About the Author:
Impressions on a South African farm, boarding school, a father who read from the classics to his children, and a storytelling mother, sparked Geoffrey Wells with a writer’s imagination. Though the piano and drum kits and Mozambique led to his first thriller, A Fado for the River, his career as Art Director in advertising led him to the American Film Institute, and an awe of digital technology propelled him to VP/CIO at Disney, ABC-TV stations and Fox. Wells wrote an award-winning animated film, has visited elephant reserves, and climbed to the tip of Kilimanjaro. He lives on Long Island where he swims the open water and runs a video and design company. He writes thrillers about imperfect characters who, always with a diverse band of allies, fight villains that devastate our natural and virtual ecosystems.
“Atone for the Ivory Cloud is a compelling, fast-paced thriller with an exotic international flavor. Geoffrey Wells takes the reader on an enthralling ride, skillfully entwining cybercrime, music, and the fate of African elephants in a breathtaking tale of danger and romance.”
Pamela Burford, best-selling author of Undertaking Irene.
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The Music of Science and the Science of Music.
(Themes from Atone for the Ivory Cloud)
(Themes from Atone for the Ivory Cloud)
When I set out to write a novel of contrasts—characters, ethnicity, countries, occupations—I also wanted to include problem solving techniques. Specifically, the dogged methods used by CIA Special Agent Garrett with the creative methods used by my main character, Allison. If you’ve been following this series, you’ll know that Allison composes music. The problem she must solve is the theft of her online music, which she has composed. Because of who she is: introverted, obsessed, focused, single-minded and (yes) selfish, the idea of having her music erased, or copied without crediting her, is even worse than the reality. Her only resource is to attempt to solve her problem with the only tool she knows—her music.
Her roommate, who tests code for a virtual currency wallet service, turns her onto a code-writing course. She is surprised by how easily she takes to it. When she realizes that the syntax of coding is similar to the syntax of music composition—the grammatical rules and structural patterns—she makes peace with this new discipline. Although she does not realize it, she has become a hacker, and she implements her own anti-piracy solution from code snippets she finds on the Internet. Problem solved. Except, Garret tells her that a cybercrime syndicate has found her code to be a useful proxy to hide behind for their ivory trafficking. And so she too—unwittingly—codes in the Dark Web.
As she gets deeper into the mission (while at the same time her music commission deadline looms), she can’t help noticing that even the development methodology is quite similar. The iterative process of music composition aligns almost seamlessly with the coding disciplines she has learned about—testing, modifying, and rerunning code. It is empowering to her. Suddenly going undercover to trap the syndicate seems almost possible.
This alignment is not a new discovery. In June 2003, Aniruddh D Patel published his paper, Language, Music, Syntax and the Brain in the journal Nature Neuroscience. It is a comparative study of music and language. He states that, “Like language, music is a human universal involving perceptually discrete elements organized into hierarchically structured sequences. Music and language can thus serve as foils for each other in the study of brain mechanisms underlying complex sound processing…”
If this is true, the techniques that Garrett and Allison use might be essentially the same, however what differentiates them is that Garrett works in a closed system, whereas Allison regards the worldwide web as her personal resource. This disparity reinforces their distinct points of view, which are poles apart. However, because they are both smart and emotionally intelligent people they recognize their commonality: Garret uses the science of criminology and applies it musically, whereas Allison uses the art of music composition and applies it scientifically to solve her problem. This is why Allison turns out to be such a valuable recruit for the CIA.
The common ground of art, music and science has always fascinated me. Music—especially since it became a digital medium—has had an adversarial relationship in the Internet, starting with illegal file sharing, then Napster and even now with Spotify and Apple and the on-going battles for artist rights, which Tyler Swift made into headlines. But there’s no denying that, despite the disintegration of the traditional music industry—a closed system—people have unprecedented access to music now—as they do with literature. Now, perhaps Garret and Allison can figure out how to pay artists for their work.
More on this is coming in my next thriller, Book Three of the Trilogy for Freedom. To read Books One and Two, please see my landing page at: https://goo.gl/CB3xPI
About the Book:
A brilliant composer and coder goes undercover to trap a cybercrime syndicate that has hijacked her website—to traffic blood ivory. She must survive impossible physical, virtual and cultural obstacles and choose between the opposing forces of privacy and responsibility.
Allison is stunned when the CIA leaves her no option but to go undercover to surreptitiously modify the code she wrote to protect her symphony. She is deployed from New York with a savvy street vendor to Tanzania, where he is from—and where the cybercrime trail goes dead. Their guarded love affair is sidelined when they are abducted by a trafficker who poaches elephants on a massive scale. To avoid betraying each other they abandon their CIA handlers and return to New York City. Allison must find a way to bring down the syndicate knowing that she might have to sacrifice her symphony, her loved ones and her privacy—for a greater good.
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