You might know Mark Greaney from his work in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan universe or his bestselling Gray Man series, but come July 2019, his first standalone novel — titled Red Metal, which he co-authored with Lieutenant Colonel H. Ripley Rawlings IV — will finally hit bookstores everywhere.
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Gray Man series comes a startlingly realistic novel of World War III.
A desperate Kremlin takes advantage of a military crisis in Asia to simultaneously strike into Western Europe and invade East Africa in a bid to occupy a Rare Earth mineral mine that will give Russia unprecedented control for generations over the world’s hi-tech sector.
Pitted against the Russians are a Marine lieutenant colonel pulled out of a cushy job at the Pentagon and thrown into the fray in Africa, a French Special Forces captain and his intelligence operative father, a young Polish female partisan fighter, an A-10 Warthog pilot, and the captain of an American tank platoon who, along with a German major, fight from behind enemy lines in Germany all the way into Russia.
From a daring MiG attack on American satellites, through land and air battles in all theaters, naval battles in the Arabian sea, and small unit fighting down to the hand-to-hand level in the jungle, Russia’s forces battle to either take the mines or detonate a nuclear device to prevent the West from exploiting them.
In some ways, Red Metal is shaping up to be Mark Greaney’s Red Storm Rising, which makes sense for a number of reasons beyond just the plot synopsis. As stated above, Greaney contributed to Tom Clancy’s Ryanverse, becoming a fan-favorite while keeping the iconic author’s characters alive and well.
More than three decades ago, Clancy stepped away from Jack Ryan long enough to pen Red Storm Rising (1986), one of the only books he’s ever written that isn’t set inside Ryan’s fictional universe. The book was a smash hit and remains one of Clancy’s best-reviewed novels to date. It’s only fitting, then, that Greaney’s path towards writing his first book not associated with Jack Ryan or his own Courtland Gentry franchise began while doing research for one of the Clancy novels and a shared love for that specific technothriller.
“I first met Rip at the Pentagon when I was in D.C. doing research for Command Authority, my third collaboration with Tom Clancy,” said Greaney exclusively to The Real Book Spy when asked how he met his Red Metal co-author.
“Rip and I hit it off immediately; he gave me a tour of the Pentagon, helped me with my book, and then told me he was working on a book of his own. We went to dinner and discussed the craft and business of writing. This led to a friendship that saw us emailing one another about ideas constantly, getting together with him and his family every time I was in D.C., and meeting at Camp Pendleton in California when he was stationed out there. We also met in Las Vegas during his battalion’s Marine Corps Birthday Ball and there Rip pitched military tactics and plot ideas, and by then were both fixated on writing a book together.”
Curious how the plot came into focus, once they decided to write together, I asked Col. Rawlings about just that, who told me things took focus “over email.”
“We began discussing an idea I had for a book about a war between NATO and Russia,” explained Rawlings. “I was an infantry battalion commander of the Marine Corps’ Darkhorse battalion, the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. Mark was one of my honored guests at my battalion’s Marine Corps Ball. In my hotel room in Vegas, I laid out maps and charts and a rough outline and we hashed out ideas together for hours over coffee – mainly just enjoying the concept. Soon though, Mark asked if I’d be interested in a collaboration, and this became Red Metal. We traveled to France, Poland, and Germany for research, as well as Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, and we wrote the book over the next two years.”
Mark Greaney expanded further on that, telling me, “Rip and I both talked about our love for Red Storm Rising, Tom Clancy’s novel from the 80’s about a war between Russia and NATO. We discussed current affairs and recent history, then began bandying a story idea back and forth that saw a contemporary Russian action against NATO in Europe, and a simultaneous invasion into Africa to seize a mine crucial to the nation’s economic health and the Russian president’s political fortunes. Over the next year this turned into a ninety-one chapter outline, and then we went to France, Germany, Poland, and Nellis AFB in Nevada for research.”
No matter what he’s writing, Greaney is known for his research, often posting on his social media accounts about his travels, giving fans a behind-the-scenes glimpse at what goes into setting the scenes in his novels. So while that was nothing new for him, the process of writing a standalone, one-off story most certainly was.
“A collaboration is definitely different than writing alone, and often more challenging,” admitted Greaney, “but this collaboration worked due to my close friendship with Rip and a similar take on world affairs. By discussing the story for years before writing the first word, we both had a good understanding of the twists and turns we wanted to take, and this kept the book from spinning out of control with two writers working on the same project. We read over each other’s work throughout, and then we each took turns reading it over to make necessary changes.”
Red Metal, which isn’t yet available for pre-order, is scheduled to be released on July 16, 2019. Fans of Mark Greaney’s Gray Man series who are concerned this may somehow delay the next Court Gentry novel, rest assured that Violator will return to bookstores on February 19th in Mission Critical, making 2019 a two-book year for Greaney.
We’ll update this article just as soon as Red Metal is available for pre-order from all major retailers. In the meantime, follow Mark Greaney on Facebook, Twitter, and his official website (as well as Rip Rawlings‘ page and website) for more details.
UPDATE 10/25/18: Red Metal is now available for pre-ord here.
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.