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Gainesville author, moved by death of fiancee, writes novel ‘The Gods of Winter’
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Gainesville author Gerald G. Griffin recently completed his fifth novel, "The Gods of Winter." Griffin said the majority of the plot is centered on events involving his late fiancee Jane, who is who named Gloria in the book, but it also includes the life of the protagonist, who is based on himself, before meeting her. - photo by Scott Rogers

Gainesville author Gerald G. Griffin is catching the attention of local residents with his new book, “The Gods of Winter,” a work of fiction inspired by the death of the author’s fiancee.

“This book was written with a lot of sadness and a lot of tears. My soul is in this book,” he said.

Writing successfully has been Griffin’s goal since he was a youngster — “I wrote my first novel when I was in the ninth grade” — but for many years his passion for words had to share time with his practicing of psychology.

“I always wanted to be a writer, and I remember telling my dad this,” Griffin said. “He said, ‘Look, writers are a dime a dozen. You’ll starve. You have to do something, a trade or something, that you can count on to make money.’ ”

So Griffin decided to become a psychologist, earning a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. After graduating, he accepted a job offer in Atlanta in 1966, and a year later decided to go into private practice on his own.  

“I was sort of fulfilling a dream for my father,” he said.

While maintaining his psychology practice, Griffin had three novels published: “The Corruptors,” “The Death Disciple” and “The Last Coming.”

His books had some success, but he still longed to focus more on what he loved, which he finally was able to do when he retired in 1989.

“I decided to leave practice and go into writing full time,” he said. “That’s when I moved to Gainesville to write. That eventually led to writing the novel ‘Of Good And Evil.’”

Griffin said most of his novels are thrillers, but that his most recent effort, “The Gods of Winter,” is more than that.

“All my previous novels, I wrote in the third person,” he said. “This one I wrote in the first person. That’s what’s different about it.”

Calling it “fiction based on fact,” Griffin weaves facts from his personal life into a fictional context for the novel.

“You rely upon some things that happened in your background for your writing and so forth, but on this one, this is fiction based on fact, and there’s more fact in this book than in my previous novels,” he said.

Griffin said his latest book is extremely personal because much of it is based on his late fiancée, Jane A. Valentine.

“This is who the book is dedicated to,” he said. “She began having different kinds of things going wrong with her that I cover in the book.”

Griffin said Valentine passed away in November of 2015.

“For a year after that, I was the executor of her will,” he said. “While I was doing this, it sort of dawned on me I owed it to her to write this book. That’s how I felt. To let people know who she was and what rare gifts she had for joy and life, and how she passed that on to other people. About a year after her death, I started writing.”

Once he began, Griffin said it took him a year to finish the novel and get it published.

Jane, named “Gloria” in the book, is the focus for most of the plot, though the story also includes the life of the protagonist, based on himself, prior to meeting her.

“When you read it, you’re reading about factual things, but also sometimes I fictionalized them in a way that they’re appealing as a novel,” he said. “The significant part of the book is when she (Jane) started having problems. That all happened in Gainesville. So, really, this is a book for Gainesville people, because at least half of it took place in Gainesville, the latter half.”

Griffin said that adding a “fictional twist” to the story wasn’t always easy.

“It’s tough to explain how I successfully wove these facts into a novel,” he said. “I didn’t write a biography because I wanted it to have the dynamics of a novel.”

Griffin said his future in writing depends on what happens with this book. 

“I think this would make a good movie,” he said. “It could happen.”

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