Brad Pitt, automatic weapons and best-selling author Tom Clancy are all connected through Memphis writer Mark Greaney.
Greaney is also a best-selling author of a series of books around Court Gentry, the hero character and hired killer of "The Gray Man." Greaney's a co-writer on two Clancy novels and he sold the movie rights to his first book before he finished it. The social media buzz points to Pitt as the possible star.
You'd think Greaney, attended White Station High school and studied international relations and political science at the University of Memphis is living large, but it appears stardom is the last thing he wants for himself.
Thought he's a tall, square-shouldered, All-American, Greaney has a surprise other side. He's trained to operate weapons of instant destruction from shotguns, AR-15 semis, to fully automatic AK-47's, and modern handguns Glock 19 and Glock 26, and Ruger .380 centerfire LCP.
The weapons were all research for "The Gray Man," also known as Court Gentry, the covert ops killer in Greaney's best-selling novels.
"There's James Bond, very dashing, and the other guy who will save the girl's life, but does it grudgingly because it will draw attention to him," said Greaney.
"The Gray Man," was published in 2009. Ten months later came his second novel, "On Target."
Greaney's passport must look like a tour of world hot spots from China, Europe, The Americas - wherever his hero Gentry might travel.
"I like to go there and get a real feel for the place, physically walk down the street, and picture the guy running across the roof top," Greaney said. "That is the level of research that I do."
By book three, "Ballistic" released in November 2011, Greaney - in three short years - joined the exclusive club of best-selling thriller authors. Around the same time his agent gave him the call of a lifetime for any writer.
"He said, ‘How would you like to work with Tom Clancy?' and I didn't really believe it," he said. "I'd love to say my first thought was excitement, but it was more terror. But it has been a fantastic experience."
It took 15 years of practice before he finished his first book and he says it all started at the Mendenhall Kroger when he bought his first Clancy novel. Twenty years after reading that novel ("Patriot Games") Greaney now works with his idol. From coffee shops around Memphis, he blocks out the frothy steam of lattes, for a world of white noise and writing with Clancy.
Not too bad for a Memphis kid who went to college when the name Memphis State was cool.
If his dad, a former Memphis television executive, had lived to read his books, Greaney thinks he would have wanted his hero Gentry, to be courtlier and use less salty language.
"My mom would laugh, but my dad would probably say, 'You know you don't have to say all the bad words that people would say in these real situations.' I lean towards getting it right," he said.
"The Gray Man" may become the invisible James Bond. The movie productions are scheduled to start in late 2013 and could star superstar Pitt, that's if you believe Internet buzz. Greaney is happy doing what he always wanted to do, loving his place.
"I've got like both hands on the bottom rung of the ladder and it feels pretty good, you know?," he said.