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Sanibel resident releases first book
November 8, 2017

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The power of positive reinforcement during a Sanibel Writers Conference encouraged Terry John Malik, a retired lawyer, to try his hand at writing his first novel, which was published at the end of August.

"Had they not applauded I would have gone home and moved on," Malik said of his experience.

In November 2014, Malik attended the Sanibel Writers Conference as something to do, as well as wanting to get involved with BIG ARTS. Malik and his wife had vacationed on the island for 30 years before becoming full-time residents in 2012.

"It was time for me to start getting involved in cultural events, community events," he said. "It was intellectually interesting because my English background, but I didn't go intending to write a book."

After registering for the session "How to Write a Strong Narrator" Malik was tasked with writing six paragraphs.

"I did it that evening because the instructor gave us this assignment. I had a couple of things in mind, being edgy. I figured no one was going to write stuff like that. I figured they were all going to write paragraphs about the meaning of life and these deep great American novel thoughts," he said.

When asked how those paragraphs formed into what later turned into a novel, his response "I do not know where it came from."

"I didn't write from an outline. When I started writing I knew how I wanted it to end," he said, adding that there are two surprise endings. "This is a dark book. It's about a serial killer with physiological problems."

His novel "The Bricklayer of Albany Park," which includes a great deal of psychology, has a protagonist, a Chicago police detective, and an antagonist, a serial killer.

"Once I decided to write the book, I drew a profile of each character, detailed profiles," Malik said.

Although the book is about a serial killer, the author did not include any gruesome details, but rather left it up to the reader's imagination. The chapters alternate in first person between the police officer and serial killer.

"When I first wrote it I only had the cop talking. The killer's activities were being described in third person. My editor said you did a really good job getting into the head of the detective, why don't you try rewriting it, so it's first person for the killer. She was right because I was really able to get into the head of the killer. The chapters on the killer are so much more intense than they had been in the third person," Malik said. "This book explains why this guy is a serial killer. The explanation is well founded in psychology."

For nine months, five or six days a week, seven hours a day, the author had a daily schedule that was full of research, editing and writing. For two and a half hours in the morning he spent time doing research, which was followed by about 90 minutes of rereading and editing what he had written the day before to make sure it flowed. Only an hour a day was spent writing new text for his novel.

"It has a very deep psychological basis, even though it is a murder mystery. I would send portions to a psychiatrist friend of mine back in Chicago to let me know if I was getting it right. At the end of the day he said I got about 95 percent of it right," Malik said. "I also sent it to a physiologist friend of mine whose practice is domestic violence and she said I got all of that right. Lawyers don't know answers. Lawyers know how to find answers by research."

After completing his book, he found an agent four months later and then signed a contract with Amphorae Publishing Group after 11 rejections.

"It was an 11 month process," Malik said, adding that his editor was very good, listened and made some great improvements to the book.

"As a student Francis Vincenti asked his mentor, former Chicago PD detective Thomas Aquina Foster, if it took a monster to catch a monster. Foster, a man with a tortured soul and his own self-righteous brand of justice, didn't have an answer. Now a detective with a string of famous arrest under his belt, Vincenti is known as a cop with an uncanny insight into a killer's pysche. Until the Bricklayer of Albany Park. Obsessed with the brutal slayings, Vincenti studies the murderer and his victims, reconstructing the killings and burials by day, and, at night, recreating the murders one by one in his nightmares."

The ability to use his imagination was the author's favorite part of sitting down and writing his first novel.

"It was letting my imagination run loose. As a lawyer you work in a corridor and you can't open these doors over here and these doors over there. This allowed me to open up some of those doors," Malik said.

"The Bricklayer of Albamy Park" is available at MacIntosh Books & Paper, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Although this is his seventh career change, it is his favorite thus far.

"Out of all the things that I have done, and I have done good things, writing that book and being published is what I am most proud of professionally," Malik said.

After graduating from the University of Notre Dame he began teaching English in the Chicago Catholic school system. With his focus on starting a family, he changed careers and started working as a computer system analysis for Author Andersen. From there he became a banker while attending Loyola University School of Law.

"I practiced law in Chicago for 28 years," Malik said, adding that he took early retirement to become the president and headmaster of a financially troubled high school in Chicago.

His next career took shape as the director of a foundation that provided scholarships to intercity girls. A website business was his next journey, creating sites for such Sanibel businesses as Why Knot.

Malik will have a book signing during Luminary Night on Sanibel at Why Knot on Dec. 1. He's also making an appearance at Barnes & Noble Coconut Point from 1 p.m. to 3 pm. Dec. 9.

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