“What if a terrorist uses my thriller’s plotline to attack the United States?”
I had that stop-you-in-your-tracks thought after a mock interview with my media coach. He’d been prepping me for upcoming radio shows and asked, “Is the truth in your novel scarier than the fiction?”
I answered, “Yes.”
My debut thriller, VANOPS: THE LOST POWER, deals with Russians who want to get their hands on an ancient source of material that can power e-bombs. Their plan is to use those directed energy weapons to destroy U.S. early-warning systems, and then use a high-atmospheric nuke to further disrupt our electronics. Although the source of the material, an ancient artifact used by Alexander the Great to conquer nations, is fictional, e-bombs are a true threat. In 2003, CBS NEWS reported that the U.S. used an e-bomb against Saddam Hussein to destroy his propaganda producing TV station.
Before embarking on my writing journey, I was a Silicon Valley IT executive, but it doesn’t take a tech degree to realize that our country would be in deep trouble without semiconductor technology. Can you imagine a world in which your cell phone, computer, and TV were melted like a Salvador Dali painting? With an e-bomb blast, it could happen.
While writing THE LOST POWER, I used this danger to heighten the tension. After that mock interview though, my stomach clenched in a knot as I wondered about the possibility of a villain picking up my book and getting the bright idea to bring the story to life.
Humans learn through storytelling, but what if our work teaches inappropriate lessons?
In these times of war and horrific mass shootings in synagogues, mosques, churches, and schools, what are our moral obligations as authors? How do we entertain millions of readers using action without encouraging forceful behavior? Is it okay to show violence used in self-defense? Where do we draw the line?
These questions were top of mind as I wrote THE LOST POWER. Ultimately, I decided to make use of the broad social conflict about violence in the novel. As the series opens, Maddy Marshall is a peaceful app designer and aikido instructor. She has strong opinions about using non-violence to solve problems, but as the story progresses and she finds aikido useless against sniper bullets, she is forced to reconsider her views. Eventually, she has to decide if she’s willing to kill when her own life, and the lives of those she loves, is on the line.
Bear, the combat-trained marine who goes along on the quest with Maddy, grew up in a military family and is familiar with killing. When he’s forced to eliminate an enemy with a vital point strike to the temple, and Maddy judges him for it, he stomps out of the room. He has no qualms about doing what he must to defend his country.
Their different approaches to violence cause sparks to fly between Maddy and Bear while they race to stop the e-bomb threat.
The pen is mightier than the sword. The story stronger than steel.
I took a calculated risk with this thriller. With the level of information about e-bombs available on the internet, I hope that government agencies have planned ahead for the type of scheme I fictionalize. If not, perhaps the story will encourage them to take extra precautions with our eye-in-the-sky early-warning radar installations.
What are your thoughts about violence in the entertainment industry? Please leave a comment below, or drop me a line.
If you’d like to meet Maddy Marshall and the covert VanOps team, the first six chapters are free on Avanti’s website at www.avanticentrae.com and for a limited time, Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read THE LOST POWER for free.