When I first starting formulating the theme and storyline for the fourth Jane Perry thriller, Knowing, all I had was the germ of an idea. That idea sprung from a book I’d read about twelve years ago called “A Change of Heart” by Claire Sylvia. Sylvia received a heart transplant and began feeling her donor’s thoughts and desires. The whole thing felt “otherworldly” to her and it was obviously something she had a hard time rectifying with others who she told her story to. For whatever reason, Claire Sylvia’s true story never left me and I thought it was such an intriguing idea to have a “guest character” in the next Jane Perry novel who had a heart transplant that turned his life upside down. That character became Harlan Kipple.
I gave the book a “working title”: Unbroken. I figured it was perfect because the story followed the unbroken bond between Harlan Kipple and his deceased donor. But I needed more than just that intriguing “transplant” gimmick. And that’s what led me to the question of “WHO is the donor?” I think that is when I started to contemplate a story angle that was far more sinister than anything I’ve ever written before.
Sure, the Jane Perry series is gritty and sometimes gruesome but I’d never gotten Jane involved in anything that had a “conspiracy” bent to it. That led me to spend almost one year delving into some very intense and disturbing subjects. I read about everything in that genre from “shadow military groups” and “trauma-based mind control” to bizarre human experiments that left me feeling pretty queasy. I knew that if I was going to continue with this story angle, I couldn’t make it so sickening that it would turn off even the toughest reader. So, I set the book aside for another year and when I came back to it, a few things had changed.
For one thing, the title changed. By that time, another popular book named Unbroken had hit the NYT Bestseller list and while I felt it was the perfect title, I had to come up with another single word that summed it all up. Taking that year off from the story helped in many ways because during that time, I was able to create a much deeper backstory that involved Harlan’s donor. Suddenly, we had Jane Perry, Harlan Kipple and a third character (his donor) who we never see (well….we see him in flashbacks) but who is as real and alive as the others in the story. My time away from the story also allowed me to soften some of the harsher elements, while still retaining the gritty themes that my readers expect from a Jane Perry novel. Gradually, a more spiritual element infused the storyline that I hadn’t considered before.
And that is when the title, Knowing, popped into my head. Everyone in this book is after that elusive ability to get into another person’s head and know what they are thinking. But it goes much deeper than that. Much deeper.
I will admit that I had to change three scenes in the book because there was too much of an eerie similarity to events that were happening in the U.S. at that time. Every bit of the story is fictional but when life events started to mesh with the storyline, I became just a bit concerned that the story was getting “too real.” I guess after spending one year reading about all those “shadows” that lurk around all of us, I picked up on a meme that just happened to become very believable. Since the book has been released, I’ve had numerous emails from readers commenting on this and asking me if I had an “inside edge” of information. I tell them I do not and to chalk it up to my imagination that often works overtime…..especially when it’s concocting the next adventure for Jane Perry.
Laurel Dewey is The Story Plant’s Author of the Month. This means we are offering sensational deals on all of her books, including Knowing. Visit our website to learn more.