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Interview with Scott Allan Morrison and Review of Terms of Use


Please welcome Scott Allan Morrison to The Qwillery as part of the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Terms of Use was published on January 1st by Thomas & Mercer.



Interview with Scott Allan Morrison and Review of Terms of Use




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Scott:  I was a journalist for almost two decades so I’ve been writing for quite a while. This is my first go around with fiction. I decided to attempt a novel because it was the best vehicle through which I could explore the “what if?” questions I had about social media.



TQAre you a plotter or a pantser?

Scott:  Plotter. The interwoven story lines in this novel were far too complex to wing it.



TQWhat is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Scott:  My biggest challenge in writing Terms of Use was to let my words flow freely. Brevity is highly valued in journalism. Reporters cut to the facts, strip out extraneous details, and use quotes sparingly. Tackling a novel meant I had to rethink my approach to writing.



TQWhat has influenced/influences your writing?

Scott:  Journalism helped develop my sense of story and I relied heavily on this skill as I developed the plot for Terms of Use. I also studied works by other thriller writers to help me with pacing and structure.



TQDescribe Terms of Use in 140 characters or less.

A deadly conspiracy corrupts the world’s biggest social network – and only one man can stop it.



TQTell us something about Terms of Use that is not found in the book description.

Scott:  The butler most definitely did not do it.



TQWhat inspired you to write Terms of Use? What appealed to you about writing a Thriller especially a TechnoThriller?

Scott:  TERMS OF USE began as a thought exercise: during my years as a Silicon Valley reporter, I always wondered how we could trust the companies that amass, store and analyze all our data. What might happen if the wrong people assumed control of these companies (and every electronic bread crumb we’ve left behind)? How bad could it get? As you see in TERMS OF USE, things could get pretty wild.

I decided to write a thriller because the subject matter seemed to lend itself to this genre and I wanted to create a fast-paced and entertaining novel.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Terms of Use?

Scott:  I had a fair bit of background knowledge since I covered technology for so long, so the bulk of my research consisted of interviews with scores of Silicon Valley coders, network architects, security experts, IT consultants, entrepreneurs and even a venture capitalist. We discussed all sorts of hypothetical scenarios and they proved to be a great sounding board for me as I endeavored to make the scenes plausible and the details accurate. They also assured me I wasn’t being too paranoid about the power of social media. In a similar vein, I interviewed a doctor and quite a few law enforcement officers who helped me with terms, procedures and tactics. They all told me some amazing stories, several of which are in Terms of Use.



TQWho was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Scott:  Sergio Mansour, the lead character, kind of wrote himself. He is a composite of several Silicon Valley insiders I know and I cherry picked from among their skills and personalities as necessary. Writing Malina, Sergio’s love interest, was very difficult because she makes a controversial decision early in the novel to help him. Her reasons become clear toward the end of the novel but I didn’t want to reveal her motives too early. This meant I had to make her actions (and her relationship with Sergio) credible even though the reader doesn’t yet know why she’s going along with him. I relied on advice from many female friends who helped shape Malina’s personality. They assured me they might well have made the same choices in the right circumstances.



TQWhich question about Terms of Use do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Scott:  Q: How much of this is true? A: Almost all of it. Or better said, almost all of it could be true if the wrong people took control of your social media data.



TQGive us one or two favorite non-spoilery quotes from Terms of Use.

Scott:  “And it raises a very disturbing question: If you make a decision that was a foregone conclusion based on the stream of information you’ve been fed, have you really exercised free will?”



TQWhat's next?

Scott:  It’s a surprise.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Scott:  My pleasure. Thanks for the opportunity!





Terms of Use
Thomas & Mercer, January 1, 2016
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 355 pages

Interview with Scott Allan Morrison and Review of Terms of Use
Circles is the most popular social network in the world: vast, ubiquitous, and constantly evolving. Days before expanding into China, Circles suffers a devastating cyberattack—and a key executive is brutally murdered.

As he fights to save the company he helped build, top engineer Sergio Mansour uncovers evidence of a massive conspiracy that turns the power of Circles against its users. But as Sergio investigates, someone is watching his every move—someone ruthless enough to brand him a criminal and set a vicious hit man on his trail.

Desperate to clear his name, Sergio turns to Malina Olson, a beautiful and headstrong doctor who has an agenda of her own. Now, he and Malina must survive long enough to expose the truth in a world without hiding places, where a single keystroke can shift the global balance of power.


