Gary Nine — who worked 20 years at Apache Junction Unified School District, 13 as principal of Apache Junction Junior High School and seven as assistant superintendent — has written a thriller novel.
He will be giving a book talk at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 6, at Apache Junction Public Library, 1177 N. Idaho Road.
Nine and his family owned and operated Los Gringos Locos from 2002 until 2018. He retired as superintendent of Florence Unified School District in 2013. Two years before retiring, Nine began writing his novel, “Opie & Cleigh: A Lifetime of Love, War, School, and Murder in 92 Hours.”
“My wife contracted stage IV cancer and had to go through chemo and radiation soon after I retired,” Nine said in a release. “I wrote a lot of the book while I was tending to her and kind of had it finished, but editors would like one part of the book and not another, so I kept fiddling with it. Finally, last year, my wife said, ‘If you think it will work, then find a way to get it published,’ so we did and it was published the second of May.”
The early reviews on Nine’s book are quite good and it is available in paperback and Kindle edition on amazon.com, the release states.
Nine’s 34 years of experience in the education field helped create and develop the theme for his work, 12 years in the making.
“In short, the book is about how students, teachers, coaches and administrators respond when the most popular and nicest girl in a small town high school is brutally murdered,” Nine said. “It’s fiction, but the ‘how’ of crisis management is factual,” he said.
“I was a principal and superintendent for a long, long time. You live through many of these crises and you then understand the ‘how’ is critical. That stuff is happening more in today’s world and people don’t understand what kids and educators go through during those times. Most of the time, schools do a pretty good job dealing with crisis, but educators don’t get credit for dealing with it well, because people don’t understand all that goes into the response to crisis.”
Referring to the novel as a “bucket list kind of thing,” Nine relished combining the writing experience with that for which he dedicated half of his life, according to the release.
“I loved being an educator and loved being a principal,” Nine said. “I taught thousands of kids; they used to come into the restaurant all the time and say, ‘Dr. Nine, what’s my name’ because I knew every kid’s name in school. I’ve always loved being around kids.”