An unlikely meeting brought us together,” says Heather Graham, the bestselling author of more than 100 books and novellas, explaining how she came to write a book with actor Chad Michael Murray. “My daughter was a performance major at CalArts University, and while at one of her plays I ran into Stephen Christy [then editor-in-chief at Archaia Entertainment] and a friend of Chad’s. He suggested that I work with Chad, who had recently published an illustrated book with Archaia. I was too busy at the time, but when I met Chad I was in.”

Murray, who achieved stardom on the TV series One Tree Hill, says that he was “blown away by [Graham’s] kindness and love for storytelling.” The two decided to collaborate after he read some of her work and talked with her about ideas for American Drifter (Forge, Nov.), which was inspired by a screenplay he had been writing. “We started, and it grew from there,” he adds.

American Drifter is a thriller about a young U.S. Army veteran who moves to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Enter a beautiful journalist and her sadistic drug lord boyfriend, and the American ex-pat suddenly finds himself in a dangerous situation. Murray and Graham chose Rio for the setting, because, Graham says, “It’s filled with such beauty and originality. The colors are so vivid and the landscape is epic. We agreed Rio was to be a character in the story and would breathe life into it.” Graham, who lives in Miami but has never been to Brazil, says that her Brazilian friends helped her understand the customs and mannerisms.

When Graham first spoke with Murray, she had never co-written anything. Since then she has paired with F. Paul Wilson for a short story in the International Thriller Writers anthology, Face Off, and with author Jon Land for The Rising (Tor), an adventure novel published earlier this year. “It is interesting to work on a co-project,” she says. “I’ve done so many books that sharing ideas and throwing them back and forth can be a great deal of fun.”

American Drifter is Murray’s first book of prose. “I’ve written before,” he says. “I’ve always loved storytelling, either via poetry, acting, short stories, or scripts.” In 2011, his graphic novel, Everlast, was published by Archaia Comics. “For me, writing and acting are great forms of release. I’ve been blessed to find great mentors to help show me the process of both.”

As to whether Murray and Graham will continue their collaboration, Graham says, “I never predict the future.” Murray adds, “I’ll always be open to collaborating with her. What I do know is that writing is something I’ll always do. But I’m not sure what the platform will be.”

Today, 11:15 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Heather Graham will interview Chad Michael Murray about their book, American Drifter, in Room 1E10.

Today, 1–2 p.m. The first 100 fans at Graham and Murray’s discussion, above, will get tickets for a signing at the Forge booth (3008).