Qwill's Thoughts

Terms of Use is the debut novel by Scott Allan Morrison. It is a cyber/technothriller featuring 50+ year-old Sergio Mansour, an IT engineer at Circles (think Facebook on steroids). He's been with Circles from the start helping to build the worldwide social network that is about to expand into China. He now works in research for Circles and is just about to announce that he's found the ultimate way to protect privacy.

Sergio is an unlikely hero, but he's incredibly resourceful and highly intelligent. Things suddenly start to go badly at Circles - a huge cyberattack and then the murder of his friend/co-worker from Circles. Sergio is framed as a terrorist who is possibly involved in the murder, runs and ends up on the doorstep of Malina Olson. He's had one date with her so I was surprised that he ran to her and even more surprised that she agreed to help him.

Sergio is a very likable and relatable character. His background is interesting and his computer skills are top notch. It is a great deal of fun to watch Sergio try to figure out what is going on with Circles and why he is being framed and by whom. His ability to think ahead and figure things out is just keeping him and Malina safe. Malina Olson is an intelligent woman who I spent much of the novel wondering about. Why was she helping Sergio? Is she also going to act against him? Why does her behavior make no sense? Fortunately the reason is eventually made apparent and it is not at all what I suspected.

There is enough tech in Terms of Use to add layer upon layer of believability without being overwhelming if you are not computer savvy.  The secondary characters are well-developed and there are some really scary bad actors who are out to kill Sergio, Malina and anyone who gets in their way.

Terms of Use is a both a cautionary tale regarding tech used against its users and a fun and exciting read. It is crisply written, fast-paced and thrilling. You may never look at social networks the same way again and will definitely be checking your privacy settings.





About Scott

Interview with Scott Allan Morrison and Review of Terms of Use
Photo by Jeffrey Davis
Scott Allan Morrison was a journalist for almost twenty years, covering politics, business, and technology in Mexico, Canada, and the United States. Morrison arrived in Silicon Valley as a reporter for the Financial Times during the darkest days of the dot-com crash. He later wrote about the Web 2.0 boom for Dow Jones Newswires and the Wall Street Journal. Over the course of a decade, Morrison covered most of the world's top tech companies and chronicled many of Silicon Valley's greatest stories, including the rise of Internet insecurity and the explosion of social media. Before setting his sights on journalism, he spent four years teaching English and traveling in Southeast Asia. He speaks fluent Spanish and very rusty Mandarin. He lives in Northern California with his wife and his hockey sticks.

Website ~ Twitter @scottallanm ~ Facebook



2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts


2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts


Each month you will be able to vote for your favorite cover from that month's debut novels. At the end of the year the 12 monthly winners will be pitted against each other to choose the 2016 Debut Novel Cover of the Year. Please note that a debut novel cover is eligible in the month in which the novel is published in the US. Cover artist/illustrator information is provided when we have it.

I'm using PollCode for this vote. After you the check the circle next to your favorite, click "Vote" to record your vote. If you'd like to see the real-time results click "View". This will take you to the PollCode site where you may see the results. If you want to come back to The Qwillery click "Back" and you will return to this page. Voting will end sometime on January 24, 2016.



Vote for your favorite January 2016 Debut Cover!
 
pollcode.com free polls




2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts
Cover art by Will Staehle




2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts




2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts
Cover design by Frank Rivera.
Cover images ©iStockphoto.com/Jasmina007/RonTech200




2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts
Cover design by Wendy Chan.
Cover images © Shutterstock




2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts




2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts




2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts
Cover Art: Raid71




2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts




2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts
Cover Design: Johnny Bull




2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts
Cover Art: Kim Sokol




2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts




2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts
Cover art by Kurt Miller


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Terms of Use by Scott Allan Morrison


2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Terms of Use by Scott Allan Morrison


The Qwillery is pleased to announce the newest featured author for the 2016 Debut Author Challenge.


Scott Allan Morrison

Terms of Use
Thomas & Mercer, January 1, 2016
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 355 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Terms of Use by Scott Allan Morrison
Circles is the most popular social network in the world: vast, ubiquitous, and constantly evolving. Days before expanding into China, Circles suffers a devastating cyberattack—and a key executive is brutally murdered.

