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Guest Blogger: Alexandra Adornetto, Author of "Ghost House"

Ghost-hosueAlexandra Adornetto, author of the Halo Trilogy and upcoming release Ghost House, looks ahead to Fall and rounds up the books she's most excited to read.

I don’t always have the time to keep up with new releases but here are some of my must-reads for this Fall:

Rooms by Lauren Oliver I’m always attracted to stories about the supernatural and was intrigued reading the synopsis for this book. I’m already familiar with Lauren Oliver’s best-selling YA books, but Rooms is her first adult title. It’s about a house whose ghosts haunt the new family that arrives. As someone who has just written about ghosts, I’m interested to see how another author handles the spirit and human world intersecting. And what will be the result of these two worlds colliding? Can’t wait to find out.

Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid I recently met Adi at a Book Expo America book signing in New York. There was so much excitement about his debut novel, Let’s Get Lost, that it immediately went on my “To Read” list. I love the idea of a road trip where a girl (Leila) heading to Alaska meets up with four other teens, all with issues of their own to resolve. Road trips always provide opportunities for growth and adventure so I’m looking forward to finding out what these characters discover from their journey.

The Jewel by Amy Ewing The cover has to be one of the most breathtaking I’ve seen. The plot is reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, which is one of my favorites. Violet has been raised to be a surrogate for royalty but when she gets to Jewel, she finds life there not quite what she expected. With elements like royal scandal, deception, and illicit love this has to be a dramatic read.

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham I found the TV show Girls very funny and have a lot of admiration for Lena Dunham and for what she’s achieved. To get your own show sold as writer/actor is no mean feat! I’m looking forward to reading her memoir made up of short stories that are bound to have hilarious moments. But I’m also interested to find what experiences shaped her as a person.  

One Kick by Chelsea Cain It’s hard to ignore a book with such an original title, especially when you know that Kick is the name of the heroine. She’s 21, a former kidnapping victim who becomes an expert in self-defense as part of her recovery. Then Kick finds her purpose in life—to help find missing children. She sounds like a strong character, to have overcome the trauma she’s experienced. Despite what might be at times grim subject matter, this sounds like a fast-paced thriller with some surprising twists.

Exclusive Sketch by Mark Buckingham

Check out this exclusive sketch by Fables artist Mark Buckingham of Bigby Wolf.



Exclusive Q&A with Chip Kidd

Renowned designer Chip Kidd talks to us at San Diego Comic-Con 2014 about Batman and the enduring legacy of the character. DetectiveComics27

Charlie Chang: Most comic book readers know your work because of Batman: Death by Design but your latest work is the new Detective Comics #27 cover. How were you introduced to the character and what is your earliest memory of the character?

Chip Kidd: Well it’s kind of great to see this year they’ve licensed all this Batman ’66 stuff and I was born in ’64 so I was two years old when the TV show came out. Which you’d think is maybe too young.


CC: Never

CK: It’s not, that was my introduction to Batman, the Adam West and Burt Ward TV show. I had a brother who was two years older and I wanted to be into whatever he was into and so he was into that. That sort of led to the comic books of the time and then what was interesting to me was that in 1969 to 1970 a transition in the comics from Batman as a what we call “camp” figure back to his roots what we now understand as the Dark Knight and then DC reissued the very first stories in what they called Famous First Editions and they were Detectives Comics #27, the first introduction of Batman and Action Comics #1, the first introduction of Superman and by then I was in second or third grade. I loved going back to see the roots, the real origins of the characters. It was just fascinating to see how they evolved but also what the original concepts for them were.

CC: Very cool. For most people, their first introduction to a character or superhero is their personal version. Is that true in your case? Is Adam West your Batman?

CK: You know, I would have to honestly say not really. I love it but I think it was really going back to those original stories. Frankly the Batman from Detective #27 up through I believe #38, like right up until Robin was introduced. That was actually my favorite version.

CC: Is that the version you personally design the character off of?

