Friday, 27 November 2015

Alex Blackmore on Hidden Truths

Today's guest blog post is by former city finance lawyer turned author Alex Blackmore.

I'm a big fan of plots that deliver a light bulb moment. When you read something and you think "no, that could never happen......or could it?"  I'm not a conspiracy nut but I think there's a lot we don't know about the world. For example, last year I interviewed the late Caspar Bowden who was Chief Privacy Adviser at Microsoft in 2011. He told his employer that selling cloud computing to non-American governments would effectively allow mass surveillance of those countries’ citizens’ data. Most dismissed him as a fantasist and a conspiracy theorist at the time. Then Snowdon happened and revealed PRISM i.e. everything Caspar said was spot on.

Hidden truths
My first book, Lethal Profit looked at this idea of hidden truths in the context of big business profiting from the sales of pharmaceuticals. In the book the organisation ACORN was manufacturing and distributing a virus for which only they had a cure. They were essentially living the corporate dream: creating a captive, desperate market and making themselves the sole supplier. I don't doubt that this happens in ‘the real world.’ I suspect that most of the time we have no idea of the extent to which corporates (and politicians being lobbied by them) don’t care about human lives and experiences, despite the fuzzy advertising campaigns.

Buying strategic control?
Ideas of profit motive run through Killing Eva too but this time based on the consequences of a completely free market. It seems to me that everything is effectively for sale now, from our book shops to our utilities companies, banks, food stores, some medical care and even - in a way - our government, given that we borrow so heavily. How easy would it be to hold these things ransom by innovatively/covertly buying up infrastructure and supply chains and then applying political pressure? We all assume that someone in the know must have put safeguards in place to stop a third party from ‘buying’ strategic control. But most of us have no idea.

The science bit – wreaking chaos
I have a bit of a taste for the sci fi too. It's odd as I'm not really a very sciency person but I love the potential it has to wreak chaos. In Lethal Profit it was a virus that could be 'held' in algae, injected into human bodies that would then self destruct (“not in existence but yes theoretically possible” said the man from Kings). In Killing Eva I'm looking at ideas of perception - how you could alter someone's perception by playing with their brain. It's not exactly advanced science I know but I couldn't stop think about how your perception of the world around is so very influenced by what's going on in your head not what’s actually there.

The protection of your DNA
I also thought a lot about the idea of security, something that’s so frequently in the headlines now. How could an individual ensure maximum protection for something priceless? We are so clever now, us humans, that we can break, replicate or hack just about everything – apart from DNA, that’s the only feature that remains individual to all humans. As far as we know.

The horror of suspense
I tend to steer clear of really gruesome torture and death scenes just because that doesn't have the same impact on me as something more psychological. I often think creating fear, terror, suspense is much more in what you don't say - planting those seeds of something awful and then just letting them grow in the reader's mind. Because we all love the suspense of a ruined house at midnight, an alpine village full of returning dead people or crime glimpsed from a passing train. As long as it's happening to someone else of course. Suspense is not something you can experience first hand.

Great shoes
At the centre of all this is my main character, Eva Scott, a young woman who knows nothing about science or the behind the scenes global political struggles, cartels or exploitation. She is drawn into the maelstrom when she starts receiving calls from her dead brother. Eva isn’t a policewoman or a spy so she’s very much on her own with what she discovers. However, she is a brave and instinctive character with a dogged determination that is totally relentless.  She also wears great shoes.

The trailer can be seen below.

Killing Eva by Alex Blackmore is published by No Exit Press, Paperback £7.99 and ebook

Witnessing a dramatic death at London's Waterloo Station triggers a series of events that shatter Eva Scott's world.  Dying words uttered on the station concourse awaken a history she had thought long buried.  But the past is about to be resurrected, in all its brutal reality.  Eva's life is soon out of her hands.  A genetic key is keeping her alive; but foreshadowing her death.  People from her past materialise and then disappear, testing the limits of her sanity. Inextricably linked to her survival is the potential takedown of an economic power, on which hang the lives of many others.  The only way out is through . . But Eva's life is no longer her own . .  And it's killing her.

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