Cyber-thriller writer Klaus Schwamborn joins me today on Moving Target. Klaus was born in Cologne, Germany, and has worked as a software engineer on several continents. He and his wife now live outside Toronto. His debut novel, Emily, was released by Olympia Publishers in 2018, followed by Dreamland earlier this year.
Moving Target: Emily, Dreamland and Gemini, your novel that will be released in 2020, are cyber-thrillers, stories set in the world of cutting-edge communications technology. Klaus, why do you write cyber-thrillers and what does that sub-genre mean to you?
Klaus: Having worked in the technology industry my entire working life, this is a world I understand. Cyber-crime is very real in today’s world of information availability. People and corporations use communications technology for personal gain. Most companies do not openly admit to having their information stolen, knowing that their investors will lose confidence in them. My stories expose how cyber-fraud is so easily carried out.
Moving Target: What research have you done for your novels?
Klaus: All the technologies described in my novels are real and based on what I’ve encountered in my own work; however, I’ve altered some narratives to protect proprietary information. The novels are set in real places, mostly cities and countries I’ve been to or lived in. Places I haven’t been to I’ve researched through the Encyclopaedia Britannica or Microsoft’s Encarta. Google Maps and Google Earth were also invaluable sources of information.
Moving Target: Are any of your stories based on people you know or real events you’ve gone through?
Klaus: All my characters are composites of people I’ve met or worked with throughout my adult life. It may be difficult to believe that my antagonists are based on real people and the situations they’ve got themselves into, but sadly people like that do exist. I’ve built the worst aspects of human nature into my antagonists, and the very best of human nature into my protagonists to suit my storylines. Office politics, business dealings and humorous situations are all taken from real life.
Moving Target: Do you have a plot nailed down when you start writing?
Klaus: Yes, I know exactly what my plot is before I start writing. Then I build a story and characters’ relationships around that plot.
Moving Target: What gives you the most trouble to write?
Klaus: Describing characters and places in exactly the way I want them to be seen by the reader.
Moving Target: Getting published is a long and often bumpy journey. Do you have an amusing anecdote about your Getting Published experience?
Klaus. Being steered in the wrong direction by individuals claiming to be publications managers or literary agents with the sole intention of getting money out of me. It wasn’t amusing then, but in retrospect, I find it very funny just how many opportunists are out there.
Moving Target: Tell us about your writing schedule.
Klaus: I carry a phone or tablet with me at all times, and take notes about the people I encounter and situations I find myself in. These notes usually become part of a story; sometimes just a small paragraph, other times one or more chapters. If I get an idea, I will write it down regardless of the time of day. It can be after midnight or before breakfast. There is no set time of day or night when I sit down to write.
Moving Target: What has been the worst advice you’ve received as a writer?
Klaus: That I needed a publications manager, that I needed to belong to a guild or a union, and that I needed to have previously published works in order to be published. I was also bombarded with email from people who wanted money so they could advise me on the best route I should take, usually self-publishing. I still get many of these emails today, and they are all redirected to my junk folder. Being ignorant about how to get your novel published and about the publishing world in general can be costly.
Moving Target: Tell us about your next novel and when it will be released.
Klaus: Gemini is in the final stages of production and will hopefully be available early next year. It is not intended to be the third part of a trilogy, but it is the third novel about the fictitious SkyTech Corporation. The fourth SkyTech novel is already in the making. The plots of each novel are different, although they all involve cyber-technology. And I build on the relationships of the primary characters in each consecutive story.
Moving Target: What actress would you like to play your protagonist in the movie adaptation of Emily?
Klaus: With most of the characters I’ve created, I had a very clear idea who would be the perfect actor or actress—except for my protagonist Emily. The closest I came to in looks was a pencil sketch I made of Emily. But after reading all three novels (several times), my wife Francesca suggested that Kate Hudson would be perfect in the role. She was absolutely right. Francesca can also take credit for Gemini, the title of the third novel.
Moving Target: Thank you, Klaus!