J/MS alumnus transitions from journalist to novelist

Wallace Stroby. Photo by Donna Washburn

By Maraika Najimian—

A J/MS professor’s class in investigative reporting might have just sewn the seeds for the work of noted crime novelist Wallace Stroby, J/MS 1988.

Stroby, who has his fifth hard-edged novel out, Kings of Midnight, paid tribute recently to J/MS Professor Emeritus Jerome Aumente for “assigning an impossible amount of work” in an effort to help students gain confidence to succeed in the world of journalism.

Stroby also finds inspiration in 1950s and 1960s Long Branch and Asbury Park, where he grew up hearing stories of organized crime and reading about local neighborhood crime. The in­fam­ous Genovese family in particular left an indelible impression on him.

He said, “There were four or five bars in Long Branch close to my house that were tied to the Genovese family famous mob hit around 1979.”

Stroby’s first book, The Barbed-Wire Kiss, was published in 2003. Set at the Jersey Shore, the book initiates several themes that Stroby follows in each of his subsequent novels.

The Barbed-Wire Kiss in­troduces the reader to the complicated and dangerous relationships that ex-state trooper Harry Rane has with old friends, mobsters to whom they owe money, and their female companions.

“What you write chooses you more than you choose it,” said Stroby.

His other books include The Heartbreak Lounge, Gone ‘til November, and Cold Shot to the Heart.

Stroby’s latest thriller

Stroby’s most recent novel tracks the New Jersey dealings of career criminal Crissa Stone, a Stroby protagonist from an earlier book, who is working toward the prison release of her significant other. When an old acquaintance offers her a job with the potential for a $1 million plus payoff, she is reluctant but finds it difficult to refuse.

The website bookreporter.com said this about Kings of Midnight:

“If Bruce Springsteen’s music is Jersey’s soundtrack, then Kings of Midnight and its predecessors are its ongoing screenplay. I can’t give a book any higher praise than that.”

Reviewers say Stroby writes so well because he comes from the world of daily journalism. At Rutgers he wrote for the Daily Targum and the Medium. While still finishing up his J/MS degree, he was hired at the Asbury Park Press in 1985 after an internship there. During his first week as an intern at the Press, one of his stories made the front page!

He worked there as a reporter and editor for 10 years. During this span Stroby said he learned how “editors don’t want your problems, they want your solutions.”

In 1995 he started as a reporter for the Star Ledger. It was at this time that Stroby began working on his crime novels on the weekends, vacations and whenever he had time. In 2008, after 13 years at the Ledger, he took a buyout and began writing novels full-time.

Stroby lives in Ocean Grove and is hard at work on his sixth book. Readers will find Stroby’s books available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.