As he fights to save the company he helped build, top engineer Sergio Mansour uncovers evidence of a massive conspiracy that turns the power of Circles against its users. But as Sergio investigates, someone is watching his every move—someone ruthless enough to brand him a criminal and set a vicious hit man on his trail.

Desperate to clear his name, Sergio turns to Malina Olson, a beautiful and headstrong doctor who has an agenda of her own. Now, he and Malina must survive long enough to expose the truth in a world without hiding places, where a single keystroke can shift the global balance of power.

2016 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts


2016 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts

Happy New Year! There are 12 debuts for January. Please note that we use the publisher's publication date in the United States, not copyright dates or non-US publication dates.

The January debut authors and their novels are listed in alphabetical order by author (not book title or publication date). Take a good look at the covers. Voting for your favorite January cover for the 2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars will take place starting on Janaury 15, 2016.

If you are participating as a reader in the Challenge, please let us know in the comments what you are thinking of reading or email us at "DAC . TheQwillery @ gmail . com" (remove the spaces and quotation marks). Please note that we list all debuts for the month (of which we are aware), but not all of these authors will be 2016 Debut Author Challenge featured authors. However, any of these novels may be read by Challenge readers to meet the goal for January 2016 The list is correct as of the day posted.



Charlie Jane Anders

All the Birds in the Sky
Tor Books, January 26, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
From the editor-in-chief of io9.com, a stunning novel about the end of the world--and the beginning of our future

Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn't expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during middle school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one's peers and families.

But now they're both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who's working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world's magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world's every-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together--to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.




Ingrid Betancourt

The Blue Line
Penguin Press, January 26, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 368 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
From the extraordinary Colombian French politician and activist Ingrid Betancourt, a stunning debut novel about freedom and fate

Set against the backdrop of Argentina’s Dirty War and infused with magical realism, The Blue Line is a breathtaking story of love and betrayal by one of the world’s most renowned writers and activists. Ingrid Betancourt, author of  the New York Times bestselling memoir Even Silence Has an End, draws on history and personal experience in this deeply felt portrait of a woman coming of age as her country falls deeper and deeper into chaos.

Buenos Aires, the 1970s. Julia inherits from her grandmother a gift, precious and burdensome. Sometimes visions appear before her eyes, mysterious and terrible apparitions from the future, seen from the perspective of others. From the age of five, Julia must intervene to prevent horrific events. In fact, as her grandmother tells her, it is her duty to do so—otherwise she will lose her gift.

At fifteen, Julia falls in love with Theo, a handsome revolutionary four years her senior. Their lives are turned upside down when Juan Perón, the former president and military dictator, returns to Argentina. Confronted by the realities of military dictatorship, Julia and Theo become Montoneros sympathizers and radical idealists, equally fascinated by Jesus Christ and Che Guevara. Captured by death squadrons, they somehow manage to escape. . . .

In this remarkable novel, Betancourt, an activist who spent more than six years held hostage by the FARC in the depths of Colombian jungle, returns to many of the themes of Even Silence Has an End. The Blue Line is a story centered on the consequences of oppression, collective subservience, and individual courage, and, most of all, the notion that belief in the future of humanity is an act of faith most beautiful and deserving.




Jason Buchholz

A Paper Son
Tyrus Books, January 1, 2016
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
Grade school teacher and aspiring author Peregrine Long sees a Chinese family on board a ship--in his morning tea. The image inspires him to write the story of this family, but then a woman turns up at his door, claiming that he's writing her family history exactly as it happened. She doesn't like it, but she has one question: What happened to the little boy of the family, her long-lost uncle?

Throughout the course of a month-long tempest that begins to wash the peninsula out from beneath them, Peregrine searches modern-day San Francisco and its surroundings--and, through his continued writing, southern China and the Pacific immigration experience of a century ago--for the missing boy. The clues uncovered lead Peregrine to question not only the nature of his writing, but also his knowledge of his own past and his understanding of his identity.




Catherine Cerveny

The Rule of Luck
Redhook, January 26, 2016
eBook, 384 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
The Rule of Luck is a whirlwind thriller romance in a futuristic setting that will tug at your heartstrings while sending you on high-speed chases alongside a genetically-enhanced (and incredibly handsome...) criminal mastermind.
As a famed tarot card reader, all is well in luck and love for Felicia Sevigny, until Russian crime leader Alexei Petriv walks into her shop and demands a reading.