CK: Yeah and so Batman: Death by Design is basically the ‘30s even though we don’t ever say it. There’s also a little bit of a steampunk theme to it but it’s really the idea not only of Batman Year One but also of Batman circa 1936 or ’37.

CC:  Do you have a favorite Batman story arc or graphic novel?

CK: There’s so many, there’s a classic story from the ‘70s called “Night of the Hunter” and it’s largely without any dialogue. Basically, Batman witnesses a modern replaying as a young child’s parents are gunned down in front of him. He then pursues the murderers and ends up deep in the woods. They get in a getaway car and they go out to the outer woods around Gotham City. IT’s a short story, it’s 12 pages or something but it gets real spooky and one by one Batman tracks down each person almost in a horror story fashion even though he doesn’t kill them. It’s a way for him to try and get some kind of closure to what happened to him. By the end of the last panel, Bruce comes back to Wayne Manor, takes off the cowl and just starts to cry because he’ll never really get true closure. It’s amazing.

CC: One of the best things now that we’re at the 75th anniversary of the character. Batman touches so many different generations. What do you think are the traits that make this character so everlasting?

CK: I think the design of the character. As a designer, the design of the persona and the outfit is really what has set this character apart from the rest. There have been references to the classic Dracula character and the subtext of that this character that looks dark, evil, and scary is a force for good and the dichotomy of the form versus the content.

2014 RITA Awards: The Inside Scoop

Editor Alyssa Morris gives us an insider view on the 2014 RITA awards.

After three days of conversation about the future of the romance in an ever-shifting publishing ClaimMe_CROPlandscape, the 2014 RITA awards celebrated romances of the past while honoring innovators of the present. Notably, J. Kenner took home the first ever RITA for erotic romance for Claim Me and the award for best Romantic suspense went to author Carolyn Crane for her novel Off the Edge. These awards reflect the widening romance market and the trends of the past few years, many wrought by the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey, the Crossfire trilogy, and other similarly steamy independent titles (which 50 Shades of Grey and the first Crossfire book both, briefly, were).

Eloisa James presented the lifetime achievement award to Bertrice Small, a truly remarkable pioneer of the modern romance whom James, quoting Dickens, described as “the founder of our feast.” James recounted an anecdote from Small's early career, when her first publisher told her to stay home and take care of her baby. Small was undaunted, convinced that she would last longer in the publishing industry than he. And, indeed, she did. Leaving the ceremony, many people could be heard discussing their desire to track down some of Bertrice's novels.

Throughout the ceremony, video interviews revealed the first romances read by blockbuster authors. Emcee Simone Elkeles read Nobody's Darling by Theresa Medeiros, Julia Quinn was inspired to write by Jude Deveraux, Sarah MacLean was also inspired by Deveraux, citing The Black Lyon as her first romance. Kristan Higgins stole her first romance novel from her grandmother, knowing she wouldn't be allowed to read it otherwise. With the recent and forthcoming e-releases of many of these classic authors' backlists, it feels as though we are due for a resurgence of their popularity and a return to more adventurous themes in the modern romance.

Other RITA winners included Sarah MacLean for her historical No Good Duke Goes Unpunished, Molly O'Keefe for her contemporary Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Jane Porter for her novella Take Me Cowboy, Carla Laureano for her inspirational romance Five Days in Skye, Susan Kearsley for her paranormal The Firebird, and Leah Ashton for her short contemporary romance Why Resist a Rebel. Finally, Laura Drake won best first book for her western The Sweet Spot. All of these and the nominated titles are well worth delving into, and they may even inspire readers to look back in time and try the romances that paved the way for them.

Interested in romance? Sign up for Romance Delivers, a weekly email featuring the best in romance each week - from weekly booklists to deals and exclusive content from authors.

Exclusive Excerpt from "The Good Girl"

TheGoodGirl_CropAuthor Mary Kubica has given us a sneak peek inside her new book, The Good Girl, officially releasing on July 29.

About The Good Girl: Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn't show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia's life.

