A graduate of William and Mary in 1979, Mr. Gilstrap found that a degree in American History is not a ticket to success so he had to look elsewhere. He worked as a writer/editor of a small trade journal but, being bored with it, became a volunteer at a local fire department. He worked there for 15 years before heading back to college for a Masters in safety engineering. This would lead eventually to his own consulting company and later to a position in Washington, DC as director of safety for a trade association. It was while writing a non-fiction book about a hostage rescue that he met real Delta operatives and got a glimpse of how they truly were and worked, serving as inspiration for the Jonathan Grave series.