Petriv's future looks dark and full of danger, which wouldn't be Felicia's problem, except that it's also aligned with hers. Felicia discovers she is the key pawn in Petriv's plot to overthrow the all-knowing government, and she must decide if she will trust with him with her heart, body and soul, before the future of the entire human race collapses around her.




Jessica Chiarella

And Again
Touchstone, January 12, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 320 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
In the spirit of Station Eleven and The Age of Miracles, this exciting literary debut novel imagines the consequences when four ordinary individuals are granted a chance to continue their lives in genetically perfect versions of their former bodies.

Would you live your life differently if you were given a second chance? Hannah, David, Connie, and Linda—four terminally ill patients—have been selected for the SUBlife pilot program, which will grant them brand-new, genetically perfect bodies that are exact copies of their former selves—without a single imperfection. Blemishes, scars, freckles, and wrinkles have all disappeared, their fingerprints are different, their vision is impeccable, and most importantly, their illnesses have been cured.

But the fresh start they’ve been given is anything but perfect. Without their old bodies, their new physical identities have been lost. Hannah, an artistic prodigy, has to relearn how to hold a brush; David, a Congressman, grapples with his old habits; Connie, an actress whose stunning looks are restored after a protracted illness, tries to navigate an industry obsessed with physical beauty; and Linda, who spent eight years paralyzed after a car accident, now struggles to reconnect with a family that seems to have built a new life without her. As each tries to re-enter their previous lives and relationships they are faced with the question: how much of your identity rests not just in your mind, but in your heart, your body?




Dan Koboldt

The Rogue Retrieval
Harper Voyager Impulse, January 19, 2016
eBook, 384 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
Sleight of hand…in another land

Stage magician Quinn Bradley has one dream: to headline his own show on the Vegas Strip. And with talent scouts in the audience wowed by his latest performance, he knows he’s about to make the big-time.

What he doesn’t expect is an offer to go on a quest to a place where magic is all too real.

That's how he finds himself in Alissia, a world connected to ours by a secret portal owned by a powerful corporation. He’s after an employee who has gone rogue, and that’s the least of his problems. Alissia has true magicians…and the penalty for impersonating one is death. In a world where even a twelve-year-old could beat Quinn in a swordfight, it's only a matter of time until the tricks up his sleeves run out.

Scientist and blogger Dan Koboldt weaves wonder, humor, and heart into this debut novel, The Rogue Retrieval. Fans of Terry Brooks and Terry Pratchett will find this a thrilling read.




Peter McLean

Drake
Burned Man 1
Angry Robot Books, January 5, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
Cover Art: Raid71

2016 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
Hitman Don Drake owes a gambling debt to a demon. Forced to carry out one more assassination to clear his debt, Don unwittingly kills an innocent child and brings the Furies of Greek myth down upon himself.

Rescued by an almost-fallen angel called Trixie, Don and his magical accomplice the Burned Man, an imprisoned archdemon, are forced to deal with Lucifer himself whilst battling a powerful evil magician.

Now Don must foil Lucifer’s plan to complete Trixie’s fall and save her soul whilst preventing the Burned Man from breaking free from captivity and wreaking havoc on the entire world.

File Under: Urban Fantasy [ One Last Hit / Both Ends Burning / Going Underground / London’s Finest ]




Scott Allan Morrison

Terms of Use
Thomas & Mercer, January 1, 2016
Hardcover, Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 355 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
Circles is the most popular social network in the world: vast, ubiquitous, and constantly evolving. Days before expanding into China, Circles suffers a devastating cyberattack—and a key executive is brutally murdered.

As he fights to save the company he helped build, top engineer Sergio Mansour uncovers evidence of a massive conspiracy that turns the power of Circles against its users. But as Sergio investigates, someone is watching his every move—someone ruthless enough to brand him a criminal and set a vicious hit man on his trail.

Desperate to clear his name, Sergio turns to Malina Olson, a beautiful and headstrong doctor who has an agenda of her own. Now, he and Malina must survive long enough to expose the truth in a world without hiding places, where a single keystroke can shift the global balance of power.




