by Christopher De Paul and Len Lear
Jon McGoran, who up until recently was perhaps best known in the Chestnut Hill area as editor of The Shuttle, Weavers Way’s monthly newspaper, and communications director for the food co-ops, is a man with two lives — or at least two names. For many years, in addition to his Weavers Way job, he authored three forensic crime novels — “Freezer Burn,” “Blood Poison” and “Body Trace” — for Penguin Books under the pseudonym D.H. Dublin.
The “Dublin” stems from his father’s hometown of Dublin, Ireland. John knew he wanted initials, but couldn’t settle on them, so he left it up to his editor. “I think she was partial to D.H. Lawrence,” McGoran conceded, a nod to the mercurial English novelist, essayist and literary critic.
But why would Jon, 49, who grew up in Mt. Airy and graduated from Central High School in 1981 (the 240th graduating class), need a pseudonym? Is he in the Witness Protection Program?
The answer is very complicated. It would take the rest of this article to explain it in detail. It has to do with his agent, his book publisher, the type of books he was writing, etc. The short version is: “It was a branding issue.”
This coming July 9, however, McGoran will be switching gears, or at least names. He will be using his real name as the author of “Drift,” an ecological thriller about the potential harm caused by genetically engineered foods, published by Tor/Forge in New York. Jon is using his real name because “Drift’s” publisher is different from his previous publisher and because this book is not a forensic thriller.
(As Jon McGoran, he has also had short fiction appearing in several anthologies, including “Liar, Liar and The Stories in Between” and an upcoming “Zombies Versus Robots” anthology.)
“It’s an idea that has been percolating in my mind for awhile now, maybe since the early ‘90’s,” said McGoran, who calls himself a “science geek” but who has a degree in communications from Temple University. “I wrote about this topic often for The Shuttle, and there has been little meaningful research done in this area. The more I wrote about Genetically Modified Organisms, the more I realized the topic was perfect for a thriller.”
In the new book, a local narcotics detective tries to stop a drug gang from spreading lethal germs into the environment that could kill millions of people. The tension of whether or not the murderous plan will be stopped in time propels the action.
In mid-March of this year McGoran left his position at Weavers Way, where he worked for the better part of two decades, and joined the staff at Grid Magazine, where he is now the editor. Grid Magazine is a free monthly publication based in Center City that aims to improve sustainability of life: economically, socially and environmentally. Clearly there exists nothing but warm sentiments regarding his time at Weavers Way.
“It’s rare these days,” he said, “to have a job that is so tied to the community, but I’ve been a fan of Grid since it started five years ago. There was no way I was going to pass up that opportunity … I would love to be an everyday writer, but I’ve gotten pretty good at writing when and where I get the chance.”
Jon is already working on a sequel to “Drift.” Called “Deadend,” it is scheduled for release in August, 2014. “Drift” can be pre-ordered on Amazon.com for $17.50.
“Most of ‘Drift’ is based outside of Philadelphia, but there is a pivotal scene that takes place right outside of Bredenbeck’s,” said McGoran, who believes Kilian’s Hardware is “one of the coolest stores on the planet.”
Jon, a proud member of the Liars Club, Mystery Writers Association and International Thriller Writers, now lives in Elkins Park with his wife Elizabeth, a children’s librarian, to whom he just got married on May 18. Jon has a son, Will, 13.
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