At The Mercy Of A Computer

J. Luke Bennecke Author Interview

“Civil Terror: Gridlock” follows a visionary entrepreneur as he must stop a terrorist group from using his self-driving vehicle system to carry out a deadly attack, while also clearing his name as the falsely accused architect of the plot. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

Real life traffic congestion. Seriously. I was stuck in traffic one day on the I-210 in Pasadena, CA, moving at a snail’s pace when I thought, “This is 2015, why are we still having to deal with so much traffic congestion?” Then I let my mind wander . . . what if robots/computers were in charge of the driving instead of humans? That would be good, right? Like autopilot for cars? No more accidents. No more congestion. Perfect efficiency on the freeways at last! But then my negativity bias kicked in . . . with so many people at the mercy of a computer, what if somebody hacked in? Terrorism, right? What if the agency implementing millions of self-driving cars was run by engineers so blinded by the “good” the could do, they got blindsided by the “bad”?

Jake Bendel is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Jake Bendel’s development was driven by several key ideals. Firstly, I wanted to create a unique protagonist in the thriller genre by making him a civil engineer. While there are many books about police, FBI, and crime, I thought it would be exciting to center the story around an unsuspecting hero forced to go on a thrilling journey.

To create a compelling character arc, I started Jake off at the top of his game before quickly plunging him into emotional turmoil with the loss of his wife, imprisonment, wrongful accusations from the media, and being forced to operate outside of his comfort zone. To further complicate matters, I also gave him motion sickness, which added an additional layer of challenge to his character.

However, I didn’t want Jake’s story to be solely focused on his struggles. I also wanted to tap into the love, inspiration, and strength that his deceased wife would want him to have in order to fight the bad guys. Through all of this, Jake was able to learn valuable lessons, gain newfound maturity, and develop a sense of humility that he didn’t have before.

Overall, I wanted Jake to be a relatable and realistic character with a strong character arc that would keep readers engaged throughout the story.

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

  1. Friendship and Loyalty: Gridlock highlights the importance of true friendship and loyalty as Bendel and the other main characters remain committed to helping each other despite the challenges they face.
  2. Courage and Perseverance: I’d like to think that Bendel displays courage and perseverance in the face of adversity, refusing to give up or be defeated by his circumstances.
  3. Family and Love: Bendel and his daughter bond over their experiences, emphasizing the importance of family and love, as they go to great lengths to protect and support each other.
  4. Pursuit of Dreams: The story highlights the importance of pursuing one’s dreams, as Bendel strives to achieve his new goals despite the many obstacles he faces.

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

I’ve recently finished writing and fully editing two more novels: 

1) Blackout – The third installation of the Jake Bendel universe, where a grieving Bendel teams up with FBI agent Kristy Konnors to stop a sociopathic cabal leader from taking down the US power grid and allowing foreign militaries to invade, while also uncovering the truth about his wife’s supposed death.

Blackout is currently under evaluation by several agents whom I pitched at last year’s PitchFest in New York (as part of ThrillerFest) with the goal of getting a publishing deal with one of the Big Four. 

2) Echo From A Bayou, a mind-bending psychological thriller where a man awakens from a coma speaking with a Louisiana accent, convinced he’s the reincarnation of a man who was murdered over a billion-dollar treasure, and must navigate through dangerous obstacles to uncover the truth.

Echo From A Bayou is scheduled to be published August 8, 2023 and ARC’s are available for review.

I’m also nearly finished with a draft of a sci-fi thriller tentatively titled “Time Goggles”, where an MIT doctoral student’s invention, the Time Goggles, reveals a brutal murder from the past, and when her FBI dad disappears, she uses the device to uncover the truth, but a global crime syndicate will stop at nothing to get their hands on it.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Self-driving vehicles finally arrive. But so do the terrorists. A thought-provoking thriller about artificial intelligence and the self-driving revolution.

You’ll be forced to consider how you would react if you were cornered and trapped in a terrifying life-threatening situation.

Fed up with slogging through the treacherous LA traffic to get to work, Jake Bendel and a cunning team of experts create a roadway system for self-driving cars — preventing thousands of traffic deaths and reducing commute times from hours to minutes. For three months, no traffic congestion. No accidents. No fatalities. People finally feel safe in their cars. But should they?

Especially when the dark side of humanity sees this as a chance to destroy the United States. A terrorist group weaponizes the system and devises a scheme to kill more Americans in one day than all the U.S. soldiers killed in World War II.

Viktor, a tormented psychopath and the mastermind behind this ruthless attack, is driven by the voices in his head who guide his every move. While he and his brothers mercilessly annihilate Americans, Viktor plants evidence that convinces the public Jake is the architect behind the most heinous terrorist attack in U.S. history.

But one rogue FBI agent believes Jake is innocent. Together they unearth a mole deep inside the FBI, go off the grid, and hash through a trail of hidden clues to stop Viktor from slaughtering millions of unsuspecting American drivers in a matter of minutes.

The clock is ticking. Can they stop him in time to prevent another savage bloodbath?

Civil Terror: Gridlock will grab you by the throat and pull you into a vicious struggle that will define the fate of the world for generations to come. If you like Dan Brown, Tom Clancy, or Jon Grisham, you’ll love J. Luke Bennecke.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on April 19, 2023, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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