Today is my stop on The Invisible Mind tour, and I had the opportunity to ask the author, M.T. Bass some questions. Check it out.
The Invisible Mind (Murder by Munchausen #3)
By M.T. Bass
Genre: Sci Fi, TechnoThriller, Police Procedural
A police procedural sci fi thriller ripped from future headlines!
Now unleashed, the “Baron” is resurrecting history’s notorious serial killers, giving them a second life in the bodies of hacked and reprogrammed Personal Assistant Androids, then turning them loose to terrorize the city. While detectives Jake and Maddie of the police department’s Artificial Crimes Unit scramble to stop the carnage with the Baron’s arrest, the cyberpunk head of the Counter IT Section, Q, struggles to de-encrypt his mad scheme to infect world data centers with a virus that represents a collective cyber unconsciousness of evil.
“…he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.”
~Adam Smith, 1776
“When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole.”
~Nikola Tesla, 1926
“…so, too, the psyche possesses a common substratum transcending all differences in culture and consciousness. I have called this substratum the collective unconscious.”
~Carl Jung, 1931
“It might not make sense, but the beloved Media tags it ‘Murder by Munchausen.’ For a price, there are hackers out there who will reprogram a synthoid to do your dirty work. The bad news: no fingerprints or DNA left at the crime scene. The good news—at least for us—is that they’re like missiles: once they hit their target, they’re usually as harmless as empty brass. The trick is to get them before they melt down their core OS data, so you can get the unit into forensics for analysis and, hopefully, an arrest.” [excerpt from Murder by Munchausen]
Artificial Intelligence? Fuhgeddaboudit!
Artificial Evil has a name…Munchausen.
Interview with M.T. Bass
What was your inspiration for writing the Murder by Munchausen series?
Most times, a scene magically pops into my mind that grabs my attention around the throat and starts squeezing hard—and I just know there is a story in it so I chase it so I don’t get strangled to death. For Munchausen, it was the police takedown of the android in a warehouse, which became chapter one of the first book. I saw the whole thing in my mind like it was a futuristic version of Cops. That being said, my subconscious mind is constantly being loaded up with a lot of muda (a Japanese word meaning “futility; uselessness; wastefulness”) and around the time I started writing the series, there was an awful lot of dire hand wringing in the news by famous tech guys like Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawkings about how artificial intelligence is going to be the end of mankind as we know it…yada, yada, yada. It was also around this time that I must have read the third or fourth submission of a zombie apocalypse story in the writers groups I’m in and I distinctly remember thinking that, you know, this zombie thing has been played out and there’s got to be a new villainous apocalyptic threat to mankind somewhere out there. Not too long after that, Jake and EC are chasing synthoid hitmen and serial killers.
Do you like audiobooks, physical books, or e-books better? Why?
I definitely like physical books better. Kind of an old school thing. And I buy into the theories I’ve read about how there is a much more intimate reading experience with wood pulp and ink because you are interacting with a genuine physical object, not only physically turning pages and all—but besides a width and height, there is depth, so that scene or phrase or character you met that you really, really like has a three dimensional location out in “meatspace.” And then honesty kicked in…But I almost exclusively read eBooks anymore. Why? Well, I can carry around my entire library in my iPad Mini without renting a U-Haul truck. Which means, I can read two or three or four books at the same time like I used to do in my college days. And ever since I bought one of the very first Sony eReaders, my reading throughput has skyrocketed. It’s just too easy. As for audiobooks, I actually just recently tried them out with The Devil in the White City and Slaughterhouse Five. But I get a brain cramp when I stop and ponder that I could be visually reading Plato’s Republic while at the same time listening to Huckleberry Finn.
What behind-the-scenes tidbit in your life would probably surprise your readers the most?
Although I’m a licensed Commercial Pilot and Certified Flight Instructor, I am afraid of heights. In my defense (“As your attorney, I advise you to begin drinking heavily”) there is a big difference between height and altitude. Driving an airplane at 150 miles per hour or so wrapped up safely in an aluminum fuselage strapped into your seat with a five-point harness is a lot different than leaning over and looking down from the top of the Empire State Building. And that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?
Australia. Besides the whole weird marsupial fauna thing, I’m kind of fascinated by the fact that civilization—so to speak—decided to use an entire continent as a penal colony. And while I’ve had a character connection with Australia in Crossroads, I’ve never had a story set there. Of course, since Australia is so huge, I’d jump through all the necessary government hoops to be able to use my pilot’s license there and lease a Cessna 172 to see as much of the place as I could.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Once I have the “magic vision” and actually get started pumping words into Scrivener, it takes 12-24 months depending on the length of the book, unless I get seriously distracted by something shiny—like airplanes or electric guitars. Life got in the way for a couple of decades and it took me over ten years to finish Somethin’ for Nothin’ and In the Black. But sometimes the scenic route is worth it.
