February 15, 2012
Update on my WIP: Can a Former SEAL, a Brilliant Scientist, a Love-besotted Nerd and a Quirky AI Stop Terrorists in Twenty-four days?
I love thrillers–their fast pace, bigger-than-life heroes whose vulnerabilities are juxtaposed with invincibility, their hard-
working, non-stop efforts to prevent dire consequences regardless the personal pain or innate impossibility of the task. It’s my life. Never easy, but always worth it.
There are thousands of thrillers. If they were a favorite tshirt, they’d be torn across the sleeve and now used as a dust rag. To set myself apart, I added a twist: intelligence. My POV characters are blindingly smart (which takes a lot of research on my part), problem-solvers, never happier than when their asked to untangle a mobias strip of disconnected clues. I’ve been accused of being ‘too complicated’, but not by anyone of consequence. All I care is my agent likes the approach and he’s the one who will take it to publishers.
My current series relies on technology (I’m a tech teacher) and science for the wow factor. There are some amazing inventions out there that will shake up our world when extrapolated to their inevitable conclusion. Star Trek used this science to drive their success and much of what they hypothesized twenty years ago is now reality. My science is similar–based on real life, but not quite there yet. Think Jurassic Park.
There in lies my challenge: To explain complicated science in a way people will not only understand, but buy into.
My current WIP has a working title of Twenty-four Days. It is a high concept novel written in the spirit of Jack DuBrul and is peopled with imaginative characters—human and digital–who must beat a ticking clock or face a disaster that will upend their world. As my query letter summarizes:
Navy SEAL-turned-world-renowned paleoanthropologist Zeke Rowe is called back to action when two nuclear submarines are hijacked while testing a secret weapon developed by a British-American coalition. The evidence points to Salah Al-Zahrawi, a dangerous terrorist Rowe himself had killed a year ago. Rowe solicits the aid of his girlfriend, Kali Delamagente, a brilliant researcher who knows Al-Zahrawi better than anyone, and her AI–a quirky mechanical creature who likes to be called Otto and claims to be able to follow a digital trail anywhere there is a computer connection.
In a matter of hours, Otto finds the first sub and it is neutralized, but he can’t find the second one before it destroys a cruise liner and attacks two American warships.
Piece by piece, Rowe uncovers a bizarre nexus between Al-Zahrawi, a North Korean communications satellite America believes to be a nuclear-tipped weapon, a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser tasked with supervising the launch.
And a deadline that expires in twenty-four days.
As the world teeters in the crosshairs of one of the most dangerous platforms of nuclear war in the world, Zeke finally realizes that Al-Zahrawi’s goal isn’t the destruction of North Korea’s neighbors, but much more personal.
Twenty-four Days climaxes with a modern-day Naval battle. Because America hasn’t been in a sea battle since WWII, our current weapons technologies have never been battle tested. So I doused it with gasoline and set it on fire. I hope that appeals to military thriller fans.
That’s this week. By next week, when my agent’s comments arrive, I may have to shake everything up.
BTW, if you’d like to be notified when Twenty-four Days is ready, click here.
Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.