serial killings, 100-plus heat and FALN bombings convinced them to leave. They moved to rural Putnam County where Klavan worked as a reporter on a local newspaper. His experience covering murders, elections and small town political shenanigans would later form the basis for his novel Corruption.
After publishing Face of the Earth, Klavan left the newspaper and took a job as an unemployed first novelist with no money. He held this position for several years, most of which he has blocked from his memory. Then, returning to New York, he took a series of jobs—as a reader for Columbia Pictures and as a newswriter for WOR Radio and ABC Radio Network—while he wrote book reviews and pseudonymous mysteries.
It was reading Wilkie Collins’ The Woman In White that inspired Klavan to try to create what he hoped would be a new and different kind of American thriller. Soon, he began to make his name with such novels as Corruption, Animal Hour and Don’t Say A Word, which became a bestseller and was published around the world before being made into a 2001 film starring Michael Douglas. He also wrote the film version of Simon Brett’s novel A Shock To The System, which starred Michael Caine. He was hailed by Stephen King as “the most original American novelist of crime and suspense since Cornell Woolrich.”
Sick of the political correctness of the New York literary scene, Klavan and his wife decided to move to London for a year. Once there, though, they fell in love with the place and couldn’t bring themselves to leave. While overseas, Klavan continued to try to freshen the thriller novel with such books as the bestselling True Crime—later filmed by Clint Eastwood—as well as Hunting Down Amanda and The Uncanny, which was inspired by the author’s longstanding obsession with British ghost stories.
After seven years, homesickness for America finally brought the Klavans and their two kids back to the states. They moved to Santa Barbara, California where Klavan completed the novel Man and Wife, and the Weiss/Bishop trilogy, Dynamite Road, Shotgun Alley and Damnation Street.
His latest novel is the controversial political thriller, Empire of Lies.
When not writing, Klavan enjoys tennis and holds a black belt in Karate.