Monday, May 11, 2009

Dark End of the Spectrum by Anthony Policastro

DARK END OF SPECTRUM will make you think twice before turning on your cell phone or PDA!

DARK END OF THE SPECTRUM is a frighteningly plausible and headline ripping tale of the real threats that loom in cyberspace and beyond with a Michael Crichton realism. Based on the author's years of research into the hacker culture.

DARK END OF THE SPECTRUM is a thriller that will connect with everyone with a cell phone, PDA or wireless device.

When a group of digital terrorists known as ICER take over the US power grid and the cell phone network, they give the government an ultimatum - bomb the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan with nuclear weapons to put an end to Al-Quada or they will start downing commercial airliners. When the government refuses, ICER destroys most of the downed aircraft in airports all over the country. When ICER sends a pulse that will kill most people on the East Coast, only security expert Dan Riker can stop them, but ICER has kidnapped Dan's family. Will Dan save his family or will millions die?

Interview by David Talman (posted at author's request):

1) I like to start with a bit of background information, could you share with us how you became interested in writing?

ASP: My writing career started when I was 11 years old and submitted a story to Reader's Digest. It was promptly rejected since Reader's Digest did not print fiction. My first rejection letter. In my freshman year in college, the writer’s itch started again and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I worked on the college newspaper – the rest is history.

2) When you first started out writing, did you believe that it would become such a major part of your life? And on the same note, from concept to completion, about how many hours do think you put into your novels?

ASP: Yes, I knew writing would be hard, but when you love what you do nothing is difficult. I devoured every book on writing I could find in the library and in bookstores. One of my BAs in college was Creative Writing. I also have rejection letters from over 400 agents. So it took a great deal of time and effort.
As for how many hours I put into my novels…well it’s more like years. I would say a good two years maybe three for each novel. What I know now, I could probably do a novel in six months provided I wrote everyday, but it is not easy.

3) You have two mysteries out at the moment, what are they? And where we could find them?

ASP: Absence of Faith is about a small town with highly religious residents who begin having negative near-death experiences and who believe they went to hell, especially when they wake up with burnt skin. They lose faith in everything and chaos ensues. Matters get worse when a Satanist cult seizes the opportunity and wins over residents.

Dark End of the Spectrum is about a group of well-organized and well-funded hackers who take over the US power grid and cell phone network. They demand that the US bomb the borders of Afghanistan with nuclear weapons to put an end Al Quada. When the government refuses, they destroy most of the commercial aircraft in airports all over the country. Security expert Dan Riker is the only one who can stop them, but they kidnapped his wife and daughter. When the hackers decide to kill millions on the East Coast with a directed energy pulse, Dan has to choose between saving his family or millions of lives.

Both books are available in Kindle format on and in other ebook formats from Absence of Faith is available in print from Dark End of the Spectrum will be available in print shortly.

4) Dark End of the Spectrum is a high tech thriller, how much research went into the story line? And how did you go about garnering it?

ASP: I was a project manager for Ericsson so my background is in wireless technology and mobile phones. I still test phones and accessories for Sony Ericsson and that exposes me to the latest advances in wireless technology. This exposure gave me the ideas for much of plot – I just extended the technology and imagined things it couldn’t do today. I also read as many books I could on hackers and cyber threats, and I used the Internet for other pieces of information I needed to write a plausible novel.

5) Who are the main characters in Dark End of the Spectrum and who did you model them after?

ASP: Dan Riker is one of the main characters, a thirty something, discontented computer security expert who doesn’t fit into the geek stereotype. He is what every geek would like to be both socially and professionally.

Harald Friedheld is the other main character, a fifty something technology visionary with top-secret connections to the right people and the President. Harald is how I think most people fifty and over should be…wise, future-oriented and ready to embrace change. Most people fifty and up are stuck in the past and use their age as an excuse to limit their possibilities.

