Today, we are excited to be hosting Michelle Gagnon. Michelle is the author of Don’t Turn Around and Don’t Look Now.
Sixteen-year-old Noa has been a victim of the system ever since her parents died. Now living off the grid and trusting no one, she uses her hacking skills to stay anonymous and alone. But when she wakes up on a table in a warehouse with an IV in her arm and no memory of how she got there, Noa starts to wish she had someone on her side.
Enter Peter Gregory. A rich kid and the leader of a hacker alliance, Peter needs people with Noa’s talents on his team. Especially after a shady corporation threatens his life in no uncertain terms. But what Noa and Peter don’t realize is that Noa holds the key to a terrible secret, and there are those who’d stop at nothing to silence her for good.
Computer hacking. The differences between real world hacking and fictional.
Come closer and I’ll tell you a secret: I’m no hacker. I mean, I grew up with computers, so I can surf the internet with the best of them; but when it comes to coding, my eyes glaze over.
Fortunately, I live in one of the tech capitals of the world, so there were lots of people around to help me get the hacking details right in my PERSEFONE series. I did take a few liberties: most hackers use a PC, and my characters use Macs because those are the computers I’m most comfortable with. But aside from that, everything in the books is true, and has been verified by multiple IT specialists. The real trick for me was translating the tech-speak into terms everyone could understand: like how breaching a firewall is kind of like mounting an assault on a castle, or how cracking encryption is just a much more intense level of the secret codes I messed around with when I was a kid. Because I knew that if my eyes were starting to glaze over, most readers’ would, too; and even though hacking is important to the plot, there’s a larger story about the dirty corporations and the foster care system that I wanted to tell.
I did a lot of research on hacktivist groups like Anonymous; I based Peter’s /ALLIANCE/ on them, narrowing the focus to targeting bullies, pedophiles, and animal abusers. Even though they occasionally get a bad rap, some of the things Anonymous has accomplished have been absolutely incredible; recently, they intervened on behalf of a mother who was trying (and failing) to stop a creep who posted stolen images of girls (including her daughter) online. A member of Anonymous contacted her on Twitter; and within a few hours, Anonymous managed to succeed where the FBI had failed. They launched a massive technological assault on the perpetrator, crashed his servers, and publicized his personal info online (which is what he’d been doing to innocent girls for months).
You can read more about it here: http://jezebel.com/one-womans-dangerous-war-against-the-most-hated-man-on-1469240835/@MaxRivlinNadler) That’s the kind of Hacktivism I can get on board with.
Side note: The PERSEF0NE Curse
It almost became a joke; I was writing the final chapter of DON’T TURN AROUND when my computer hard drive suffered a total meltdown (which my hacker friends/advisors found utterly hilarious, until I shanghaied them into retrieving all my files 🙂 ). Then, while editing DON’T LOOK NOW on a plane, a flight attendant spilled an entire glass of wine on my laptop, frying it. Book 3 of the trilogy, DON’T LET GO: the black screen of death appeared right after I typed the words, “The End.” Not kidding. Fortunately, by that point I was so paranoid that I had no fewer than three backups running simultaneously. Still, massive computer meltdowns while writing a book about hacking…coincidence? I think not.
Michelle Gagnon is the international bestselling author of thrillers for teens and adults. Described as “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for teens,” her YA technothriller DON’T TURN AROUND was recently nominated for a Thriller Award by the International Thriller Writer’s Association, and was selected as one of the best teen books of the year by Entertainment Weekly Magazine, Kirkus, Voya, and the Young Adult Library Services Association. Book 2 in the PERSEFONE trilogy, DON’T LOOK NOW, is on sale now. She splits her time between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Signed editions of both books!
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