Author Interview with Sam Boush of the Cyber War series

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Please welcome Sam Boush author of All Systems Down

 

All Systems Down

 

 

 

Describe the process you went through to write this particular kind of book.

In short, I read a lot of books and talked to a lot of experts. I’m not an information security wonk, myself, so I leaned a lot on the thoughts and works of others. I joined a lot of groups, interviewed experts, and ultimately tried to write a fun, compelling, and accurate book. It’s a work of fiction. But that’s not to say it couldn’t happen.

 

 

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How do you feel about the security of our infrastructure?

No one with any expertise in this area thinks our infrastructure is safe. People at power companies have told me how vulnerable their systems are. People at nuclear plants have told me how hackers have targeted their operations. It’s not just the online or software spaces that are vulnerable, though. Firmware and computer chip manufacturing aren’t even safe, especially when those chips are manufactured in East Asia.

 

 

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Isn’t Ipv6 supposed to be inherently more secure?

That’s my understanding. But there isn’t a system that’s safe from hacking. If it’s connected to the Internet (and sometimes even if it isn’t) it can be hacked.

 

 

Name some surprising things you found in your research.

So many things. Did you know the Iranian government accessed the control systems of a dam north of Manhattan? Or that the Russians recently used cyber war to destroy 30 Ukrainian Howitzers? Or that last year hackers from a group called Dragonfly 2.0 accessed American power grid operations so deeply they could have induced blackouts at will?

 

 

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How would we prepare for something like a blackout?

A short blackout is simple enough. You need light (candles/flashlights), heat (firewood/blankets), and a way to cook food. Water still runs in a blackout, since water towers are filled using generators.

A long blackout is a different story. And a long blackout where generators aren’t working and emergency services are shut down… well, that’s not something I could prepare for.

 

 

 

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Are you a prepper by any chance?

I’m not. Sadly, if disaster of any kind struck, I’d be out of food and water within the week. I don’t think many of my readers are preppers either, though I’ve had loads of people write in that they’re creating a cyber war emergency kit after reading the book.

Really, we should all be more prepared for emergencies than we are, no matter what kind. Here in the Pacific Northwest, a major earthquake is a reasonable concern. If my city were leveled by something like
that I’d be wishing I had a month’s worth of canned food!

 

 

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Who is Pak Han-Yong and what motivates him?

Pak Han-Yong is a junior lieutenant in the North Korean army. Specifically, he’s a member of Unit 101, a hacking unit focused on asymmetric warfare. There are many complicated characters in All Systems Down, but he’s fairly straightforward. A nationalist, he’s devoted to crushing the American imperialist infrastructure as a way to punish the nation that has kept his own country from achieving its rightful glory.

 

 

 

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What if you were Brendan Chogan? How would you survive?

This is the question that a lot of readers ask themselves: How would I survive if I were thrust, unprepared, into a global collapse of this scale? What would I do differently from the protagonist? Would I fortify my home, or leave?

If I were Brendan, I don’t know what I’d do. Maybe that’s part of the fun.

 

 

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What are your favorite type of books to read?

I read a lot of non-fiction. But when I read fiction it’s sci-fi thrillers like Jurassic Park or technothrillers like The Hunt for Red October. But I read across genres, too. Right now I’m reading Stephen King’s Pet Semetary and David Benioff’s City of Thieves. I just finished Ken Follett’s Whiteout yesterday evening.

 

 

 

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Name a few things you struggle with as a writer.

What don’t I struggle with? I have trouble finding time to write. It’s difficult to manage publicity, book signings, marketing and outreach with the ticking clock of my next book deadline. Not to mention the obligation and joy of family time, taking my kids to school, spending time with my greater family, my friends, and my wife.

 

 

Do you follow a method for writing or are you more intuitive?

My method is to write flawed characters, end every chapter on a cliffhanger, have every scene advance both plot and character, and never write anything boring. And I usually have a broad idea of plot, even going into the first draft.

 

 

What are you working on next?

Book two of The Cyber War series is coming along nicely. It picks up right where book one left off.

 

 

 

Sam boush

 

 

Sam Boush is a novelist and award-winning journalist. He has worked as a wildland firefighter, journalist, and owner of a mid-sized marketing agency. Though he’s lived in France and Spain, his heart belongs to Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his wife, Tehra, two wonderful children, and a messy cat that keeps them from owning anything nice. He is a member of the Center for Internet Security, International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, and Cloud Security Alliance.

 

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All Systems Down

 

 

 

Don’t miss Mystery Thriller Week beginning April 12-22nd 2018! 

 

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Audiobook Blog Tour: It Is Las Vegas After All by Howard Weiner

It Is Las Vegas After All Banner

 

 

 

 

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About the Audiobook

Author: Howard Weiner

Narrator: Laura Copland

Length: 7 hours 51 minutes

Publisher: Howard D. Weiner⎮20

Genre: Technothriller

Release date: Jun. 38, 2017

 

Audio Sample

 

 

 

Synopsis: Two physicists are in a race with federal authorities and three former CIA agents to detonate a dirty bomb in Las Vegas. The physicists deploy several explosive devices, hidden in plain sight, that can be detonated at any time. Federal authorities realize too late that their best technologies, people, and staff cannot detect the existence and movement of small bombs. The safety of Las Vegas depends on three former CIA agents brought together by an employer with ill intent and strong ties to venture capitalists funding the latest crop of entrepreneurs. Who will win? Will Las Vegas be saved?

