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Monday, October 25, 2021


Today we sit down for a chat with Max Grant (with a surprise appearance by Cress Taylor)
 from author Sharon Michalove’s Global Security Unlimited Series.

What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?

I had already moved from London to Chicago before Sharon got hold of me. After living here for six years, I was comfortable with my job as the Chief Information Security Officer at CyberSec, a division of Global Security Unlimited. I had my routine down. I could do long runs along the lakefront with my mates. Spend my free time racing cars. Never listen to music. Enjoy the food scene in one of the great restaurant cities of the world. I thought I was content. She completely upended my world when I saw Cress on the box.


Hi, I’m Cress Taylor. Sorry to interrupt but all I can say is that when Sharon had Max show up at the book signing for my award-nominated historical romance, talk about upending. I already had someone sending me threatening texts and then this guy from my past makes an appearance…


Max: My interview, Cress.


Cress: Too bad. Readers can get two for the price of one this way.


Max: I do have to say, though, that seeing Cress that way after twenty years was something of a shock.


Whats the one trait you like most about yourself? 

Max: I’m good at keeping secrets. My career in MI6 was all about secrets and I was one of the best. I try never to tell anyone anything important about myself or my past.


Cress: That’s true. He’s an oyster. Me, on the other hand, I don’t trust people easily, especially people who keep secrets. So this has been a constant relationship issue.


What I like about myself is that I’m a great knitter. I specialize in socks.


What do you like least about yourself?

Cress: Actually, keeping secrets is the worst thing about Max. 


Max: I have to agree with Cress. Being good at keeping secrets, while great for my professional career has been a disaster in my personal life. Now that I’m retired from the spy game, I want a relationship for the first time. The woman in question hates secrets, which doesn’t bode well since I find opening up very difficult.


Cress: I can be pretty snarky. In At First Sight my snarkiness gets me into serious trouble.


What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?

Max: She had me dress in my kilt, wear a knight’s helm, and show up with my father and brothers to sing “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers to Cress.


Cress: I thought it was really romantic. Unlike the eclair episode. I am a klutz, but Sharon covered me in custard and chocolate, at a cafe, in downtown Chicago. And pastry-covered me had to get home on the bus.


Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?

Max: She still hates the fact that I’m a car fanatic. When I told her that, her reaction was, “Noooo. Why would you do that to me? I have no interest in cars. I don’t know anything about them, or racing, and I have zero inclination to write about it.” She doesn’t even own a car anymore. I insisted, and cars are definitely in the book.


Cress: We get along very well, thank you.


What is your greatest fear?

Max: That people will find out about what happened to me in Istanbul in 2003. And that, when they do, they will see me as a murderer.


Cress: That I will get close to someone and then they will leave me in the most hurtful way possible. 


What makes you happy?

Max: Driving and flying. Spending time with my family in Scotland. And trying to make Cress Taylor love me.


Cress: Writing, my cats Dorothy and Thorfinn, listening to music, and Max.


Max: I’m learning to live with the music.


If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?

Max: When I was an undergraduate at Oxford, an American graduate student knocked me down with her bicycle. I was smitten, but I never pursued her until she reappeared in my life twenty years later in Chicago. If I had followed my inclination at Oxford, maybe we would have had those twenty years together.


Cress: I would have paid attention to Max at Oxford. Instead, I got involved with someone else, and it was a disaster.


Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?

Max: Cress’ father, Aaron Taylor, bugs me the most. He abandoned her to her grandparents when she was eight. Now that she’s a successful author, he keeps turning up, trying to get money from her. If this was a murder mystery, he’d be my choice for the victim.


Cress: Other than Max? It would have to be Sam, my best friend Micki’s significant other. She’s an exuberant, hot-shot lawyer, but somehow, she doesn’t see through this poseur. Besides the fact that he pretends to be a down home country American primitive painter, he takes advantage of Micki. Not a nice guy.


Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?

Max: Not sure I’d trade with anyone. For all its problems, my life is pretty good. Maybe I’ll just pick up some of my friend JL’s French-Canadian curse words. Especially if Cress keeps dragging me to hockey games.


Cress: I’d love to be a little more carefree, live life out loud like Micki. On the other hand, I have Max and she has Sam…


Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?

Sharon lives in Roger Parks, on the far north side of Chicago with two cats, Sybil and Nico, who are the models for Cress’ cats, Dorothy and Thorfinn. A glutton for education, she has four degrees including a PhD in the History of Education. Her dissertation was on upper class women’s education in late medieval and early modern England and she has published various things about fifteenth-century European history and the history of education.


Widowed in 2013, she moved back to her hometown from the university town she had called home for forty years and decided to give writing a novel another try, something she had failed at several times over the years.


She loves hockey, reading, cooking, writing, and various less elevated activities like eating Portuguese custard tarts and sampling gins and single malts. After spending most of her life in a medium-sized university town she moved back to Chicago in 2017 so she could go to more Blackhawks games and spend quality time at Eataly. She has accomplished a lifetime goal by publishing her first novel this year. 


Max: What is hilarious to this Briton is her other lifetime goal, to be English, which she told me was a childhood dream but is likely to remain unfulfilled. 


Her website is sharonmichalove.com and readers can subscribe to her blog and newsletter there.


What's next for you?

Max: Cress and I will continue our story in At the Crossroads in 2022, where the events that happened in Istanbul in 2003 will come back to haunt me.


Cress: I love to travel, so spending time in London, Scotland, Paris, Istanbul, and Venice with Max, his family, our friends, and maybe a few enemies, may be the adventure of a lifetime.


At First Sight 

Global Security Unlimited, Book 1


At twenty-five, American graduate student Cressida Taylor lost control of her borrowed bicycle. She barreled into a tall, gorgeous undergraduate, Max Grant, on a busy Oxford street. Her skirt caught in the chain, Cress flew over the handlebars and landed on top of him. Assured that only his dignity was injured, she scurried away.


Twenty years later Cress has moved on from the embarrassment of her Oxford encounter. Now a successful author, she‘s been nominated for a prestigious writing award. Her career is threatened when a rival accuses her of plagiarism. When Max turns up at a book signing and wants to renew their acquaintance, she isn’t sure whether to fall into his arms or run like hell.


As a MI6 operative, Max believed his career made lasting relationships impossible. Now working for a global security company, he must let go of his past beliefs if he wants a future with Cress. As their relationship deepens, Max feels driven to protect Cress as the persecution escalates to physical danger. They must learn to work together if they want to stop her tormentor and find their happy ending.


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