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Cambridge author David J Harrison publishes debut novel, Recursion

Hailing from the Lake District, Cambridge author David J Harrison had always wanted to return to the land of his birth and now at last he has, in the form of the printed page.

David J Harrison author of Recursion. Picture: Keith Heppell
David J Harrison author of Recursion. Picture: Keith Heppell

His debut novel Recursion, published on October 28, is a gripping thriller reminiscent of the works by Haruki Murakami and Steven King – and the writer pays tribute to the former with the book’s protagonist being named Haruki Kensagi.

Everything that is going to happen already has. During a disruption in the timeline of a sleepy Lake District village, Haruki, an erratic and strungout artist, cannot help but feel that he’s been here before, either in his past, or in his future.

Struggling with both his painting and his mental health, Haruki disappears. His long-suffering wife Jane Kensagi, herself a brilliant musician, interrupts her career to look for him unaware that a malignant and ageless entity awaits them both under the dark fells of the Lake District.

Described by author Laurence O’Bryan as a “masterpiece of mind-bending suspense” and “dark and gripping” by author Stephen Leather, Recursion was actually about 10 years in the making, as the author explains: “It’s been brewing for ages, because I grew up in the Lake District and then, like many of my Windermerian school friends, I had to move away and make a living somewhere, because if you didn’t go into hospitality or something like that there was very little for you up there in the wilds of Cumbria in the late ’80s, early ’90s.

“So my mind’s always been harking to go back, and this is as close as I’ve got. The characters are metropolitan elites that then go up to basically where I grew up and things are very different there – so I really hit them with that difference.

“I wanted to write a tight thriller; I didn’t want to classify it as anything in particular. So it is a thriller but it is a mystery as well – strange things start happening in a kind of Twin Peaks way.”

David J Harrison author of Recursion. Picture: Keith Heppell
David J Harrison author of Recursion. Picture: Keith Heppell

David, 49, who works in biopharmaceuticals, specialising in medical devices, where he has contributed towards several important new medicines, continues: “It’s kind of influenced by many factors – all of the stuff I grew up reading and all of the stuff I’ve read since.

“I didn’t want to write a pastiche of anyone; I wanted to sort of have a conversation with those great authors that I really respect. It walks a line between all of those authors, equally between Murakami and King, I should say, and David Mitchell as well.

“He’s a fantastic writer grounded in the day-to-day. He has this incredible science fiction-type vision that he brings into that everyday writing.”

David notes that he writes all the time, and has been doing it “seriously” for 10 years – “really disciplined writing; getting up early, writing a thousand words, doing my day job and then editing at night. So I’m producing quite a lot of books that way, in that discipline.”

He adds: “My process is one that I write it and put it away for a few years and then come back to it, and then edit it. Then put it away for a bit while I’m writing other stuff and then come back to it, so I kept coming back to this work and a lot of it, I think, was edited during lockdown.”

Cambridge author David J Harrison's debut novel Recursion
Cambridge author David J Harrison's debut novel Recursion

The father-of-two says he has “two or three” books that are finished. “But I’m always editing, always improving,” he says, “and making sure that they’re relevant for any potential future launch.”

Recursion is available now, published by The Book Guild Publishing.

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