Read the first 79 pages of "The Good Girl" (PDF)

Q&A with Marcus Sakey for "A Better World" and Blake Crouch for "The Last Town"

Crouch_Sakey2Bestselling authors Blake Crouch and Marcus Sakey are the Ben Affleck and Matt Damon of the crime fiction genre. These two write, research and even make s’mores together. Learn more about their bromance writing styles and friendship.

Blake Crouch: So the second book in your Brilliance Saga was just published. It's called A BETTER WORLD, and I think it's even better than the first, BRILLIANCE, so congrats!

Marcus Sakey:  Thanks!  I’m really proud of it.  It picks up a couple of months after the first, and since I’ve always imagined the saga as a trilogy, I think of it as my The Empire Strikes Back.  Like that film, you don’t need to have seen the first to enjoy, although it’s more fulfilling to start at the beginning.

This is actually the first time I’ve written a series, and it’s an interesting challenge.  There are some great things about writing a sequel, like knowing the characters and having plot forces in play.  But there are also real frustrations, like trying to seed in backstory from the last book.  That must have been particularly tricky in your new book, THE LAST TOWN, given that it’s the third in a series--and that it starts in a pretty intense way.

B: It was really challenging. I would even go so far as to say that THE LAST TOWN (which is the third and final book in the Wayward Pines Trilogy), was the hardest book for me to write, and I've written twelve.

M: Showoff.  Why was this one the hardest?

B: The bonuses you mentioned to writing a series are great.  But there comes a point where you've just had enough of this world and you're kind of ready for a hot new thing. At least that's how I felt by the time I type "the end" on this series. Not that I didn't have an absolute blast writing it, but three years in one world with one set of characters is a lot.

M:  That’s why I’ve only written stand-alones in the past.  As much as I dig my characters, by the end of a book, my feeling tends to be, “Thanks, see you, don’t let the door hit you on the imaginary ass.”

And man do I know what you mean about the hot new thing.  Whenever I’m in the middle of a book, I find that ideas for other novels are almost unbearably sexy.  They’re whispering in your ear, telling you that they’ll meet you at the motel on the highway, that no one needs to know.  But at least for me, I know if I cheat on the book I’m writing to romp with a new one, chances are I’ll end up screwing it up with both.  Do you feel that way?  Or can you see other ideas?

B: No, once I've committed to an idea, I stick with it. I played that game early on in my career where I was three chapters in and then another idea came calling. But the problem is, it's not the new idea that's so attractive, it's the relief it promises from having to actually figure out the book you're writing. But you'll have to figure out that idea as well, so I've found it's always better to stick it out. Believe in the idea you committed to.

M:  Exactly.  When I come back to the hot new ideas later, they never seem as sexy.

B:   To wrap this up, we should share with people how we came up with the ideas for Brilliance and Wayward Pines.  We were together when it happened….

M:  Yes we were.  At 14,000 feet in the Colorado Rockies.

B:  You had come to visit me in Durango, Colorado, for a camping trip.  We didn't realize it at the time, but we were both in between books and trying to figure out what our next projects would be.  So we hiked up to this gorgeous lake and we were talking the entire time about how we wanted our next books to be different, bigger, world-building.

M:  The intention was to be hardened mountain men and spend several nights in the backcountry--

B:  But you wimped out.

M: You wimped out!

B:  I merely suggested that our brainstorming session (which is what the trip was turning into) might be more productive over steaks and martinis and soft mattresses instead of sleeping bags….

M: I will confess that my arm didn’t need twisting.

B: At any rate, we spent the next several days in a scenic little mountain town in southwest Colorado, coming up with the bones of Wayward Pines and Brilliance.  

M:, Now the trips are part of that tradition.  You came out to Chicago a couple of months ago when we were both between books, and we did the same thing.

B:  Minus the mountain.

M:  Minus the mountain.  But the same process, only informed by what we’ve done before.  Hey, there’s our adorably clever ending--we’ll get meta on it, and point out that we’re making our careers into a series.  


