Q&A with Running Meter Press, publishers of
What made Gary Reilly’s work special?
A high level of clean, polished prose. Whether writing the 10 “Murph” novels or one of his other fiction projects, including noir-ish mysteries or mainstream literary fiction, Gary wrote with a beautiful style that was simultaneously accessible and deep. His characters are exceedingly human and recognizable.
Why did you decide to publish his works posthumously?
For a man who produced 20 novels and was exceedingly productive with his computer keyboard, he was terse and to-the-point when he wrote his will. Just three sentences long, the third sentence gave permission for Mike Keefe and Mark Stevens to publish his works. Both Mike and Mark had encouraged him for years to do more to network and seek publication while he was alive, but Gary generally preferred to spend time writing another book than networking and sending out queries to literary agents or publishers. The “decision” was really a no-brainer. Both Mike and Mark have read Gary’s works and know they deserve to see the light of day. The reaction to The Asphalt Warrior, including a number 3 ranking on The Denver Post best-seller list and many fine critical reviews, support Mike and Mark’s confidence in the quality of Gary’s works.
How would you describe Gary?
Thoughtful, smart, funny, warm, genuine, insightful, entertaining, grounded and unpretentious. He loved animals and he loved children. He had a huge, open heart and he loved a good story.
What led to the development of the ‘Murph’ character?
In the 1990’s, when American Online was a powerful player in the early days of the Internet, Mike Keefe and Gary developed the character of Murph as an offbeat advice columnist. The cab driver who dispensed quirky, world-weary, funny advice to his “fares” generated nearly 1 million words of dialogue based on questions from virtual passengers. Murph had a large following on AOL and Gary, unbeknownst to Mike, started churning out novels based on the same “Murph” point of view.
What’s special about the Murph character?
Murph has two goals in life. First, he wants to earn only enough money to keep his Bohemian life afloat. Second, he wants to avoid getting involved in the lives of his fares. But, like any human being, life intrudes. He finds himself getting entangled in the lives of his passengers and, in trying to do the “right” thing, ends up in a variety of messy but hilarious situations. The undercurrents of Murph’s life deal with the frustrations of being a struggling novelist so, as Murph recounts his adventures, there are ongoing references to classic literature, films and filmmakers and television shows. Murph enjoys being alone—but lives in the city. He sees himself as a recluse but enjoys the company of others.
Did Gary try to find a publisher?
Rarely. He would occasionally send out a query, here and there. It was never a very organized or sustained effort.
Why do you think Gary didn’t work harder at getting published?
Hard to say. He really had a dream of one of the big publishers latching on to his work and couldn’t find a way to lower his sights a bit to a mid-size or independent publisher. But the “why” is a very hard question to answer.
How has Murph been received now that the first volume is out?
A terrific response. Best-seller list on The Denver Post, lots of great word-of-mouth in Denver and via social media some strong response among cab drivers, particularly in London. The head buyer at The Tattered Cover reports that the book sales continue to be strong months after the debut.
What happens to Murph in future adventures?
Murph believes he may have assisted in the suicide of a mysterious nihilist. He gets entangled in a hippie cult in the foothills near Boulder, reluctantly reunites with family at Christmas, wrestles with his immortal soul over a hundred-dollar bill and jousts with Denver homicide detectives who are getting sick of dealing with him. He wrangles with devil worshippers, gambler, hot shots on the make and poor students in a tailspin. And, as always, Murph tries to maintain his precarious balance on the edge.
Murph is a struggling writer too – is Murph an alter ego for Gary?
In many ways, yes...though let’s hope none of what happens to Murph ever happened to Gary, especially the murder investigations.
"Ticket to Hollywood" Synopsis:
In Ticket to Hollywood, the second of 11 comic novels about Denver cab driver Brendan Murphy, a.k.a “Murph,” a young woman on the way to a showing of The Great Gatsby leaves her purse behind in Murph’s Rocky Mountain Taxi Cab #127—and then goes missing. Murph finds himself confronted by police and loses his job. He becomes entangled with filmmakers and makes his way to Los Angeles in search of the lost woman and in desperate need to restore his reputation and regain normalcy, which in Murph’s case means doing as little as possible.
Ticket to Hollywood follows the June 2012 debut of The Asphalt Warrior. The first volume of Murph’s adventures rose to No. 3 on The Denver Post best-seller list.
Praise for Gary Reilly
Asphalt Warrior rose to No. 3 on the Denver Area Best Sellers List
“Gary Reilly never cared that much about getting his work published. Fortunately for us, his friends did. Reilly is a master wordsmith. Asphalt Warrior is enjoyable fare.”
- Mike McClanahan, The Denver Post
“an intriguing and interesting read”
- David Millward, Taxitalk Book Review
“Gary Reilly is the kind of writer who leaves you smiling at the sheer pleasure of his word choices. The Asphalt Warrior is a fun-filled read, and you can’t help rooting for the book’s taxi driving hero.
If Murph doesn’t win your heart, it can’t be won.”
