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Ashcreek author writes noir mystery for young adults

Ashcreek author Hunter Gregg's thoughts kept returning to a story he had once written as a screenplay and wanted to turn into a novel.

After years of working on the project in his spare time, Gregg quit his job to dedicate himself to the project.

'Having risk got the wheels moving,' he said. 'I thought 'Now it has to be done.''

He worked at it from 8 a.m., when his family left the house for school and errands, until they returned around 1 p.m. He spent spent his afternoons researching his ideas and looking for inspiration in music, book readings, paintings and nature.

Now the 288-page book called 'Where Dogs Run,' is written and printed, thanks to his own company, 302 Publishing.

'The accomplishment of completing it is something I never imagined,' Gregg said.

The noir-like adventure book is about an 11-year-old-boy who loses his dog and enlists the help of a mysterious loner to help him get to the bottom of the case.

'I tried to keep young adults in mind without dumbing down the material,' Gregg said.

Though recently completed, the story had been evolving for many years. After graduating from Oregon Episcopal School in 1992, Gregg moved to Los Angeles and worked in television production at 20th Century Fox. When he had the idea for a story about a boy and his dog, he wrote it as a screenplay.

'I was writing screenplays to work on my writing chops,' he said.

In 2001 Gregg and his wife were expecting their first child and decided to move back to Portland.

Though the book takes place in a fictional town, local residents might notice that the city where Josh lives is called Stump City, a reference to Stump Town, a nickname for Portland. The Stump City in the book is a 'small and crumbling town,' that Gregg said was actually inspired by other areas of the state.

'A lot of the environment is inspired by the smaller towns in Eastern Oregon,' he said.

Gregg worked with talented local artist Randy Emberlin, who has also worked on Spider-Man comic books and for Dark Horse Comics. Emberlin provided detailed illustrations and a map for the book.

'We wanted to lure the audience in with the pictures but in the end, they're taken in by the literature,' Gregg said.

After finishing the book, Gregg's next challenge is to get people to read it. This step has proved to be more difficult for the writer who is a self-proclaimed introvert and struggles to advertise his book.

'The idea of selling my work is excruciatingly intimidating,' he said.

Thankfully his wife, Bettina, is organized, efficient and eager to get the word out about his book. He said she is 'the front man' of the operation.

'Bettina was my reader, my motivator and she pushed me to complete it,' Gregg said.

'Where Dogs Run' can be found at Annie Bloom's Books in Multnomah Village, as well as Third Avenue Books and A Children's Place and Looking Glass Bookstores. It is also available on www.amazon.com.

For more information about Gregg or his work, please call 503-246-2499 or visit www.302publishing.com.