The seeds of Dark Waters were sown when I first read about the case of Gary McKinnon, years before he became a cause celebre across the globe.
He was alleged to have hacked into 97 United States military and NASA computers in 2001 and 2002. My first novel, Requiem, featuring a newspaper reporter as the protagonist, was based in Miami. And so, no sooner had I finished working on that, but I began sketching out the storyline for a Florida-based hacker who had uncovered secret government files.
Then I became interested in the ‘missing 28 pages’ – redacted parts of the 9/11 Congressional Report. These are alleged to contain links between some within the Saudi elite and some of the terrorists.
And from there, the story snowballed.
Dark Waters is essentially a conspiracy thriller. The core of the research was done on the Internet, accessing countless newspaper, magazine and opinion pieces on hacking, government secrecy, and the lies which surrounded the build-up to the war in Iraq. A trip to Miami gave me the atmosphere and feel of the locations. I visited the FBI in North Miami Beach, the Miami Herald offices, Miami Beach Police and Miami-Dade Police, not to mention visiting numerous locations across the city. A little nugget of information there, a little there.
Perhaps the person that helped the most with the book was a technology expert and human rights activist, Oxblood Ruffin. He gave me numerous insights into the hacker’s mind, but also the technological know-how.
But even as I was writing the book, the story was developing, and taking on a life of its own. I added another character to the book. Harry Donovan, the fictional Executive Editor, of the Miami Herald, targeted by a secretive cabal, desperate that his newspaper does not publish the documents which have come into the possession of investigations editor, Deborah Jones.
However, my favourite character to write was that of the loner and killer, Nathan Stone. He allowed me to head off the deep end, exploring not only his motivation but also the demons from his past which continued to drive him on.
While the seeds of Dark Waters were sown after reading Gary McKinnon’s story all those years ago, and my book is now published, sadly, Gary’s fight still goes on. He faces the very real prospect of extradition to America under a controversial act ostensibly designed to allow terrorists to be seized. Let’s hope this government finally sees sense and does the right thing.
Dark Waters is published by Cornerstone