Roxanne Burkey is a California-born Texan resident and co-author of The Enigma Series, a 9-part techno-thriller, which she created together with Charles Breakfield. In this interview she talks about her love for technology and how she incorporated this passion in her writing career.
When did you take such an avid interest in technology?
You’re going to laugh, but it honestly was the first time I ran a financial report for a huge retailer using punch cards and it was perfect. I also had fun working with a CPA doing paper tape summaries for small businesses including some celebrity race car driver brothers. That was what convinced me to pursue my education along technology and finance. Once upon a time it was a follow the money, today it is follow the money and the bits and bytes to find the source.
The Enigma Series spans over nine volumes. How was this planned?
When I started writing The Enigma Factor and showed it to Charles, he wanted a trilogy, but I was the obstinate female who said that is far too limiting. It needs to be a series. There is so much change in technology that so far it is a never-ending saga of things to write about. A lot of technical Stuff. We have no planned ending for the series as long as we find interesting technology and human interaction to weave into stories.
We actually share equal roles for story creation and bringing the characters in line. We play to our strengths with the techno-geek stuff primarily in Charles court and I am improving on the humor and romance. To do the story smithing and character polishing that builds a quality product we use a technique we have coined as Literary Ping-Pong. One of us serves up a chapter to the other and then we bat it back and forth to get the right flavor for the story.
Technology is the “weapon of choice” in your series. Why is that?
Technology is the main avenue for cyber-crime, between scams, identity theft and old fashioned stealing we are at risk if we don’t take basic precautions. That is why we say it is Today’s weapon of choice!
Would you say that technology is as much a main character in your series as Jacob Michaels?
That is not quite accurate. Technology is a tool, an enabler for people and society as a whole. By itself technology doesn’t do anything until the human does something, like makes a cell phone call. Technology is extremely useful in our storytelling because of what it allows people to do, both good and evil. We even have our Artificial Intelligence or AI supercomputer ICABOD who has evolved as well over the series, adopting new technology vectors to help fight cybercrime. ICABOD has consistently expanded to fight the battles. AI does not have full human sentiment, but logic is there and we highlight guardrails that make sense for AI within our society as our point of view.
You are also involved in promoting the DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) program in Texas. Where do you see our young generation’s literacy skills in the next 10 years?
I am involved in DEAR and love doing the radio interviews with authors from Texas and those who have a love of Texas. It is fascinating how different authors get their start and find their focus. We actually do annual story contests for stories and I awarded last year’s winner in McKinney Texas. Our teachers need to focus on the basics of reading (including spelling), writing, and arithmetic for our young people.
There is a lively debate currently raging about this country’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) capabilities but fundamentally if you can’t read you can’t progress. Learning to read well and write efficiently will open those doors to the future for our youth. We are devolving to a society that works on icons and symbols and is less focused on the written word. We consume news segments in 60 second soundbites. I think this is a disservice to our youth. More and more parents don’t read stories to their children.
I recognize that audible media helps augment this and we are completing those changes to our stories with our first 3 books with book 4, The Enigma Wraith, coming soon. But, without the words and the sounds seen and heard together, cursive writing will become the baby boomer secret code to our youth. We need to work at it all the time. I encourage people to read to their children and even our elderly when they are bedridden. It is a tradition we should not let escape us.
Will there be a 10th installment?
Thanks for asking. Yes, there will be and it will be out later this year. Charles and I are almost halfway finished and looking forward to thrilling our reader fans once again. The working title is The Enigma Source and a sample chapter is on our website enigmaseries.com.
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