Thursday, 6 April 2017

The Smell of Blue Light

Nighttime is the best time to write if you have a day job.

One of those nights I was sitting at the kitchen table with my laptop and a cup of strong black coffee looking for a way I could manipulate the brain of the agent in the story I was writing. I was roaming the home pages of neuroscience departments of universities until I found the jackpot: a study by Klemens F. St√∂rtkuhl and Andr√© Fiala. Their study was named “The Smell of Blue Light - A New Approach toward Understanding an Olfactory Neuronal Network.”

Basically these scientists took a blind fly larvae, put a light sensitive material on its brain neurons in charge of smell and by doing so ‘cheated’ the brain to smell light. This manipulation made the neurons of the larvae’s brain interpret the light as smell and as a result the larvae crawled towards a light beam, even though it is blind. I took this study and stretched it a bit. In my book I am projecting the light through the eyes into a human brain, while simultaneously playing sound to create ‘brain programming’.

Writing about an agent who is a mix of a genius and a psychopath required a lot of research. I needed to check the science parts to make sure they made sense.  I spent a lot of time Googling and Wikipeding things like OCD symptoms, nightmares categorisation, psychometric tests, water pressure calculations and irrigation systems standards. Dealing with facts verification made me want to play a little and place in the story a couple of ‘facts’ that are completely false. For example - every time we sneeze we lose 14 minutes of our life span because of the pressure that causes corrosion to capillaries in our brain. After the book was published in Israel this false fact was one of the things that got most attention from readers who were asking where the hell I found this fact. They googled the hell out of “life span reduction when sneezing” and found nothing.

Science and technology in the book are used to change behaviour to a precise pattern dictated by an organisation. This fact alone raises a moral question – is this a legitimate manipulation if the cause is important enough?  In my story the organisation deliberately kills innocent people to save a much larger number of others. Does this make it right? What is the equation? What kind of manipulation is needed to make one execute the organisation’s missions?

Nir Hezroni’s thriller THREE ENVELOPES is published by Point Blank on 6 April, paperback original £12.99.

Agent 10483 carried out his missions perfectly. Too perfectly. When Avner, a top agent in The Organisation, receives a notebook written by the enigmatic 10483 – ten years after his supposed death - Avner realizes he might still be alive. The notebook not only reveals the truth about 10483’s missions, which include some of Israel’s most shockingly violent outrages, but also suggests that he is desperate to take revenge against The Organisation.  Was 10483 a psychopath who outwitted his handlers for years? Why was he the only agent to receive three envelopes with the names of targets on a special hit list? Was he responsible for locking up his victims and staging their deaths in a basement of horrors? Or was he merely the victim of a brilliant scientist who found a way to manipulate his brain?
Author Nir Hezroni was born in Jerusalem. After several years of service in military intelligence, he retired to study economics and business management and to build a career in high tech. THREE ENVELOPES is his first novel. An Israeli bestseller, film rights have already been optioned. He lives near Tel Aviv. You can find more information on his website and you can follow him on Twitter @nirhezroni and also find him on Facebook.

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