- Mark Graham, Co-Author of The Natanz Directive from St. Martin’s Press
“The Asphalt Warrior is one of those rare books that a reader really should savor, line by line, taking time to enjoy the intelligence, sarcasm and dry wit of the main character, Murph. I found Murph to be laugh-out-loud and consistently funny, yet life-smart and grudgingly loveable. The book left me anxious to get my hands on the next in the Murph series.”
- Kathy Lynn Harris, Author of Blue Straggler, an Amazon #1 bestseller in comic fiction
“Gary Reilly’s Asphalt Warrior is the tale of Brendan “Murph” Murphy, a Denver Cabdriver of dead-pan hilarity and near heroic stoicism. His inevitable involvement with a fare’s problems provides us with a highly entertaining read, throughout which Gary Reilly proves himself to be not just a gifted stylist, but a kind of Jedi Master of the understated.”
- Fred Haefle, Montana Freelance Writer & Author
POSTUMOUSLY PUBLISHED AUTHOR BECOMES BEST-SELLER
Second book of comedic taxicab series releases this December from Running Meter Press
DENVER, CO – October 2012 – Published once in 1979 – a short story in a Pushcart Prize winning anthology – Gary Reilly went underground to produce, prodigiously, 20 novels over 32 years. But it was three simple lines that brought his vast collection of Vietnam-era stories, dark suspense thrillers, sci-fi books and comic novels to light.
After a two-year struggle with colon cancer, Reilly passed away in 2011, leaving only a short will relinquishing the rights to publish his works to friends Mike Keefe, a retired political cartoonist and Pulitzer Prize winner, and Mark Stevens, a former journalist and acclaimed author in Colorado. The duo has justly honored their talented comrade by bringing Reilly’s books to publication through Running Meter Press and Big Earth Publishing.
Reilly’s Ticket to Hollywood hits bookshelves Dec. 3, following the summer 2012 debut of The Asphalt Warrior, which rose to No. 3 on The Denver Post best-seller list. A packed crowd celebrated the launch of the first volume of the taxicab series at the famed Tattered Cover bookstore.
In Ticket to Hollywood, the second of 11 comic novels based on cab driver Brendan Murphy, a.k.a “Murph,” a young woman on the way to a showing of The Great Gatsby leaves her purse behind in Murph’s Rocky Mountain Taxi Cab #127—and then goes missing. Murph finds himself confronted by police and loses his job. He becomes entangled with filmmakers and makes his way to Los Angeles in search of the lost woman and in desperate need to restore his reputation and regain normalcy, which in Murph’s case means doing as little as possible.
“Gary Reilly never cared that much about getting his work published. Fortunately for us, his friends did,” raves Denver Post reviewer Mike McClanahan who goes on to call the late author “a master wordsmith.”
The Natanz Directive co-author Mark Graham says, “Gary Reilly is the kind of writer who leaves you smiling at the sheer pleasure of his word choices.”
Blue Straggler author Kathy Lynn Harris encourages readers to “savor” Reilly’s work, “line by line, taking time to enjoy the intelligence, sarcasm and dry wit of the main character, Murph. I found Murph to be laugh-out-loud and consistently funny, yet life-smart and grudgingly loveable.”
Reilly was born in Arkansas City, Kansas and moved with his family of seven brothers and sisters to Denver. He served two years in the army, including a tour in Vietnam as a military policeman, and later majored in English at Colorado State University with continued studies at the Denver campus of the University of Colorado. After publishing his short story The Biography Man and writing as an AOL comic advice columnist in the 1990s, Reilly turned to novels. His dedication to writing did not include self-promotion. Instead of seeking agents and publishers, he focused on his craft, writing and rewriting, polishing to perfection. Proceeds from his book sales benefit Reilly’s longtime partner, Sherry.
GARY REILLY AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY
Gary Reilly was a writer.
Simply stated, that was the essence of the man.
Born in Arkansas City, Kansas he spent his early years in Kansas and Colorado in a large Irish-Catholic family of seven brothers and sisters. The family moved to Denver where Gary attended parochial high school, graduating in 1967.
He served two years in the army, including a tour in Vietnam as a military policeman.
After discharge, Gary majored in English at Colorado State University and continued studies at the Denver campus of the University of Colorado.
All along, his overarching ambition was to write fiction. And he did, prodigiously. His first published short story, The Biography Man, was included in the Pushcart Prize Award anthology in 1979.
Later he turned to novels, several based on his army experiences. While he wrote both serious and genre fiction, his greatest invention was the character, Murph, a likable, bohemian Denver cab driver. Starting with The Asphalt Warrior, Gary cranked out eleven Murph novels.
His dedication to writing did not include self-promotion. Instead of seeking agents and publishers, he focused on his craft, writing and rewriting, polishing to perfection. He wrote well over twenty novels before he thought he was ready to make his work public.
Unfortunately, he passed away in March 2011, before he could realize that dream.
Friends and family remember Gary as a fun-loving, generous soul who always had time for other writers, helping them shape their work, getting it ready for print.
Now, through Running Meter Press and Big Earth Publishing in Boulder, Colorado, Gary’s fiction is finally coming to bookstores in Colorado and across the nation.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT GARY VISIT THE SITES BELOW: