It’s a real treat to have Mark Gilroy, author of CUTS LIKE A KNIFE, here. Just love that title. Can’t wait for him to share a bit of his writing journey.
Nike: Mark, you’re probably asked this all the time, but what prompted you to write a series about a female detective? And what makes Kristen Conner unique?
Mark: I think you will fall in love with my lead character, Detective Kristen Conner. She’s tough and in your face. And she’s a fragile mess. She loves God, her family, the Chicago Police Department – her dad was a cop – and anything you put on her plate. Doesn’t mean she gets along with all parties mentioned – except the food.
But why Kristen? I am the father of three sons and three daughters. My daughters always supplied the lion’s share of drama in the home, so it was actually a lot of fun to write in female voice. It really took a lot of people by surprise, including my publisher, that I was able to let Kristen and her sisters provide a humorous and occasionally poignant backdrop within a manhunt of a serial killer.
Kristen is a unique among literary characters as a good Baptist girl who is very committed to her faith and family—though the book is not written as a religious novel. Her commitment to faith and family doesn’t mean she doesn’t fight with everybody as noted above. But she has a good heart and does the right thing.
She can’t shoot a handgun straight (something else that makes her mad), but she is a great athlete and workout warrior and has turned her attention on mixed martial arts – from Israeli krav maga to Brazilian jujitsu. She’s lightweight but packs a punch.
Nike: What is your favorite scene in CUTS LIKE A KNIFE?
Mark: The book mixes action and character driven dialog throughout. I like a lot of the humorous scenes, but CUTS LIKE A KNIFE begins and ends with hand-to-hand combat scenes. I really enjoyed writing them and had many readers say they are technically spot-on. Women love the relational aspect of the book, but the fight scenes became a hook that helped male readers relate to a female lead character.
I did research the psychopathic mindset, and I really liked interspersing short chapters from the serial killers voice, including the opening scene when he is at a Cubs game. He is calm, focused and organized—and a lot of readers have told me he was scarier than if I had played him as raving lunatic.
Nike: Tell us something about your writing journey we wouldn’t discover in your author bio
Mark: Having been in the publishing industry for 30 years –and being an avid reader of the suspense-action-thriller genre, I wonder why I waited so long to write a first novel! I guess I’m just slow!
What really taught me to write (and get paid to do it) was an internship I landed during my junior year of college. I worked for a newspaper, The Kankakee Journal, as a sports writer. My first gig was to write short stories on 15 to 20 games and make it sound like the newspaper was covering all these games live. That was fun and taught me to use imagination—and meet a deadline.
Nike: Have you always been drawn to suspense novels?
Mark: I have always loved character driven mystery and suspense. From the Hardy Boys in grade school; to James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, and Nero Wolfe in my teen years; then on to spy thrillers by Deighton and LeCarre in college; and then discovering a plethora of great writers from Hillerman, Block, Grimes, Child, Leonard, Mosely, Crais, Silva and a host of others throughout my adult life. I even went through a crime noir faze where I had to reread everything from Chandler, Cain, Marsh and Hammet. I can’t forget Graham Greene. The common denominator? Great character development. Heroes and anti-heroes.
I’ve spent 30 years in publishing and have a couple graduate degrees, but the best training I’ve received to pen my debut mystery thriller comes from the sheer volume of great books I’ve read. I’ve had a tremendous amount of fun writing CUTS LIKE A KNIFE – and count it as a tribute to the writers who have brought me so much enjoyment as a reader.
Let’s Take A Sneak Peek At CUTS LIKE A KNIFE…
“An intense, eerie, funny and suspenseful thriller … M.K. Gilroy’s debut is a sure-fire winner.” – USA TODAY
Detective Kristen Conner goes undercover to find a serial killer who selects his victims – all successful young professional women – in the most unlikely of places – only to find herself as his next favorite target.
When Leslie Reed is found dead in her fashionable townhome, a red flag goes up in Washington, D.C. The FBI knows an elusive “organized killer” on a decade-long crime spree is at work again. The problem is the Feds have only one tenuous lead to assist local police in the manhunt … where the killer likes to find his victims.
Conner is light one her feet and packs a powerful punch – growing up in a cop’s home, intense hand-to-hand combat training, and not being able to shoot a handgun straight – all encourage that. Her life is built on faith and family: she coaches her 7-year-old niece’s soccer team, the Snowflakes, always shows up hungry for family dinner, and only misses church when she is fighting with her mom and glamorous TV news reporter sister – or relentlessly tracking down a ruthless killer.
Kristen is a good cop but she’s never faced an adversary like the man the alternative press has dubbed the Cutter Shark. From the opening chase scene that leads her to a back alley where a punk with a knife awaits her, to the climactic scene where she goes one-on-one with the hauntingly familiar man who is killing innocent women in her town, Cuts Like a Knife, is loaded with action, humor, a dash of romance, and wry introspection through the voice of its irrepressible lead character.
Cuts Like a Knife is the debut book in the Kristen Conner Mystery Series. Every Breath You Take is slated for October 23, 2012 release.
Mark “M.K.” Gilroy is a 30-year publishing veteran, having worked in just about every area of the industry, from his first job as a sports writer – to proof reader and occasional box packer – to executive vice president and publisher and just about everything in between.
Gilroy’s debut novel, CUTS LIKE A KNIFE, is a tribute to his love for character-driven mysteries and thrillers. His second novel will once again feature Detective Kristen Conner and unique cast of characters. EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE, hits the market October 23, 2012.
Gilroy’s education includes the BA in Biblical Literature and Speech Communications, the M.Div, and the MBA.
Gilroy is the father of six children. He resides with his wife Amy in Brentwood, Tennessee.
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