One big problem I encounter as a thriller/mystery writer is a constant battle between imagining a dystopian future and letting readers know that they’re not just making things up–that they’ve done their research and the world their building is possible. Otherwise, I’m writing science fiction.
My books tend to deal with not just a murder, but a murder that’s just the beginning of something bad planned–something that will turn the world upside down, leading to a dystopian future none of us wants. Because I often involve technology in my plotlines (bioterrorism, hacking, etc), I feel like I need to give readers a little technical background so they know I didn’t just make something up.
Building a dystopian future
In The Grid, I’m building a world where terrorists attempt to take down the electrical grid. That’s a problem. A big problem.
As a writer, I have a bigger problem–making you believe that it’s possible to take down the grid. And, if you’re not familiar with things like Ted Koppel’s book, Lights Out, you probably believe it isn’t possible for this kind of dystopian future to happen or the serious consequences when someone takes down the grid. Suffice it to say, it won’t come back up in a few hours. More likely, the grid, once a terror group takes it down, will be down for 18 MONTHS to 2 YEARS.
The total absence of electrical power is more than an inconvenience. Just ask Puerto Rico what happened after Hurricane Maria knocked out their grid. You don’t have money (that all requires electricity because bank records are electronic), no gas (you can’t pump it), no transportation (no gas), no water (again, you can’t pump to fill the water tanks), etc. Probably the worst impact of the electrical grid going down is the chaos caused as people fight over scarce resources.
That’s truly a dystopian future and one that’s far to easy for terrorists. For instance, several agencies contend that both Russia and China have hacked into the grid and could take it down at will. Frankly, it only takes the destruction of a transformer manufacturer and disabling 9 substations and we all go dark.
Supporting your dystopian world
So, it’s a struggle. Technical stuff about the grid (or in Azure’s Revenge when I talked about bioterrorism) adds to the realism, which I think is important in thriller/mystery. For instance, I don’t like to read books where characters do weird stuff that they’d never do in real life or where things happen that could NEVER happen. I think it’s just lazy.
I assume most people who read in the thriller/ mystery genre feel the same. Otherwise, they’d be more drawn to science fiction or fantasy.
So, I feel like I have to include some elements related to the reality of what I’m writing about, although it might not be exciting reading.
I’d love to hear how you feel about this dilemma online or in the comments below.
Latest news from Angela Hausman, Author
So, things are moving at a brisk pace. In addition to attending the Scars of the Past Launch party, we have lots of exciting things going on.
- Azure’s Revenge, the 3rd book in the Dark Web series, published on Black Friday, 2017. You’ll get to see many of your old friends from Books 1 and 2, and meet some quirky (and sinister) new ones. I’d love to get more readers and reviews for this book.
- Book 4, The Grid, is well underway. It carries on the tradition of having the FBI cyber unit work to save the country from death and destruction. If you’d like to read some of this, simply subscribe or check out this page for the latest chapters released.
- If you’ve already purchased (or received a gifted copy) of Buried Ladies, Scars of the Past, or Azure’s Revenge, please consider writing an honest review (use the links below). And, if you didn’t like it, please send me specific comments so I can improve the next book. If you don’t have a copy yet, you can buy them here: