Friday, August 8, 2014

Passion, revenge, sex, money, desperation!

HANK PHILLIPPPI RYAN:   Whoo. Have we got a good one for  you today. Nothing better than a brand new author, right? And today, we are thrilled to introduce Ray Daniel…a longtime friend of the Reds, whose new TERMINATED is out this week (yay!) from Midnight Ink—and is already wowing thriller readers across the country.
I love TERMINATED. I think it’s sort of Spenser meets Hackers meets Topper.  Think about what that might be…and yup, you got it.
So how in the world would an author be able to concoct a story like that?  Can real life sometimes be more outlandish than fiction? That’s what we asked Ray. And his answer is fascinating!
RAY DANIEL: Passion, revenge, sex, money, desperation---these are only a few of the reasons that I chose to write crime fiction based in the world of high tech.
After all, they tell us to write what we know.
I’ve been in the high-tech industry for over twenty years, and when the time came to write a mystery I needed look no further than my own small software industry for inspiration.
First, and most obviously, was the story of a company named Avant! that burst upon the software scene and upended the industry leader Cadence Design Systems (a company I’ve worked for three times…but that’s another story).
Avant!’s rise was an inspiring story of David taking down Goliath. Inspiring that is until it was discovered that Avant! had stolen the code for its software from none other than Cadence Design Systems. The copying was so complete that the spelling errors Avant!'s product matched the spelling errors in Cadence's product. It was literally bug-for-bug compatible, because it was the exact same program.
The theft was the first inspiration that became Terminated, but the next story sealed the deal.
WOW! Ray with the crowd at the TERMINATED launch party! 
A CEO in our industry was worried about an upcoming patent trial that would render his product worthless, so he did the following:
   He forged a notebook to make it look like his company had invented their product first.
   When the notebooks came under suspicion he staged a break in of his car to get rid of the evidence. He was caught and charged with obstruction of justice.
   He tried to flee the country to avoid the charges but was captured at the airport with an illegal passport and a pile of cash.
   While in jail for the illegal passport and obstruction of justice charges he'd been arrested for, he was caught trying to hire a hit man to murder the judge.
   He claimed that he'd tried to have the judge murdered because he had psychological problems, but he had left a trail of evidence of his research on how to feign psychological problems.
   He was convicted on all counts.
   In the end the notebooks were never needed for the patent trial.
This happened in March of 2005. I started work on Terminated in June of 2005.
Terminated, of course, is not quite as outlandish as real life, though it does give us a chance to see the passions of high tech and the desperate things people do when they see their dreams slipping away.
And this is the line to buy TERMINATED!

HANK: Yes, thinking about motives! I remember once,early on, I said to Jonathan--there aren't really that many reasons why someone would kill another person. War and self-defense and defense of another aside--there's greed, and power. Revenge and..well, what do YOU think, Reds?  And computers, too, give us a good topic--can you remember life without yours?

And of course we're giving TERMINATED to one lucky commenter.

And here are some more of your nightstands!
Tilia Klebanov Jacobs (very organized!)
Jack Hrusoff (tall!)
Bernie Bro Brown (okay, this is a SHELF!)
Jaymie Brooks Dieterle (good luck with this, sister..)
Susan Felbush Braun ( I spy Linda Fairstein! She'll be thrilled.)
Chelsea Lowe (very mysterious...)
More to come tomorrow!

Ray Daniel writes first-person, wisecracking, Boston-based crime fiction about Tucker, a hacker whose inquiring nose, smart mouth, and inability to use a gun get him into, but rarely out of, trouble.

Daniel’s spare style and page-turning storytelling have created award-winning short stories. The Tucker short story, Give Me a Dollar, was a Derringer 2014 finalist.  Also Daniel's Driving Miss Rachel was chosen as a 2013 distinguished short story by Otto Penzler, editor of THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2013.

TERMINATED (August, 2014) is Ray Daniel’s first novel and the first book of The Tucker Mysteries. Born in Boston, Ray graduated with honors from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in Computer Engineering and a Minor in English.

Uber-geek Tucker and his beautiful wife, Carol, developed controversial security software together until the day he was fired and she was murdered.  Now, six months later, another software engineer is dead, bringing new clues to light in Carol's cold case.  

Haunted by the memory of is wife, Tucker is determined to track down the truth behind the killings.  He pulls strings to get hired back into MantaSoft, but office politics turns deadly as Tucker takes on the FBI, Russian mobsters, and a psychopath known as the Duct Tape Killer.


  1. The book sounds fascinating. (So are your stories of the industry. Wow!)

  2. Congratulations, Ray . . . “Terminated” sounds so good I think I need to find myself a copy as soon as possible . . . .
    Sometimes real life is so much stranger than fiction. The lengths some people will go to just to cover up what they’d done wrong in the first place absolutely amazes me . . . imagine what they could have accomplished had they spent all that energy doing right in the first place. Of course, then there wouldn’t be all those wonderful true plots to inspire all those mystery/thriller books balanced on my teetering to-be-read pile . . . .

  3. Wow, I'd love to read this. Sounds quite interesting.

    Life without computer. It's funny you'd ask that today since I am listening to The Monkey's Raincoat by Robert Crais, his first Elvis Cole mystery. It was written in 1987, and I keep having to remind myself that Elvis can't just Google someone or why he is using pay phones. It really is hard to remember what life was like back then. Heck, I couldn't be leaving this post for all of you to see without computers.

  4. Ray, thrilled for you--congratulations! Wish I was closer to your book launch, I would have been right in line:) xo

  5. You can't make this stuff up! My mom's comment about real-life shennanigans! I will occasionally read true-life crime stories, but much prefer seeing how someone takes a true story and uses it to jump off the ledge creatively. Tucker sounds like someone I want to meet!

    Love my computer--wrote my dissertation on a model so cumbersome it had two 5" floppy drives--one for the program and one for saving your work.... and don't mind seeing characters use technology in the course of a story. Do mind when that's all that moves a story along--they were on the computer, they used their smart phone, & voila! crime solved.

  6. I know! We wouldn't be here at all without them!

    I have a very clear memory of saying to myself: "software is what makes it work, hardware is the machine."

    And now my cell phone is forty millions times faster and more powerful than the fastest computer in 1999. Or something like that.

    Remember dial up? Remember how long we waited for something to happen?

  7. FChurch, that;s one of the most difficult things!

    Having a reporter main character, its much easier and more likely for her to Google something than it is for her to go out and tracks someone down. But that is not terribly interesting, of course. I consciously think as I'm writing "get her out of the office!

    But it's not fair to have someone run out of cell phone battery, or have a commuter crash, in order to prevent information flow. Even though that IS very lifelike!

    I am constantly only cell for work. But I wonder if everyone is as connected to theirs as I am.

  8. Hank, I agree. Most reasons for murder come from green and power.

    Ray, yes, truth is stranger than fiction. If you wrote that exact story, someone would say "No way, you're making that up."

    I love my computer. It's allowed me to meet fabulous people and writing is so much easier than it is by hand. And left unchecked, I'd be very attached to my cell phone (we haven't had a land line in the house for years).

  9. It was a great launch party, with Hank's awesome interview skills making it fun for all, and I can't wait to start reading my signed copy.

    I'm peeking out from the third row in that picture!

  10. FChurch-- was that a Kaypro? I wrote my SF novels on a Kaypro (two floppy drives, one for the program, one for my work). I had a dot matrix printer at home (continuous paper) and a daisy wheel printer (sheets) at the office, and the great thing about the Kaypro was that, at 35 lbs., it was portable-- you could lock the keyboard onto the (tiny) screen and carry it back and forth. That meant I bring it home if a snowstorm was threatening, or take it out to the cottage on a summer weekend. Such luxury!

  11. Aw, thank you, Edith! It was an amazing crowd.

    "on my" cell, is what I meant to type. And you know, I SWEAR I did. Is there something on my computer that's deciding what I really mean? Seriously.

    ANd I am off to Reagan/National to do the keynote at the NOra Roberts Writing Institute convention! More to come... I will try to check in here from the airport!

  12. Hank, I always blame auto-correct. =)

    Now captcha insists on showing ads before it gives the string to type? Sheesh.

  13. Congratulations Ray! So glad to be at your most excellent launch on Wednesday, and glad that TERMINATED has been added to my TBR pile!!

  14. My cell is seldom turned on, but my computer is, and what a resource it is! I've realized that I look up things I would have not bothered with when it took more time to do so. Teaching jr. high students to use computers in the '80s, one of the hardest parts was teaching them to keep fingers off the exposed part of the disks (and that one boy who put the disk in his mouth -- the principal agreed when he found out why "that boy (was) out in the hall" banished from computer work for the rest of the week.
    A workshop leader suggested that spell check, far from making students lazy about spelling, would help by pointing out errors they didn't even suspect. I bought a second disk drive in order to use early spell check software, and my students wrote books! Now off to find your book -- what's one more on the TBR mountain? -- such a sense of security knowing I never need to be bored ;-)

  15. Congratulations, Ray! My brother owned his own software company--will have to recommend to him, too.

    I don't remember what my first computer was. Green screen. Very early version of Word Perfect for word processing. I know I just missed having to type my first book on an IBM Selectric:-)

    And Hank, with you on the technology. I find my characters are using their phones a lot more to transfer information, using phones to show photos of suspects, etc., but I can't have them find things out using their phones! Actually, Doug and Melody get two big leads in the new book using their computers, but it's the kind of grunt work that would have been done in paper files ten or twenty years ago, not, "She Googled so-and-so and solved the crime!"

