In our Mark Greaney interview, the author discusses what it’s been like to see his first novel, The Gray Man, get the adaptation treatment, as well as what’s been going on in his corner of the book world.
Even if you’re not familiar with the name Mark Greaney, it’s likely you’ve heard of some of his books. The one that’s been in headlines most recently is The Gray Man, which is getting the Russo Brothers treatment. If you enjoyed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy their latest film.
Written by Joe Russo, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely (all of whom have had their hand in some of the biggest Marvel movies to date, such as Civil War, Infinity War, and Endgame), the film is directed by Joe and Anthony Russo—a combination that has proven to be as creative as it is profitable.
The Gray Man movie also has a stellar cast, with Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans topping the charts. Both of these actors look like they’ve given their all to these roles, with Evans’ villain streak already proving to be wildly entertaining if Knives Out is anything to go by.
Speaking of, Evans is joined by former co-star Ana de Armas, as well as Billy Bob Thornton, Jessica Henwick, Dhanush, Alfre Woodard, and Regé-Jean Page. Like we needed another reason to tune into this film.
But let’s not forget one important fact—great book adaptations spawn from great source material, and that’s what you’ll get if you pick up The Gray Man by Mark Greaney. It’s the first of 12 novels in the series, and you can imagine they just get better and better.
In fact, Greaney has had quite the career since his debut in 2009, including a stint writing several Jack Ryan books alongside Tom Clancy before taking over the series following the author’s passing. He continued to write the Gray Man series, and debuted his first standalone in Red Metal come 2019. His latest book Armored, the start of a brand new series, hit store shelves on July 5, 2022.
Below, you’ll find our interview with Mark Greaney, which tackles questions about his writing process, whether he’d ever write another Jack Ryan novel, and if he’d ever want to become a producer on a film adaptation of his book.
Mark Greaney Interview
Congratulations on penning yet another book in Armored! You have quite a few successful books under your belt at this point. How does your latest one stand out from the crowd?
Thank you! Armored is different from anything I’ve written, and different from a lot of other books out there, in its extreme intensity, and the fact the hero, Josh Duffy, is a man with a lot of vulnerabilities as well as strengths. He’s a wounded veteran and former security contractor who takes a job that looks like a suicide mission to protect a delegation venturing into the badlands of Mexico, where nothing is at it seems. I say the book is a cross between Black Hawk Down and Apocalypse Now.
In the past, you’ve traveled extensively to research your novels. Has that changed since COVID? Did you get a chance to get out of the house for Armored, and if so, what are some of the highlights from your time putting this one together?
COVID has changed things dramatically, but I’ve been to the region just south of where Armored takes place doing research (pre-COVID). The actual area in the book, the mountains of Sinaloa, is too dangerous to travel to, but I spent several weeks in Nayarit and Jalisco.
I see that Armored is also getting an adaptation. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience, and what your reaction was when you found out it would be produced by Michael Bay?
When I wrote it, I was already thinking about trying to get it optioned in Hollywood, so I was thrilled when Sony acquired it. I had spoken to Michael Bay years earlier about another project, and I talked to the other producer, Erwin Stoff, while making the deal, so I know both producers are perfect for bringing this powerful action thriller to life.
Looking back on your first book, which debuted 12 years ago, what do you think has changed most about your writing? Are there any lessons or pieces of advice you’ve taken to heart?
I write bigger, deeper books, and I’m sure I’ve cleaned up my prose a little in a dozen years, but I’ve had to go back to earlier books to check details, and I’m usually pleasantly surprised that I haven’t changed all that much.
You’ve spoken about how you knew when it was time to exit the Clancy universe. That was six years ago now. Do you ever miss playing in that sandbox? If an opportunity arose, do you think you’d ever want to go back, even temporarily?
I do miss those books, but the writers who have taken over are doing a fantastic job, just like I knew they would. But I also think about doing another Clancy someday. It would be great if it happens, but if not, I’m happy with the seven books I did and thankful for the opportunity.
What do you think it is about Jack Ryan that has kept readers riveted for so many years?
He’s America’s James Bond, not that he isn’t also popular in other countries. The books are so contemporary, so rooted in real world problems and situations, that every year there is something new to dive into that readers haven’t read before. As long as they continue bringing in good authors to take over the work, Tom Clancy’s amazing legacy will live on.
Any adaptation of a book will drive more people to the source material, and The Gray Man is no exception. What has that experience been like for you, having new people discover a book you wrote back in 2009?
I’m sure it will change dramatically the moment the film comes out, but I’m already seeing a massive uptick in book sales. Also, my books have been published in about a dozen more countries, in a dozen more languages, since the announcement was made about the film two years ago, and it’s so exciting to have that worldwide distribution.
Were you involved in the adaptation process in any capacity? What’s it been like to see your story gain a new life through a different medium?
I wasn’t involved in any official capacity, but the Russo Brothers, who wrote the script and directed the film, had me come out to LA years ago to talk about the character and the series. We spent a couple of days together, and they have been great ever since, sending me scripts or reaching out about other things.
Do you have any interest in being more involved in the adaptation process, or do you prefer to stick to novel writing?
Like everyone, I’m fascinated by the world of movies, but I have a pretty nice niche with being a novelist, so I’ll probably keep my focus on writing my next book as long as I can.
What other projects coming up can your fans look forward to? Do you have any dream projects you’d like to tackle someday?
I’m finishing Burner, my 12th Gray Man book now, and as soon as I’m done with that, I’ll go to work on Armored 2. I have a few more already lined up after that, but I do have a couple of dream projects I’d love to work on someday. Hopefully, I’ll free up some time for them before too long.
‘Armored’ hit store shelves on July 5, 2022
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