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Gray Man writer Greaney pens latest in series, talks new film adaptation

Photo of writer Mark Greaney right, left, the cover of his new book "The Chaos Agent."
Claudio Marinesco
Penguin Random House
Writer Mark Greaney

Best-selling writer Mark Greaney focuses on artificial intelligence in his latest Gray Man thriller “The Chaos Agent.”

With over 20 books to his name, New York Times best-selling writer Mark Greaney is best known for his thrilling, high-octane Gray Man series and as a collaborator with the late novelist Tom Clancy. Greaney’s newest book is called The Chaos Agent.

In this thirteenth book of the Gray Man series, Courtland Gentry, former CIA operative and assassin, has cut off ties with his former life and is living off the grid. Elsewhere, someone is killing the world’s leading experts on robotics and artificial intelligence. Is it a tech company trying to eliminate the competition or is it something even more sinister? When Gentry’s life is targeted as well, he has no choice but to engage in this twisted plot.

In a recent What We’re Reading interview Greaney explained the inspiration behind the story’s tech industry focus.

“You see these mega billionaires with these massive artificial intelligence labs and governments that want to steal their information. And so, I thought there's potential there for something. Also, when you write as many books as I have, there's only so many peer villains you can go up against. So, I'm always looking for something to make the books different and unique,” explained Greaney.

Greaney has been writing since 2009 when his first Gray Man book was published. After his second book was published, his editor, who was also the editor for best-selling author Tom Clancy, told him that Clancy was interested in collaborating with him.

Greaney recounted the phone call, “He's like, ‘are you sitting down?... They're looking at you to be a co-author with Tom Clancy.’ And I remember being just terrified of the prospect…’why Tom Clancy? Why not like somebody on the next rung of the ladder above me? Why are we going all the way up there?’”

Greaney would go on to collaborate with Clancy on three Jack Ryan novels before Clancy’s death in 2013 and he continues to write under Tom Clancy’s name.

Greaney has also had success in Hollywood. Although there was interest in a film adaption of The Gray Man when the 2009 novel was published, it didn’t hit the screen until 2022. Greaney explained, “It had been bouncing around Hollywood between 2009 and 2010. Money and everybody had been attached to it. Actor-wise, Brad Pitt was attached to it for a while. Charlize Theron was going to play the role and they rewrote the entire thing to change the gender and then it seemed like it had died on the vine.”

"Are you sitting down?... They're looking at you to be a co-author with Tom Clancy..."
Writer Mark Greaney on his collaboration with Tom Clancy

Eventually the film was released on Netflix, starring actors Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans and Ana de Armas. “I went to the premiere and saw it with everybody else, and then came back home and saw it with my family. I joked that my own movie was going to be on Netflix and I was just going to just scroll on past. And within like 2 weeks, I was doing that,” he laughed.

“It was a really great experience. But when you're writing two books a year, all you can do is just kind of thumbs up and move on,” said Greaney.

Learn more about Mark Greaney on his website.

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Tammy works at Bemidji State University's library, and she hosts "What We're Reading," a show about books and authors.