    It's the CCTV cameras in the UK that drive me crazy!

  16. Hank, I think you're right about motives to murder someone. I watch a lot of Forensic Files, and it almost always boils down to jealousy or greed.

    Ray, TERMINATED sounds fascinating, and you have great stories to back it up. Best of luck!

  17. Ellen, I think it was a Toshiba, but it's been so long I can't remember! It was to computers in design what the AMC Pacer was to cars!

    And Deborah, exactly!! Doug and Melody use the computer for grunt work--it's up to the characters to sift through the information, put the pieces together, etc.

  18. As much as I love my computers (first one was a DEC Robin) and writing in a word processor (Scrivener), I still wish that I had remembered to retrieve my old Royal typewriter from my parents' house.

    I wouldn't use it much, but I wish it were sitting in the room with me today. Great memories.

  19. This sounds fascinating. I just retired from Lockheed so there were always some interesting stories about what might be going on above our software programmer peon level. Definitely on my TBR list. Congrats on the launch.

  20. Congratulations, Ray. Tucker was such a great character in “Give Me a Dollar” that I can’t wait to read TERMINATED. And to be interviewed by Hank Phillippi Ryan at your launch party… How cool is that! Wish I could have been there.

  21. Ray, this book sounds like it's right up my alley! (I almost typed "write" instead of "right".)

    Life is definitely often much, much stranger than fiction.

    I can't wait to read Terminated.

  22. Gee, computer software is a real cutthroat business. Of course, I'm sure any business with the potential to make mega bucks is. Back to the old greed and power. Ray, your book sounds so interesting, and steeped in your experience, the authenticity is going to make a great read. Adding to my pile, the never-ending pile.

    Oh, Hank, I do remember dial-up service for the computer, and it was horrible. I grew up without computers, even in college, and so I didn't come to them before I was well into adulthood. My typing skills gained through my mother insisting that I take typing in high school and college have proved invaluable in the computer age. I even earned my Masters online in my late 40s.

    Thanks, Ray, for a most insightful post today and giving me another good read to look forward to. Oh, and, like you, I wish I'd kept my old typewriter. Mine was a Smith-Corona.

  23. It is funny how far we've come with computers and how much they are in our lives. My wifi went down a while back and that meant I had no computer or no tv. It was hell!! Ha!!

  24. Ray's launch was terrific and Hank did a super job interviewing him. I'm clearing the decks so I can read "Terminated" without interruption. Congratulations!

  25. Safely in MAryland! And getting ready to go to the opening reception.

    Oh, interviewing Ray was a real treat. It made reading the book a completely different experience, you know? But such fun! I love the two-authors-appearing together and chatting way f handling an event. What do you all think of that?

  26. Just remembered my metal-cased war correspondent's portable typewriter, light green-- can't remember the brand (Olympic? Olivetti?) but it was less than 3 inches high, the size of a ream of paper. Wrote my copy (that I phoned in) for the premieres of Star Trek II and III and all my college papers on it, and my first short story. Loved it dearly. I think it's somewhere in the basement, but I can't buy ribbons for it anymore.

  27. ELlen, I have a typewriter in the basement too---let's do a blog! Ray, you ROCK.

    See you all tomorrow.

  28. When I started college I was very popular, because I had a portable electric typewriter. Computers were for—well I'm not sure—record keeping? Other students would bring me candy, chips, ice cream, or even their meal card if I would loan them my typewriter for the night.

    When I started graduate school there was a computer lab where you could make an appointment to use for 30 minute increments—if your program was affiliated. Mine wasn't. My friends and I bought sweatshirts for the affiliated school, and for the first year no one questioned us. Second year brought ID cards with barcodes. Sweatshirts didn't help.

    Our school's library had two PCs that students could use to look up books instead of the card catalog. A professor held a meeting to see if anyone was interested in having our own computer lab for student use in writing papers and researching. Less than 10 students showed up. But we all voted for a computer lab. The library donated a small room in the basement and six computers were installed. I think they were the rejects from the other school's computer lab—the one tired of us sneaking in to use. That was third-year.

    By my fourth year everyone arrived at school with a laptop. Research computers were everywhere in the library, but there was no need because you could log in from your own computer anywhere in the world. The card catalog was gone.

    By the time I was a faculty member an old manual typewriter was on display in the bookstore. I saw a group of first year college students gathered around. They took turns and one at a time reached out tentatively. Accompanied by giggles a student would step forward and with one finger push on a key to see what would happen. One after another push a key then jump back. I stood there for almost an hour watching.