Guy Harrison, author of “Agents of Change”

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!

Where can we learn more about you?

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

Calvin Newsome, a character in “Agents of Change,” by Guy Harrison

Who are you?

My name is Calvin Newsome III and I’m 28 years old. I grew up on the mean streets of Philadelphia but made it out of the ‘hood to go to an Ivy League school (the University of Pennsylvania) and eventually became director of business analytics at Maxwell, Inc. Despite all the money and the corner office, I came to realize that I had a strong desire to help people. At the beginning of the story, I dabble in professional matchmaking. It’s okay. I mostly don’t like it because I still have to use my business sense.

What is your story about?

Agents of Change is the story of how I quit my cushy but boring six-figure salary job to live a life of significance. At the beginning of the story, I’m recruited by a secret organization called the Agency of Influence, which considers itself to be the world’s purveyor of Good Karma. In becoming an Agent of Influence (or A of I, for short) I acquire magic powers (namely telekinesis and shapeshifting) as I’m tasked with providing Good Karma to downtrodden individuals.

Sounds cute and warm and fuzzy, right? Well, let’s just say that my dream job becomes a nightmare.

After one of my new co-workers (I’m not going to name any names) makes a huge–no, colossal–mistake, I suddenly become a murder suspect and a fugitive in my own city! Meanwhile, the Agency of Influence’s sister organization, the Agency of Justice, has its own ideas about how to best serve this planet. The A of J is not warm and fuzzy…they kill people.

Eventually, I have to save mankind from the A of J while eluding the cops. Somebody shoot me.

How do your friends see you?

Depends on who you ask. I think most of my friends see me as a generous, sensitive kind of guy. They might even tell you–and I know I’ll regret even bringing this up–that I’m a bit of a white guy trapped in a black guy’s body.

If you were to ask my best friend, Veronica “Ronni” Lee, however, I’m not sure what she’d tell you. We’ve known each other for a long time. Ronni’s one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Our friendship is a bit awkward these days, though, because she wants more out of our relationship, er, friendship…whatever you want to call it.

I kind of take a laissez-faire approach to it all; as her friend I want to hear how she feels. Of course, it’s not until I finally get decisive about it for a change that all of the nonsense in the story kind of gets in the way.

How do your enemies see you?

My enemies view me as collateral damage. In fact, they actually pity me. What kind of messed up stuff is that?

Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?

Well, it’s actually my story, told from my point of view. So I guess the answer would be yes. Maybe even a little I have a bit of a potty mouth. I hope my mom doesn’t read the book.

Do you have a goal?

Yes. My goal is to eventually make a difference in this world. I want to do something the entire world can profit from, and not necessarily in a financial way. I want to do something where people look at it and know that Calvin Newsome’s fingerprints are all over it.

What is your biggest disappointment?

Oh, that one’s easy. By far, the most disappointing, heartbreaking moment of my life was getting stood up at the altar. I was not the best, most attentive fiancé. That turn of events taught me a lot about myself.

What did you learn about yourself?

Well…I can be a bit selfish, especially in my closest relationships. I have a tendency to take without giving. I’m working on it, though. It’s a process.

Did you get along with your parents?

Well, I never really knew my dad. He left my mom and I when I was just a baby. My mom and I have a love/hate relationship. I don’t know much about what she’s up to these days, other than the fact that she’s alive. She’s a difficult woman to please. Can you imagine if I told her I quit my job at Maxwell? She’ll make it a federal case.

Do you have any hobbies?

I like sports. Most people look at me and think I play basketball or football. If I had my druthers, I would have actually played either baseball or hockey professionally.

I also coordinate our community service program at Maxwell. I get together a group of co-workers and we go in the community to clean parks or volunteer at the SPCA.

When I’m not working or doing any of those things, I like to play video games, too. I’m still a kid at heart in some respects.

What is your favorite food?

You know, I hadn’t tried it until I met Agent Elena Jimenez (she’s the lady who recruited me for the A of I) but I love arroz con pollo. It’s a Spanish dish, consisting of yellow rice and chicken. It’s especially popular in Elena’s native Little Havana community in Miami.

How do you envision your future?

I’d better bring my running shoes, that’s for sure. In fact, I think I see some unsavory-looking characters outside. I better get going!

Where can we learn more about you?

From Guy Harrison’s website: http://www.guymharrison.com/

Agents of Change, a suspense/thriller written by Guy Harrison, is due for a Feb. 13 release.