Guest Post by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg: Favorite Crime-Fighting Duos

LeeandJanetAny great series, or standalone book, start with interesting characters in compelling situations; these people and their relationships inspire us, often make us laugh, and through their interactions we understand the more about who they are and the world they are in than any description ever could.  With this in mind we asked Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, authors of the Fox and O'Hare series, starring their crime-fighting duo Nicolas Fox and Kate O’Hare, to tell us about their favorite duos:

Janet Evanovich:

Nick and Nora Charles –Dashiell Hammett’s detective duo in his best-selling and last novel, The Thin Man.  It was written in 1934 and is as much a comedy of manners as a mystery novel.  I love that it’s a boozy reflection of pre-prohibition America.

Spenser and Hawk –When I decided to leave romance and move into crime fiction, this was the series that inspired me.  I loved Robert B. Parker’s clean construction and tough, wise-cracking characters. 

Elvis Cole and Joe Pike –This is like the west coast Disneyland version of Spenser and Hawk.  And this is said by someone who LOVES Disneyland.  Bob Crais gives us clever dialogue, fast action plot lines, and ups the ante with an evolving main character.

Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck –I’ve been reading these comic books since I was a kid.  If anything gave me a love of adventure it was Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie.  They took me to the moon, the Amazon, the Klondike, and led me to Aztec ruins.  All in full color.  If only I could get them on e-book life would be perfect!

Lee Goldberg:

Nero Wolfe & Archie Goodwin  - Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe is a brilliantly eccentric, outrageously fat detective who (almost) never leaves his New York brownstone and Archie Goodwin is his good-natured, resourceful, out-going legman, who brings the suspects and clues to his boss.  It's their wonderful relationship and Wolfe's marvelous speeches, more than the sometimes half-baked mysteries, that are the great pleasures of these books. 

Encyclopedia Brown and Sally Kimball - Donald J. Sobol's Leroy "Encyclopedia" Brown is a 12-year-old detective whose brilliant deductions constantly befuddle and enrage his adversaries. He'd probably get beat up every day if not for Sally Kimball, his defacto assistant and bodyguard. I fell in love with mysteries thanks to these short, but clever puzzles that always played fair with the clues.  

Jim Hardman and Hump Evans - They are the best detective team you've never heard of, the heroes of a terrific series of out-of-print 1970s paperbacks by Ralph Dennis. Hardman is a disgraced ex-cop and his African-American buddy Hump is a former pro-football player sidelined by a knee injury who work together as quasi-PIs in Atlanta...and who aren't above breaking the law to make a buck. Hardman is Spenser without the self-confidence or moral superiority, and Hump is Hawk, only not so fearsome and homicidal. 

Patrick Kenzie & Angela Gennaro - Dennis Lehane's Boston detective team won't ever be mistaken for Nick & Nora Charles. Their complex, realistic relationship evolves, sometimes in heartbreaking and infuriating ways, over the course of the gritty, complicated cases that they tackle and that always emotionally affect them... and often haunt them...for years.



Harley Quinn Invades San Diego Comic-Con 2014

Creators Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner talk to us about some of their favorite memories from past San Diego Comic-Cons, what they love about it, and their new book, Harley Quinn Invades San Diego Comic-Con. Harleycomiccon

So, we have Harley Quinn invading San Diego Comic Con this year!

Jimmy Palmiotti: She has an actual ticket.

She has to wait in the ticket line?

J: No no, we know people at WB and they can get her past. *laughs*

How long have you two been going to comic conventions?

Amanda Conner: We were just talking about that, and Jimmy says he’s been going since 1991 and I think I started going the year after you, so I’m going to say ’92 for myself.

J: So if you add that up, the answer is… too long *laughs.* But you know, we love the conventions and I mean it’s the event for us every year. It’s one of our big events.

Is there something you look forward to every year at Comic Con?

A: We both look forward to it, and we dread it.

J: The Monday after the con is awesome. We don’t leave until Tuesday so we make sure we have a pool day at the hotel on Monday.

A: And the convention is so fun but it’s so crazy at the same time. So we’re excited and we’re scared at the same time.

J: You know it’s fun to see the people we work for, because they all come out.

