Greg Herriges first began writing his latest novel, about a family coping with their 9-year-old daughter's battle with leukemia, more than a decade ago. Six months into his research, the Harper College English professor's own family began living the plot.
Herriges' nephew was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic childhood leukemia -- the same potentially devastating disease affecting the book's main character -- and Herriges put his writing on hold, using his research to simply better understand the illness and answer his family's questions.
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Today, his nephew is a 28-year old husband and father living in remission, and the book, "A Song of Innocence," is officially available for e-readers. The novel, which Herriges says is a book about "survival, family and the vagaries of biology," is his eighth book, and sixth novel.
"This is the book that I wanted to cover all the big issues of existence -- family, the will to survive, which things matter the most? Why are we here? What comes after life?" Herriges said. "I just worked at it and worked at it until finally, it was done. When I hit the last sentence, it just rang true."
Herriges, who has taught at Harper for more than 20 years, has written on a variety of subjects --from an imagined friendship with John Lennon to a true retelling of his unlikely meeting with reclusive "Catcher in the Rye" author J.D. Salinger in the 1970s --and has forged friendships with many authors who routinely visit his classrooms and provide fodder for his courses.