What is your favorite and least favorite part of the writing process?
Working the story is my favorite part—creating characters and shaping the plot. After all that is the real creative part of fiction writing. For me, proof reading is the fingernails on a chalkboard part of the process of being a writer. Thank God, I was blessed to find Bee, an absolutely fantastic editor to work with, who has really made all my books shine. Thank you Elizabeth.
Picture this: You feel uninspired and you’ve sat at the computer for an hour without conquering any words. How do you get your creativity flowing?
That’s easy. I get up off my butt and go for a walk. For me, putting one foot in front of the other—whether it is on a trail through the woods, along the beach or pounding the pavement through the neighborhood—is like a mental colon cleanse. I find that if I just get out of my own way and stop trying so hard, my brain will figure things out quite nicely without my help. I know it works, because I do it all the time.
What is your favorite cover out of all your books? Why is it your favorite?
It’s a toss up between Murder by Munchausen and Lodging. They just seem to my artistically declined eye to most closely capture the essence of their stories.
Do you have any advice to offer inspiring authors?
My personal credo is: Persistence to the point of stupidity—but never beyond. So, never give up. But also remember, you are an artist with all the aggravating responsibilities that go with it. Mainly, you always have to strive to master your craft, which takes a lot of effort, sacrifice and even some pain—most often to pride. But readers will thank you. And you’ll be happier, too.
Excerpt from The Invisible Mind
Chapter 2 – Richard Speck
It sat on a bench outside the dormitory of nursing students, waiting with its kind’s infinite patience. Originally acquired and programmed for landscaping at the Cleveland Clinic, the synthoid was one of a brigade of units which had been hacked and Munchausened, then returned to their menial daily services to mankind to await the Baron’s call.
There was no adrenalin surge behind the extremely life-like facade of humanity when that call came. Data packets, sent scatter-shot through the Atlas Grid, coalesced at the location outside the Cole Eye Institute, where it methodically trimmed and shaped the immaculate shrubbery around the building. To avoid Q’s metadata sniffing algorithms from detecting a download spike in the grid, the information came in digital sprinkles over the course of its human handler’s work shift, slowly building a malevolent intent to be executed that night. In the middle of the afternoon, it left the topiary unfinished to melt into the hospital shift change and disappeared.
Personality modules were a Gen-3 feature upgrade, which is why the earlier models were initially preferred. Swapping out a few IC chips and uploading hacked firmware was a relatively easy way to turn a quick buck with an automated contract killing. But evil innovates, too, and the same features that made synthoids even more human-like in their behavior also helped create robotic assassins which could better camouflage their malicious intents and evade the reach of the Artificial Crimes Unit by melting into and moving undetected through the humanity that surrounded them. For the Baron, it allowed for a greater measure of artistic expression in programming the synthoid’s behavior to not only recreate infamous crimes of the past, but to mimic the behavior of their perpetrators, which intensified the thrill of watching the video feed through the eyes of Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy or, this particular evening, Richard Speck. Jake wasn’t the only history buff and it amused Jamal that London police had photographed the eyes of Jack the Ripper’s victims, hoping to capture the last thing they ever saw: their killer’s face. If only Scotland Yard could have imagined the future.
The Gen-3 personality modules also supported the ANSI Adaptive Artificial Intelligence Protocol #9 to enhance the artificial human experience of real men and women who interacted with synthoids. The constant writing and rewriting of code in the personality/experience loop formed unique individual synthoid consciousnesses, which manufacturers uploaded to their servers for product improvement teams to study. In Munchausened units, that feed was hijacked and routed to another portal in the Darknet to build a collective id of evil.
About the Author
M.T. Bass is a scribbler of fiction who holds fast to the notion that while victors may get to write history, novelists get to write/right reality. He lives, writes, flies and makes music in Mudcat Falls, USA.
Born in Athens, Ohio, M.T. Bass grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University, majoring in English and Philosophy, then worked in the private sector (where they expect “results”) mainly in the Aerospace & Defense manufacturing market. During those years, Bass continued to write fiction. He is the author of seven novels: My Brother’s Keeper, Crossroads, In the Black, Somethin’ for Nothin’, Murder by Munchausen, The Darknet (Murder by Munchausen Mystery #2) and The Invisible Mind (Murder by Munchausen Mystery #3). His writing spans various genres, including Mystery, Adventure, Romance, Black Comedy and TechnoThrillers. A Commercial Pilot and Certified Flight Instructor, airplanes and pilots are featured in many of his stories. Bass currently lives on the shores of Lake Erie near Lorain, Ohio.
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Does this sound like a book you’d read? Let me know if you do!
**Thanks for answering my questions, M.T. Bass!**