Stephen White is the author of the New York Times bestselling Alan Gregory novels. In his books, he draws upon over fifteen years of clinical practice as a psychologist to create intriguing plots and complex, believable characters.
Born on Long Island, White grew up in New York, New Jersey, and Southern California and attended the University of California campuses at Irvine (where he lasted three weeks as a creative writing major) and Los Angeles before graduating from Berkeley in 1972. Along the way he learned to fly small planes, worked as a tour guide at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, cooked and waited tables at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, and tended bar at the Red Lion Inn in Boulder.
Trained as a clinical psychologist, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado in 1979 and became known as an authority on the psychological effects of marital disruption, especially on men. White's research has appeared in Psychological Bulletin and other professional journals and books. After receiving his doctorate, White not only worked in private practice but also at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, and later as a staff psychologist at The Children's Hospital in Denver, where he focused his attention on pediatric cancer patients. During those years he became acquainted with a colleague in Los Angeles, another pediatric psychologist named Jonathan Kellerman. At the time, Kellerman and White were two of only about a dozen psychologists in the country working in pediatric oncology.
White began his first novel in 1989 while he was still practicing full time. Privileged Information, the first in his Alan Gregory series, was published in 1991.
Alan Gregory Series Order
Stephen White's website
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Your character Alan Gregory is a clinical psychologist like yourself. Does the similarity end there? How much of Stephen White is reflected in Alan Gregory?
The similarities don't exactly end there but there's no need to exaggerate them, either. I lived in Boulder on and off for fifteen years; Alan still lives there. Although neither of us is a model of mental health, his neuroses are different than mine. And he has advantages that I never had as a psychotherapist. First, he has the benefit of all my years of experience. And second, I get to think about his lines as long as I'd like. Real patients never offer that luxury.
In what ways does your writing benefit from your training in psychology?
There are two benefits of my previous experience as a psychologist that I consider invaluable to my life as a writer. The first is that my work gave me a chance to observe and study the infinite varieties of motivation that human beings have for their behavior. The other is that being a psychotherapist exposed me to dialogue in its purest form. For eight to ten hours a day over a period of fifteen years I had the privilege of sitting and listening to a wide variety of people just talk. I can't imagine a better training ground ...
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