Have you noticed that online ads change to reflect whatever search you last performed in Google? Perhaps you searched for a cruise or a new fridge, or a certain health condition. All of a sudden you are inundated with ads for cruise deals, kitchen appliances and pain relievers!
These ads are just one example of what companies do with the data they collect online. They also inspired Dennis Meredith’s latest novel, The Happy Chip. Says Dennis, “The idea for The Happy Chip sneaked up on me rather insidiously. I realized that companies were becoming ever more sophisticated—and intrusive—at monitoring my every decision, my every whim. Google knew my web searches; Amazon knew my shopping interests; Facebook knew who my friends were.”
Dennis began to wonder what might happen if a company created a nanochip that people could have implanted in their bodies. The nanochip would give individuals feedback on exactly how they were enjoying a particular product, experience or person, and then guide them to the best products, life choices, and even love interests. It would also feed this data to a Happy Ratings database (a sort of “super Yelp” explains Dennis) that would offer subscribers ratings of every product and service.
A future where people could opt to have nanochips implanted in their bodies is not so far away, and implanted chips have been proposed as possible interfaces for online gaming, for example. No doubt companies would take advantage of these chips to gather data about its users, just as they do now on our computers. But in The Happy Chip, Dennis takes things one step further by asking, “What if a company (NeoHappy Inc.) took such data-grabbing to an extreme?”
The end result is a high-tech thriller in which a nefarious company executive and his engineer henchman develop a chip that not only monitors people, but controls them. Says Dennis, “In the book, these new chips can produce absolute elation, but also suicidal depression, uncontrollable lust, murderous rage, remote-controlled death, and ultimately, global subjugation.” Obviously Dennis had a lot of fun developing his story, but the book also serves as a warning of what might be coming down the road.
Previously, Dennis has published six science fiction thrillers, and has republished two of his books as young adult editions. “The Happy Chip is the latest book in my long-term strategy to establish my reputation for high-quality science thrillers that use fiction to spark interest in real science,” he explains.
Indeed, Dennis is well-positioned to carry out his strategy. As a science communicator, he has served at some of the country’s leading research universities, including MIT, Caltech, Cornell, Duke and the Universities of Rhode Island and Wisconsin. He has worked with science journalists at all the nation’s major newspapers, magazines, and radio and TV networks and has written well over a thousand news releases and magazine articles on science and engineering. His books are well-researched, and on his website, he lists the resources that inspired his novels and substantiate his theories.
Dennis advises authors who publish independently to, “…go for the highest quality and take whatever time is necessary to achieve it. That quality underpins your reputation as a writer, and an amateurish cover, poor editing, sloppy layout and typos ruin that reputation. Take your time to make your book as perfect as possible.” For Dennis, building his reputation for high-quality science thrillers goes hand-in-hand with his reason for self-publishing: “We wanted control over the process, so that our vision would be realized.”
The Happy Chip is available on Amazon and other online retailer websites, and Dennis chose to produce an eBook as well as a paperback edition because, “It enormously expanded the market, given the reach of Kindle Unlimited.” He says that his wife, Joni, has become “…a master at marketing. She uses Goodreads giveaways and book clubs, Instafreebie, and free Kindle giveaways, and also tracks reviewers’ preferences and blogs.” Indeed, Dennis cites Joni’s marketing savvy as the self-publishing resource he found most helpful, along with 1106 Design.
Taking a page from Joni’s book, so to speak, Dennis’ advice to first-time publishers highlights the importance of marketing. “Realize that unless you market your book, you have not really ‘published a book’,” he emphasizes. “Just as a tree falling in the forest makes no sound when no one is around, a book that nobody reads is not really published.”
Although he finds the proofreading stage of self-publishing to be the most challenging, Dennis says he would self-publish “over and over again.” He finds writing and publishing to be profoundly addictive, and we look forward to many more books by Dennis Meredith as he seeks to solidify his reputation as a writer and publisher of high-quality science thrillers.
Book title and subtitle: The Happy Chip
Author: Dennis Meredith
Link to Amazon book page:
Author website: www.dennismeredith.com