Author Mark de Castrique was the guest speaker last night at the February meeting of Rocky River Readers Book Club. He spoke to our group a couple of years ago, so we all looked forward to his return visit to talk about his two political thrillers, The 13th Target and The Singularity Race.
The 13th Target
Mark talked about how the economic recession of 2008 prompted him to write about the Federal Reserve in The 13th Target. For that novel, he created a protagonist named Rusty Mullins who was a former Secret Service agent.
The Singularity Race
Mark continued the Rusty Mullins character in The Singularity Race. That second thriller is about artificial intelligence. Mark pointed out the difference between the arms race in the 20th century (a race between nations) and the singularity race of the 21st century (a race between nations, organizations, corporations, universities, and possible a 17-year-old computer geek working at home.)
The book presents the conflict between the two opposing points of view by experts in the field as a backdrop for the story: (1) Ray Kurzweil, Director of Engineering, GOOGLE, says artificial intelligence will be “pivotal” in meeting the “grand challenges of humanity;” however, (2) Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking says, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” The book deals with the danger people who are working on artificial intelligence can be in as the race heats up. Rusty Mullins gets involved in trying to protect certain individuals who are in that race.
In his planned topics and in answering questions from the audience, Mark talked about various aspects of writing fiction, including the following:
- Beware of information dumps
- When writing a series, it can be challenging to come up with fresh ways to describe location and a continuing character. You don’t want to bore the series reader, but the new reader needs to know some background from earlier books in the series.
- The difference between a mystery and a thriller
- If you create a world for a novel, you have to remember where everything is, whereas, if you set your story in a place that actually exists you can revisit the place to refresh your memory or even use Google Maps for details.
I have merely hit the highlights here. As I have said before, never pass up a chance to hear a writer speak.
Until my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read. If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.