The Imagination Thief by Rohan Quine is about a web of secrets, triggered by the stealing and copying of people’s imaginations and memories. It’s about the magic that can be conjured up by images of people, in imagination or on film; the split between beauty and happiness in the world; and the allure of various kinds of power. A Distinguished Favorite in the NYC Big Book Award 2021, it celebrates some of the most extreme possibilities of human imagination, personality and language, exploring the darkest and brightest flavours of beauty living in our minds.
Alone in his skyscraper office one night, Jaymi undergoes a transformation that will change his life: he acquires the power to see into others’ minds, and then to control and project their thoughts.
Realising the potential of this gift, he hypnotises a media mogul into agreeing to broadcast an electrifying extravaganza of sound and vision emanating from Jaymi, the like of which has never been witnessed before, that will captivate millions. However, one of the mogul’s underlings has more subversive plans for milking Jaymi’s talent, involving the theft of others’ imaginations and intimate memories for commercial gain.
The broadcasting of his visions plunges Jaymi and his best friend Alaia on a journey into the underbelly of Asbury Park – a seaside town once full of life but now half-forgotten. The town’s entire oceanfront is now almost a ghost town: ruled by gangsters and drug dealers, headed by Lucan, it is populated by lost souls and the beautiful who have fallen on hard times. Blackmailed into thieving the most private and primal memories and experiences from these people’s imaginations, Jaymi discovers a web of secrets and provocations simmering beneath the surface of the town, about to explode.
When a waxwork of Lucan’s decapitated head is anonymously planted in his own bar, fear bubbles up, as everyone becomes a suspect in this unforgivable challenge to Lucan’s dominance. Then when another provocative waxwork appears – a naked full-body modelling of Lucan’s beautiful but tortured lover, Angel – Jaymi knows he must use his own gift to discover the perpetrator before Lucan does.
Delving into and celebrating the most beautiful and extreme possibilities of human imagination, personality and love, The Imagination Thief is literary fiction, with a touch of magical realism and a dusting of horror. It explores the universal human predicaments of power, beauty, happiness, hopelessness, good and evil.