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A very informative book with a fascinating plot and form of storytelling. Two remarkable physicists are set to explode a dirty bomb in the City of Las Vegas, but what you’ll discover is what set them off in the first place.  The narrative is the dominate form of storytelling compared to character dialogue which caused more difficulty following the story. The characters were definitely intriguing with their own set of quirks and personalities.

 

 

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Las Vegas Teaser

 

 

 

Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?

I recently finished reading John Grisham’s, The Rooster Bar. Grisham relates that he read a news story about for-profit law schools and instantly knew he had a story. It Is Las Vegas After All was born out of a similar set of circumstances. I’d read several news stories about dirty bombs and that became the straw for binding together other professional and personal experiences.

 

 

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Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.

I started the process of commissioning the audiobook while completing my second novel, Serendipity Opportunity. Working with Amazon’s Kindle publishing program was providing good feedback and results, and so it wasn’t a dramatic leap of faith to investigate Amazon’s audiobook publishing division, Audio Creation Exchange (ACX).

ACX has an efficient process for publishing a sample of the novel and soliciting auditions among interested publishers and narrators. I received a surprising number of submissions and set about listening and evaluating each audio segment.

Laura Copland’s submission was clearly the best of the bunch. We promptly agreed to the terms and conditions facilitated by ACX, and Laura began her work in earnest.

After reading the novel, Laura had a number of questions regarding the characters. I was pleasantly surprised at how well she had managed to climb into the skin of each. Her formal education and training in the theater arts clearly marked her as the consummate professional, and for that reason working with her to complete the book took about six-to-seven weeks.

For my part, working on a novel at some point is less about the story and the characters and more about issues of presentation. Getting the book into print is the point, and very quickly you transform from storyteller to scrivener. Listening to the chapters Laura submitted rekindled my joy and excitement about the story and the characters she so ably brought to life.

 

 

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Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?

No one appreciates a good story more than a story writer. Beyond the entertainment value of a good engaging book, listening to an audiobook is like taking a master class in writing from authors you enjoy and even envy.

I’m (an old) computer scientist by formal education and industry training. It’s difficult to imagine any of the many textbooks in computer science, mathematics, or the sciences in general, working well as an audiobook–no matter how written and enlightening they may be.

In the fiction genre, I find it easier to listen to an audiobook where the author provides the context for characters and the situations in which they find themselves rather than straight character dialog.

 

 

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Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?

I’d like to say yes, but it isn’t true. It wasn’t until the publishing process came to an end that I started to contemplate turning it into an audiobook.

I’m in the midst of my fourth novel now, One for the Price of Two, and I still do not find myself designing the storyline, mapping out character development, or doing the research my books require with an audiobook in mind. But I have given the matter some thought, and for now I’ve elected to focus on the written word first, middle, and last.

 

 

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How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?

I knew from the moment I listened to Laura’s audition that I’d stumbled on to an extraordinarily talent. I’ve learned throughout my professional career that finding such people can too often be good fortune rather than intent, and it’s important to let someone like Laura “do her thing.” I didn’t always agree with her take on a character’s spoken dialog, but I always found her interpretation to be at least as good as what I intended when putting pen to paper.

We did have a couple, very minor, issues about pronunciation, but again, Laura made those few circumstances a breeze.

 

 

Author Howard Weiner

 

 

About the Author: Howard Weiner

Howard Weiner was born in Washington, DC, in the distant past when Congress returned home during the summers, new best friends moved in every four years, and old ones never stayed. He attended local public schools and graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a BS in computer science and a spouse.


For the next forty years, he pursued an extensive graduate education, served as a member of the professoriate, an entrepreneur, and leadership positions in information technology in the private and public sectors. He lived during his working years in the Washington DC suburbs and exurbs, Richmond, Virginia, in three locations on Long Island, New York, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and finally, the upper west side of New York City.


Weiner’s first work of published fiction, It Is Las Vegas After All, introduces three unlikely partners who stumble upon two refugees from higher education who abandon their promising academic careers to build and detonate a dirty bomb in Las Vegas. The story takes place in the U.S., U.K., and the former communist east Germany, and ends following a high stakes winter pursuit along the Appalachian Trail.


His second work, Serendipity Opportunity, tells a tale of the dark web meets mayhem, murder, and an international incident involving Russian and U.S. intelligence agencies.


His latest work, Bad Money, takes place in 1993 and features two unlikely heroes trying to escape members of Manuel Noriega’s former intelligence staff in a drugs for money story. The story begins, simply enough, with two suit cases accidentally switched at the Miami Airport. He is also working on two other manuscripts: One for the Price of Two and The Big Lowandowski.

 

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