How did you come up with the idea of the story?
The first novel I ever wrote was based on this story’s kernel: a geek who develops a strategy to successfully gamble draws unwanted attention to himself. But that novel turned out to be disaster and was rejected by every agent I queried. However, the idea of being able to beat the odds remained intriguing yet elusive. Then one day I read about Nate Silver and his uncannily ability to accurately predict various phenomenon based on statistics. After all, this was what the 2011 Brad Pitt movie Moneyball was based on. Once I read about Silver, I knew the plot was much more believable.
What influenced you to create a computer hacker protagonist than the usual medical professional?
There are several reasons. First, I don’t like being pigeonholed into the subgenre of “medical thriller.” In addition, it’s unbelievable to believe that a healthcare professional would have the computer expertise—or time—to pull off something like Arnold Gold does. More importantly, in doing my research for this story, I became fascinated with the Darknet and Internet security. I really wanted a way to weave this interesting information into a compelling story. So… a likeable computer hacker seemed to be a much more interesting character to develop than another neurosurgeons. I love Arnold Gold’s character and am really glad I settled on him.
Why Vegas? Have you always wanted to write a book with Sin City as the setting?
When first developing the story I didn’t have any city in mind other than I knew Arnold lived in Seattle. (I love the city as a backdrop to stories.) I also knew Arnold wanted to get laid but was so uneasy about seeing an “escort” for this purpose, that it made sense for him to go someplace far from home where he’d be unlikely to run into anyone he knew. Given the reputation of Sin City, it just felt right to send him there.
Do you plan on writing more thriller books outside of the medical thriller genre?
You bet. I like exploring topics dealing with computers and the Internet. I’m especially intrigued with hacking and the Darknet. My next book, Cutter’s Trial, however, is not a thriller and lands me right back in the medical arena because it explores the issue of physician assisted suicide. Having been involved in a couple start-up companies, I’m also toying with using that subject as a basis for a book, but I have nothing in development along these lines at the present time. We’ll see what happens.
Would you ever consider a sequel to this book?
Glad you asked the question. Both Arnold Gold and Palmer Davidson are such wonderfully rich characters that Robert Astle (my agent) and I agree they are well-suited for a sequel. At the moment I’m busy writing Deadly Odds 2.0.
Do you think this book could be a movie? Who could you picture playing Arnold?
Of all my prior thrillers, I think this one has the most cinematic potential. I’m lousy at casting, so if it were ever made into a movie (my wildest dream), I’d leave that choice to the producers.