Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Mark (M.K.) Gilroy.
Gilroy is the author of Cold As Ice (Sydney Lane Press)—the third entry in the Kristen Conner Mystery series, released earlier this month. A 30-year veteran of the industry, he has worked in just about every area of publishing, from sports writer and proof reader to vice president of editorial & marketing and independent publisher. When not writing, he creates projects for publishers, retailers, ministries, and businesses as a freelance publisher. Gilroy’s education includes the BA in Biblical Literature and Speech Communications, the M.Div, and the MBA. He is the father of six children and resides in Brentwood, Tennessee with his wife, Amy.
Praise for Cold As Ice:
“Detective Kristen Conner is no stranger to bad guys, big crime, and heart-pounding danger. In Cold As Ice she packs some serious heat!”—Hartford Books Examiner
From the publisher:
WHEN THE RED MAFYIA WANTS YOU DEAD . . . THERE’S NO PLACE TO HIDE! What can go wrong on a run on in Central Park on your last day of vacation? Even if it is brutally cold? Everyone told Detective Kristen Conner to stay inside, which guaranteed she would go outside—and stumble onto a gang murder that puts her in the cross-hairs of a Russian “Red Mafyia” hit man. Back in Chicago, murder strikes closer to home. Just down the street from where her mom lives, a popular schoolteacher, solid citizen, and great guy—he shovels snow for widows and volunteers to work with underprivileged kids—is found dead. It was supposed to look like an accident, but crime scene investigators discover more than one killing blow to the back of his head. When Detective Kristen Conner lands the case, she knows from day one who the key suspect is. That’s simple. The person most likely to kill you is someone close . . . someone you know and love. But his wife? The nice lady down the street she knew when she was a kid? How could that be possible? Kristen is about to discover there is more violence beneath the surface of the working-class neighborhood she grew up in than she ever dreamed possible. She’s also about to discover that when the Red Mafyia wants you dead, there is no place to hide. You better be ready to fight. Mix in her on-again, off-again relationship with FBI Agent Austin Reynolds, and Kristen Conner is once again swept into a world of danger, intrigue, and a confusing love life.
Now, Mark Gilroy reveals a few pages from the book of his life …
Hartford Books Examiner: As a child, did you wear your literary lust loud and proud or were you a closet bibliophile?
Mark Gilroy: I grew up in an era when on a summer day you ran out the screen door in the morning and only came home from playing for lunch and dinner. But I was definitely a reader from an early age. I remember getting in trouble as second grader for reading a book in class. I guess I was supposed to be doing math.
HBE: What book(s) were you likely to be caught keeping company with under the covers?
MG: The two series I loved most were the Hardy Boys and Chip Hilton. I guess it makes me a book nerd that I would save my allowance to go buy one of those classic Hardy Boys hardcovers! I was sick for a week one school year and needed something new. I broke down and read one (or two or three) of my sister’s Nancy Drew Mysteries. In preteen years I remember Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Bronze Bow, and forays into literature like Treasure Island, the Sherlock Holmes short stories, and of course, one of the grand dames of crime, Agatha Christy.
HBE: What are you reading currently & what is your initial impression?
MG: I’ve got a couple books going. A long reading project I am working through is Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It’s fascinating reading from a different era of historical writing. I just wish I could cover longer sections each time I open a volume—I’m halfway through Number Three. I just finished Bill Browder’s expose on corruption in Russia, Red Notice. When you think about twenty oligarchs taking control of thirty to forty percent of the country’s wealth it is mind-boggling. I’ve also just read the Mark Lawrence series—a strange post-Apocalyptic Medieval world—that is not in my wheelhouse but that I thoroughly enjoyed: The Prince of Thorns, The King of Thorns, and The Emperor of Thorns. On top of the stack is the next Gabriel Allon book from Daniel Silva, The English Spy.
HBE: What one book do you always recommend when asked?