Megan E. O'Keefe

Steal the Sky
Scorched Continent 1
Angry Robot Books, January 5, 2016
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 448 pages
Cover: Kim Sokol

2016 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
Detan Honding, a wanted conman of noble birth and ignoble tongue, has found himself in the oasis city of Aransa. He and his trusted companion Tibs may have pulled off one too many cons against the city’s elite and need to make a quick escape. They set their sights on their biggest heist yet – the gorgeous airship of the exiled commodore Thratia.

But in the middle of his scheme, a face changer known as a doppel starts murdering key members of Aransa’s government. The sudden paranoia makes Detan’s plans of stealing Thratia’s ship that much harder. And with this sudden power vacuum, Thratia can solidify her power and wreak havoc against the Empire. But the doppel isn’t working for Thratia and has her own intentions. Did Detan accidentally walk into a revolution and a crusade? He has to be careful – there’s a reason most people think he’s dead. And if his dangerous secret gets revealed, he has a lot more to worry about than a stolen airship.

File Under: Fantasy [ Sky Heist / Doppel Vision / Knives Out / Up Up & Away ]




M K L Murphy

The Isle of Minimus
Repeater, January 19, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 228 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
The Isle of Minimus is a neon mirage from the heart of the sandblasted Nevada wasteland, a panorama of crazed dictators, dreamy acrobats, the urban warlords of Hollywood, video game cults, sinister boatmen, rogue airshow pilots, feral tourists, minituarised landmarks, opium dens, pop art, nuclear war, architecture, music, money, the sixties, the nineties, the post-nineties…a story of limitless scope and spectacle.

Using repetition, paradox and association, the novel leaves conventional views of linearity behind as it revisits the World’s Fair in Montreal 1967 and its antithesis, Las Vegas in 1999, by way of a confrontation in which a cast of dwarfs fight their way out of the now-never of capitalist ontology in an attempt to find a way back into history.




Lindsay Starck

Noah's Wife
G.P Putnam's Sons, January 26, 2016
Hardcover and eBook, 400 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
In the tradition of Daniel Wallace’s Big Fish and Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child, a gorgeously written, brilliantly introspective, fable-like novel reimagining Noah’s Ark in our modern times

Noah’s Wife may be a contemporary allegory, but Lindsay Starck is a classic storyteller. . . . Her novel is an engrossing fusion of wisdom and beautiful writing.” — Mary McGarry Morris, internationally bestselling author

When young minister Noah and his dutiful wife arrive at their new post in the hills, they find a gray and wet little town where it’s been raining for as long as anyone can remember. Noah’s wife is determined to help her husband revive this soggy congregation, but soon finds her efforts thwarted by her eccentric new neighbors, among them an idiom-wielding Italian hardware store owner, a towering town matriarch, and a lovelorn zookeeper determined to stand by his charges. Overwhelmed, Noah’s wife fails to realize that Noah, too, is battling his own internal crisis.

Soon, the river waters rise, flooding the streets of the town and driving scores of wild animals out of the once-renowned zoo. As the water swallows up the houses, the telephone poles, and the single highway out of town, Noah, his wife, and the townspeople must confront not only the savage forces of nature but also the fragile ties that bind them to one another.

Full of whimsy and gentle ironic humor, Noah’s Wife is a wise and poignant novel that draws upon the motifs of the biblical flood story to explore the true meaning of community, to examine the remarkable strength of the human spirit, and to ask whether hope can exist even where faith has been lost.




Eric James Stone

Unforgettable
Baen, January 5, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

2016 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts
TRADE PAPERBACK ORIGINAL. Out of sight, out of mind. Due to a fluke of quantum mechanics, no one can remember Nat Morgan for more than one minute—not even his boss at the CIA.

Out of sight, out of mind.

In the near future, a fluke of quantum mechanics renders Nat Morgan utterly forgettable. No one can remember he exists for more than a minute after he's gone. It's a useful ability for his career as a CIA agent, even if he has to keep reminding his boss that he exists.

Nat's attempt to steal a quantum chip prototype is thwarted when a former FSB agent, Yelena Semyonova, attempts to steal the same technology for the Russion mob.

Along with a brilliant Iranian physicist who wants to defect, Nat and Yelena must work together to stop a ruthless billionaire from finishing a quantum supercomputer that will literally control the fate of the world.

Interview with Scott Allan Morrison and Review of Terms of Use2016 Debut Author Challenge Cover Wars - January Debuts2016 Debut Author Challenge Update - Terms of Use by Scott Allan Morrison2016 Debut Author Challenge - January Debuts

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