Local business owner turns creative with writing novels

Laura Freeman
Kent Weeklies
Businessman and owner of Gray Mart, Michael Gray, expresses his creative side by writing books and has a wine named after his mystery series.

Tallmadge – Although a resident is a successful businessman, he needed a creative outlet that has resulted in writing several books.  

Mike Gray, writing as Michael Chrome, has written adult themed, yet family-oriented sci-fi and crime fiction novels that take place in unique and recognizable locations in Ohio.

Gray, aka Chrome, will be doing a book signing from 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 5 at Trustbooks at the Jenks Building on Front Street across from the Sheraton Suites in Cuyahoga Falls. Guests can enjoy music and decorative candles related to the stories as well as giveaways.

Gray is a graduate of the University of Ohio with an MBA in material management. Gray and his high school sweetheart, Jeanne, live in Tallmadge and own Gray Mart, 14 S. Main St. in Munroe Falls. They have two adult children, Megan and Matthew.

The Chrome pen name is a “new, shiny polished Gray,” he said.

His writing career began by reading. He read the Harry Potter series to his daughter, Megan, who was the same age as Harry and then read the Hunger Games, but he didn’t like the shock factor of killing Prim.

“My wife said 'write your own story,'” Gray said. “I have all this creative energy and researched writing a book.”

He self-publishes and creates his own covers from photographs he takes but hires someone to edit the books. He sells print copies at Gray Mart, which he is happy to autograph. Print and ebooks are available on Amazon as well.

As a math and science person who loves logic, his first two books were science fiction and he spent a year researching, Gray said.

“The Secret of the Attal” and “The Quest of the Attal” are about a normally peaceful alien race living at the bottom of the ocean who clone human bodies to walk on the surface. They need help and recruit a local store owner and his family based on Gray and his family with plenty of local connections and references to classic rock music in the second book.

“I like to write what I know so every book starts off locally,” Gray said.

But when Gray reads for enjoyment, he loves mysteries and tries to figure them out so his next book was a mystery.

The chapters are approximately 10 pages long for a fast read and there’s always a good time to put the book down and start the grill, Gray said. Although death and sex happen, they are slightly subdued and vague. Local readers will recognized the familiar locations and landmarks in the books.

Author Michael Gray has teamed up with Nick Ferrante, a third generation wine maker at Ohio’s Ferrante Winery  to create The Erie Matthews Mystery Series wine label.

Gray has teamed up with Nick Ferrante, a third generation wine maker at Ohio’s Ferrante Winery near Geneva on the Lake to create The Erie Matthews Mystery Series wine label with the logo of the series as the label.

Ferrante created Michael Chrome’s Private Label Red Blend Wine, a semi-dry red blend aged for 11 months in the barrel on display at Gray Mart and featured on the cover of “Barrel Aged.” The books and wine are available for purchase at the Gray Mart in Munroe Falls.

In the crime mystery series, Eric is a rich, but awkward foodie from Tallwood, Ohio. His family owns a wine distribution business and coffee shop. Eric struggles to romance the girl of his dreams, while continually finding himself in the middle of deaths and mysteries.

In honor of his wine business, the titles of the three mysteries are “Private Label,” “Barrel Aged” and “Red Blend,” Gray said. The last book in the series is being edited and is due for release in the spring of 2021.

“During these difficult times, who couldn’t use an entertaining book featuring Akron and a fine wine?” Gray said.

Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at lfreeman@recordpub.com