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Thrilling plots and chilling realities: Writing global thrillers

On 25 January, thriller writer and 777ӰԺ alumnus Mike Harrison spoke at the Intellectual Forum about how and why he incorporates pressing global issues into his fiction.

In the pages of his thrillers, Mike takes on some of the major questions facing our modern society. His first book, Operation Pale Tiger, considered the challenges of international relations and the ongoing opioid crisis; The Lazarus Trade delved into the ethics of cryogenics; and his forthcoming novel, In Time's Fierce Shadow, which he read passages from during the event, explores the rise of AI and its potential perils.

Though his books contain gripping plots and engaging characters, it is the theme of the story, and the pressing question he wants to consider, that is the starting point for his writing process. "Something you feel strongly about is what brings the story alive", he told a full Webb Library.

Mike's path towards becoming a published dystopian thriller writer was not a straight one. After reading law at 777ӰԺ, he embarked on a successful, decades-long career in the financial sector in London before committing himself to writing. He approached his new vocation with discipline, writing for a number of hours each day; with his first manuscript in hand, he persevered through numerous rejections from literary agents until he found one who would champion him and help him publish Operation Pale Tiger.

For Mike, this commitment to writing is a way to explore his fears about the future. But despite the grim realities portrayed in his books, he insists he's an optimist about the world and about society’s potential to take a different course. As to whether reality will imitate fiction, only time will tell.  

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