“The Tranquility Chip” story was suggested by developments in neuroscience and my consulting and HR work. A good chunk of what I do with adult learning and organizational effectiveness involves finding ways to help people overcome resistance or fear of change. That got my fiction side thinking. “What if there was some way to get an edge on that old brain fight, flight, or freeze reflex?” “What if there was an implantable technology that could do this?” “What if that technology were hacked?” I came up with the idea in 2015 and then wrote it up in full as the 2016 NaNoWriMo challenge. (National Novel Writing Month in November, like a marathon of 50,000+ words of new material in one month!)
I also had done previous work with Medtronic’s Neuromodulation group, so I felt that I had a good handle on what might be possible within the next 30 years. The political angle in the book–where the chip gave a kick to the first successful third party in US politics–just fell into place, partly as a result of what was going on with the 2016 elections. While not intended, this tension has gone to extreme levels with the actions of Donald Trump as president, interestingly enough.
I tell stories about heroes. This time, I wanted the hero to be a normal guy. A geeky sort of tech nerd, but without fitting the stereotype. What would a guy like that look like? And an army veteran as a counterpoint. To make it more interesting and add another look at advancing sex and gender balance, I made the vet a woman. I resolved at the beginning that the female character would not be a sex interest for the male protagonist… but something crept in. What if he became one for her?
What would that look like? She rescues him and they go on to try to stop what’s happening at levels far, far above them in power. And there, combining elements, was the mix for the book.