It’s a sultry, late-August afternoon and the acclaimed, wildly popular New York Times-bestselling author Kim Harrison is explaining why she decided to cross over into a new literary genre by writing the highly anticipated sci-fi thriller The Drafter, the first of The Peri Reed Chronicles trilogy.
Harrison is sipping an iced tea outside her home near Ann Arbor, Mich., in her office/gazebo, where she writes.
Harrison, who exploded onto the literary map with the urban fantasy Hollows series, set in and around Cincinnati, tells me how she’s been working very hard the past few months to “seduce” her old readership into trying her new work.
“I want them to see it is still the same style — the same attention to relationships and character development,” she says. “It’s a good, quick, fast-paced story.
“I wanted to see what would happen if somebody who had it all suddenly had nothing,” she continues. “And how they would react and how they would rebuild themselves. Plus, I just didn’t want to write about vampires and witches anymore. I was starting to feel typecast, and I actually feel like my work has farther reach and I wanted to see where this road will take me. I’ve always loved thrillers, especially the older ones, and I couldn’t wait to try writing one.”
The Drafter is an action-packed, edge-of-your-seat suspense novel that grabs you on the first page and doesn’t let you go until the final one.
Set in a glimmering, high-tech 2030 Detroit with lots of green space and cool eco-friendly progress, The Drafter tells the story of a woman, Peri Reed, who has the ability to bend time and rewrite reality without anyone else ever noticing.
“Drafting is the ability to jump back in time and replay 30 seconds in order to fix a lethal mistake,” Harrison says.
Peri, the novel’s main protagonist, is employed as a special agent for a “top-secret government agency” called Opti, which may or may not have some corrupt agents. And because “drafting” causes memory loss, Peri might be a rogue agent herself.
“My interest was to write about memory in the book and what it means to lose it,” Harrison says. “Our society is getting older, and many of our families are affected by the terrible problem of memory loss. This is my personal way of addressing it.”
Harrison says she never thought twice about writing books until she had children. “I was a kind of a ‘tomboy’ growing up, and I can paddle my own rowboat,” she says. “But I never had any great desire to be a writer. But I read all the time, so most of my training as a writer comes from the reading I did growing up. My favorite kinds of books were science fiction, and all kinds of fantasy old and new, so I was reading Isaac Asimov, Jack L. Chalker, Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick and all these fantastic writers from that period. That’s where I draw from for my style and my pacing and character development. And I think it makes my work stand out a little different because it’s like, ‘Everything old is new again.’ ”
Harrison says writing is magical.
“[It’s] a chance to take nothing and make something out of it,” she says. “To build something that is entirely from my imagination, to create a world that is so real to other people that they can have entire conversations about it with people that they’ve never met — and they both know what is going on and they both have opinions about it. To me, that is so satisfying.
“One of the most flattering e-mails I’ve gotten was from a young man,” she continues. “He told me of a time he was in a coffee shop with his buddy and he looked across the way and saw a young woman reading one of my books. And he did what’s called a ‘rabbit-eared kiss kiss,’ which is like a peace sign and you bend your fingers down fast in quick succession. And the girl did it right back to him. And the guy’s friend said, ‘Do you know her?’ And he said, ‘No. It’s a Hollows thing.’
“And just knowing that something I did impacted two people who never even knew each other and they were communicating — that’s absolutely fabulous.”
KIM HARRISON will read from The Drafter at Joseph-Beth Bookseller at Rookwood Commons 7 p.m. Wednesday. More info: josephbeth.com.