Sunday, September 13, 2015

Ripped From the Headlines

The topic for this month's blog roll is using current events in one's writing.  Been there, done that! It's a super way to make your story read more real, and to add elements of conflict and drama. 
 Way back in 2000, (remember Y2K?),  my first novel, The Shadow Warriors, was inspired by bleeding edge technology, software agents.   What Are Software Agents?
My agents were dangerous, capable of causing Information Warfare or "Info War."  I adore technology, but I always try to write such that the non-technical, even perhaps Luddites, will be able to grasp the main concepts. 
The second novel, World of Mirrors, was set in East Germany the year after the Berlin Wall came down, again, with bleeding edge software (data mining).  I also took a look at some of the political issues, such as the plight of ordinary East Germans, victims of history, who worried about pensions, children's education and making the right decisions for the future. It was no picnic for them.  I also took up the cause of the Wall Dogs, which were the dogs who had patrolled the death strips along the Wall and the border.  They had no jobs now.  What would become of them?  And what would become of the Vietnamese Guest Workers, really indentured servants who were being shipped home?  Many of them tried to flee to the West rather than return to Viet Nam.  There were also plenty of spies and ex-secret police (Stasi) running around.  Everything went into my plot!  And these elements  definitely gave it more depth.  
My third novel, Festival Madness, was set in high tech Boston and the Burning Man Festival in Nevada (just concluded foor 2015).  Again, I used facial recognition software that hasn't been invented quite yet, or maybe it has and nobody is telling us.  I used the plight of Muslims in the country who were subject to arrest because they had the wrong relatives.  A Shiite-Suni marriage, a Hindu-Muslim romance--it's all there.  And a trip to Burning Man (I've been there twice) for those too timid to venture forth into the Black Rock Desert.  
A new novel, now with my agent,  has no state of the art software, but I did deal with the drug subs that try to sneak from Colombia to North America, and the new kind of drug cartels.  Panamanian secret bank accounts, too.  I worried (a bit) about my computer being "watched" because I was doing so much research on how to get and maintain secret accounts.  By the way, Panama is changing their banking rules in 2016, so  don't even think about it.  
In the book I'm writing now, the computer technology is not new, but shipping manufacturing off to Asia and outsourcing the IT department is always a current problem, especially for those experiencing it.  Actually, it's difficult to write about issues that aren't social or global. 
The novel I just turned into my agent, not  a mystery and set in 1928 Southern California, is no exception.  They had prohibition and political corruption (big time). I put these elements into my novel. And the greed and get-rich-quick schemes of the day.  
 Social and global issues are a boon to add depth AND conflict to your story.  You and your readers earn so much.

Now that you know how I use what's happening in the world in my writing, take a look at some other nifty authors who do likewise.  

Skye Taylor
A.J. Maguire
Beverley Bateman
Margaret Fieland
Marci Baun 
Victoria Chatham
Connie Vines
Bob Rich
Rachael Kosinski
Helena Fairfax
Rhobin Courtright


  1. Your books sound fascinating, Judith. It sounds like all of them require a lot of research. You must enjoy that. Either that, or your muse really cracks the whip. (grin)

    It's kind of funny, but, after reading and responding to the Round Robin blog posts, I realized that I do in fact have social issues incorporated into my stories. They aren't the focal point of the story, but they are in the story because, well, social issues abound in every day life and are impossible to escape.

    Excellent post!


  2. As I told you, Judith, I couldn't post a comment earlier. I agree with Marci, your novels sound so interesting, and prophetic. In this day of watchers following tracks of research (you might just be dangerous) I sympathize with you comment.


Your comments are always welcome!