Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Please welcome, friend and author, GJ Scobie...

... to the blog this week. Hi, Gary, and thanks very much for making time in your busy schedule to be here today. Now, tell me all about your latest book ...

GJS The Kill Chain is a cybercrime thriller set in the present day and was published by Darkstroke in July 2022.  It was inspired by news reports of black hat hackers, nation state sanctioned cybercrime and the debate over privacy in a connected world.  The Kill Chain (the term given to the stages of a cyber-attack) is set in the present day, the story taking off from what should have been a private moment years before; a long game played by threat actors determined to take control for political and economic gain, while their victim struggles doing what they believe is right based on a code of ethics versus his need to keep his marriage, friendships and reputation intact.
AW What first got you into writing and why?
GJS I was brought up with books and had always planned to write a novel.  In 2010 I responded to a tweet by author Elizabeth Buchan who asked Twitter for background information for a novel she was writing.  We exchanged emails and I sent over some observations I had.  She thanked me and asked, “Are you a writer? You should be.”  That got me thinking and gave me the push to finally finish a novel and submit it.  I have written one a year ever since, but it was my eleventh novel, The Kill Chain, that was finally published.  The book Elizabeth Buchan published was called Daughters and I ended up in the acknowledgments which was really nice to see.
AW You write fast-paced cyber crime stories.  Is it all imagination or do you do research?
GJS I work in cyber security and give regular talks on the subject, so I do a great deal of research and keeping myself up to date in what is a fast-moving environment.
The idea for The Kill Chain, came to me, while at work in 2019.  I was in conversation with a student intern who had been invited to take part in a computer hacking competition abroad.  I asked what country it was taking place in and when they told me I said, you have to expect to be compromised when there, so if you are going to attend, we will need to have a plan for the devices you take with you and for how we handle them and your log on credentials when you arrive back.
As I spoke, the idea for The Kill Chain came into my head.  A cybercrime thriller, triggered by a decision to take part in a competition, being compromised by unknown threat actors when there, and then years later, when in a responsible security role, falling victim to an extortion attempt.  I typed a couple of lines to this effect into a Microsoft notepad and named it ‘Hackstory.txt’ and left it there for around a year while I finished another novel I was working on, before opening up the file and recalling the conversation.  So yes, imagination played its part, but the novel is backed up by real experience and research in the field.
AW And what about other types of writing?  Have you dabbled with other genres or other forms of media, short stories, film, theatre or radio?
GJS My science fiction short stories are published under the title of Small Print and are my take on different aspects of a dystopian future.  These tend to imagine technology much as it is today; imperfect and doesn’t always work the way you would like it to.  I have stacks of poetry and song lyrics which I suspect will not see the light of day.  I wrote my first novella last year and hope to work more in this format with some of the ideas I have.
AW Famous authors such as Roald Dahl and Dylan Thomas had a special space for writing. Do you have a writing shed of your own?
GJS I have a study which is filled with books, CD’s, guitars and synths and that is where I do most of my writing since the pandemic.  Prior to that I wrote ten novels while commuting by train as it was the only protected time I had.  I found I could shut the world out and be completely alone surrounded by strangers.  The Kill Chain was my first novel written at a desk in silence and it took a bit of getting used to.  I only commute a day or two a week now, so the bulk of my writing is done in my study and that works fine for me.  I do enjoy writing on trains though.
AW And finally, if you had a whole afternoon to yourself and could choose to spend it with any one individual, living or dead, or a character from a book, who would it be and what would you discuss
GJS Robert Langdon from the Dan Brown novels.  We both work in a University, we both swim, we know about codes and cryptography, we have both visited Rosslyn Chapel, the Louvre, the Vatican, and every other major city and venue featured in the novels, so we would have plenty to discuss around art and architecture.  The only difference I think there is between us is, I have a Mickey Mouse Clock while he has a Mickey Mouse watch!
about the author … GJ Scobie works in cyber security, is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional and has a particular interest in how technology impacts on our everyday lives.  As a public speaker, he regularly presents on various aspects of computer security.  He is a member of the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas, performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with his cyber-themed show, highlighting the dangers of internet-connected devices in the home.  In his writing, he deals with the dark side of technology and how it affects society reliant on computers.  He self-published his debut future cyber thriller in February 2022, The Copernicus Coercion, the first in a series featuring body hackers, the manipulation of computer networks via internet-connected implants and rogue Artificial Intelligence.  His novel, The Kill Chain, a bestselling cybercrime thriller set in the present day, was published by Darkstroke in July 2022.
about the book … Computer hacker, Jacob Anderson, accepts a job in a cyber defence firm, which is due to sign a high-profile government contract.  Eager to impress his new employers, he takes on Dark Light, a company that offers a free trial of their anti-threat system.  But in his haste, he fails to check their credentials thoroughly…
When he realises Dark Light intend to steal government data, he tries to back out of the deal. But a film from a hotel bedroom during a student hacking competition seven years earlier triggers a sextortion attempt, putting pressure on him to pass control of the network to his adversaries.
Backed into a corner, Jacob reunites the old hacking team from his university days with the intention of taking the Dark Light computers down.
As a target on the Kill Chain, can Jacob maintain his code of ethics while knowingly breaking the law?  Or will one last hack allow him to regain control of the security his employers, the government, and his family have entrusted him to protect?

You can get the book on Amazon and you can follow Gary on Facebook Twitter  and on Instagram