I guess you could say he’s like Steve Jobs in his thinking only. All my other characters are composites of people I know, people I worked with, and sometimes strangers who made an impression on me.

6) How plausible is the plot line, do you think it is just a matter of time before hackers really try something like ICER did in Spectrum?

ASP: Absolutely. I monitor the Internet for news stories on hackers and cyber threats and there are eight to ten new stories every day. Most of the articles report that cyber crime and hacking are on the rise. Identity theft, stolen credit card numbers, and shutting down websites are just the tip of the iceberg. I believe hackers will take over one or more infrastructures like the power grid or communications and wreak havoc on our society. And if you don’t think it’s possible, read the story Wired magazine ran in 2007 about how hackers forced tiny Estonia to shut down the country’s entire Internet to prevent further damage to their infrastructure.

7) Your newest release is Absence of Faith, what’s the story line behind it? And who are the main characters?

ASP: My wife and I were discussing what would happen if people lost all hope, all their faith and the result was Absence of Faith, a modern day medical mystery thriller. Several people suffer negative near death experiences in a small, highly religious town causing many of its residents to lose their faith, and their belief in the future. When some residents wake up with burnt skin, they believe they went to hell and that God has abandoned them. Matters get worse when a local cult uses the opportunity to promote their beliefs and win over the town residents. The result is an absence of faith. You can read more about this on my blog, Writing is About Putting Yourself to Words.

The heroine of the story is a twenty-something woman, Chantress, who discovers what she is capable of when looking in the face of pure evil. Another main character is Doctor Carson Hyll, a thirty-something intern who never loses his faith and believes the near-death experiences are a medical problem, not a spiritual one.

8) When you are creating your characters do you build complete back histories for them? What scripting methodologies do you use when planning out your novels?

ASP: For characters, I put their entire descriptions on index cards from their physical attributes to their idiosyncrasies and their personalities. This way when I’m writing about a particular character, I refer to the index cards so the characters don’t do or say something out of character. As for character histories, I make them up as the plot goes forward. I ask why a character would do something and weave a history that would explain his or her actions.

As for planning the novel, I start with a single premise, a what if question. The more I think about the question, the more plot begins to form and I write it down freely and quickly as the thoughts enter my mind so I don’t lose it. I don’t worry about form or organization I just write. It’s really stream of consciousness writing. I place what I wrote in the first chapter and begin writing above it. As I start the chapter, my thoughts and ideas are just below it and I refer to it often as I write the book. As I finish a chapter, I move the information to the next one. When I’m not near a computer and get ideas, I use a voice recorder that is built into my cell phone.

9) The written word can be very powerful, as you noted in one bio that I read. Words are immortalized in books and so are their creators and their beliefs and doctrines. What mark would you like to leave behind with your works?

ASP: I would hope my books help people live better lives, better understand the universal and individual problems we all suffer through, and at the same time be entertained. I would hope they would come away with an epiphany of some sort, a revelation that helps them solve a problem, or makes them happy, or just gives them a sense of peace. Absence of Faith is about hope…hope in the now, hope in the future and that we can never lose our faith in whatever we hold most dear.

Dark End of the Spectrum is more analytical and addresses a serious and growing problem we face as we become more technologically advanced. It shows that no matter how good technology gets, family and love and people are more important than machines and virtual realities. It also shows the negative side of technology when it is used for evil.

10) I like to end all my interviews with one common question, what’s next for you? Where do you see yourself a year from now, five years from now and beyond?

ASP: In a year, I hope to have two more novels published. I’m writing my fourth novel now and I plan to revive my first novel that I wrote twenty years ago.
In five years or less, I hope to be a full time writer. I think all writers of fiction hope they can make a living writing, but the reality is that only a handful make it full time. But I will continue to reach for that goal.

As always whether it is today or ten years from now, I hope to be a writer that is recognized for inspiring people to new heights, for illuminating new paths of understanding and for making the world a better place.

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