MG: That is very situational so I can’t name one. For example, if I know someone loves history but wants something at a popular level, I love to recommend Simon Winchester’s The Professor and the Madman or Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization. If someone loves mysteries, I recommend one of my favorite character-driven series, like Ian Rankin’s John Rebus novels or Martha Grimes’ Richard Jury mysteries or Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books. For those who like spy stories that are nuanced, I recommend early John LeCarre novels or Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon series. When it comes to questions about faith, a very important part of my life, I recommend C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity or Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz.
HBE: Which of your own books would you suggest to readers & why?
MG: I think Cuts Like a Knife is a great place to start with the Kristen Conner Mystery Series. I’ve been very gratified that readers have enjoyed her straightforward but quirky personality. Kristen is a church girl, but the novels are written in the murder mystery genre. A book I wrote for Barnes and Noble without my name on the cover is A Daybook of Grace (Sterling Publishing), which continues to be a very strong seller in their value section. I get a note from my publisher every seven or eight months to let me know they are doing another major printing. I’ve had great letters from buyers to let me know they were encouraged by the daily readings.
HBE: Is there a book or author that readers would be surprised to know you’ve read and liked?
MG: I make no claims of being a scholar, but I’ve read some serious fiction and nonfiction books. On the fiction side, I read Tolstoy’s War and Peace twice. All 2000+ pages, including his last section where he presents his philosophy of history to prove Napoleon was not a great man. That was an incredible combination of enjoyment and hard work. On the non-fiction side, I’ve read all three volumes of the Works of James Arminius—and lived to say I enjoyed.
HBE: Who is the one author that would, or did, make you weak in the knees upon meeting?
MG: As a publisher I’ve had the chance to meet and work with some famous authors, so I’ll answer this question outside of my work world. At one BookExpo America I had a chance meeting with P.J. O’Rourke, the conservative humorist. He was as funny to talk with as he was to read! I’m not going to say he had me rolling in the aisles, but it was a laugh-out-loud experience. I was a huge fan of John Lecarre’s George Smiley books, especially the trilogy of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Honorable Schoolboy, and Smiley’s People. I would love to have a sit down with him, even if I feel he’s been rewriting Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana for two decades. Probably the authors that impacted me most with their brilliance are both deceased, J.R.R. Tokien and C.S. Lewis. They were members of the Inklings and held court once a week in a pub in Oxford, England. Getting invited to those discussions and debates on literature, philosophy, politics, and religion would have been incredible. In fiction today, I’d love to meet Daniel Silva.
HBE: Has there been an “I’ve made it” moment in your career?
MG: As a junior in college, I was hired as a “stringer” by a local newspaper to write game highlights of Friday night high school football games. I would sit at the editor’s desk and take calls from the winning coach. I would get the stats and write up the box scores. Then I’d get a few quotes and ask about the key plays to write short recaps that made it sound like I was there. I loved doing that, but then I got the added bonus of being sent to cover high school and college games with my own byline. A byline, even if it was a small newspaper with 50 thousand subscribers, was very cool for a 20-year old. My first full time editorial job was another “this is so cool” moment. When I ended up being named publisher and executive vice president at a fast-growing company, I had gone much further than I had ever planned or dreamed.
HBE: What is your greatest literary ambition?
MG: To sell 10 million books and buy a second home in the mountain and another on an island. Oh, you didn’t say “fantasy” . . . Actually, I would love to continue creating book projects that inspire people spiritually, which I’ve been able to do under the radar, in my day job. But I do have a strong ambition to see Detective Kristen Conner become one of those novel characters—like a Stephanie Plum or a Jack Reacher or a Harry Bosch or a Kinsey Millhone or a Gabriel Allon—that readers fall in love with and can’t wait to meet again with each new book in her series.
HBE: Fill in the blank: Hartford Books Examiner is _____.
MG: A great resource and friend for authors and readers.
With thanks to Mark Gilroy for generously indulging these curiosities.