Thank you! That’s so nice of you. *laughs*-weird to say that if this is on/from Amazon??

J: It is! And you know then you get to see the other artists who are in the business and we get to meet the fans and they’re great, and look, it’s the best job in the world. You just sit there and people come up and tell us how happy they are. I mean, where else can you have that? Nobody has that. It’s just fantastic and the art collector in me likes to walk around and pick up some art and Amanda buys a lot of weird things there.

 And it’s just great because there’s always great dinners at night.There’s an energy. You guys know. There’s this energy that goes on there. It’s also always fun to wait to cross the street with 8,000 people. I’m kidding.

Through that one narrow crosswalk, it’s like being herded into the ark. It’s horrible.

A: You have to wait in line to cross the street. It’s so weird.

J: I think this year is going to be the year where it’s not only packed inside but I think there’s going to be a billion people who just come to stay outside.

There’s more and more of a presence of people outside who have set up tents.

J: We were thinking about getting like a 6-foot card table and just put it right in the grass across the street and sit there with our names on the table.

A: You know I’ve had this fantasy for like the past 18 years and I’m thinking to myself, one day I’m going to start doing poolside signings. That’s what I want to do.

J: Yes, because I want the fans to see me there. I’ll wear a Speedo. I think it’ll be fun. *laughs* If you wonder, I’ve been ignoring that.

Do you guys have a favorite moment or stand out memories from any convention?

A: Oh man.

J: Uh, like not adult stuff?

A: Is this stuff we’re allowed to talk about? *laughs*

J: I have some horrible stories that involve horrible things. But I can’t say that so something like, well, you know, I gotta say for…hm. Yeah that’s not good either.

A: Jimmy’s actually had more experiences than I have.

Jimmy you seem to be having a tough time coming up with a PG moment.

J: Yeah I’m thinking let’s tell that story…well, no that’s not good.

A: The Thomas Jane story? No, no no.

J: No, not that one either.

A: But you know because I get stuck at the table so Jimmy ends up exploring so he’s always, you know, running into the celebrities.

J: We did harass Conan O’Brien at the Warner Brothers party, that was fun.

A: Conan O’Brien and I talked to poor Johnny Galecki for about five minutes. *laughs*

J: And what’s his name, Henry Cavill, me and Dave Johnson are hanging out and were like “hey we’d like to say hi to him” and they had all this security and he looked over and was like “oh these guys are comic book guys, they can come over!” I thought that was pretty cool. All these other people were trying to get to him and he’s like “oh you know those are the poor comic book bastards, have them come over.” *laughs*

But you know, I think like we said the highlights always been the great dinners we have at night with everybody. The con is such a blend of madness that by the time we get spit out at 8 o’clock these quiet dinners are always kind of fun, we can catch up with everybody. We’ve also done a lot of charity events for the con and all those guys, so there’s no one specific story.

If we’re drinking in a bar one night, I’ll have plenty stories for you. *laughs* I’ve got great stories for you. But, these people are still alive and they have careers, I don’t really want to ruin them. Like we said, the highlights are always meeting the fans and getting feedback from them, even if they tell us we suck it’s still kind of fun.

On the flipside of that, do you guys have any memories of Comic Con that were just an absolute nightmare?

A: I mean, you know, absolute nightmare? We’ve been fortunate, and I’m knocking on wood when I say that, we’ve never lost anything. I’ve never gotten any art stolen or lost or anything like that.

J: We had like six people in our room once. They couldn’t get rooms, and we kept on telling everybody “hey, if you really get stuck you can stay with us.” Everybody got stuck. It looked like a wasteland of people in our room for the con. And we only had one rule, if Amanda and I needed to use the bathroom, everyone else had to wait since we paid for the room.

But no, it’s been good. There are always those silly things like waiting 8 hours across the street.

A: I think that’s the biggest nightmare for me, is when it’s Saturday evening and you’re so exhausted you’re seeing stars, and you’re like “oh I can leave now!” But you can’t really leave now, because you have to wait 20 minutes to get to the little entrance way to wait another 20 minutes to cross the street.

