When Pat and Bob Gussin retired in 2000, following careers in medicine and medical research that included 25 years at Johnson & Johnson, all their plans involved work in their fields—volunteering in clinics and hospice and joining the boards of hospitals and technology companies. The one exception, Bob says, "was that Pat had decided she wanted to write a novel." Little did the couple know that they would soon both write novels, Pat would become a New York Times bestselling author, and they were on the road to a significant second act as publishers of one of the leading independent thriller houses.
Oceanview began rather suddenly. As Pat's passion for writing deepened, and before Bob started on his own writing, he would accompany her to mystery/thriller conferences. "He wandered around talking with writers who described their difficulties in getting published," Pat says. "After hearing their stories, he naively thought he could start a publishing company. When he met me for lunch, he announced his decision, and Oceanview Publishing was born."
That was in 2006. Since then, they have published more than 200 thrillers by 75 authors, creating a platform for new and veteran writers and a hefty shelf of books for ravenous mystery/thriller fans. For their contributions to the thriller genre, International Thriller Writers (ITW), an organization representing thriller writers worldwide, will present the couple with its Thriller Legend Award at the 13th annual Thriller Awards banquet, to be held during ThrillerFest XIII on July 14, 2018, in New York City.
The Gussins have long been involved with ITW and see it as central to their work as publishers and advocates for their writers. "ITW is the premier organization for thriller writers," Pat says. "All writers at any stage of their career, from beginners to rock stars, are welcome. This organization and the culmination of the year's activities at ThrillerFest are invaluable to new writers and are wonderful ways for established writers to give back to the community that has nurtured them along the way. We know that ITW has helped our authors beyond description. We will be eternally grateful to cofounders David Morrell and Gayle Lynds."
Before becoming publishers, the Gussins were lifelong thriller fans. "We love the pace, the danger, the adventure, but mostly we love the heroes and heroines," Pat says, "and the more heinous the villains, the better." What makes a great thriller? "The reader has to cheer for the protagonist," Pat says. "They don't have to like everything about him or her, but they have to care so deeply that they'll forgo sleep, video games, social media, television, and sit-down meals to find out what happens next. Of course, this protagonist must be in intense danger, under immense stress, and endure physical and psychological disasters that we as readers will never encounter—we hope. And we the reader cannot possibly predict the plot elements as they twist and turn and keep us breathless."
A strong sense of place is also central to a great Oceanview thriller, the Gussins say. "The setting can be a character in a book," Pat says. "Two great examples of the power of place are James Lee Burke's Louisiana and Greg Ilse's Natchez. Among Oceanview writers, we can point to Joe Clifford's Jay Porter novels set in New Hampshire and Matt Coyle's Rick Cahill novels set in La Jolla. But as important as place is, it's the Jay Porters and the Rick Cahills that keep readers coming back."
Regarding how they balance their roles as authors and publishers, "publishing comes first," Bob says. "Having both written novels, we have walked in the shoes of our writers, and we understand how hard a writer has to work to deliver the best manuscript possible and to do the endless promotion that is absolutely needed to make a book a success."
"This award is awesome," Bob says. "It reminds us that we are making an impact on the thriller genre by encouraging and facilitating so many talented authors and enabling them to share their talent with so many readers. We are so proud of our authors and the enjoyment they bring to readers who, like us, are passionate thriller fans."
To learn more about Oceanview Publishing, visit oceanviewpub.com.