the Chicago News-Star
It's night, and somewhere off the East Coast of the United States, the Dragon, a defecting North Korean submarine surfaces in the dark water of the Atlantic Ocean. When the U.S. Navy sends a boarding party to investigate, they discover the sub is filled with the mutilated and poisoned bodies of its crew.
Those images surfaced crystal-clear in Lincoln Square author Gerry Doyle's mind a couple years ago and, being a journalist, he decided to pursue and see where those images led.
The trail led Doyle, who originally planned a short story about the sub, to writing his first novel, From the Depths, (McBooks Press, $23.95), a thriller published on Nov. 1 to positive early reviews. On the other hand, the very first review of the novel in Publisher's Weekly left something to be desired.
"It started off in fairly glowing terms and then quickly took a turn to the snide that was a little unpleasant," said Doyle, 31. "But there have been a couple very favorable reviews in Booklist and Library Journal. They were both very positive and I had that feeling of, "Wow, I don't know these people and they're saying something nice about my book.' It's a gratifying feeling."
Doyle and other local mystery novelists are scheduled to sign copies of their books at 7 p.m. Dec. 19, at The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave.
Striving to solve the mystery of the crew's death is Dr. Christine Myers, a CIA forensic scientist accompanying a party of Navy SEALs. But as she pieces together the clues CSI-style, things get even stranger, and the SEALs begin dying.
Doyle cites the influence of Stephen King and Elmore Leonard, master novelists whose books have frequently made the transition to the silver screen. Having From the Depths turned into a movie is something that Doyle has allowed himself to dream about.
In the role of Christine Myers, Doyle envisions Grace Park, an actress best known for playing Sharon Valerii on "Battlestar Galactica." "The story is very cinematic in a lot of ways, so I think it will lend itself well to the screen," he said.
Doyle wrote his first draft in 6-8 weeks, then spent the next year polishing the novel and whipping it into shape. A former police reporter and current metro copydesk editor at the Chicago Tribune, Doyle knew exactly where to go to research areas such as a sub's mechanical operations. And he said he is very fortunate in having friends, colleagues and family members with expertise that he could draw from.
"A good friend of mine is a doctor and she was able to hold my hand and walk me through a lot of the medical aspects of a forensic examination," he said. "There are many important elements of the story, like the forensics and how the cause of death is determines and why a body is lying in a certain position. Making sure you get all those details correct and believable is important. If readers don't believe what you have to say, the whole story is going to look like window dressing."
With his creative juices pumping, Doyle has just completed the first draft of his second novel, one that he likes even better than From the Depths. But then again, there's nothing quite as special to an author as a first novel.
"The fun thing for me was that I sold the book two weeks before my 30th birthday," Doyle said. "I'll always be able to say I sold my first novel before I turned 30."
GERRY DOYLE BOOK SIGNING
7 p.m. Dec. 19, at The Book Cellar, 4736 N. Lincoln Ave. (773) 293-2665.