The World of Hackers

Natsuya Uesugi
Natsuya Uesugi Author Interview

grydscaen: dark follows a hacker who’s caught up in a stock market hack that causes mayhem throughout the city. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for the grydscaen: dark story was what I was seeing in the present day, actions like the rise and fall of bitcoin, the increase in attacks from Russian troll farms, the China Russia and Iran state actors, vulnerabilities in the arcane Internet laws, the privacy debate and Net Neutrality and the threat of ISPs (Internet Service Providers) throttling or charging for access to online content and “controlling access” to streaming data and information that should be free and the possible discrimination that could cause on marginalized communities.

Hacker activities like the rise in ransomware and malware attacks, as well as phishing and social engineering attacking vulnerable seniors and every day people were front of mind while writing. Also safe schools, and safe spaces online and the monumental rise in cyber bullying online and even teen suicide related to online behaviors.

My passion for writing is to expose the influence and affects of ever changing innovations in technology on its impact on society that drove me to write grydscaen: dark and all the the grydscaen books. As a cybersecurity analyst, software engineer, I found that most people don’t understand the vulnerabilities and risks of putting too much information online and on social media – and those actions can actually be dangerous. Like all the grydscaen books, I wanted to educate readers by providing a compelling fictional world with living characters they could emphasize with exploring these technological truths, promoting the importance of science but also giving insight into the world of hackers and both the power, the good and the harm that hackers and technology can have on society.

Rom is an intriguing character that was very detailed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Thanks for the question. Rom was the very first grydscaen character created in the ninth grade, if I have it right, I was doodling in my notebook in Creative Writing class and flushed out his original design instead of paying attention in class.

My parents were programmers developing sophisticated weather and radar systems for the military and the government. Growing up, they were always telling me stories about the software they were developing at the dinner table which was always fascinating. The first comic book pages I drew of Rom in high school were of him in his signature yellow trench coat (he is on the cover of grydscaen: dark) and a homeless teenager who had his memory wiped living on the streets. In the very first comic book page he is seen actually holding a mainframe data punch card to his lips which allows him to read the data on the card. That was my young brain putting into the original comic book pages which became the backstory for grydscaen, the Echelons, the Packrat hacker clan, and Rom himself all my imagination running wild from one of my parent’s dinnertime programmer stories.

The driving ideals behind Rom was to explore the plight of homeless teens with Rom as an oppressed youth shunned by society with no name and no identity after the government captured him and wiped his memory exploring government overreach and how their actions found him throw out on the streets after experimenting on him with no idea who he was or where he came from, therefore exploring, identity, freedom, influence and human fragility.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

I wanted to explore intersectionality, identity, class. Of Rom coming from privilege and then losing everything ending up living on the streets in the Echelons slums. I wanted to show how drastic his life could change in an instant, and how that stripping him of one life gave him another that ended up, with all its discrimination, andto be a new life with more meaning. In addition I wanted to show the affects of technology and the supremacy of data and science, the way hackers view society versus how society views them. How data and technology can be used for good or can be turned into a hostile weapon; all ubiquitous shades of grey. I felt readders could empathize and sympathize with Rom as a characterand also at the same time explore the dark and gritty techno-universe of hackers, while seeing Rom grow coming to terms with his circumstances. I wanted to provide an immersive world that hopefully readers could use to look at their own lives, take inventory on how technology affects them, and possiblt re-evaluate their online footprint.
I also wanted to show the vulnerability of today’s systems and the Internet, and mobile apps. People don’t know what putting information out on social media can potentially expose them to harm. I hoped through grydscaen: dark and a fictional story to entertain while at the same time educate. To open a dialogue where people could review and think about their online safety and maybe influence and help support readers to form a more robust online posture to protect themselves and their kids from cyberbullying, identity theft, malware/ransomware and social engineering attacks on the rise from hackers.

In addition I wanted the readers to decide. Are hackers good, bad, neutral? is the world black and white? Or it is really all just multiple shades of grey? Whose side are you on? I wanted to show the power of technology, and even the “religion of data.” To give readers who may not be aware what is going on all around them, a quick glimpse of how hackers see and move in the world. To open a doorway into an “unknown quantity,” and let readers or the lay person, as hackers are often misunderstood or misrepresented, see that the world indeed looks different from the other side.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have a few books in the works in the cyberpunk grydscaen series. Below are a few of the upcoming grydscaen releases and plans, with additional not listed here.

  • grydscaen: idol – release planned Spring 2021 (YA Coming of Age, SF)
  • grydscaen: revolution – planned Summer 2021 (YA SF, Technothriller)

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

A clandestine meet occurs in the Echelons under cover of darkness where Top Secret intel on the stock market changes hands. The insider tip gets the gothic hacker Jester engaged in a high tech game. Parliament votes to lower harsh stock market regulations fueling the Corporation’s bottom line, a payoff from ministers who were propped up by illegal corporate campaign donations. Ordered by Jester, the teenage hacker Rom infiltrates the largest high volume brokerage house causing wild gyrations in trading. When Jester triggers an insidious stock market payload all hell breaks loose threatening the pristine City. Will Zoon, the leader of the Triumvirate, get roped into the fray? Can Raven, the government hacker, put the cryptic clues together before the market crashes? Find out in grydscaen: dark. Whose side are you on?

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Posted on March 28, 2021, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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