Welcome, Guy. What is your book about?
Primarily set in present-day Philadelphia, Agents of Change is an adult action suspense/thriller, with a sci-fi twist.
It’s about an amiable corporate manager, Calvin, whose dream job falls into his lap when he’s recruited by a secret worldwide organization that imbues its agents with uncanny abilities to empower and influence everyday downtrodden individuals. Disaster strikes for Calvin, however, when an elaborate scheme leaves him as a prime murder suspect…and his new employer is presumably to blame.
With the authorities on his heels and his life left in ruin, Calvin uses his new powers to blend in until his journey for freedom becomes a quest for peace. As the agency’s complementary organization threatens the security of all of earth’s inhabitants, Calvin teams up with unlikely allies to battle startling enemies that are hellbent on unleashing their power in a twisted version of justice.
How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?
For over a year, if you can believe it. I originally wrote Agents of Change as a television pilot script around this time last year. As an aspiring screenwriter for many years, I finally got tired of banging my head against the wall as I attempted to sell the script.
This past October, I finally asked myself “what if I wrote a novel?” I really believed in the television pilot’s concept but knew I needed to rework it for the purposes of a book. It’s darker than the television series would have been. Truth be told, I actually like it a lot better as a novel.
Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?
Well, when Calvin is recruited into the Agency of Influence, the self-proclaimed purveyors of Good Karma, he meets the top-ranking agents at the agency’s Philadelphia branch. He meets the branch director, Donald Richardson, who’s kind of an old, folksy guy from the South. Calvin also meets Agent Nick Hamilton who has his own demons, both personally and professionally, and Agent Elena Jimenez, who comes across as a gruff bitch.
All three of these agents have glaring flaws that are all surprising given the cause for which they work. Richardson’s theory, as Calvin observes, is that flawed people have an easier time relating to other flawed people. Thus, Calvin has his own glaring flaw, and the people he helps also have flaws, even though they deserve the help he’s giving them.
My favorite character to write was Elena. It’s much more fun making one of the good guys (or gals) so ornery that you begin to question their motives. On top of that, Elena’s got a military background, she’s beautiful, and she’s Latin. All of those characteristics, I think, make her a very unique character.
How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?
Very little. At least, that’s how it was with Agents of Change.
Even after deciding to rework it from TV script to novel, the book I ended up writing was far different from the book’s outline. A few things contributed to that. One is that, as the book moved along, I decided to fully embrace the sci-fi/action aspects of it. Until that point, the book was kind of a mystery novel with no real action. Once I started to think big in terms of what the characters could do with their abilities, that’s when everything changed.
The other thing that contributed to the change was the fact that my outline was too short. I initially wrote it during NaNoWriMo, so the goal was 50,000 words. Eventually, though, when I embraced the idea that I could publish this myself, my goal was to at least write 80,000 words.
What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?
There are quite a few themes in the story; selfishness, greed, and the shielding of one’s self or of things that are most important to them. I think these are all things we’ve experienced or witnessed in other people and it’s interesting to see those things with this concept as a backdrop.
Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?
I guess another theme and something I’d want readers to grasp is to not judge a book (no pun intended) by its cover. As a black man, Calvin always has to overcome stereotypes but, in the context of the story, it goes deeper than that with many of the characters. What you see is not always what you get.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m working on a collection of short stories called Ruminations from the Desert (which is almost the same name as my blog). It will contain three short stories that all take place in Arizona. I hope to release that early this spring.
Beyond that, I’ll probably begin plotting the sequel to Agents of Change in late spring or early summer. Then, when I’m done with the sequel, I’m going to try my hand at a standalone novel. I know it’s going to be a sci-fi twist on an old classic…I even have said old classic picked out but I’m not telling
What was the first story you remember writing?
When I was in fifth grade, I wrote a play based on Charles Schultz’s Peanut characters. I was (and still am) a big Charlie Brown fan, maybe because I saw a little of myself in his ineptitude. I brought the play in to school one day and the teacher let me direct the show, in class! Needless to say, the production was very sloppy.
Does writing come easy for you?
It depends on how you define easy. I can write a lot in a short amount of time, which makes indie publishing perfect for me. Now, whether or not any of that stuff is good remains to be seen.
In all seriousness, I’ve been writing professionally in the PR world for the last six years. It takes me very little to no time at all to write a press release, or a business letter, etc. But I’m still getting a hang of this fiction thing.
What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?
Actually, something I was surprised with as I was writing Agents of Change was how emotionally involved I got with the story. There were times, while writing the first draft, where I couldn’t fall asleep because scenarios for my characters were constantly swirling around in my mind. After a while, I told myself that I couldn’t write right before bed anymore!
From my website: http://www.guymharrison.com/ and from Twitter: @guymharrison
Agents of Change is due for a Feb. 13 release.
Click here for and interview with: Calvin Newsome, a character in “Agents of Change,” by Guy Harrison