This morning, my guest is mystery author Mark Young. Mark is an award-winning journalist, a Vietnam combat veteran, and, prior to undertaking a full-time writing career, he served as a police officer with the Santa Rosa Police Department in California for twenty-six years.
Mark served with several law enforcement task force operations, including the Presidential Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force targeting major drug traffickers, and the federal Organized Crime Task Force charged with identifying and prosecuting prison gang leaders.
Mark's first novel Revenge was the first Travis Mays novel. Off the Grid, his second novel, is an international thriller scheduled for release this month.
You can find Mark at his website Mark Young Books or his blogs Arresting Fiction and Hook’em & Book’em Blog or his Amazon Author Page.
Now, please welcome Mark Young.
Living In A World Without Privacy
By Mark Young
Who knows your intimate secrets? In this technological age, we’ve been mesmerized by the idea—television, movies and novels—that any secret can be snatched with the right tools. Our brain wants to blurt out, “Hey, pal, this is just entertainment. It’s not real.”
Really? This sparked an idea for my next novel, Off the Grid, an international thriller about covert operations, technological advancements, and survival. Can anyone live off the grid and survive? Is there a way to travel anonymously on this digital highway?
Everyone thought it impossible to track Osama Bin Laden because he lived off the grid in some small hamlet in the desert. Instead, they found him squirreled away in an Abbottabad, Pakistan, mansion across the street from a police station and living among a population of about 300,000 people.
No phones. No internet. A 1970s television. A human courier led them to the compound. Once the suspected hideout was identified, they used satellite surveillance to acquire critical intelligence about the compound, the building, and the living habits of those living inside this walled conclave.
Hey, that was Bin Laden. Everyone wanted a piece of that guy. But little ol’ me—no one’s looking. Right?
Stop and think! How many times in a day is your information captured, stored, and mined by others. At the food market, data from the medicines you buy, food you use, and all the other commodities you purchase are massively collected and stored to find ways of getting more money out of your wallet. Library cards, bank cards, and use of the internet. All these sources of information are available if one knows how to hack and track technology.
Add this to recent develops in nanotechnology and quantum computers, and you have a dynamite concoction for an international thriller. We are one step away from a major technological breakthrough in nanotechnology that will make the industrial revolution look like a historical bump in the road.
Two men in my Off the Grid novel—Gerrit O’Rourke, the main character about to flee for his life, and his arch rival, Richard Kane—argue about this future and who might control it. Go ahead, and eavesdrop on their conversation:
Gerrit watched the man, still pacing, seem to lose himself in his own one-sided conversation. He’d just let Kane ramble.
“Not to speak of the economic tsunami that will roll over us when molecular manufacturing becomes feasible on the open market. Inexpensive manufacturing costs coupled with replication of designs will cause economic upheaval and environmental devastation on a global scale never before seen.”
He stopped pacing and turned toward Gerrit. “We have to contain and control this before it gets out of hand.”
“Who is we,” Gerrit asked again, trying to prod the man into divulging those Kane represented. “The United States has been on top of this for more than a decade. Isn’t that what the National Nanotechnology Initiative and the White House Office of Science and Technology policy is all about? Coordinating efforts so our country can control and contain this information?”
“Ever known a politically motivated body to do what is in the country’s best interests?” Kane scoffed. “They are too busy protecting their own budgets and keeping their own power base to spend time on the greater good.”
“So people like you—and whoever you work for—have the country’s best interests at heart?”
Kane shook his head. “Not just our country’s—the world’s. The whole world must share in these breakthroughs with some controls and power resting with a few reasonable leaders.”
“And who decides this?”
“The group I represent will decide this. We will keep politics and self-interest out of the equation.”
Gerrit couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
Shortly thereafter, Gerrit disappears off the grid for his own survival as he uncovers an international conspiracy to undermine the sovereignty of world nations—including the United States. Others emerge to aid in his fight.
As Gerrit learns, the world of surveillance has leaped forward since the old days. Tiny micro-chips weaved into the fabric of paper currency can monitor and track anywhere. Surveillance cameras the size of a pin head have become old school. Audio and visual tracking stalk us every day, from fixed cameras on light poles to eye-in-the-sky trackers from hundreds of miles away. The fantasy Sci-Fi we thought impossible has now become feasible—even affordable.
What about you? Like the quip from a credit card commercial: “What do you have in your wallet?” Big Brother already knows the answer to that question.
Thanks, Mark, for visiting. Readers, Mark's new book will be out soon. If you like your thriller with a scary dose of reality, grab Off The Grid. While you're waiting for its release, pick up a copy of his first book--only $.99 on Kindle.