I was on vacation one day and saw Jurassic Park 3. It was a terrible movie and I remember walking out and thinking: “I could write that.”
The first 10 pages were really easy, but by page 11 … nothing. It was hard. I got myself all lathered up and I ended up writing and rewriting this book, Pharma, for over a year as a hobby. I would write at nights and weekends and on business trips. Instead of checking into a hotel and going down to the bar I’d stay in my room and bang out pages.
Rip Gerber writes fiction, but after losing everything in a house fire in 2007 he also writes letters of gratitude to people who helped his family. Photograph: Rip Gerber
Pharma is a techno-thriller about a pharmaceutical company manipulating the genetics of plants that subsequently grow out of control. Think of it like Jurassic Park but with plants. I was rejected by more than 100 agents, but number 113 took me on. Then I was rejected by a bunch of publishing houses until Random House bought the book and published it in Germany where it became a bestseller. I’m like the David Hasselhoff of fiction writing! They also bought my second book, Killer Virus, which had the same protagonist.
Fiction writing is a very entrepreneurial endeavor – the performance is all on you and you live and die by what you are able to produce. For me that’s what appeals. It’s a bit like what we do in the Valley; it’s very denuding and the rejection is not for the faint of heart.
I still write, and have five other books which have yet to be sold, but these days I’m doing more one-to-one writing through personal letters of gratitude. I started doing this in 2007 where we had a house fire in San Francisco and lost everything. So every year I would send out five letters of gratitude to people who had had an impact on me and my family. Now I like doing them all the time.
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