When does the Con become the Artist?
Georgia Griffin has just arrived in Silicon Valley from Piney, Arkansas on very bald tires, having firmly rejected her beloved father’s life as a con artist. Her father is in jail and a certain minister is hugging her mother for Jesus while eyeing Georgia’s little sister, Katie-Ann. Georgia desperately needs to keep her new job as paralegal for Lumina Software so she can provide a California haven for her sister before it’s too late.
While she’s still living in her car, Georgia realizes that incompetence and self-dealing have a death grip on her new company. She decides to adapt her extensive con artist training—just once—to clean up the company. But success is seductive. Soon Georgia is an avid paralegal by day and a masterful con artist by night, using increasingly bold gambits designed to salvage Lumina Software. Then she steps into the shadow of a real crime and must decide: Will she risk her job, the roof over her sister’s head, and perhaps her very soul?
I think that Escape Velocity has a very intriguing synopsis. The thought of risking your job, your home, and your life to save the company where you work is quite compelling. What inspired you to begin Escape Velocity?
My inspiration for Escape Velocity comes from my own work as a lawyer. I graduated from Stanford law school and have spent most of my adult life practicing law here in Silicon Valley. I started out at a high-tech law firm, then did criminal defense at another law firm, and then was an in-house lawyer at several Silicon Valley high-tech companies.
I liked working in-house a lot, but I sometimes got frustrated that a few people who worked for the company – from accounts payable clerks to highly paid executives – seemed unable or uninterested in doing their jobs. Due to incompetence or egotism or out-and-out self-dealing, some people just seem to burrow into a company like ticks on a tormented dog, and no amount of damage they cause ever seems to dislodge them. When you get several thousand people in a company it’s like a little city: You’ve pretty much got one of everything. As the head in-house lawyer I was sort of the town constable, so I saw most of it. And I will tell you that after a couple of years in my job I realized it really is a miracle we put a man on the moon!
So I thought the malfeasance and nonfeasance (as we say in the law) were interesting, and even entertaining in a nice black kind of way. I thought other people might like to know about the chaos, or if they already knew about it, they might like to know that somebody else had experienced it, too. After all, as C.S. Lewis said, we read to know we are not alone.
But then I needed a main character, and along came Georgia Griffin. She is young, inexperienced and from a completely alien environment, so she experiences the wonder that is Silicon Valley high tech right along with the reader. She is also highly intuitive and a little bit tougher than people around her might expect. She is blessed with a job that makes people underestimate her. She badly needs the company to succeed in order to realize her personal goal of achieving escape velocity from the life she was born to, and she reluctantly decides to use her con artist training – sparingly – to help the company succeed.
The surprise to me was that Georgia’s moral and psychological complexities gradually became central to my story. Georgia wants to be a good person, but she does a few sketchy things. At one point I wrote out the fifteen points of Georgia’s moral code. She adheres strictly to her moral code, but it’s a little bit different from other people’s. (For example, “Point #13: Cause the least harm necessary to be effective.”) So I ended up being interested in the question of whether Georgia achieves escape velocity from the life she was born to. I don’t think that’s easy to do, and her success or failure is to me the ultimate theme of the book.
What is your favorite part about the predicament Georgia gets into?
Georgia’s predicament arises because she has con artist talents that can solve critical problems for her company, but she has sworn to renounce those talents forever. Her struggle is between her desire to keep the company (and thus her hard-won job) afloat and her wish to renounce her con artist ways and live a more “consequential” and above-board life.
At least that’s how the predicament begins. What we realize as the story proceeds is that Georgia also finds it hard to renounce her con artist ways because she gets satisfaction and excitement out of using them successfully. By comparison, her respectable paralegal job can seem a little bit routine. So now her conflict becomes a psychological as well as a practical struggle. She admits this to herself at some point, and I think one of the main reasons the reader keeps reading is to find out how Georgia resolves that dilemma.
Does Escape Velocity bring to life any fears you have personally?
I was an executive at a number of different companies, and often felt myself to be a bit of a fish out of water. Most company executives seem to be pretty unconflicted about being there to succeed in order to make a lot of money. The amount of money they make is how they keep score. I respect people who want to make a lot of money, but those were never exactly my values. I took some pains to conceal that fact from those around me, and maybe that gave me a sense of having a secret second life. Georgia definitely has a secret second life that nobody else in the company can ever, ever find out about, which is lonely in a way, so maybe the book expresses a loneliness I sometimes felt as an executive.
What can we expect from you next?
My next novel is set in San Bernardino, California. San Bernardino was a working class town when I grew up in it, and is now the second poorest large city in the country (after Detroit.)
The story begins when my protagonist is at the vet for a routine visit with his cat. A woman brings in a cat that has been badly mistreated and then races out the door before anybody can ask her about it. The terror in the woman’s eyes triggers memories from the protagonist’s childhood, and he is convinced the person who hurt the cat is an imminent danger to people as well. He decides to atone for an old childhood wrong by finding the person who hurt the cat before it’s too late.
He manages to enlist the (somewhat skeptical) help of an animal control person and a forensics person in his unorthodox effort, because both of them also have strong personal reasons for becoming involved. At that point the story becomes a tale of four people (including the wrongdoer) who all badly want to succeed with conflicting goals in a race against the clock.
Thanks for visiting Hott Books, Ms. Wolfe! Please, come back!
|Source:||Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours|
|Publisher & Date:||Steelkilt Press on October 4th 2016|
|Genre:||Thriller / Suspense|
|ISBN:||0997211717 (ISBN13: 9780997211719)|
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