For our monthly Sisters-in-Crime meeting, we had two very interesting authors come to discuss technology in writing. Unlikely speaking partners, Camille Minichino, a physicist/writer (when stressed and needing to relax, she does math problems) and Simon Wood, a thriller and horror genre writer (author of over 150 published stories and articles) joined us for a talk and lunch.
What an interesting talk it was! (I left with an armful of books.) They asked some thought provoking questions I had not considered before (and got a chance to talk to Camille about String Theory and Bubble Theory at lunch).
“What’s your technology threshold?”
Camille mentioned that some people she has asked this question of say they don’t want anything to do with technology. But, that is not true, she counters, we all have technology in our lives, but our thresholds vary. The wheel is technology. The pen is technology. The dial-up phone is technology but some can’t go to the level of the smart phone, iphone, computers or the latest tech gadget—they are unwilling to dig in and learn for whatever reason. “I only need a cell phone that just lets me make telephone calls.” How often have you heard that?
“What do you think of as natural?” (Technologically speaking)
Camille and Simon pointed out a problem I came up against a few weeks back when the acquisitions editor who has my book told me to bring the time of the story into present day, not the 1980’s where it was when I began writing it. (I know, I know, I’ve been sitting on this book a long time) I didn’t want to change the time period, thinking of all the reasons why I couldn’t, but soon realized it wouldn’t be that hard (the story mostly takes place in Mexico where there is no cell phone reception, so I wouldn’t have to be concerned with cell phones). But as a writer, where do you draw the line? Do set your story back to a time you feel more comfortable with?
“We all leave trails.”
Simon reminded us that we all leave trails—paper, technical, physical, and other. Have you ever thought about the signals you are sending to the internet every time you go public (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, web sites, searches)? Every word you plug in leaves a trail and sends signals (words) that are used to target/identify you.
(Remember what Kristin Lamb teaches in We Are Not Alone-The Writers Guide to Social Media—find the tags that identify you and your writing and use them)
But, did you ever think that every word you use identifies you.
If you start talking about cars, say, and you mention your new VW beetle, you might notice that the ads to your Facebook page will begin to show ads for cars and specifically VW dealerships.
In reverse, I can view the ads showing up on my Facebook page as an indication of what I’ve been putting out! (I just looked; there’s puppy adoption, author, Kindle and shoe ads—I don’t know why the shoe ads—maybe simply because I’m female and they know females love shoes, but 3 out of 4 is very telling.)
Simon brought up the point that in today’s writing, it is harder for the bad guy to stay hidden because cell phones can be pinpointed and cars have electronic systems that can be found by satellite search. He mentioned that that is why many writers choose old cars that can’t be located by the newest electronic devices--technological issues to consider.
Do you like fast paced mysteries? Check out: Simon Wood Quoted from his site: Welcome. You’ve been dragged off the internet and into my cyber world. I write in both the thriller and horror genres. My work tends to err on the dark side, so don’t say you weren’t warned.
Are you a science geek? Even if you’re not, then you might like Camille’s books.
Camille Minichino Retired physicist turned writer. She is on the faculty of the
, Golden Gate University ,
and on the staff of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. She has written
eight novels under her name, The Periodic Table Mysteries. (She’s
written more under different names which you can check out at her website: San
A few other interesting tidbits I gleaned from the talk that you might want to use in your writing:
· One million dollars in hundreds weighs twenty-two pounds.
· It is possible to send an email from someone else. (We weren't given the how)
· You can always skew things on the internet by sending the wrong signals (the words you use)
I won't do cyber games (I have too little time as it is to get my writing done-I'd have none if I started learning games).
So, what’s the level of technology past which you don’t want to go?