J: I’ve been part of other people’s nightmare stories. A couple of years ago I found a comic book writer laying in the street, passed out sleeping. He obviously had a bit too much to drink. So I put him on one of those luggage racks and wheeled him into the hotel, and I paid a pedicab guy 40 bucks to take this passed out guy to his hotel, I found the key in his pocket. I met the guy later on and he was alive so that’s good. *laughs*

There’s always those kinds of crazy stories. Weird stuff happens though. People bring Amanda artwork that she drew to get it signed and then it’s not drawn by Amanda, actually.

A: Yeah, that’s kind of bizarre.

J: Yeah, somebody else drew it and signed her name and sold it to them as Amanda’s artwork.

A: And then I feel so bad!

J: But for the most part it’s always fun.

A: Yeah, it is. I love the energy and the madness.

So what’s it like to get in the mindset to create the Harley Quinn comic?

A: You know what, it’s getting easier and easier and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I don’t know if that’s going to be like thousands of dollars of therapy later on. But it’s just the craziest thing we can come up with when we’re eating dinner and we’re exhausted and just talking crazy to each other. We’re like “well, that doesn’t sound too crazy for Harley, we can do that!”

J: Yeah I have a thing that if we go through the whole issue and we both look back at it and we didn’t kill anyone, we gotta go back.

A: We have to step up our game.

J: We have to step up our game and have her get upset at somebody.

A: We try and guarantee at least one maiming and/or killing per issue.

J: Yeah, we could almost say they could be returnable if that isn’t going on somewhere in there. The book is fun because we write the book all day long. Meaning everywhere we go. Because we’re husband and wife we go to lunch together, we go to dinner together, it’s exhausting *laughs*. We’re always talking about what if this and what if that. Amanda has on her iPad a list of a billion ideas that we keep coming up with, you know, if we get a chance let’s do this, and let’s do that, because we see stuff in the street, we get inspired by people and stories. So at the end of the day we come back and say alright, now how do we put this together and work it in with Harley. And it’s true, it’s been getting easier and easier because there’s a beat to Harley. There’s a certain amount of sweetness and a certain amount of killer that we’re finding a comfort zone for it and the cool thing about the book is we can get these secondary characters introduced in her life that are completely off the wall. And get away with it in this book, because it all seems normal in her world.

This series has been a total smash-hit. What is it about this series that you think people are connecting to and absolutely loving?

J: I’ll say the first credit goes to DC because what they’ve been doing is they keep everything from the #0 to the newest book in circulation. So there’s 3rd printings, 4th printings, and I deal with a couple of retailers in our area and they say because DC keeps issue 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 in circulation they can constantly have all the issues on the shelf. And they said that’s been the biggest draw for the books that people can come in because they’ve heard about it for issue #5, and they can actually buy the past issues. Where, in a lot of comics, as you guys know, that’s not always the case with a lot of books. If you’re in issue 8 and you want 7, 6, and 5, you have to go hunting for them. So DC has been pretty brilliant in keeping the books in circulation and I think that is the biggest thing for us, because we gain a new reader with every issue and they’re able to catch up and it doesn’t intimidate them.

The other part, and I think Amanda will agree, is that we are hitting a female audience that a lot of the comics don’t. And we’re getting younger people, we’re getting a female audience, we’re getting people who want to try something different. We’re also not alienating people with a ton of continuity.

A: Yeah, and I think a lot of it also is that people enjoy reading it because Harley gets to do the things that sometimes you want to do to people but are highly illegal *laughs*.  If somebody is just driving you insane and it’s like “my god, I would just love to pitch that guy out of a window!” And then it’s like okay, I really can’t do that. But Harley can! So it’s sort of cathartic to read it.

With Harley Quinn heading to San Diego Comic Con, how do you think she’s going to react to all the Harley Quinn cosplay?

