PBR: Today we are with Jeffrey Walton, author of the brand new novel Take the Fourth. Jeffrey, thank you for taking some time with us.
JW: No, thank you, it’s my pleasure. So since this my first ever interview for my first ever novel where shall we begin?
PBR: Let’s start with you. How did you begin your writing career?
JW: Well I’m a right brain person, logical, math inclined but it wasn’t until an English professor at Drexel University spurred my creative side by stating, “Throw out all the grammar rules and write how you want to write, you want to have a sentence with one word fine, you want to make your readers out of breath by eliminating commas, so be it.” After that my left brain started to come online and I never looked back.
PBR: Your book was incredible – I really enjoyed it. What most impressed me was your accumulation of technical information regarding how the data systems of our society are all wired together. How did you learn so much which is beyond the public’s eye?
JW: My background is rooted in the digital world, primarily within the world of finance. It has been an eye opening experience to see firsthand, the information institutions, be it banks, insurance companies, or even the government, track, keep, and share on any given individual.
PBR: You have a strong message about our constitutional rights in your book. How do you separate fact from fiction regarding searching a home, even if it is from outside the premise? I mean, how much of what you wrote about is really going on?
JW: Is it fiction or did I just change the names to protect the identities? Anyway, to answer your question, the government has fully embraced technology, the power of searching for information within the mass of databases. Your data is constantly being scanned to find answers. They constantly narrow the search parameters, for example, all females, then all females ages thirty to forty, then all females in this range who drive a Honda, and so on and so forth until they find what is needed. The majority of the time you are eliminated based on the search criteria but they still search your information without your consent or knowledge. Now the real chances of violating your rights are if you are never omitted from the search parameters in the first place.
PBR: Knowledge is power. Is telling people about this your way to empower the public?
JW: Sort of, I want the people to be aware that even the most prosaic data can tell a story. All those shopper saver cards, credit card transactions, social networking sites, they are all linked to databases that can be mined for information in order to tell what you buy, where you go, what you do, who you see, they tell the story of you as an individual and that story is no longer just your story, it’s no longer private.
PBR: Have you been approached by Hollywood to make Take the Fourth into a movie?
JW: Catchy title, female lead character being played by a top Hollywood actress, suspense, government conspiracy, yes it would make for a great film but I haven’t been approached…..yet. My wife wants me to start the screen play so I might give that a whirl.
PBR: What plans do you have for future writing?
JW: I have already started my second novel, a sequel to Take the Fourth with underlying themes on social networks. Plus I have four or five good ideas that have sparked my interest based on other technologies and then there is that screen play I mentioned.
PBR: We certainly wish you the best of success with your new book and hope to be seeing more of your work. Thank you again for your time today.
JW: You will, for there are no vaccines for the writing bug that I’m aware. I certainly appreciate the time you have given me. Thank you once again.