Critical Asset (Author Interview)

Critical Asset looks like an exciting military sci-fi story. Can you tell us a little about Jaana Pierce and Aydin Demirci?

They are the protagonist and antagonist of the story – and which is which may depend on the reader’s perspective.

Aydin at first seems like a villain. He’s a man conspiring to start a major war, but for all the right reasons. Once the reader learns his story, they might just take his side.

Jaana is a career military officer: very bright, very organized, and it’s her job to stop Aydin’s plans. Unfortunately, stopping him may be even more disastrous for the world. She ends up not only in physical danger, but she must confront the limits of her sworn duty.

One of the themes running through Critical Asset is moral ambiguity. Purely good people and purely evil people rarely exist in the real world, and they certainly do not exist in the book.


Any plans to turn it into a series?

I have ideas for books two and three, and they’re even more ambitious than this one! The reviews and public reception to Critical Asset have been great, so let’s see if the book can find some more fans.


How long did it take you to write Critical Asset?

Ugh, too long. Several years. In my defense, I have a full-time job that doesn’t involve writing novels. In fact, I think that benefits the story since few people outside of my profession could’ve written this book. Spending years in the Navy and the U.S. intelligence community made it possible.


That’s an amazing cover. Can you tell us a little about it?

The scene shows the USS Lincoln in low Earth orbit, facing the planet, with a sister ship in the background. Once you’re reading the story, you’ll know that warships that close to Earth’s surface means they’re about to open fire onto targets below. There’s a lot of tension in that cover.


What inspired you when writing Critical Asset?   

Beverly Cleary once said, “If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, you must write it.” Well, I’ve never seen another realistic international thriller set past the mid-21st Century.

I’m a military intelligence analyst. I spend a lot of time focusing on what the future will look like, especially in terms of weapons and other disruptive technologies. And I wonder what international relations could be like decades down the road. Critical Asset is what came out of my head when I decided (on a whim!) to write a novel in my spare time.


Did anything stick out as particularly challenging when writing Critical Asset?

The research! Critical Asset falls under what Margaret Atwood calls the “No Martians” sub-genre of science fiction. There are no aliens, supernatural powers, unexplainable technologies or wildly dystopian societies requiring the reader to suspend disbelief. I wanted the story’s 2065 setting to seem plausible, even likely. I want readers to know that the world we live in could transform into the one shown in Critical Asset. Understanding the science behind potential upcoming technologies was especially tough.


What do you like to do when not writing?

Besides working and raising my kids? I spend what little free time I have reading, exercising, and daydreaming about writing more books. I think I’m ready to start one.

As for my reading table, I tend to enjoy sci-fi and historical fiction, but I read loads of non-fiction as well. Social sciences and international studies will always have a place on my bookshelf.


What do you hope readers will take away from Critical Asset?

At its heart, the book is two cautionary tales wrapped around one story. They first cautionary tale is the all-too-familiar one of authoritarianism gone unchecked. Unfortunately, several national leaders of late have helped inspire that theme. I’d like readers in Turkey to pay close attention to this book, but American, British, and other western readers need to grasp its lessons as well.

The other cautionary tale involves a technology that does not yet exist. It’s one that most readers will recognize and eagerly anticipate, but I try to show that it’s a Pandora’s Box with horrific implications. Regrettably, I can’t say what it is without spoiling the book!