A: She’s very flattered and is “you want to dress like me?! That’s so cool!” And they’re all like “what do you mean dress like you?”  *laughs*

J: We do have a limousine full of Harleys pick up Harley in the street in the Gaslight district and they go and have a night out. So it’s Harley with like 12 other Harleys, and they get in a lot of trouble. It’s a lot of fun. We tried to sit there and we did our wish list of “If Harley was in San Diego, what kind of trouble would she get into?” And we pretty much hit everything on the list within the double sized issue.

A: Although occasionally we’ll keep coming up with things like “oh, we should have had her do this” but we can always save that for a future issue.

J: It kind of wrote itself. We’ve been going to the con for so long it’s sort of like there’s so many experiences, we’re kind of just working a lot of them into the book. It’s been a real fun job to work on.

Frightening Science Fiction­ – Or a Cautionary Tale?

51LZd6PoQcLThomas Waite, author of the newly released Lethal Code, shares with us that while his novel about a massive cyber war against the United States is fiction, the scariest part is that it could actually happen.

Unknown terrorists launch a cyber attack of unimaginable proportions on the United States. They take over the nation’s most vital computer systems, shutting down the country’s power grid, but not before the cyber terrorists infiltrate top-secret networks at the Pentagon and White House, along with scores of others. Unprecedented death and destruction follow. These cowards with codes produce a horrifying death toll, take control of the nation’s nuclear arsenal, and place another nuclear bomb in a backpack on a bus full of children headed to New York City. The race is on, with both professionals and everyday citizens risking everything they hold dear to defend themselves and fight this invisible invasion.

Sounds like dystopian science fiction, right? Don’t be so sure.

I’ve spent most of my life in the technology field. My first novel, Terminal Value, was a cyber sleuthing, murder mystery about a start-up mobile computing company and a large information technology services firm about to go public. In recent years, I’ve been involved with cyber security companies, which naturally had me researching and reading a lot about cyber attacks and cyber warfare. What I found was frightening.

The truth is that most of the technologies, cyber attack vulnerabilities, and cyber war scenarios in Lethal Code are based on facts. There are well-documented examples of cyber attacks by China, Russia, North Korea, Israel, the U.S., and other countries. Power, water, fuel, communications, and transportation infrastructure are all vulnerable to disruption. Not only has our federal government admitted that the electric power grid is susceptible to cyber warfare, but even the non-profit North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), which oversees all of the interconnected power systems of the contiguous United States, Canada and a portion of Mexico, has issued a public notice that the grid is not adequately protected.

One of the most seminal books I read was Richard Clarke’s non-fiction book, Cyber War (written with Robert Knake). Clarke has served in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, who appointed him as National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterterrorism. Citing numerous examples, the book makes a very convincing case that although the U.S. pioneered the technology behind cyber warfare, our outdated thinking, policies, and strategies make us vulnerable to losing any cyber contest with a hostile nation.

Similarly, Leon Panetta, the former Secretary of Defense and Director of the CIA who oversaw the U.S. military operation that led to Osama bin Laden’s death, said in a speech in 2012 that our current situation has left us open to “an attack that would paralyze and shock the nation…” He then added his most chilling note of all: “Before September 11, 2001, the warning signs were there. We weren’t organized. We weren’t ready and we suffered terribly for that lack of attention. We cannot let that happen again. This is a pre-9/11 moment.”

As much as I want to entertain my readers, it’s important to note that Lethal Code is not just a fast-paced cyber thriller; it is a cautionary tale for a public largely unaware of a potential cyber war of cataclysmic proportions from an unseen enemy.



Meet George R.R. Martin at Comic-Con International: San Diego

51t3ZoRpTBLOn Sunday, July 27, 12:30pm – 1:30pm, author George R.R. Martin will be at the ComiXology booth #2547 to promote and sign copies of The Hedge Knight: The Graphic Novel (A Game of Thrones), published by Jet City Comics. Signing is limited to 200 copies, given away free, first-come, first-serve. Guests may bring up to one additional copy of The Hedge Knight or its sequel, The Sworn Sword (please note that Mr. Martin will not be signing any other books). The Hedge Knight and The Sworn Sword will also be available for purchase in limited supply at Forbidden Planet’s Titan Booth #5537.