When author Gabe Habash visits Gramercy Books, 2424 E. Main St., at 7 p.m. June 9 to discuss his new novel, "Stephen Florida," it will be a homecoming of sorts.
The Columbus Academy alumnus is a central Ohio native.
"My parents still live in the house I grew up in in Dublin," he said during a recent phone interview from New York City, where he now lives.
Habash is the fiction reviews editor for Publisher's Weekly, a publishing industry trade publication. While he's always had an appreciation for literature, he was a relative latecomer to writing, he said.
He said he developed an interest in publishing while majoring in film and creative writing at the University of Miami in Florida. He went on to earn a master's degree in creative writing from New York University.
"I didn't really start writing until the last couple years of college," he said. "I was always a big film fan. ... I realized I liked the storytelling aspect of film."
"Stephen Florida" centers on a troubled college wrestler in North Dakota who falls in love and becomes unhinged during his final season. Habash said the story was inspired by his observation of athletes' ability to maintain a single-minded focus on a goal.
"I was interested in the idea of obsession and loneliness, and some of my favorite books and movies are about obsession," Habash said.
"I've never wrestled, but I knew about how demanding and unforgiving a sport it is. I thought the idea of exploring an obsessive and lonely mind with someone who is a wrestler, those two things would mesh together," he said.
To familiarize himself with the subject matter, Habash spent hours watching wrestling matches on YouTube. He also visited North Dakota, where he had never been before, to get a feel for the setting. He said the story came purely from imagination and is not autobiographical.
"I like to have a blank slate when I write fiction, because if it's too close to my own experience, I get bored," Habash said.
Before visiting North Dakota, "I had no preconceived notions about what the place is about," he said.
Habash will sign books after his presentation.
His appearance is one of several events scheduled to take place at Gramercy Books in June. Other upcoming events include:
* A "Cooking Conversation" with Jim Budros, at 7 p.m. June 8 as part of the "Gramercy Salon" series. Budros, a well-known Columbus food enthusiast, will share his insights about all things cooking, including his favorite cookbooks. He also will provide a cooking demonstration on his mobile wood-fired pizza oven.
* Author Night with Susanna Jaffe, at 7 p.m. June 16. Jaffe, former Thurber House executive director, will discuss and read from her most recent novels, "La Patrona" and "Her Mother's Daughter."
* "Poetry Night: A Celebration of Jewish Poetry and Poets," at 7 p.m. June 22. Curated by local literary organization House of Toast, the event will feature local poets Mimi Chenfeld, Charlene Fix, Michael J. Rosen and Hannah Stephenson.
* Gramercy Book Club featuring Elizabeth Strout's "Anything Is Possible," at 7 p.m. June 27. WOSU book critic Kassie Rose will facilitate a discussion of Pulitzer Prize-winner Elizabeth Strout's new novel, "Anything Is Possible."
* Author Night with Nick White, at 7 p.m. June 29. White will discuss, read from and sign copies of his debut novel, "How To Survive A Summer," about a gay-to-straight conversion camp in Mississippi and a man's reckoning with the trauma he faced there as a teen.
For more information about events, visit Gramercybooksbexley.com.