GARY REILLY’S LONG ROAD
The trip to publication for writer Gary Reilly was a long and strange one indeed. To begin at the end, his novels finally saw print only after he had passed away in 2011, following a two-year battle with cancer. A prolific writer, Gary wrote at least 25 novels that we know of. This does not include the ones he scrapped because he was not satisfied with the quality of the work. The true total is probably closer to 40.
His devotion to writing began shortly after he returned from Vietnam where he served as an MP during the war. He had a few false starts turning his experiences into fiction. Ultimately, he would produce a couple of war novels that rival the best that came out of that conflict.
Taking advantage of the G.I. Bill, he returned to college, majoring in English and Creative Writing, collecting mentors and advocates along the way. He turned to writing short stories. One of his early efforts, “Biography Man,” was published by the Iowa Review and was later honored and republished in the annual PushCart Awards as one of the winners of the “Best of the Small Presses.”
He continued to churn out fiction — more short stories and then novels. He sent out tentative queries to agents and publishers, but his early work was rejected. While disappointed, he was not deterred. He redoubled his dedication to producing quality prose. And, for the time being, did not concern himself with publication. He wrote. And he polished. Rewrote. Polished again. Again and again.
And the stories started to pile up.
His work spanned many genres — Noir thrillers, science fiction, comedy, literary works, experimental fiction.
In the mid-1990s, Gary created the character of Brendan Murphy, a Denver cab driver. “Murph” debuted on AOL as an online advice columnist. Visitors to the humor site would board Murph’s virtual taxi, name their destination, then spill their problems to this anonymous driver. In the two-plus years that the feature ran, Gary generated over a million words of dialogue between his alter-ego and his passengers.
When the AOL gig ended, Murph migrated to fiction. The Asphalt Warrior was the first in a series of 11 comic novels featuring his taxi-driving protagonist. Murph’s fatal flaw is his utter failure to follow his own advice: never get involved in the lives of his fares. He leads a spartan life, earning only enough to feed himself a burger at every meal, pay the rent, and watch reruns of “Gilligan’s Island.” But then everything gets complicated when he tries to help someone with a problem who happens to be sitting in the back seat Rocky Mountain Taxi #123.The result: a hilarious series from the point of view of a philosopher/beatnik.
When Gary met Mark Stevens, an aspiring novelist, in 2005, he became an advisor and editor. They met often at the Europa Coffee House, poring over words, parsing sentences, tweaking plot twists. In the end, Mark published two widely-acclaimed novels, crediting Gary for his help in their development.
Mark joined me in advocating that Gary get serious about publishing his own material. Reluctantly, Gary began to put out feelers. The publishing industry was changing and there were alternative approaches beyond the classic New York agent–big city approach. He came to endorse a fresh look. Then, just as he was ready to press ahead in the new world of publishing, he was given the devastating medical news.
It didn’t happen. He ran out of time. In his will, this man of prodigious word production left a three-line will. One line gave Mark and me permission to do what we could in the publication of his writings.
This we have done. Mark and I founded Running Meter Press with the sole purpose to get Gary’s work out to readers. Big Earth Publishing of Boulder, Colorado, impressed with the quality of these novels, has teamed with us to get these stories between covers and into book stores across the country. Together, we have put out three Asphalt Warrior novels, with two more to debut on November 21, 2013. Each of the first three reached the Denver Post Local Bestsellers list. One, Ticket to Hollywood, was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award in Genre Fiction.
Next, we want to expose readers to Gary’s serious fiction. We have the manuscripts to deliver.
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In Doctor Lovebeads, the fifth in novelist Gary Reilly’s Asphalt Warrior series, Murph must go undercover to accomplish his mission. He lets his hair go untamed, dresses in muslin and sandals and arrives on the scene in a beat-up VW van called the Cosmic Wonderbus and Mobile Mercantile.
Murph tries to pass himself off as an old love child in his confrontation with Brother Chakra. As the good Brother might say, It’s a mind-blowing trip.
It’s Christmastime, and Murph leaves his cab behind to visit his family in Wichita where he finds himself reluctantly reconnecting with his siblings. Meanwhile, Murph takes it upon himself to save an old friend from making the biggest mistake of his life – accepting a job where suits and ties are everyday attire.