posted on April 22, 2019 by Janet Elizabeth Henderson

Our Connected World

Red Zone, out April 22

I do everything with my smartphone. It’s my wallet, my stereo, my library, my mailbox, my photo album, my place to hang out with friends, my calendar and my office. I use it to turn on my heating when I’m on my way home, to make sure the house is toasty for me. I tap into my security camera to check on my kittens—making sure they haven’t ripped the place apart while I’ve been gone! And I track my kids through it when I’m worried about where they are.

We like to be connected to everything. We think it makes things easier. And in a lot of ways it does, which is why, every day you can connect with more and more things around you to smooth your busy life. Your smart fridge notices you’re low on milk and either sends an email to the store, or a message to your phone. Your car sends a reminder to your phone when it needs a tune up. Your phone monitors your health and alerts you when symptoms arise that you may not have noticed. Our phones have become indispensable.

But what if we could do all of this without a phone? What if we had an implant in our heads that functioned like a mini-computer? What if our contact lenses acted as a screen to show emails or allow us to surf the web? These are things that are being developed right now, and could be part of our future. One day we could all be living in a world where a mere thought sends an email, or turns on your heating, or orders your groceries.

But this sort of implanted technology not only brings greater abilities with it but also greater risks. Right now, hackers can tap into your phone, steal your bank info, record your emails, use the camera to spy on you and track your location. We all know this, so we turn off our phones, or manage the security settings, and pat ourselves on the back for being so careful. But what if the tech was inside your head instead of in a phone you could switch off? What if the microchips and lenses that make life easier for you also made it easier for the company who developed them to spy on you? Or the authorities to track you? Or hackers to get you to do things you wouldn’t otherwise do?

That’s the world of my new book, Red Zone.

In Red Zone, the heroine, Friday Jones, has witnessed something she shouldn’t have, and the information was recorded on the microchip in her head. Everyone wants that information—some desperately enough to kill for it. There’s only one thing she can do to block people stealing the data remotely, or tracking her through her implanted tech, and that’s to take a poison which renders her implants useless. Unfortunately, that same poison will kill her if she doesn’t get to the antidote in time.

The antidote is in a clinic in La Paz, Bolivia, and Friday is in Texas. She has only four days to get there, without being caught, and she doesn’t have the skills to make that happen. Which means, she needs help. And who better to help her than a smuggler who’s used to getting people out of the former USA and into South America.

Striker is an outlaw, he’s dangerous, and he has secrets of his own to protect. But the temptation of everything Friday can offer is too much to resist. Not only is the information in her head worth something to him, the woman herself might be the most valuable commodity of all.

Together, they have to stay under the radar in a world where the authorities monitors everything, and everyone is interconnected through the microchips in their heads. It isn’t easy to avoid detection, but it’s possible—if you have Striker and his team on your side.

At least that’s what Friday hopes.

Janet Elizabeth Henderson

Janet Elizabeth Henderson

Janet is a Scot who moved to New Zealand fifteen years ago. Among other things, she's been an artist, a teacher, a security guard at a castle, a magazine editor, and a cleaner in a drop-in center for drug addicts (NOT the best job!). She now writes full-time and, so far, has written eighteen books. When she isn't living in her head, she raises two kids, one husband, and several random animals. She survives on chocolate and caffeine.

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