Up Close: Mark Greaney

Human Trafficking Explored
in Ninth Series Installment

By J. H. Bográn

Mark Greaney’s newest novel, ONE MINUTE OUT, tells the story of a freelance assassin named Court Gentry who, while on a mission, stumbles onto a massive sex trafficking pipeline. With the help of the sister of one of the trafficked women, he tries to rescue the victims while hunting down those responsible in the Balkans, Italy, and the US.

ONE MINUTE OUT is Court Gentry’s ninth story since the series debut in 2009. Greaney says Gentry has become more reflective and, perhaps, even more stubborn in the last decade. He follows his own moral compass and is willing to go against the wishes of his masters if he feels he’s right.

“As the series has progressed,” Greaney says, “Court Gentry has made both friends and enemies who show up in multiple books.”

One such new friend is Talyssa Corbu, a member of Europol with no experience in the field, but one that has a personal interest in this case—her sister Roxana is one of the trafficked young women.

“I thought it would be interesting if somebody with limited knowledge of the issues could help Court navigate this dark underworld,” Greaney says. “But as I developed Talyssa, her own story and motivations became deeper and richer.”

Greaney and Brad Taylor at McIntyre’s Books in Pittsboro, N.C., during Greaney’s 2018 Agent in Place tour.

There are currently no plans to bring her back in a future book, but as Greaney says, “That could definitely change.”

Greaney knew researching human trafficking would be tough, but the cruelty and brutality of it affected him more than he expected.

“The more I read about the evil involved,” Greaney says, “the more I knew I had to tell the story in an authentic and unflinching way.”

Each novel in the series becomes much harder to write, as he wants every book to have new challenges for the hero, new locations, new moral quandaries, and a fresh feel to the writing.

Mark Greaney
Photo credit: Claudio Marinesco

“I am determined to not write the same story twice,” Greaney says. “But often I start working on something and realize it has some similarities to something I’ve published in the past. At that point I either toss it completely or rework it until I have something new.”

When writing the Gray Man series, Greaney works with his editor on a plot and then he goes off to write it. However, he also works in collaboration for other books. He’d done some ghostwriting work, and then got the opportunity to work with Tom Clancy on a Jack Ryan novel. The writing process changes considerably.

“For a collaboration book,” Greaney says, “you have to have a meeting of the minds over every word with your coauthor, so there is a great deal of back and forth between the other parties. When I wrote Red Metal with Rip Rawlings, we communicated with hundreds of emails, texts, and phone calls, and we traveled together extensively for research. It was an amazing experience and one I look forward to doing again.”

Handguns are a token part of any action novel, and when it comes to preferences, the author and the character go different ways.

Greaney and author Boyd Morrison at Third Place Books in Seattle. Greaney was on an eight-city book tour to promote his 2019 novel Mission Critical.

“Court prefers the Glock 19, but has used virtually every gun I can think of over the course of nine novels. I have two Glock 19s, and more experience with them than anything else, but my SIG P365 9-millimeter is probably my favorite handgun, for now,” Greaney says. “A Glock 19 takes a lot more skill to conceal than the little SIG, and since Court possesses a lot more skill with guns than I do, he pulls it off better than me.”

Greaney is currently busy plotting the next Gray Man book—there’s no working title yet, but plenty of ideas lurking around. He plans to start writing in February with a goal of completing the first draft by July.

In the meantime, he’d love to hear from readers.

“I have a website, MarkGreaneyBooks.com, and a monthly newsletter. I respond to all the emails I get, except the super-crazy ones.”

 

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