A Guest Post by Kristen Elise
My protagonist was racing through Egypt faster than I could type, her quest to find her husband’s killer preceding my own quest to put her latest predicament on paper before I could forget what I had in mind. The clock was ticking. Katrina had every reason to suspect that someone was hot on her trail, and that the best-case scenario was that it was Middle Eastern law enforcement. I was in the zone.
Then my editor read the section and totally deflated my ego. “Why doesn’t she just Google herself?” she asked.
The Internet age has created new hurdles for the author of mysteries and thrillers. What is left to investigate, when everything you need to know is right at your fingertips? Instead of action-packed, unpredictable adventures, our heroes have smart phones. Which can make for the most un-thrilling thriller ever written.
Here I offer a collection of ideas for neutralizing the digital age, or even using it to up the stakes in your story:
The smart phone:
1) Drop it in a river, an ocean, a fountain, a toilet, or any other body of water. Someone important is expecting your call when this happens.
2) Enter a dead zone (trains, planes and automobiles are particularly good for this.) Get the critical message too late.
3) The bad guy pirates your data. Now he knows the home addresses of everyone in your contacts.
4) The person you need to speak with is a heavy sleeper in a different time zone. Or, dead.
5) Dead battery. Power outage.
6) The government, your employer, or your spouse is tracking your cell phone activity. What they find could harm you, or it could kill them.
7) The phone is stepped on by a horse, dropped off of a skyscraper, or thrown out the window of a speeding car. You’re next.
8) You left it sitting on the train ticket counter. The ticket vendor happens to be in cahoots with the bad guys.
9) Garden-variety cell phone theft by a total stranger. The stranger ditches the phone in the absolute worst possible spot.
10) Your service was just shut off for lack of payment. Your payments are automatic and were current four days ago, so what gives?
The computer (some of these also apply to smart phones…):
1) Cash only at the Internet café. You’ve been mugged.
2) Google search results screw up your whole plan.
3) What you need is on your personal desktop. Your personal desktop is in another country.
4) You’ve been dropped in the Amazon, and there’s not a Starbucks in sight.
5) Your email account has been hacked, and you are now sending messages that will certainly get you killed.
6) The email and text messages you have been receiving are actually from the killer.
7) GPS brings him right to you.
8) Can’t drive (or fly a plane, or sail…,) fight off an axe-wielding maniac and run a Google search at the same time.
9) No wi-fi on sailboats, especially those with axe-wielding maniacs as first mate.
10) The bad guy has Google too. He knows everything about you.
I suspect that as technology evolves, our methods for dealing with it in our novels will too. What are some of your favorite ways to kill Google in your stories – or better yet, to use it to up the stakes?
Kristen Elise, Ph.D., is a drug discovery biologist and the author of The Vesuvius Isotope. She lives in San Diego, California, with her husband, stepson, and three canine children. Please visit her websites at www.kristenelisephd.com and www.murderlab.com. The Vesuvius Isotope is available in both print (www.kristenelisephd.com and www.amazon.com) and e-book formats (www.amazon.com for Kindle, www.barnesandnoble.com for Nook, www.kobo.com for Kobo reader.)