Marcus Sakey was born in Flint (MI) and attended the University of Michigan. Sakey is a novelist and a funny guy, but his novels are not comedy. They are crime thrillers. They are set in Chicago and they are excellent.
A couple years ago, I stumbled upon Sakey's debut novel, The Blade Itself. A pawnshop robbery attempt by a young Danny and Evan goes wrong. Evan got caught and went to prison, while Danny escaped and built a new, clean life. Years later, Evan reenters Danny's life, pressuring him into partnering with him again as payback. Danny desperately tries to get free and regain his life.
The book is fast-paced and full of twists. Sakus pits Danny against Evan in a human game of chess.
I anxiously awaited Sakey's second novel, At the City's Edge, and was not disappointed. His third and fourth novels, Good People and The Amateurs, were just as interesting.
So how did this Michigan writer land in Chicago and decide to set his novels there? Sakey told me, "I moved to Chicago in 2002, after living in Atlanta for half a dozen years. It was time for a change and I missed the Midwest, and besides, Chicago is just an amazing town. As for why I set my novels here, it partly has to do with this being the place I live. It's easy to get details, to go out and visit places, to ride along with cops, that sort of thing. But I've come to love the city as a subject--it's such an American city with with such interesting contradictions."
Sakey's ideas come from many places and his route to converting ideas into stories is always evolving and different. Part of that route usually includes hands-on research, like shadowing detectives, interviewing psychiatrists and even learning to pick deadbolts. Sakey says this part is "half the joy".
His first three novels are in development as films. The fourth will probably follow, too. They are just that good!
I always wonder what it is like to see your book for the first time in a store. Sakey said, "Surreal. It was wonderful, but in a distant sort of way. I just sort of stood and stared."
If that was surreal, how was signing his first autograph? Sakey replied, "The first time I was asked to sign something was at a conference maybe a year before my book came out. It was a little chapbook I put together to start building buzz. When someone asked me to sign it, I thought they were kidding at first."
I had planned on asking more questions, but a lot of my questions were answered on Sakey's website. It is thorough, entertaining and informative. On his site, you will find his bio, his book summaries, his blog, a great FAQ and more. Heck, the guy even answers email. What more could you want?!
I love "discovering" a new author at the beginning of his career. With Sakey, I did just that and I have enjoyed the journeys he has created.
I really appreciate Sakey taking time to answer my questions. I appreciate his thoughts and his humor. I look forward to whatever future stories his mind holds.