Albert Paul Gray-Dean, often called Albie and goes by the username, AlbiePGray, is the creator and head writer of the Harpers Falls franchise. He created both incarnations of Harpers Falls.
Albie has written numerous series in the history of ONtv . He has created the original HF, which was his first series for ONtv (back when it was called DRtv), off and on, for almost five years. Besides HF, he's written Smythewood, Resort; Oklahoma City (an abortive retool); The Latimers (which became The Greys of Scythia, based on the novel, The Carousel by Belva Plain); The Family (a fan fiction hybrid of the famous Carol Burnett sketch and the series, Mama's Family); Peyton Place 2008 (an updated version of the famous New England small town); fan fictions of Life Unexpected; Dallas; and several other shows.
He has also worked with other writers on some shows, like Erik Bard's take on One Life to Live; as well as his show, Tainted Love (of which Resort spun off from) and Casey J's series, The Mighty Have Fallen and a fan fiction based on the UK soap opera, EastEnders.
He has been a major and prolific part of ONtv for most of the site's existance.
Albie explains how the idea of Harpers Falls came about.
"The idea for Harpers Falls came from an idea of my possible moving to the Boston, Massachusetts area," Albie explains, "I had a friend who came from Brockton, Massachusetts, and as we talked more, the idea of a story focusing on a community in the South Metro of Boston came to mind. Even though the move plans fell through, I still entertained the idea of writing the story, and so I did.
"I felt that the family name Harper would be a perfect name, due to their standing in Boston in particular, and New England in general. All in all, even with some bumps and dips and bad ratings at times, I don't see myself ever giving this series up. I've put my heart and soul into it for almost eight years now, and, perhaps the most important thing is, I love writing it too much. HF is kind of like my baby, and I have nurtured it. Despite the dips in ratings and changes all over across the board, it's a wonderful time, and I enjoy writing this story!"
Albie was also asked what makes the show work as it does.
"The story has always been set to be a multi-generational story," he explains, "It came about when I first began it. At that point, Richard, the patriarch, was the head of the household. Then after he died, Michael and Michelle became the de facto heads of the family, and more focus was aimed on Dylan and Sheila and their generation. Now, Dylan and Sheila are the de facto heads of the family (while in their cases, as well as when their parents headed the family, they deferred to their Aunt Patricia Wheeler, the clear matriarch, in lieu of her sister, Violet), and the focus is now set on Dylan and Sheila's children, Derek and Ashley, and Cathy, respectively, as well as THEIR cousins. It is the passing on of the torch from one generation to the next that is the heart of the story."
Some of the characters last names themselves came from parts of Albie's past.
"Two of the characters, Cara and Joanna Niewoehner, are just such examples," Albie explains, "when I was in school in West Union, Iowa, we had track meets when I was in 5th and 6th grade. One of the kids from the nearby town of Hawkeye, a girl named Kimberly Niewoehner was prominent among that group. The name, Niewoehner, stuck with me, although I feel bad that I never really got a chance to talk or get to know her. So, I immortalized her maiden name in two of my characters. Other various bits of my past are also seen in the characters, which is what makes the show personal and special to me."
Albie was born on December 6th, 1967 in West Union, Iowa, a small Northeastern Iowa town 30 miles south of Decorah. "I always say I am from around the Dubuque area as well," Albie grins, "because I still have family in that area, and West Union is about an hour from Dubuque!"
His parents are Richard Gray (1928, New Hampton, Iowa-2016, Fayette, Iowa) and Pearl Ruth Burns (nee Nelson) (1941, Ely, Nevada-2008, Phoenix, Arizona). He has two siblings, Tony (born 1973, Maquoketa, Iowa, but is not communicating with) and Janell Williams (nee, Gray, born 1976, Canyon, Texas). The name Albie is a nickname which was attached to him in sixth grade, but it failed to take until he was well in his thirties.
He is also openly gay. He came out at the age of 21 and a lot of his gay experiences come through some of his characters.
"My experiences with men," Albie says tongue in cheek, "would be about the same bad luck that some WOMEN have with men. But that doesn't mean I don't give up, because I don't!" He has had three long-term relationships, once of which was very abusive. His motto is: "What doesn't Kill You, Makes you stronger."
One of his hobbies is his collection of plush animals that he calls his "kids".
"Hey, they're the closest things that I will ever have as kids," Albie grinned, "and of course, I have my favorites. My favorite bug, whom I call Boo Boo; and my doll named Milly. It was my having a doll that kind of sparks the idea that the boys in HF (ie: Sammy Forson, Derek Harper) have dolls, while the girls play with trucks and the like. A lot of my life comes through in my writing, which makes it my own."
"Point blank," Albie says, "Dennis and I totally complete one another. We've got a lot in common. And we have a blast together. We are a team, he and I, and that means a lot. Living away from him, even for a month, was excruciating, not to mention, very ill-advised, and where I was, I was not happy, although the people I lived with tried their hardest. I give them props for them trying, but no matter what happened, it felt forced, and I was absolutely not happy at all; and it was more than a relief to move back with him, and I will remain with him. The next time I move, he WILL come with me!
"My life has been drama from day one which was when I was born, what with my family (blood or otherwise), with my writing and my life in general, but one thing about it, it's NEVER ever dull! Living with Dennis for the better part of eleven years going on twelve, I have seen a lot in my life, done a lot of things I have never thought I would do, and have experienced life in a whole new way. That is how much he has expanded, and continues to expand my world. My life's never dull, always a lot of fun, and I am content!"
Albie enjoys all sorts of movies, and DVDs. "One of my vices, aside from caffeine!" he smiles, "I always enjoy watching and binge watching favorite shows. Currently, my two favorites are Maude, with the late Bea Arthur in one of her more famous roles before Golden Girls and the smash UK/US show, Downton Abbey. At first I didn't think I would like the latter, but once I watched it, I fell in love with it. It's classic, very sentimental, and also at times, funny as HELL! One of the best guilty pleasures of my life!"
His love of the show extended to where many of the stars of that series have come to HF.
Recently in 2015, on Christmas, Albie was proposed to by his long time friend, Dennis Dean. He accepted. The two were married in Orlando on March 8, 2018, and they currently live in the small town of Wauchula, Florida, a town midway between Winter Haven and Punta Gorda.
Upon his marriage, Albie will be utilizing the name, Albert Gray-Dean