And our sunshine noir author for March is ... Peter Church!

Michael Sears and Peter Church chat all things cyber-thriller...

19 March 2019 - 11:59 By Michael Sears

A new month calls for a new sunshine noir author sending shivers down the spines of local thriller fans…

This month, the co-author of the popular Detective Kubu series, Michael Sears, had the opportunity to interview Peter Church for The Big Thrill – the magazine for international thriller writers.

Sears writes: 

Cape Town author Peter Church’s debut Dark Video was released in 2008 and he was acclaimed as the best new mystery writer in a long while. His writing has been called “dark and racy,” and that sums it up pretty well. His new book Crackerjack, released this month in South Africa and the US, is a page turner in the same mold.

Daniel Le Fleur is a reformed hacker and very successful day trader. Against his better judgement, he’s sucked into the search for a missing businessman, who has disappeared taking his company’s money with him, by an attractive executive of the company, Carla.

What seems like an easy assignment leads to a fight for their lives. Was the man murdered and his body thrown into the sea, was he kidnapped, or has he fled to South America with the shareholders’ money?

All is not as it seems. In fact, nothing is as it seems.

With a background in IT and a successful career in the industry, Church brings his knowledge to bear in his thrillers. He has quite a different take on Cape Town.

The focus of Cape Town in your thrillers is rather different from most other local authors. You conceive Cape Town as a high tech hub - the world of bitcoin, hackers, and global day traders. What attracted you to that as a context for your books?

Yes, there is more to Cape Town than gangsterism and murder. I sometimes describe Cape Town as “a perfect schizophrenic location: modern-city infrastructure and steeped in foreign money, but loaded with glorious scenery and compromised Third World potential.”

I think the international audience is aware of Cape Town’s travel attraction, as well as the chasm separating the living conditions of rich and poor, but it’s probably not well known that Cape Town is a high tech hub with over 35,000 people employed in this sector, and has possibly the largest public fiber-optic network in Africa.

Both Microsoft and Amazon have a strong technology and development presence in Cape Town. The cheaper cost of living and lower salaries makes it an ideal place for overseas companies to recruit and base their technology services.

Your descriptions of the technology involved is quite detailed and completely believable. How did you research the world and tools of the hackers? (Presumably not by shutting down the big five banks as Daniel once did.)

Besides writing, programming is my great passion. Developing instructions in a coded language for a machine has always fascinated me. I wrote programs for small businesses as a young adult and maintain an interest in the trends. I still do some IT consultancy which keeps me reasonably up to date, although Daniel Le Fleur is in a vastly different league and I had to do considerable research (and imagination) to keep up with him.

Daniel Le Fleur is a loner with trust and relationship issues. He is also razor sharp with computer code. So far he sounds like a classic computer nerd. But he’s not at all. Hiking, gym, he even tried his hand at cage fighting. What did you feel was important in developing his character?

I wanted to debunk the popular stereotype of a computer nerd. Daniel Le Fleur is a smart guy with a reclusive lifestyle. And he certainly knows his way around the internet. But he is no sloppy, hunched-shoulder, night-time hacker. In order to lay the groundwork for Daniel’s relentless approach to finding out what happened to the missing businessman, it was important to introduce and highlight his capabilities, which include his outdoor activities and his fight-not-flight approach to danger.

Continue reading their conversation here.

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