Codes and Ciphers

Oh, my, the things you learn when you write a book.

In Dead Heat, Book 2 of Outlaw Ridge, Texas, which I'm working on now, I knew I wanted to have Sabrina Snow, the heroine of the book, leave a coded message for John Galloway.

The message is to be something he'll understand by knowledge of their relationship, but also it's to have information encoded that a casual reader would not think twice about, but which John will realize is a code.

So I wrote the secret letter then went about encoding it.

To that end,  I watched Codebreakers: Science of Secrecy, a fascinating documentary series on Amazon Prime that's based on The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography by Simon Singh.

 I'll confess. I was so taken with the documentary series that I bought Mr. Singh's book too.

I ended up using a combination of code and ciphers--there is a difference between the two. I used a simple Kama-sutra cipher and referenced it in the letter so John would know there was more to the letter than the words on the paper.

I did this by including the number 45 in the letter. In the context of the sentence that contains 45, John will know that the sentence is meaningless.

He'll also know that Number 45 is the Art of Secret Writing which the Kama-sutra recommends women should learn. (And you just thought the Kama-sutra was about sex positions!)

Why will John know this? Because he and Sabrina are spies!

Oh, writing this book is so much fun!

Takeaway Truth

Being a writer is a never-ending education--if you're lucky.


  1. Intriguing! Sometimes the research sort of takes over the day. Not to mention those wonderful serendipitous events that send you in unexpected directions---and translate into fantastic things in the story. I'm not sure people who don't write books realize the amount of research that has to happen during the process.

    1. You're right. A few years ago, my personal banker told me that he was writing a book in between bouts of video gaming. He said his book required more smarts (I swear this is a true story.) because it was nonfiction whereas I just wrote romance so all I had to do was make it up as I went along.

      I didn't waste my breath trying to educate the millennial jerk. I just closed my accounts and changed banks.